The "R" Word

I pretend I didn't hear. That I don't notice her blushing and squirming uncomfortably in her seat. That I don't notice the look they exchange with each other. The way everyone at the table glances at me and then quickly away. I stare at my plate chasing a carrot slice with my fork. Trying to shake the feeling of ice water being poured down my back. I know only I can break the awkwardness, so I swallow hard and try to get the crushing weight off my chest. I make a quip about what kind of restaurant has a Pepsi machine instead of Coke. The group seems relieved, and goes back to chatting about reality TV and how to get a toddler to sleep at night. 

I know my friend didn't say it maliciously. It slips out of many of our mouths accidentally, out of habit long formed from our elementary school days. I can even admit that I used it more often than I'm proud of. We all know it's politically incorrect. But that doesn't delete it from our vocabularies. 

The thing about "political correctness" is that it can drive a person crazy. I used to complain about it to Danny sometimes. "Why do people have to get so offended over everything?" "There are a few wackos but most people don't intend to be mean." And I still understand that that is mostly true. No one that I know, and certainly no one I associate with often, would use that word to be cruel or to jest or even use it intentionally. But I also understand now, why being politically correct matters. Its not political, its simply being kind and aware of the pain others struggle with. I'm not offended when someone slips, or when a few high school kids at the mall yell it at each other: I'm stunned.

Last August, Danny and I sat in a hospital room on the fourth floor of Primary Children's. We got a room to ourselves because we had twins. We were almost checked out but we were waiting on the neurologist to come and tell us about the twins brain scans. We were chatting about going to a burger place that was popular on the way home. I had always meant to take Danny there. It was so casual, we never imagined that in ten minutes time our young lives would change forever. 

I don't remember everything the neurologist said. I can't even remember her face or her name. The scan. I just remember the scan of Sophie's brain and that I could even recognize that it didn't look right. I remember that Danny felt very far away standing on the opposite side of the room by Lincoln's crib. I kept thinking, "Shouldn't she have told us to sit down?". Then she said it. "We predict that Sophie will be moderately to severely retarded." One short sob shot through the room and it took me a moment to realize that the sound came from me.

And I realized, I didn't even know what retarded meant. For all the times I had said it, when I was a child or heard others name call, I never stopped to think about what the word actually meant. And in this moment I didn't know what it meant for Sophie.

The neurologist went on to explain that for Sophie it meant she might walk by the time she was five or she may never walk at all. It meant she might learn to communicate through speech or maybe she would never communicate at all.  It meant that the little girl we had imagined in dance lessons and soccer games was no longer a reality. And in that moment it felt as if the neurologist just handed us a death sentence.

And for a moment, we mourned the daughter that we had always imagined. The daughter we had planned for. 

Almost 45 minutes passed before I was physically capable of calling my parents. My dad answered and asked if we were headed home. I remained silent, not wanting to say it, to make it true. Then through broken sobs, I used the "R" word for the first time, in its true form. In its cruelest form. Only to be repeated a handful of more times as we broke the news to our family and dearest friends.

So when I'm running errands and the "R" word is shouted carelessly across an isle, I'm caught off guard and feel as if I've missed a step. Suddenly a care free shopping trip is gripped by a dark hand and the most painful and tender parts of my heart are thrown out for the world to gawk at. It's just a word. To most people at least.

But to our family, it means so much more. It is our sweet, little girl. Our little girl that I watch seven times a week struggle with therapists to do what other babes do without thinking. I listen to her little cries of frustration and shed tears over the hard path that is laid ahead of her. The little girl that smiles and laughs and brings joy to every person she meets. The little girl that we didn't plan on, but the girl we thank Heavenly  Father for every single day for giving us.


Boston III

My third trip to Boston was a couple weeks ago for Danny's spring break. I was pretty nervous about it since we took the littles with us. I just never know what to expect from them when we leave the house for extended periods of time. But they did so amazing! They were so happy to be out and about and I think they love the city as much as I do. Linc especially loves taking in new places. He is the most curious kid alive. 


^^^ "The Old State House" = my favorite building in Boston. Built in 1713 by the British government. Here the Stamp Act was debated, the Boston Massacre occurred, and later the Declaration of Independence was read to Bostonians. 

 ^^^ I love the harbor. There must have been some event because there were so many sailboats out

^^^ Boston is so gorgeous! It is all glass and red brick. Love!!!

^^^ I was obsessed with the Revolution soldiers but Jess just loved the bear playing the keytar

 ^^^ My little Sam Adams!!!

^^^ Best Chinese food ever! We decided to make it a tradition to end our nights in China Town :)

I adore Boston. It is my favorite city in the world. I made Danny promise that we could live there one day, but for now we will just have to visit every month!


Vermont III

One of our adventures during spring break was a drive to Vermont. We have been to Vermont a couple of times now (and I'm a little horrified that I never got around to blogging about those visits), and we love it more every time we visit. Vermont feels really homey. Truly, the epitome of a Norman Rockwell painting. 

We have made it one of our goals while we are on the east coast to find the most perfect small town. Our last two visits were both to Bennington Vermont, which is really adorable but it pales in comparison to our most recent visit to Weston. 

Weston is a little over an hour from us and it was a snowed-in, quiet town. There is just one little town square, and a little row of family owned shops on main street. All of the buildings have been kept-up, better than any other town I have seen thus far. They are all perfect little colonial's with gold-leafed-signs, street lamps and interiors to match. In their the town square there was a museum about their town, which is really common here, and one of my favorite things about the east coast. Everywhere you drive you see beautiful blue signs marking historic places. They are proud of their history and I love that. 

The Weston Family Store was my favorite shop. It has been owned by the same family since 1820 and you can tell they take a lot of pride in the family tradition. The exterior was beautiful but made it look like a little shop, but push open the front door and you walk into a large 1820's penny candy store. I have seen a lot of old fashioned candy store,s but this was incredible. It felt a little bit like Disneyland just because it was done so well. 

Further in the back the store turned into an old fashioned toy store with all of the classics, on another level there was a "scales museum" that was really cool, and then even further back was a little Vermont meats, cheese, and milk grocery store. Danny was in heaven because there were samples out of all the meats and cheeses so as I walked around snapping photos I would hear a little "click, click" of all the glass covers coming on and off the sample plates. I love that boy.





My favorite find of the day was a 1940's Time Magazine, that I had to buy. It was an election year and it is filled with articles on "Wilkie vs. Roosevelt". There is actually a chart for the reader to track the electoral votes as they came in, and in light pencil and careful penmanship the owner faithfully listened to the radio and filled it in. However, the owner must have been to tired to wait for all the results because the west coast states are missing. What a gem! There is also an article about Hitler wanting to make a strong union with Spain (the war would start just a year later) that somehow made WWII much more real for me. And the ads in the magazine are hilarious as expected. I can wait to get it framed for my gallery wall. 

After we finished up on main street we drove the loop through town. It must have been a pretty wealthy farming town when it was first built. All the homes were restored colonial mansions with gorgeous, restored, red barns. The farmsteads fenced in by old fashioned wooden crossed fences. The homes were tucked away in the woods far from the small road we drove on, only visible because the foliage is still gone. They would pop up unexpectedly and then large fields still deep with untouched snow would trail off beside them until the woods swallowed them up again. 

It was beautiful, and I fell deeply in love with Vermont all over again. 


Sophie Girl

My little Soph got her first hearing aid last week. It has been s long time coming and an uphill battle getting her aid, but at last it has arrived!

I'm learning more and more that I'm going to have to advocate for my Soph to make sure she gets what she needs. Every doctor and specialist and therapist has their own opinion and agenda (and they usually contradict each other). But in the end I have to go with the people I trust most, and my gut, and a lot of prayer, to decide on what path we will take with Sophie.

In this case we had doctors on both sides saying "Yes! Get her and aid immediately!" and "No, it will just teach her to not like aids and won't give her enough benefit." so that was hard. As a new mom I was already overwhelmed with twins, and then the news about their health, so to add fighting doctors was more than I could really handle.

I'm forced to make really hard choices for Sophie and Linc that will affect the rest of their lives. Aid or no aid? Viral medication that could prevent further losses, but could cause cancer and infertility down the road? Should Lincoln be on it, or just Sophie? How much therapy is too much therapy? Do we push her to eat solids or will that just make her hate trying? How hard do we push her limitations, when in reality we have no idea what those limitations actually are?

It is just really overwhelming. There is no handbook for a special needs baby. You can't call your mom, your sister-in-law, your best friend. They don't know what it is to have a special needs kid. They can't say "This stage will pass. It gets easier, I promise." No one can.

So needless to say, the day Sophie got her hearing aid, I was a bundle of nerves. Danny had class so he had to come to the appointment late. But I have come to really like our audiologist here and she has been really supportive once I was firm with my course of action, she has really backed me up.

We went in for an ear mold in early February and then had to wait a month for the actual aid to get made. The audiologist explained a few things about how to use the aid and what kind of results we could expect. And then the time came to try it out.

I held Sophie on my lap facing toward the Julie (the audiologist) and Julie popped it in. We were both quiet for a few moments, waiting to see if Sophie was going to start screaming or get mad about having a piece of plastic jammed in her ear. But Soph just kept playing with her toy and acted as if nothing had happened. Julie smiled at her and said "Sophie! Sophie! Can you find your mom?" then she smiled and nodded at me. Sophie had already looked right up at Julie and gave her a big smile.

Then it was my turn. "Sophie Girl", I said. And immediately Sophie's hand and legs started kicking and waving like they do when she gets really excited. She jerked her head around and smiled up and me. The more I talked the more excited she became until she started breaking out in her little giggles.

It was one of those moments with her I won't ever forget.

We don't know how much of a difference the aid will make with Sophie's speech and reading. But it has seemed to make her a little more aware, and improved her ability to locate where sound is coming from. And for that we are so grateful!!

It is a long and scary road we are on with Sophie. Sometimes is brings me to my knees but I wouldn't change a hair on that girls head. Sophie is a light that constantly draws people in. I'm so blessed to be her advocate.


The Woods

The woods here are different. 

I guess that is expected. But our recent drive through Vermont; in the never-ending-winter, the landscape full of snow, bare woods, and frozen streams had me dwelling on the pioneers. I think about the pioneers often as I drive over the frozen Hudson River almost daily, with my littles stowed away warm and safe behind me. I think of the mothers with babes wrapped in cloth crossing large rivers and walking in deep snow not knowing if they could make it all the way to Zion. The mothers. My heart just breaks for them. 

But it's not just the woods and rivers that are different here. The cold is different too. You can bundle up several layers deep and still the cold cuts through to the bone in just minutes. Freezing rain makes walking near impossible and the snow is so wet! The faith of a people being run out of their homes in the middle of winter. Their strength and faith is changing me somehow. 

But the woods! They are beautiful. And I feel deeply touched by them. I guess the image I always had about Joseph going to the grove was based on my own experiences in the Utah mountains. And now, seeing the same woods Joseph saw, not only the kind he prayed in but the kind he lived and worked in makes me feel more connected somehow. Like I am here seeing bits and pieces of my pioneer heritage and that makes them feel more real. Closer.  

And I'm grateful. 

For my ancestry. And for this chance to get to know them and their lives and lives they left behind them, here in the New York woods. 


Spring Break

Last week Danny had spring break! It was so nice just having him home and getting to spend so much time with him. We kept things pretty low key but left a few days for east coast adventures as well. 

D was so sweet to use his time off to pitch in with spring cleaning (wood floors are so hard to keep clean) and get a few projects checked off my list. Our biggest projects were baby proofing the living room (stinkin' Linc is going to be crawling in no time flat) and going paperless! It was a New Year's resolution of mine to join the crew of paperless living and I am happy to say that I am 90% there!

I decided used Evernote to organize my life because you can install it on all your devices, it keeps itself synchronized, and it is super simple which is important because someone (cough, cough, Danny) is not great with technology. D and I spent a few hours one day just sorting through our storage file of papers.We made a pile for each family members and then a pile for shredding. This in itself was a huge accomplishment! I can't believe how much we have collected in our four years together.

I then moved on to scanning in the papers and tagging them by person, category, and date. I'm not completely finished yet (we got a little sidetracked with fun) but I'm so excited for shedding day! We will keep all the important papers like birth certificates and immunization records but all the bills, transcripts, school papers, etc are getting shredded and tossed. We will go from a cluttered box (that would have led to another cluttered box in the upcoming weeks because it was chalk full) to a little binder and an app on my cell phone. I'm an organization nut so I reeeeally love this move to technology A LOT (I like you A LOT Evernote....Juan Paublo anyone?). Plus, with definite moves in our future it will be nice to just scan in papers once a month and not end up with a ton of boxes that I have to haul all over the country. 

Yay for technology!

We did have some fun over spring break and we ate way too much yummy food but I'll save those for later this week. 


The New York Transit Museum

A good friend of mine suggested we hit up the New York Transit Museum when we were in Brooklyn. I thought it sounded a bit lame (I mean transit) but we had some time to kill so we headed over when we were done at the flea. I am so glad we did! The museum costs $7 ($5 for kiddos, and free for babes under 2) and it is so much fun. If you are in NYC, especially with kids, this is a great museum to go to. 

The history of NYC's underground is amazing! People are so smart. The entire museum is underground with multiple levels. The first level is all about the history of building tunnels and has interactive tables with different kinds of ways to power trains (my nephews will LOVE this place). And it's not just for the kids! Me and a friend spent a good twenty minutes trying to figure out one of the circuit boards (I won't say whether we were successful at turning on the light bulb or not...). I loved reading all about it, and trying out some of my engineer skills. Let's just all be grateful that I'm never going to be in charge of building a public service. 

The second level looks just like a subway station but each train car is from a different era. This was my favorite part. It is so fun checking out the trains and seeing how the cars encompass each time period. The cars move from wood to metals and they slowly get more efficient and less luxurious. All of the cars have ads from their era, which were hilarious in most cases. I can't wait to go back a
nd take pictures with my littles. 

^^^ this car was from the 1930's and my absolute favorite. Those light bulbs and leather straps!!
The fans in the train carts were so cool. Can you even imagine riding one of these in the summer with only a ceiling fan?


The Brooklyn Flea

I spent Saturday in Brooklyn with my sister and a couple of friends. The main stop was the Brooklyn Flea Market. Your just walking down 5th and you go under a bit of scaffolding by a bunch of graffiti and you would never notice the metal green door leading into an average old brick building. But through the door and up a flight of industrial stairs is the most magical place in New York (or Brooklyn at least). 

I left the Flea feeling incredibly inspired. I got a print for my gallery that I absolutely love. And it lit a fire in me to start collecting pieces, whether it be a pillow or a postcard, that I LOVE instead of finds from target that work well enough. (Kate Durkin and Claudia Pearson were a couple of my favorites stops in the Flea.) 

The Brooklyn Flea Market. I could go on for days about how amazing it was and how much I loved every minute of it, but instead I will leave that to the pictures. (I admit I stole some pictures off of insta because we got yelled at by some grumpy dude for shooting his shop but I had to share a few of the things I missed). 

^^^one of my favorite finds were these giant rusted letters. 
^^^ For Aunt Sandy and our love for terrariums!


Smorgasborg was at the Flea and I am so glad! I wish I could have sampled everything. It was very "Top Chef", full of street vendors with a twist. I ended up with two of the best tacos I have ever eaten while the rest of the gang went with specialty grilled cheese flavors and gourmet mac n' cheese (because that's a thing). 

^^^ I didn't have the courage for a Ramen burger but D will be eating one in the spring

^^^^ We stopped at Waffles n' Dinges outside the Flea and got Belgium dessert waffles. All I can say is load me up some dinges. 



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