Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mothers' Day Gift

A little late, I know, but I've been preoccupied. This is my Mothers' Day gift from Jena. She picked it out herself, although I have a feeling she had a little... ahem, coaching... from Grandma    :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looks like I'm getting new eyes!

Okay, not literally new eyes. But I am having Lasik eye surgery next month.

After 27 years in corrective lenses of some sort, I'm taking the plunge. I had my consult last week, including a follow-up test to my left eye, and have been approved for the surgery.

In the doctor's words, I'm a very good candidate. Apparently my eyes are very healthy (despite being legally blind), and my cornea is thick (apparently most people who are declined are for the reason that they have a thin cornea. who knew?).

The cost is a bit much ($4400), but my insurance gives us a 15% discount (bringing it down to $3740). When you consider the fact that I now spend roughly $400/year on care related to corrective lenses (exam co-pays, contact lenses, glasses, contact solution, eye drops, etc)... well, it should pay for itself in less than 10 years. And when you factor in the issues with wearing corrective lenses (scuba diving, anyone?), we decided it was more than worth it (I figure my family & I have already spent roughly $10,000 on my eyes since I was first told I needed glasses!).

In fact, Jason's been trying to talk me into it probably since we got together.

But I'm a little wary of someone messing with my eyes, so... I procrastinated.

But, it's time.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Me and my Big Fat Belly

Mommy, I have a question.

What's that Baby?

Why you have a big, fat belly?

stutters} Well... I think it's because I ate too much. Why do you think I have a big, fat belly?

thinks a minute} I think that's just how it is.


looking down} My belly is just a little fat. Your belly is big & fat.

Your belly gets a little fat right after you eat, but when you haven't eaten, you're my skinny minny.

giggles} Will your belly always be big & fat?

Well... I'm trying to make it smaller.

{looks out the window}


I'll admit it, I burst out laughing when she first asked me the question. I was so taken by surprise.

After the conversation I really got to thinking about how I answered her questions. And for possibly the first time in her entire life, I struggle with how to address this with her.

Part of me wants to agree with her answer "that's just how it is". I want her to know that people come in all different shapes & sizes, and all of them are beautiful & worthy in their own way. But I also want to somehow acknowledge to her that my "big, fat belly" is not healthy. But at the same time, I don't want to instill some weight concern in my 3 year old. I don't want to end up with a 6 year old who's afraid to eat because mommy's belly got big & fat from eating too much.

But how do you successfully address all three perspectives in a way that a preschooler can understand?

I won't bring it up again, but I want to be prepared should she bring it up again.


Oh, and she's starting to lose her "little fat" belly. Not long ago I read an article that said most kids lose their post-meal belly by 4 years of age. Sure enough, Jason & I were just noting the other day that following a large meal, she barely had a belly at all, as opposed to the big ole Buddha belly she used to get after every meal.

One of those physically visible milestones of growing up that makes me simultaneously proud & happy for how she's growing up, and sad for... well, my baby growing up. I'm gonna miss that whole kitten-full-of-milk look.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dear Lord, THANK YOU

3 wks ago, on life support, just a few days from when they had to decide whether or not to pull the plug

Yesterday, with his dad outside for the first time

Dear Lord,

Words cannot express my gratitude for the medical miracle you have wrought in my nephew. So I will just say THANK YOU.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

If Tomorrow Never Comes

As cheesy as it may sound, recent events in our lives have this song on my mind a lot lately. Does my family really know how much I love them? If today were our last day together, do they know? Not just my family, but my friends, all of my loved ones? Do they know how much they mean to me? Have I done what I can to show them?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quick Note to My Readers / Bloggy Friends

I am still trying to get back in the swing of things following all my family drama.

I am finally reading blogs on a regular basis again, on my lunch break as usual.
However... for some reason my work's internet security is now blocking a few of the blogs I follow. So if you don't hear from me, that's why    :(

I am very much behind in reading  / responding to comments left on my posts. And emails. Sorry. I'm working on it. But I promise I haven't forgotten you and I am most definitely not ignoring you.

I've noticed I've picked up a few new readers lately. Maybe you stopped by for one post. Maybe you hung around. Whatever the case is, welcome.
If you commented or sent me an email, I'll get to it, I promise.
I also like to check out the blogs of my readers, so that's on my list as well.

Mostly I guess the point of this post is to make sure you know that I do appreciate all of my bloggy friends, even if I'm a little behind on my end of the game right now.

I always liked you guys, but the past few weeks have shown me how very awesome you are.

Thank you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Well, that was fast

How quickly could you pack up your family and move across 4 states?

My sister & her family plan on doing it in 2 weeks.

It helps when God's involved.

You know, how else would my brother-in-law apply for, interview for, and get hired for a job in his field in one day?

How else is it possible that my sister's old job is currently open? The exact same job, at the same company, that she left a few years ago when they moved? And her old boss wants her back.

The family drove back home and started informing family, friends, and the church that they are leaving. The next Monday BIL gave his two weeks notice at his job. They told him to leave. He packed that night and drove back to Ohio the next day. Started his new job on Wednesday of that week.

Now... just waiting for that perfect house to open up...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


My nephew is currently in a neurological rehabilitation center, and is continuing to recover.

He is still on a feeding tube.

He still has a trach in, but breathes mostly on his own. He does occasionally need a ventilator to regulate his breathing.

He is re-learning how to walk (my sister has a grainy, but Hallelujah!-type cell phone video of his 1st steps. If I can ever figure out how to post it on here, I will).

The rehab center is ready to discharge him. To his guardian. His social worker is asking for where.

Yes, his social worker.

My nephew is now mentally retarded.

As in, he needs 24/7 monitoring.

They estimate it will be anywhere from 1 - 3 years of rehabilitation before they know where he will end up permanently, as far as his mental facilities go.

As a handicapped, completely-dependent person, he is currently a ward of the state. Guardianship has yet to be determined.

The facility he's in wants him released to his "home".

The majority of his family (including my mother, who has 17 years of experience with mentally retarded and developmentally disabled individuals) believe it is in his best interest to be moved to another rehab facility until he is further along in his recovery.

My sister and brother-in-law are rushing to find out their options, but the facility wants him released next week. And wants to know where.

And as far as "home" goes...

- the uncle he was staying with when he overdosed has admitted to being the source of the drugs TheBoy took, and has fessed up to a closet drug addiction himself. He's also a dealer.

- his egg donor is a drug addict herself, doesn't work, has been in & out of prison for years, and is where TheBoy first got introduced to a life in drugs

- his father (and stepmother, my sister)... well, they don't have a house in Ohio yet. They are moving back. And have jobs, but... no house yet.

- the rest of my family lives a minimum of 90 minutes from where he (currently) needs to go for rehab

- NONE of us are able to handle him in his current state

As far as logistics goes, none of us lives in a wheelchair accessible home. And right now, he cannot walk.

None of us are in a position to provide him with 24/7 care. Not even with multiple people taking turns / stepping in when the primary caregiver is unavailable

He is currently on a feeding tube for all nutrition, and a ventilator "when needed". He needs assistance bathing. He cannot be left alone. Period. Oh, and he's well over six feet tall, and a STRONG young man, who no longer knows his own strength (something my mother is all to familiar with, considering her experience).

My point is, they want him to go "home". There is no home that is able to care for him in the way he needs taken care of.

Perhaps if / when he recovers more fully. In fact, his dad is counting on it.

But the fact is that right now, the very best place for him to get the care that he needs, is in a specialized facility with staff properly trained to give him what he needs, and continue his rehabilitation in house.


Please pray for TheBoy's continued recovery, and for my sister & her family as they deal with the immense amount of stress this is putting on their family unit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Have I Done? What Am I Doing?

I'm not gonna lie, the death of my father-in-law has me really thinking about what I've done with my life.

He was not a great man by worldly standards, but he did so much to serve others. At the end of his life, with the multitudes of people who came to pay their respects, from all parts of society, across several states, he showed that he truly lived the Scripture to the best of his ability. 

"...If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.-- Mark 9:35b

That got me thinking:

What have I done? Who am I serving? Can I do more? What example do I want to leave for my children? What legacy do I want to leave? What am I doing to serve others?

If you've read my blog for long, you know that I've struggled a lot with balance, and and though I've considered becoming more involved in the community again, I've been hesitant because if how long it took our family to find this balance that we now have.

I think it's time to put that fear aside, and to take the plunge. I think it's time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jena's First Pedicure

She loves getting her nails done, so when she found out I had gone to a grown-up place to have mine done, she was all about it.

I was a little concerned about how she would react to a stranger messing with her feet, but she loved it!

happy girl

making sure mommy & daughter are getting the same thing done

relaxed much?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where do you draw the line?

So, following my father-in-law's passing, my mother-in-law didn't want to be alone.

Perfectly understandable for someone who has never lived alone. As did many women in generations past, she went straight from her family's home to her husband's home. At 58 years of age, she has never lived alone.

She did not spend the night alone for 3 weeks after he passed.

Totally understandable. I cannot imagine what an adjustment that will be.

She's also starting asking her sons, mostly Jason, for assistance around the house. Again, perfectly understandable.

The middle son (who lives out of town) has paid for someone to mow the lawn for the next 6 weeks. He also took care of some minor home repairs while he was in town.

The Monday after he left, my MIL asked FireMan to come over to take the garbage out that night. He did. The next morning, as she was leaving for work, she called to ask him when he was bringing the empty cans back in. He went over & did it.

You know, the brand new, easy-to-roll cans that the boys chipped in to purchase to make the task easier for her.

I'm not gonna lie, without some deeper explanation that she has not been willing (or is unable) to provide, I think this is excessive.

I cannot accept "because a man as always done this for me" as a good reason to ask someone, anyone, to drive over to your house and perform such a simple task for you.

My 91-year-old grandma with arthritis takes out her own trash & brings the can back in the house.

When I was 8 months pregnant, with a history of a bad back, I would drag our no-wheels garbage cans across our bumpy driveway to put out the trash.

She is only 58-years-old, works a full time job (ie. is capable of working), has a short, smooth driveway, and brand new easy-to-roll trash cans.

So, we struggle.

How much is adequate support for a widow? your mother-in-law? whose loss occurred less than a month ago?

How much becomes a hindrance to her? holding her back from becoming stronger? enabling her to be helpless?

I'm really struggling with this. I want to be respectful, and helpful, and sympathetic. I do not want to "help" her in a way that both holds her back, and put an unnecessary strain on my husband & family. But how do you find that balance?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You Take Each & Every Day, Make it Special in Some Way

This was Papaw & Jena's song. It would come on and he would grab her & dance, do a little car-boogie if they were driving, and both of them would sing along. She knows almost all the words.

The day "Where I Belong" came on when Jena told me to turn the music up? It was followed immediately by this song. She sang. I cried.

Now that I've really listened to the words, I understand why Papaw made this their song. It's such a sweet, sweet song of love.

And you know what baby girl? I love the way you hold me too.

Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


The doctors are using the word "miracle".

They don't understand it. They cannot medically explain TheBoy's recovery.

He is talking. He recognizes everyone who comes into his room. He holds conversations. He is 100% off the ventilator. And today he will be moved to a neurology rehabilitation center.

Just three days ago his family had a serious conversation about whether or not to pull the plug.

Today was the day they had to decide: pull the plug, or move him to a long-term-care / convalescent facility.

Instead, he is sitting up, breathing on his own, and holding conversations.

My brother-in-law already has a job. Yes, not just a lead, he has a job. He applied yesterday. They interviewed & hired him on the spot.

My sister is looking for a house.

They will go back to Iowa next week so they can inform the church of their move, and he can give 2 weeks notice to his job, but he anticipates being told to not come back, at which point he will go to Ohio to start his new job, while my sis stays in Iowa and packs up the house.

I cannot thank you enough for interceding on my nephew's behalf. We got our miracle.

A huge thanks to everyone who prayed, send well wishes, and supported us in any way thru this time. I know it's not completely over yet, but... we got our miracle.

All glory to God.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Nephew is Watching TV

I cried with happiness when I got the text from my sister.

The other day TheBoy finally got a tracheotomy. They had tried to do one before, but his oxygen levels plummeted to deathly low levels so quickly when they took his breathing tube out, that they had to abort the procedure.

But they needed to do it. Unless they could get him breathing better, his oxygen levels would never be at high enough levels to promote healing to his organs. And, the doctors were confident once the trach was in and the breathing tube out, he would do better off of sedation, because apparently breathing tubes are quite uncomfortable, while a tracheotomy is, apparently, comfortable for the patient.

The second time around, the procedure went very well. Within 24 hours they had successfully taken him off of sedation. He was looking around the room, watching everyone who walked by, and even watching television!

I never thought I would be so happy that my nephew was watching TV!

My sister said it reminds her of when FireGirl was a baby - like he's a baby in a 6'4" body. He can't move, can't communicate, but is taking it all in.

I am so freakin' happy right now people. I can't even stand it.

We cannot thank you enough for your continued prayers, well wishes, and support.

This will be a long road, so please keep 'em coming!

As always, thanks for checking in.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


So, I've been doing a bit of googling regarding coma patients.

I don't think he's in a coma.

The same day I was reading about that, my sister texted me to say TheBoy isn't actually in a coma.

Funny how many of these "coincidental" timings have occurred since it first happened.

Considering what I've seen first hand and been told from the family that is there all the time, combined with what I could read, I think he is actually in a "minimally conscious state". I would say definitely when he's off sedation.

The good news? MCS has one of the better 12-month prognoses of all traumatic brain injury states.

Keep praying!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


So, come to find out that TheBoy has been under sedation for about a week.

Because he kept trying to take out his breathing tube.

The other day, they took him off the sedation. Within half an hour he was looking around, following people across the room with his eyes. Registering people, and movement.

Unfortunately, within an hour he was showing signs of withdrawal (since sedation is a narcotic, he's essentially been on drugs since he came into the hospital). Eventually his symptoms became so drastic (violent outbursts, profuse sweating, vomiting, etc) that they put him back under.

Yet still, hours later, back under sedation, he had another violent outburst, and is showing different reactions based on who is visiting him. And yes, the nurse has documented that these things are happening, not just family members' imaginations.

He is responding. He is registering, to some degree, what is going on around him.

Please continue to pray for his healing.

Please pray for strength, peace, and FAITH for the entire family.

I also ask that you pray for God's presence in the hospital. It appears that there is some spiritual warfare going on there as well.

Thank you so much (again) for your continued prayers & support. I cannot tell you how much it means to us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Roller Coaster

I saw TheBoy.

And I feel awful.

About my last post.

This is such a roller coaster.

I saw him react to my sister kissing his forehead.

And I don't know how to explain it, but it just seemed like he was "awake" while we were in there, like he was aware of us, and listening to us.

I know that sounds crazy. I know it does. He's in a coma, how can he be "awake"?

Lord - I am so sorry if I showed a lack of faith in any way.

Boy - I am so sorry if I gave up on you too soon.

I am not giving up. On TheBoy or God.

And I am so, so sorry.

I considered deleting my last post. That's how much I regret it. But then I figure, someone out there may have gone / will go through something similar. And I want them to know that it happens. This roller coaster happens.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I think he's already dead

I wrote the other day on how I strongly felt like it was over, that God had done all he was going to do.

It took me a while to realize why the feeling was familiar. It was the same feeling as when my father-in-law had died. I don't really know how to describe it, what to call it, but it's just this feeling that it's over. There is nothing more to do, nothing to ask God for, nothing to plead for. It's just over.

It was the same feeling.

And when I realized that, I shamed myself for lack of faith, for giving up on him.

It wasn't a conscious decision, just a feeling. But I had difficulty asking God for healing since that day. I just felt so strongly that He was done.

Last night, my sister & I were talking. The neurologist has said TheBoy is brain dead. There is no sign of any brain activity. The things they thought they saw yesterday he is quite sure are hopeful imaginings of his father. TheBoy was hooked up to an EEG the entire time, and there was not so much as a blip of brain activity. They were unable to put in the tracheotomy because his oxygen levels dropped so drastically when they took his breathing tube out, that they didn't have time to put in his trach. They almost lost him twice while trying. He cannot survive on his own.

They still won't use the words "life support", but he cannot live without his ventilator & feeding tube. There has been no sign of any brain activity.

My sister asked me: "If you're being kept alive by machines, if the only thing keeping your body alive is a machine, when does your soul actually leave your body?"

The minute she said that, I knew.

That's why a few days ago, my feelings suddenly changed.

He's dead. He had died. His soul had left his body.

There is nothing left to do. His body is just a shell.

The family has decided that they will make a decision 6 days from now. That gives a week to wait for any sign of recovery. Tests will also be re-run to check function.

I think we already know the answer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For the Love of Family

With all the things my family has experienced lately, I find myself reflecting on family a lot.

In experiencing tragedy and drama, we see family, however you define it. We discover who our family is.

I am incredibly blessed to belong to an ridiculously awesome family. Oh, sure, we have our issues. We most definitely are not perfect. But there is love. There is so much love.

Real love. Sacrificial love. Showing up love. Being there love. True love. Pure love.

A type of love that we don't often see nowadays.

This became ever more evident as my nephew began his struggle. I cried to my sister one night, worried that he never realized how very much I loved him.

She laughed at me.

If there is one thing these kids know, it's that our family loves them unconditionally, she said. She reminded me of their rough childhood. She reminded me that you can see it in their faces when they come to visit. You can see it in teenagers who for their birthday ask simply for grandparents & aunts to take them out for a visit. You see it in how they try to come in for Christmas every year.

I remember seeing it in my nephew's face when I introduced my daughter, his cousin to him.

You see, these kids - my sister's stepchildren - never knew real love until they met our family. They knew a kind of "love" that asked things of them, even as children. They only knew relatives to want something from them. They only knew a conditional love. They only knew life in a "I'll show you love if you make me happy" sort of way.

Even though I knew of their circumstances, of their lives before us, I never thought of it in relation to how we as individuals come to define such broader topics as "love".

We were the first people to accept them exactly as they were, to not expect anything of them at all. Despite having known a birth mother, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents before meeting us, they had never before had anyone give to them, without expecting anything in return. We were the first people in their lives to let them just be.

Since that conversation with my sister, I've been paying attention to my relationships with others, to others' relationships with their family.

I guess I never realized how rare this is.

Or maybe I just assumed that everyone had this kind of love from their family. But they don't.

My mother exemplifies this unconditional, sacrificial love. Not just towards her children, but towards everyone.

I can only hope that I will someday live up to her example.


As I'm wrapping up this post on love, my mind keeps wandering to the love God speaks of, how he loves us, and how he instructs us to love one another.

Perhaps that's why my mother loves the way she does. Maybe she doesn't even realize it, but having spent her entire life studying Scripture, perhaps she has come to a place where she lives it without trying, where it exudes from her as a part of her.

I'm reminded of our Father's love towards us:

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  -- Romans 5:8

Talk about unconditional love! He didn't wait until we became good enough to sacrifice Himself. No, he died for us knowing full well the sinners we were! Amazing love!

And it doesn't end there:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -- John 3:16

Have you ever really thought about that verse? Whoever believes in Christ as the Savior shall have everlasting life! That's it. He requires nothing more of us in order to accept the greatest gift anyone could ever give. The only thing we need to do to receive this gift... is to accept it. Much like my nieces & nephew never had to do anything for me to take them out, or give them a gift, or buy them a trinket - they just had to accept it.

I know some of you are saying 'wait, what about all those commandments? all those rules?' - yeah, they're still there. Similar to the instruction of my parents, they are there to help us become better people, and in trying to follow them, we open ourselves to even more blessings than we already have. But do we need to do them to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Nope. All we need to do is believe.

As for how God instructs us to love one another:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."  -- Galations 5:13

That's it, isn't it? We have been called to unconditionally love one another. We do not use our new found freedom in God to serve ourselves, but to serve one another.


I'm not there yet. I'll never be perfect. But I can try. I can re-evaluate my life, and I can re-adjust how I see others, determine how I can best serve them in love.

Happy Mother's Day everyone. Now go enjoy some momma-love!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Modern Medicine has Nothing on GOD

So, after my last post about how we were praying for a miracle:

- TheBoy has opened his eyes and looked around the room on several occasions

- He has made eye contact with multiple people as they talked to him

- He has begun squeezing the hands of whoever his holding his hand

- He continues to do more & more on command

Now, granted, none of us are brain experts, but these appear to be significant improvements to us. He shows us more & more that he is registering what is around him.

No, his breathing has not yet improved, but to us it seems apparent that other mental facilities are.

Keep praying people. God is listening!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"What you see is what you'll get"

Late last night I got a phone call to update me on my nephew's situation.

The neurologist sat down both parents today, and informed them that he believes TheBoy  has recovered as much as he will. Ever. His words to the family were "What you see now, is what you'll get."

He cannot come off the ventilator.

While he is breathing on his own, the part of his brain that controls how deep you breathe, among other things, is not responding at all. The part that tells you things like "breathe deeper", "you have too much spit in your mouth, you need to swallow", and "it's time to pee now" - that part.

So while technically he is not on life support... he will die without a ventilator to regulate his breathing.

His dad and birth mom are in agreement that TheBoy would not want to live like that. They plan to disengage the ventilator in the near future.

My sister & their youngest daughter are flying in from Iowa. As long as TheBoy was improving, they were staying in hopes that the girl could finish out the school year (I think she has 6 more days), but with this new news, they are coming in.

We don't have a date yet. They haven't decided on one. But nothing will be done before the rest of the family gets here.

They also want to give it "some time" to see if we get our miracle. But they don't want him to suffer needlessly for long.

They are putting in a tracheotomy, as well as moving the feeding tube out of his mouth & directly into his stomach, both in efforts to make him more comfortable.

The best of modern medicine says there is no hope.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On Healing, Faith, and Emotions

Yes, I believe God can and does perform miraculous healings.

Yes, I believe God sometimes does this outside of medical intervention.

Yes, I believe God sometimes uses medical intervention to perform healings.

Yes, I have faith that God will do this at the request of His followers, within His will.

Yes, all of these things give me hope.

Yes, I believe God sometimes says 'no', for reasons we may never understand.

Yes, I believe God sometimes says 'yes... but not how you would like'

Yes, these things occasionally make me feel sad.


When I had my accident, and for the four years thereafter, I had several people tell me I should attend a healing service, ask people to pray over my injury. I never did. Not because I thought He wouldn't, but because from the moment it happened, I had this feeling that I was supposed to go thru this, that this was my cross to bear. To ask to be healed of something I was supposed to go to seemed like a violation. When I did eventually have my surgery, the timing felt perfect, and to me it was no less miraculous than if I had been spontaneously healed years before.


For years before he passed, my father-in-law believed that if God wanted him to be healed, God would do it. He did not want medical intervention.

Looking back on the past few years, I honestly believe God brought him thru several heart attacks in the past 3 years, none of which even incapacitated him. I can think of three such episodes just off the top of my head.

Our entire family has had great comfort in looking back over his life, and believing that he died because it was time.


My nephew (let's call him TheBoy) has achieved incredible healing, that has been in direct opposition to what Western medicine has said his prognosis will be.

When his overdose first happened, we were told that within 48 hours the family will need to make a decision about life support (ie. whether or not to pull the plug). He was not breathing on his own at all.

Less than a week later, he can breathe on his own, he reacts to physical & emotional stimuli, he opens his eyes on command, his kidney failure resolved almost overnight, as did his liver failure.

We have gone from crying out to God to "JUST LET HIM LIVE!" (literally, I literally sat in my living room and cried those words to my Father), to asking him to be well enough to attend his sister's graduation party in 3 weeks.

Since the moment I heard of his overdose, I never had "the bad feeling", the feeling that precedes knowing someone will die (if you've had it, you know what it feels like). I have had a good feeling, an optimistic feeling, and I believed God would continue to improve TheBoy's physical condition.

Until today. I don't have "the bad feeling". But I no longer have the good feeling either. I feel strongly that God is saying this is it, this is as far as He is bringing TheBoy's physical healing.

I won't pretend to know why. And perhaps I am wrong. But I don't think I am.

My faith is still strong, and I believe God has a reason for this, we just don't know what it is yet.

And I am immensely grateful for God sparing TheBoy's life, and for the incredible improvements we have seen. I thank God for giving him another chance.

But still, I am sad. Dejected. I cannot think straight. The tears flow freely.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

*update on my nephew*

My brother-in-law met with my nephew's neurologist. It's never good when they ask you to sit down.

He said that my nephew's entire brain is damaged. Not just a spot, not just a part, the entire brain. All that is left is to wait & see how much it will recover.

His brain stem is intact & working properly - which controls life essential functions like breathing, heart beating, etc.

But... the part of your brain that controls reflexes (breathe deeper, you need to swallow, it's time to pee) is not working at all.

He told the family to prepare themselves that he will never be the same. Even if when he wakes up, he won't be the same person anymore.

My brother-in-law is looking for jobs in Ohio (they currently live in Iowa), near where my nephew is, and has a possibility already lined up. My sister has started looking for housing in the area.

This is hard.

All I Know is I'm not Home Yet

The day after my father-in-law passed away, this song came on the radio when Jason & I were driving to his mother's house. We both started bawling immediately.

Papaw never did belong here. He never did quite fit in. This is not where he belonged. This world was so very clearly not his home.

This song would come on the radio every. single. time. we got in the car for the next week. Every time. Multiple times a day.

We tried to find the artist.Went to the KLOVE website. This song was the featured video on the main page. Popped up as soon as we got to the site. We didn't even have to look for it. It was staring us in the face.

Two days ago, I was in the car with Jena. She started talking about Papaw going to Heaven. I turned the radio down to zero volume. Quite randomly, she asked me to turn the music up. This song had started playing.

I've liked this song since the first time I ever heard it, in a worship service at our church.

Now it has taken on an entirely new meaning, not only for me, but for our family.

You know what? I'm not home yet. But he is.

"All I know is I'm not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong"


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

*update on my nephew* - continued improvements

He continued movements throughout the rest of the day yesterday and this morning.

More dramatically... he opened his eyes on command !!!!

His sister & girlfriend were in the room when his doctor asked him to. And he did. So my niece ran out of the room & dragged their dad in. His dad put his hand on my nephew's chest & said "Hey - it's Dad"... and he looked at him!

They said his eyes did not appear to register anything, but did find him physically.


Thank you so much for your continued thoughts & prayers. We believe God is working a miracle on him.

More Randoms

I've had a headache for 5 days now. It goes away for a few hours a day, but most of the time, I have a headache.


The other day I finally figured out that caffeine seems to help it feel better. So my Weight Watchers plan has been bust the past two days, as I've gone from 2-3 caffeinated drinks per week, to 3 Pepsi's per day.


Today is also Jena's school pictures. Her class is actually supposed to go on Friday, but she doesn't attend school on Friday. So she'll miss the class picture. We tried to arrange to bring her in just for the picture, but apparently the photographer doesn't have a schedule (??? - really?), so they can't even give me an estimated time for the pic. They offered to call me before they start her class so I could "run her in real quick", but that doesn't exactly work when you live 20 minutes from the school, and she's supposed to be at my parents' house 40 minutes from the school. I don't think holding things up for 20-40 minutes is gonna work.

So she has her individual shots done today. She even let me fix her hair. I put her in a "nice" solid colored long-sleeved Tshirt, and her black dockers, with her good tennis shoes. Figured solid colors usually look better, especially since I don't know what background they're using.

Apparently, I am not the majority. Most of the kids in the classes getting their pictures done today were dressed. to. the. nines. Frilly dresses, dress shirts & slacks, all hairbows & headbands, ribbons & curls.

{{ sigh }}


The injured chicken is still living in the laundry room. I have named her PegLeg. And we now let her into the house when we're home. She usually makes her way to the living room, settles in, and watches television. It's actually kinda funny.


Jena thinks "PegLeg" is a hilarious name. Which is even funnier because I'm 99% sure she doesn't actually get it, she just thinks it sounds funny.

Monday, May 7, 2012

*update on my nephew* - PRAISE

He still has pneumonia, but... his breathing has improved enough that they are going to once again try to wean him off of the ventilator.

His kidneys & liver still are not working properly, but neither is considered in "failure" any more.
However... the drugs are still in his system, because none of the organs designed to filter toxins are working properly.

MRI was done yesterday, no "official" results yet. Tech told the family there was evidence of frontal lobe damage. But... not only did he spend years playing football, more significant is the severe brain injury he had when he was around 15 yrs old. We thought we'd lost him then. I don't know if the hospital has his old scans, but... I guess I'm trying to figure out how his brain would get "injured" from an overdose, and wondering if the injury they're seeing is actually his old one. I guess we'll just have to wait & see.

Also on the brain front... today the doctor had the family join in some basic tests:
    - his girlfriend was told to make him angry. She told a story about a time she pawned a very expensive necklace he had given her. Everyone in the room (including the doctor) saw a scowl come across his face!
    - his sister was told to tickle his feet. She did... and he jerked his legs! Both of them!
    - perhaps most dramatic, when his dad (my BIL) walked into the room and started talking, he raised his arm straight up in the air! on his own!

Praise the Lord!

It is still too soon to know for sure, but even the doctor said everything they've seen so far today should be considered positive! Hallelujah!

Eulogizing my Father-in-Law

as we remember him - smiling, laughing, and  videotaping EVERYTHING so we would have memories to look back on. Yep, that's him.

He was a great man. Something we all knew, but didn't quite realize the extent of until we were forced to think about his life all at once.

Here is the biography his sons & wife wrote for his funeral service.

Bill's family is blessed with enough memories to fill the pages of an entire library of books that will be passed down from generation to generation at family reunions large enough to fill a city. Bill blessed his family with moments and experiences they will forever cherish. As written by those closest to his heart to share the highlights of his life by sharing his memory, this is Bill's story.

Bill was born in 1949  and raised on a farm in Kentucky, with 4 brothers and 2 sisters. He grew up as a Roman Catholic. At the age of 23, he was drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He had a very personal and dramatic salvation experience. A co-worker witnessed to him on the job and invited him to a Pentecostal Church, where he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. This was where he met his wife of 38 years, Delores.

Bill was a skilled brick and stone mason, which God has used to build schools, churches, playgrounds, and orphanages in the United States as well as Romania, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Grenada, and Mexico. God has been able to use Bill's talents and abilities to help numerous missionaries in those countries through his physical labor and his large zest to share joy with everyone he came in contact.

In 1990-2000, Bill served, with his wife, in the Royal Rangers Ministry. He was a commander and taught young boys about Christ and the outdoors. He had a very strong passion for the boys in this ministry. Through this ministry, he became very skilled in the Tomahawk Throw, Knife Throw, and Muzzleloader Shooting. He saw many boys come to the Lord through this ministry and built up in God's Word. Bill, through the Royal Rangers, displayed Godly character and principles that the kids could see and emulate.

In addition to being a brother and husband, Bill was the father of three sons, and grandfather to 3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter, who were all the loves of his life. He enjoyed spending time with them, camping, sharing the outdoors, going to the park, and attending their sporting events.

Bill was very helpful to his sons with building and remodeling projects with their houses. He was always eager to help them get the job done. He also enjoyed sharing recreational activities with them such as boating, skiing, scuba diving, jet skiing, and cliff jumping. All the boys can share stories about their dad's crazy antics, zest for life, and love of adventure. Bill always gave his boys lasting memories when it came to having fun.

As part of Bill's helpful personality, he worked for his wife at a chain of local gas stations. He went out his way to help make the stores and the employees proud of their work. Store managers were always glad to see him walk in the door because it meant he would get those things done that were often overlooked.

Eight years ago, Bill survived a massive heart attack, which began to limit his activities, but it didn't limit his love for his family, zest for life, and his desire to spread joy. Unfortunately, a second heart attack took his life, but his smile, love for his family, and dedication to God will always be remembered by everyone who knew him. Bill's laugh and encouraging words will be missed by all.


The night of his visitation, four sheriff's deputies had to be dispatched to help control the traffic flow around the funeral home. The funeral director said it might possibly have been the largest visitation service they have ever had in that location. For most of the night, people waited in line for over an hour to pay their respects. Instead of the scheduled 3 hour visitation, we were there for nearly 5 hours.

This isn't to brag, but to testify to what an awesome man he was, and the number of lives he touched.

Quite frankly, I think it has all of us left behind wondering if we are living up to what we can be in this life. What kind of testimony will we leave behind?


As always, thanks for checking in.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Update on my Nephew

First of all, thank you so much for your continued thoughts & prayers. It is truly appreciated.

His kidneys are now working properly, and he is off of dialysis!

However... his liver is now failing, and he has an "impressive" case of pneumonia in both lungs. He is still comatose and on a ventilator.

Biggest issue right now is the pneumonia. They determined his coma is the result of his brain being without sufficient oxygen for an extended period of time. He vomited in his sleep & aspirated on it, and they've determined it was anywhere from 1 to 10 hours between the time he aspirated and when he was found. His current pulse ox hovers around 75 (normal is in the 90s). He is on oxygen, but until his breathing improves, his oxygen levels aren't likely to. And without sufficient oxygen, his organs (including his brain) are in danger.

Please continue to pray for his healing, and also for his family, who is under immense stress at this time.

Thank you.

Random Updates

Egg production has increased. Need some regular customers, or I'll be making a LOT of egg recipes!


Work has been... frustrating. Still not clear what my role will be in the new division. Which probably explains why people both
a) aren't keeping me in the loop, and
b) are expecting me to know everything
Tough combo.


Tootsie keeps running away. Thru the invisible fence. Thru the strongest setting on the strongest collar you can get. She's now tied up. Which I hate. But it's for her own safety. After the 4th escape she had a gash on her head. If she weren't cat-aggressive, we'd have brought her inside for good.


Heck, if she weren't cat-aggressive, all the dogs would already be inside. That was the plan when we moved to this house, until we discovered her tendency to think cats are yummy.


Jena has been fighting sleep for weeks. Yes, since before her Papaw died. She's also been incredibly clingy,  especially towards me. I haven't been able to figure out why, and I also haven't been able to figure out how to get her to sleep. I'm hoping it's just another phase.

I feel so bad for her. She'll tell me "I'm so tired but I can't fall asleep!" It's like baby insomnia.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Explaining Death to a Three-Year-Old

Well, if you've followed me for long, you might gather that we prefer the open & honest path to difficult subjects with Jena. Of course, we attempt to word things on her level, but we've never shielded her from difficult topics. Death is no exception.

Jena has attended every funeral we've gone to since she was born. She went to her first one when she was about 6 months old.

And of course, you may remember when her kitten met an untimely death.

So our daughter is no stranger to the topic. But still, she's only 3 yrs old. And... this is the first close person to her to have passed.


When I got the phone call the night Papaw went into the hospital, Jena was with me. I told her Papaw (my FIL) was very sick and was at the hospital. His heart was very sick. But only adults could go where he was, so she would spend the night with Grandpa (my dad). We had to go fast, and please cooperate and do what I say, because this is an emergency.

Then I had to explain what "emergency" meant. She was proud of her new big word, and insisted on telling everyone that we had an e-mer-gency.

She told me Papaw needed to drink some more water (he always used to say that drinking water makes you better). She also told me that the doctor needed to take his "thing" and listen to Papaw's heart go "ba-boom, ba-boom". Smart kid.

I knew he had passed before we got to the hospital, but chose not to tell her that night. I knew there would be questions, and I knew she wouldn't want to leave me. So I met my dad in the parking lot of the hospital and handed her off, before heading in to be with Jason and the rest of the family (he had been on shift & so drove straight there).


The next day my dad brought Jena to my mother-in-law's house, where we were. We intercepted them in the driveway, so she wouldn't come in & see all the other people, and the crying. My dad chose to leave immediately.

Our conversation went something like this (Jason & I did this together, but I don't remember who said what, so words in blue are both of ours):

Mommy & Daddy need to talk to you about something really serious, okay?
Remember last night when I told you Papaw was really sick? His heart was really sick?


Well, he died. Papaw died.

Papaw died?

Yes, Papaw died.

Where he die?

(we knew this was coming, and Jason had prepared for it)

We walked her to the back yard, where Papaw had collapsed while working on the fence he was installing.

We showed her the spot.

Right here. Papaw was putting in a new fence, and he collapsed right here. The ambulance came to get him, but he was too sick, and he died on the way to the hospital.

long pause

If your heart no go ba-boom ba-boom no more, you die.

Yes, baby. If your heart stops going ba-boom, ba-boom, you die.
So Papaw's dead. He's in Heaven now, with God. He won't be here anymore.
Do you have any questions?

shakes head 'no'

Okay, well you let us know if you have any questions, or want to talk about anything, okay?

We went inside, where everyone immediately fell silent. Someone mouthed to me "does she know?", and I shook my head yes. Jena got down & started playing.


A couple of hours later, we were eating dinner (yummy church lady food), on the back deck.

Jena asked her first question.

Papaw died...

Yes, hunny, Papaw's dead.

Will Daddy finish the fence?

Of course, baby. Of course, Daddy will finish Papaw's fence for him.


Later that night, I was giving her a bath at my mother-in-law's house. Finally in a room alone, relaxed, the questions started coming. And then she asked for Jason, wanting to talk to Daddy about "dead" and "deading".

We talked a long time that night. I don't remember all of the conversation, but I do remember preparing her for the visitation & funeral, explaining that we would see Papaw one more time.

How we see Papaw? Papaw's in Heaven.


Well, hunny, when you go to Heaven, you get a new body, that's not sick anymore, not hurt anymore, it's just perfect! So Papaw's in Heaven with his new body, but his old body is still here. When we go to the funeral we'll see his old body one more time.

She thought for a minute.

I think Papaw's in his new body dancing in Heaven.

Yes, baby, I bet he is.

At one point, I could tell she was conflicted. She looked as if she wanted to cry, but was holding it back.

And so, I explained.

It's okay to be sad, hunny. We can be happy for Papaw that he's in Heaven now, we can be happy for him that he got his new body and isn't sick anymore, but we can still be sad for us, because we miss him so much. That's okay.

I was crying before I finished. And so was she.


Over the next few days, we talked a lot about Papaw in Heaven, in his new body, talked about his old body. Talked about being happy for him, being sad for us. I swear, I think she gets it better than any of us.


We took her to preschool two days after Papaw died. I informed the teachers, and told them that we were open & honest with her, that we were Christians, so that is the direction our conversations come from, and that if Jena had any questions or wanted to talk, they were welcome to talk with her, as much as they were comfortable.

She went to her old babysitter's twice (three times? I don't remember), and we also informed them that they were welcome to talk to her if she wanted. We are very familiar with the family, and knew their beliefs were the same as ours, so just told them to be honest with her if she wanted to talk.

Same at church on Sunday. She went to her class as usual, and we informed the teacher.

She talked with the babysitter a little, but not with anyone else. And that's okay too.


I could go on & on about the conversations we had with her the past few weeks. I really could. It's amazing to hear a three year old who seems to get it better than most adults.


As always, thanks for checking in.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Update on my nephew

Bad news: he is in kidney failure & is currently on dialysis.

Good news: although he is still unconscious, he is starting to show what appear to be deliberate movement (ie. trying to take his breathing tube out). His breathing has also improved, and the doctors are currently discussing whether or not to begin weaning him off of the ventilator.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers & support!

Screen Time

This seems to be a hot parenting topic, this screen time thing.

Honestly, I don't really think it's a big deal. But... I also am kinda in love with what we've worked out in regards to Jena's screen time. So here ya go.



Jena wasn't permitted to so much as look at a television until she was around 9 months old. If her head turned towards the flickering lights & sounds, we actually turned her head away & distracted her with a toy. Or a smile. Distraction is easy at that age.

That being said, the TV is on constantly at our house. I hate for it to be too quiet. But what this means is that it's not a thing we stare at and zombie out in front of. It's just background.

Which might explain why Jena has never had a thing for television. Oh, sure, she likes it. Has her favorite shows (currently Blue's Clues & Barney, but they change frequently). But... she might make it thru one entire 20 minute program a day actually watching the entire thing. More often than not she finds something she'd rather do, like play with the dogs, read, or draw. Or whatever.

The point being she doesn't spend much time actually watching television.

In fact, I can always tell when she isn't feeling well, or is really super-tired, because that is about the only time she'll zone out in front of the TV. And quite frankly, if that's the case, I don't really care.

Computer & SmartPhone (mine. Droid):

When Jena completes a chore or qualifying good deed (there's a matrix posted in the kitchen - things like helping with the chickens, good listening, picking up toys, etc), she earns a sticker for the matrix, and a purple ticket.

Purple tickets can be turned in for 15 minutes of computer or phone time.

Once she earns 6 stickers for a given item, she gets a pink ticket, which can be turned in for 30 minutes of computer or phone time, or the opportunity to buy a small toy at the store.

That is the only way she gets computer or phone time. Period.

Both are educational games only.
Computer is PBS, Sesame Street, Nick Jr, or StarFall games.
Phone is puzzle/reading or connect-the-dots/reading game that I've downloaded. Or scrolling thru my pictures & videos. Or taking new pictures. Or accidentally calling her aunt. Whatever.

Some days (like today), she has 3 purple and 1 pink ticket she can turn it. If she chose to turn them all in today, that would be quite a bit of screen time.

Other days, she has no tickets to turn in.

Oh, and tickets can also be taken away for bad behavior (mostly hitting mommy or lying).


Sure, I've been tempted to hand her my phone when I really just want need her to be quiet and/or sit still for JUST ONE MINUTE PLEASE!

But I know if I give in on that, then the reward system will never work.

And yes, there are days when I stretch that 15 or 30 minute boundary. Like when she was sick, and wanted to lounge around, and she sheepishly handed me a purple ticket with eyes that begged for computer time. Yeah, she got an hour that day.

But sick kids turn this mean mommy into a big softie.

So there's our screen time system.

What are your solutions to the screen time dilemma?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

* updated * *updated* URGENT prayer request

I just got word that my 22-yr-old nephew was found unresponsive. He had been home alone, and his sister found him when she came home.

She called 9-1-1 and he was taken to the local hospital.

That's all I know right now.

Please pray.


He is still unconscious and they have been unable to wake him up. He is on a ventilator.

They do not yet know the cause.

Preliminary tox screen was negative. They will do a detailed / deeper tox screen, but that will take time to get the results.

Apparently he was sick last night and had been sleeping on the couch since then, which is where my niece found him. Current theory is that he may have vomited in his sleep and aspirated on it.

He also had a severe brain injury about 7 years ago, so that will also be taken into consideration.

Please continue to pray for his healing.

Please also pray for his dad (my brother-in-law), who is driving across 4 states tonight to be with his son. He had already worked about 6 hours before leaving on this 10 hour drive. Please pray for his safety as he travels.


It was an overdose. A prescription drug (not sure which one).

His brain activity is "not good".

Please keep those prayers coming.

What to do when someone dies

Not you. Not your immediate family. The family or close friend of someone else, and you are wanting to pay your respects.

I also want to say that I understand that a lot of times people just aren't sure what to do. So here's some advice from a family that just went thru it.

I have at least one story for each of these. But for the sake of others' privacy, I won't share.


- remember it's not about you
Like, at all. Offering to do a tribute at the visitation or funeral is nice. But don't push it. And stop putting your name on everything. Repeatedly. It's not about you.

- send a card
Cards are great because those mourning can open them when they are ready, and they don't require any face-to-face reaction.

- stop asking how everyone is doing
The thought is nice, but pretty much everyone is grieving and sad. I know it's habit more than anything, but a better questions is "do you need anything?"
That and trying to contort my face into a sad one when I was actually having a pretty good moment, just so I'll seem sincere... well, it gets old. Just let me enjoy my good moment, 'kay?

- offer to bring food (
this would also apply for births, hospitalizations, etc)

But ask first. Hopefully someone is coordinating. If not, the fact that you even asked will be appreciated by the family. Especially when they receive 3 lasagnas on the same day. The family will remember that you asked before showing up. They really will. (I could seriously write a whole post on the food thing. Maybe I will).

- don't stay more than 15 minutes
Exception for close family members and friends. But staying for 7 hours to visit with the family? Excessive. Not only are they tired of entertaining you, there's also a good chance there's work they need to get done to prepare for the visitation / funeral, and you being there hinders that. And stop eating the free food that others have brought for the family. Especially if you didn't bring any.

- if the immediate family includes a small child, offer to babysit
Depending on how much work needs to be done to prepare for the visitation / funeral, a babysitter can be a God-send. And even if they don't need it, the offer will be appreciated.

- don't overestimate how close you are to the family
This requires you to be others-focused and humble, but seriously, don't think you're more important than you are. If they didn't call you when the deceased went into the hospital, chances are you aren't as close to them as you think you are.

- do something
Even if you feel awkward. Whether you bring food, send a card, stop by (for a few minutes), or call to see if they need anything, the family will take notice of who does these things, and who doesn't.

- go to the visitation / funeral
If you are able, go. If for some reason you cannot attend, send flowers. The family does notice. Even if you can't stay long. Even if you don't say a word, show up. It is appreciated.

- if you do attend the visitation / funeral, don't wander into the private family room
Even if you're (extended) family. And for crying-out-loud, don't eat the food in there. This is a private area for the grieving family to escape to if they need it, and to grab a bite if they need it after being on their feet for 3+ hours. This is not for you. If no one in the immediate family escorted you there, then it is not for you.
*side note* I didn't even know there were such things as private family rooms in funeral homes until 2 weeks ago...

- if you send flowers, put your address on the back of the card

This is seriously a very small detail, but I just finished writing out 'thank you' cards, so...
If the flower shop offers it, write it. The fact is that even though the funeral is over, the family is still grieving, tired, and stressed. But they will still likely send you a "thank you" card. Make it easier for them. (I could probably do a post on flowers too. Maybe I should)


In fact, the whole point of this post, is to help you make it easier on the grieving family. Nothing can change the fact that they are mourning the loss of a loved one. Nothing can make them happy before they are ready. But you can take some steps to make their lives a little bit easier in the days & weeks to come. And especially in these situations, every little bit helps.

What about you guys? Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicken Update

photo by Jena

See this chicken? She's injured.
Broken right foot, missing a toe off of her left foot, comb almost completely ripped off.

She found an opening under the chicken tractor & tried to get out. Jason found her stuck there. We didn't notice an injury at first (adrenalin??).

Then the rest of the flock turned on her. Apparently, this is normal chicken behavior.

So we brought her into a dog crate in our garage. She's much improved in the 2 weeks since we separated her, but I'm worried that even when she's as healed as she'll get, she won't be well enough to put back with the rest of the flock.

Now that she's doing better, I've begun putting her in the laundry room during the days we're home, and sometimes overnight. She seems to get more exercise when she has more room to roam. Hoping it will promote healing in her feet.

She gets around pretty well, just very slowly & unsteady.

And otherwise she's just fine.

Anyone want a pet chicken?

photo by Jena

The rest of the chickens are doing well. We get around 5 eggs per day. Some of them are still small though. Once we're getting a steady production of large eggs we'll begin selling them.

With the start of Spring we started moving their chicken tractor around the property, starting close to the house. So far, so good.

They stay in one location 2-3 days, then we move them a bit.
In that time they usually strip the ground of grass, but it grows back once they're moved.

I worry about predators at night, but solar powered lights around the edges of the coop, chicken wire expanding out from the bottom, plus four outdoor dogs (especially Buddy) seem to be doing the trick.

Doesn't keep me from worrying sometimes though.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Fat Butt Update (short)

Culinarily speaking, the past 10+ days have been a blur of church-lady-food and fast food on the run.

Not to state the obvious, but this is not conducive to weight loss. Or even weight-maintenance, for that matter.

Neither is the fact that I've always been an emotional eater, and it's been 2 weeks of raw emotion.

Struggling to get back on track, but a combination of emotions & hormones are making it difficult. Stupid hormones.

But I'll get there, I know.

As a side note, I see my endocrinologist later this week, the first time since going off the meds. I was hoping I'd be able to show him even more of a weight loss, but... oh well.

Setbacks (in every area) are part of life, and this is just that... a minor set back in my weight loss journey. I will get back on track, and I will drop some more poundage. I'm sure of it.

As always, thanks for checking in.
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