Thursday, October 12, 2017

Milestone: First Joke

Tonight at dinner, Leif (with sticky hands and a dirt beard) asked me, "Why did the frog cross the street?"  When I responded, "Why?" he triumphantly announced, "Because!"

Pleased by my amusement, he went on to perform a dozen permutations: Why did the milk cross the road?  Why did the fork cross the street?  Why did the red frog cross the street?  Why did the cup cross the road?  Why did the skeleton cross the road?

And the answer was always: Because!

It didn't get old, mostly because his proud, delighted face was so adorable.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Favorites

1. Starting from the end of the week: Scott's trach was removed this morning!  He no longer needs any assistance to breathe and can speak normally.
2. OK, going backwards: My sister and her husband were here over the weekend.  Brianna was so helpful at the hospital, making sure that Scott was getting adequate care and prodding the process along.  And Collin was an angel at home, playing with the boys and keeping them entertained.  They taught Mom and I to play a game called "One Night", which is a spin-off from "Werewolf" that was actually pretty fun.  Watching Brianna and Collin interact was bitter-sweet for me; they are so cute together.  I am so glad that my sister is happily married.
3. The Scott-highlight from Sunday was that he got off the ventilator!  At first, they gave him supplemental oxygen through a little mask over his trach but gradually that was weened away until he was able to breathe without any support.
4. Monday, Scott got out of bed for the first time in more than two weeks.  The nurses helped him into a wheelchair and I got to take him outside into the sun.  He also started talking; most of it was too quiet to hear and the rest was nonsense but those first attempts were wonderful to see.
5. I took two of the kids up to see Scott this week.  First, on Tuesday, I took Leif.  Leif was a little shy but Scott was very affectionate with him and Leif soon warmed up.  I brought a big stack of Scott's favorite picture books to read and was very surprised when Scott read the titles to me.  He also recited along at some parts: "tsk, tsk, tsk" in Caps for Sale and "dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum" in Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.  Seeing Leif happily sitting next to his dad on the hospital bed was good for my heart.
6. Scott also started physical therapy on Tuesday--which meant he got to walk!  He was so grateful for that; he kept telling the physical therapists how awesome they were.
7. Wednesday, I took up Carl who has been asking since day two to see his Dad.  It wasn't the best day for it--Scott was very lethargic--but Carl was great.  He showed Scott his LEGO creations and played Super Tux for him.  Afterward, someone from the Sycamore ward took Carl to play with their kids while I stayed with Scott.  Apparently, Carl got to see a ton of cool LEGOs, go to a baseball game, and attend a scouting activity.
8. Scott did perk up for one thing on Wednesday: when Asa and Sara came to visit.  Asa is like magic for Scott.  When he came, Scott was having his mandatory out-of-bed time, sitting up in a wheelchair.  Asa entered and Scott lit up, even more than the last time.  He was really trying to communicate with Asa; I'm certain the mental exercise was good for him.  Asa brought another one of the dogs (Tuvane this time) and let Scott pet him.  Scott was happy to see Asa and the dog; I was happy to see Sara.  I like her so much.
9. That night, Carl and I stayed in Sycamore at the bishop's house.  That night, I had the best sleep I have had since ... well, probably since Soren was born.  I think it's because the basement was cool and dark.  I slept from 10:00 pm until 9:00 am on Thursday morning!
10. Thursday, Carl got to participate in Scott's physical therapy and he was very excited and impressed by everything that Scott did.  Even though his abilities are so very minimal, Carl thought everything was amazing.  I was so grateful for his optimism.
11. Which brings us back to Friday.  Today, Scott seemed to be doing much better.  A couple of masons went up to visit him this morning and installed him as the junior warden (an office he was elected to just before his fall).  I was worried that Scott would still be lethargic and non-responsive so it was wonderful when Brother Knox called me, just glowing about the experience.  He said that Scott was very alert and cheerful, that he seemed to know what they were doing, and that he tried to recite a bit of ritual when they handed him his jewel of office.  I got to see for myself later that afternoon just how much better he was looking and interacting.
12.  All the signs of progress from Scott have been nice but the best thing really hasn't changed: I just like to sit next to him on the bed, to touch him and let him touch me, to be grateful that he is still alive and that we can still love each other.  I have felt that if we could still have that, we could face anything.  Well, we do--and we can.
13. I took Brinton with me today.  He played Minecraft, which Scott enjoyed watching.  I enjoyed the car rides to and from the hospital with Brinton.  Getting to talk with him is one of the joys of being a Berg child.
14. There are favorites that happened away from the hospital, too.  Like: my dad came back and finished landscaping my front yard.  It is clear of bushes now with beautiful new grass.  Then, he and my mom repainted the porch railing.  It looks amazing.
15. It was nice to watch Leif attach himself to my mom over the week.  He really likes her now and is happy to go with her--even just to run errands.  He is growing up so much.  They all are.
16. One more thing: almost every day this week, Sven has randomly come up and given me a hug, then told me that he loves me.  Those moments super-charge me.  I am so grateful for the kids.  Being with them, having their cheerful optimism rub off on me, is a huge blessing.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Favorites

1. Church on Sunday was so refreshing.  I've never felt so desperate for the spiritual nourishment of the gospel--or so relieved to receive it.  The hymns, especially, were a great source of comfort.
2. Asa and Sara, from our ward, came to visit me on Sunday afternoon.  We had a lovely conversation and then they took Toby away for a dog vacation.  They are planning to help me train Toby as a potential service dog--or at least a helpful dog for Scott.  Asa also says that he will help get the attic finished for Scott before he comes home from the hospital.  I am so grateful for their friendship.
3. When I went to visit Scott Sunday night, he had his eyes open.  He was moving the hand that I held and opened his eyes really wide whenever I left his field of vision.  I was so happy to see him awake--and every day he got a little more alert.
4. Monday, the kids and I went back to our normal routine.  We still have a bit of homeschool to finish up before Midsummer and it felt good to work with them again.  It brought me a rush of pleasure to watch them make music, read capably, and figure out tricky problems.  Scott and I have made some pretty cool kids and I couldn't be prouder of them.
5. Also on Monday, our college friend Monique came.  She stayed three days and spent most of her time up at the hospital, watching and talking with Scott.  It was really great to see her and I was grateful to know that Scott wasn't being left alone while he was returning to consciousness.
6. I talked to the nurse practitioner with neurology on Monday and she said so many hopeful things that I was giddy.  When I came home, a friend brought me dinner and flowers; I think I startled her with my exuberance.  But when you think your husband might be incapacitated for the rest of his life and an expert tells you that he could potentially get his functioning back--well, that's pretty heady stuff.
7. On Tuesday, when the kids and I went to the library, Carl brought his big jar of savings and paid off the big replacement fee on his card for the "How to Train Your Dragon" playaway that has been missing for almost six months.  I was really proud of him and he was excited to have a clear account that could check out anything again.  The librarian felt really bad taking his money; she gave him a receipt and told him that if he ever found the playaway he could get his money back.  We were certain that would never happen but ...
8. On Thursday, I got the little harp out from behind the red sofa so I could take it to the hospital and I found the playaway!  Carl was so excited.  He said it was the *best* day ever.  He danced around the house for an hour.  It was wonderful to see him so exuberant.
9. Back to Tuesday: Scott got the neck brace off and could finally have a shave!  He looks so much better without the horrible, scruffy facial hair.
10. Wednesday was the 12th day since Scott's accident and I thought he would appreciate a priesthood blessing on that, the symbolically significant day.  His dad and brother-in-law came to the hospital in the afternoon and gave him a beautiful blessing.  Rich said so very many hopeful things that I have held close to my heart ever since.  And after the blessing, I got to spend a lot of time alone with Scott.  It was the first time I really felt sure that he knew me and loved me, that he was glad I was there.
11. I have listened to a lot of mormon channel radio, which has soothed me.
12. My mom took the kids to Union Dairy and the park.  They rode the carousel for the first time this season.
13. I met with Brother Knox and Brother Ashe from Scott's lodge on Thursday.  They gave us some money on behalf of the brotherhood and have arranged for our lawn to be cut every week until Scott is able to do it himself.  I'm really glad Scott is a free mason--and they are really glad to be doing something meaningful.  
14. Speaking of masons, Brother Varner in Utah sent Scott a Scottish Rite ring to replace the one that was broken when he fell.  This one is made of real gold and will never break.  The Wasatch lodge also sent cards and some money.
15. The swelling in Scott's hands is gone, so I gave him back his wedding ring.  I had been wearing it around my neck for about a week.
16. The kids went to see Captain Underpants with my mom, which they thoroughly enjoyed.  They spent a good half hour after dinner flicking underwear at each other and singing "Tra-la-la!"
17. On Friday, Asa came to visit Scott and brought his service dog, Gideon.  When Asa walked into the hospital room, Scott's whole face lit up.  It was the first real smile I've seen from him since the accident; even his eyes crinkled.  It was the most beautiful thing I have seen all week.
18. The second most beautiful thing: Leif's face every time I come home from the hospital.  He is so happy to see me and rushes up to give me a big hug.  It has been especially hard to leave Scott this week because he is conscious and confused; Leif's hugs on the other side of the parting help a lot.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Favorites

This week, my husband Scott fell off a ladder while getting ready to put the storm windows up on our house.  He fell and hit his head on our driveway, damaging his brain.  He has been sedated in the hospital all week and we are just coming to grips with the fact that he will not be home for a long time.  It seemed like a good time to start writing and about remembering that good things that are happening in our lives, in the hopes that someday we can tell him what happened while he was sleeping/recovering.

So, even though this was the most painful week of my life, here are a few favorites:

1. Everything the morning of the accident was perfect.  Clinging to those happy memories has been such a comfort to me.  Scott and I didn't have to attend foster parenting classes for the first time in three weeks.  We stayed in bed until eight, made the biggest pancake breakfast with the kids--with an overkill of delicious toppings--and then got started on Saturday jobs with gusto.  Scott mowed the lawn and installed a bidet at his parent's house before asking me to help him with the windows.  He was his best self that day and we were so happy to be together.
2. My brother-in-law and Brother McDonald gave Scott a blessing in the emergency room.  I could barely hear what was said but I did hear the promise that Scott's body would be strong.  Brother McDonald was so very peaceful to be with and he later told me that the blessing also said Scott had work to do on this side of the veil.
3. The neurosurgeon saved Scott's life and is cautiously optimistic that he will regain enough quality of life to have made it worthwhile.
4. Having Rachel with me in the hospital was such a blessing.  She was calm and unflinching.  She has let me talk to her about everything I have been feeling and has helped me to understand the medical jargon along the way.
5. The Cowarts sent Pizza Hut as soon as they heard about it, so the boys (who were with my mother-in-law) had food.  Later, Brother Cowart sent me a music recommendation that comforted me a lot.
6. My parents drove up as soon as they heard and were there before the day was over the night of the fall.  They have played with and watched over my boys so that I could spend lots of time in the hospital with Scott.
7. My brother-in-law gave me a blessing of comfort.  In it, he admonished me to read Scott's patriarchal blessing and my own.  I have done that every day since the accident and it has been an amazing source of comfort.
8. Ash also set up his DS for me so that I could play Tetris before bed.  Once upon a time, Scott had told me that would help prevent PTSD in people who were dealing with traumatic memories.  Since I was just watching Scott fall on replay over and over again for the first day, I was very grateful for that.
9. On Sunday, my mother-in-law made an amazing beef stew and my brother-in-law made his famous rolls.  We all got together for dinner, my parents and in-laws, my brother Tim, the kids and the Ahrens.  Having so many of the people who love me and Scott together was bitter-sweet, but just right for the time.
10. Monday was Memorial Day, so Rachel and Ash helped me take the kids to the parade.  Ash made a video for Scott, making sure to get the Shriners in it.  That was Scott's favorite part.
11.  In a way that I can't explain to anyone, God has been there for me.  I have reached out for his guidance and comfort again and again; it has been returned to me with all the immediacy of a conversation.  He is real.  The gospel is true.  And that matters *so much*.
12. Listening to my kids pray with real intent this week has been amazing.  Carl's prayers, especially, have changed from rote recitations to very thoughtful and heart-felt expressions of gratitude and faith.  God is there for them, too, and I am grateful to be able to see it.
13. My father-in-law put up an old general conference talk (An High Priest of Good Things to Come) on facebook that gave me a lot of comfort.
14. The homeschool support group brought over tons of food and gas cards within the first few days.
15. I was especially touched by the love shown to us by Scott's brothers in the lodge.  The worshipful master, Richard Knox, went to visit him in the hospital and brought him a masonic hat.  Then he came to visit me and tell me about how special and unique Scott was.  He bore his witness to me that Scott was in the hands of the Great Physician.  Later, he sent me an application for financial assistance from the lodge; apparently, masons aren't just spouting lovely platitudes when they say that they will care for each others' widows.
16. On Tuesday night, Soren got his bear badge at the last pack meeting of the year.  Carl wasn't able to get his wolf badge because his den is kind-of disorganized right now but he took it like a trooper.
17. Patrick came on Wednesday and he played with the kids for two days straight.  He rough-housed with them, just like my dad used to do with me.  He played lots of Ticket to Ride with Soren and Carl.  He brought the fun that was so much needed.  He also brought a very sobering perspective on the situation that was also needed.
15. This video, on the lds.org splash page this week was helpful while I was realizing how long the recovery process could take for Scott.  At, I had the idea that he would either come back to us quickly or not at all.  Watching this video was the first inkling I had that his return to our family might be a very long, slow process.  That prepared me for everything I was going to learn from doctors and nurses on Thursday.
16. I got to spend most of the day with Scott on Thursday.  The nurse taking care of him on that day was amazing.  She really helped me to process what the future looked like for Scott.  She was so compassionate and encouraging but she didn't sugar-coat anything.  She has experienced traumatic injuries and aggressive rehab in her family; from her own experiences was able to be with me in a way no one else has been able to.  Thursday was almost as hard as the day of the accident but having her there to walk me through everything was a tender mercy of the Lord.
17. When I came home on Thursday, my dad had pulled the two ugly bushes out of my front lawn and was putting in a flower bed.  Pat and Tim got to work with him right away, too, and they cleaned out my whole side yard as well.  I know that my yard is one of the least important things in my life right now but seeing them working so hard to make my home beautiful was one of the biggest lifts I got all week.
18. My parents stayed at the Hampton Inn all week so we were able to get breakfast there every day.  The kids had giant waffles with whipped cream and as much fruit loops as they could hold.  Then they would go swimming with their uncles and grandpa, who make everything fun.  Following their example, my mom took the boys swimming by herself this morning and she was amazingly interactive.
19. I am astonished by the boys' capacity to carry on, to laugh and play and be kind to each other.  I am grateful every time they apologize, forgive, and help.  Our family is going to make it.
20. Sister Foster came over this morning to help me with the garden.  She could identify every plant Scott had put in and told me which ones were weeds.  She is coming back tomorrow to weed more and put in a new crop of seeds in the areas we have harvested.
21. Sven has been very liberal with the affection this week.  He seems mostly untouched by the crisis but has been gently loving, with lots of hugs and "I love yous".
22. Last night, I heard one of my neighbors rolling my trash cans out to the curb.  I don't know who it was but that simple act of service meant a lot to me.
23. Reading the Book of Mormon has kept me grounded.  I started a study project a little over a month ago that has been comforting to continue.  Every day, I come back to the Word and I know that we are going to make it through.  So is Scott.  This is for sure going to be the hardest thing we have ever faced, and we are going to have to do a lot of it on our own, but we are going to be ok.
24. On Friday, my mom made my favorite food from when I was a kid: ham and cheese crescent pie.  It's something that I love but don't associate with Scott at all, which made it easier to eat.  In fact, now that I think about it, I have eaten all new things this week, none of the old things that we shared.  I know that will have to change sometime but I am glad I don't have to prepare those things for just myself right now.
25. My sister sent me this picture from her wedding.  I love it.  You would think this would be harder because we were so happy together but that is actually a deep source of peace and comfort.  We didn't waste the time we had together.  We won't waste what we have left, either.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Carl Speaks

Carl came downstairs this morning with a playsilk and asked me tie him a cape.  Then he announced:

CARL:  I've been thinking about parachuting.

ME:  You mean you want to go sky-diving?

CARL:  Yeah.

ME:  You should ask your Uncle Tim about it.  He has gone sky-diving before.

CARL:  Really?

MADDY:  (enters the room)  What are you talking about?

CARL:  My Uncle Tim!  Mom says he's gone sky-diving, which is another word for parachuting.  And he's still alive!  I know!  I've seen him.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Soren Speaks on Mother's Day

These are Soren's responses from a worksheet he did in primary on Mother's Day.

All About My Mom

My Mom's name is  Carolyn 
She is  30  years old.
Mom and I like to  play games 
Mom likes to say, " clean that up! "
My mom really loves  the family 
She likes to eat  leftovers 
She likes to drink  water 
My Mom's job is  housekeeper 
If she had time, she would lie to  work 
Mom is really good at  making the funniest out of every ansswer 
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we'd go  to Poland. 
I love my Mom because  she's great 

Carl Speaks on Mothers Day

These are Carl's responses from a worksheet he did in primary on Mother's Day.

All About My Mom

My Mom's name is  Momy 
She is  30  years old.
Mom and I like to  wash dishes 
Mom likes to say, " I love you Carl "
My mom really loves  sleeping with Dad 
She likes to eat  chikin 
She likes to drink  milk 
My Mom's job is  work at home 
If she had time, she would lie to  write her book 
Mom is really good at  writing 
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we'd go  camping 
I love my Mom because  she is awsum