Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Turkey Day

THANKSGIVING 2016! :) My big kids had fun playing with the food after I did most of the prep and cooking. It was actually relaxing to have them upstairs or otherwise occupied while I was enjoying the calm and quiet of the kitchen while I mixed and mashed and created.
Here they are, playing with the giblets from the turkey. Nathan and Chloe were extremely scientific about the whole exploration and very curious; Jillian, however, was near retching and extremely grossed out by the whole prospect and wouldn't have anything to do with it.


Nathan also carved the turkey for me once it was cooked but was grouchy about trying to following the suggested protocol and ended up just whacking away at it. :) The turkey turned out really good - and so did the rest of dinner.
We had green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, stuffing both from in the bird and cooked separately, and both pumpkin and apple pie.
This is our traditional feast -- we have ham for Christmas. :) I was fairly impressed with myself, being able to handle the prep and cooking by myself. On the other hand, I did have a little help and I was only cooking for the 5 of us. Maybe next year I'll be ready to upgrade to a larger crowd. :)
When it came time to eat, we were going to prepare plates for our neighbors, Butch and Char, but they said they'd already eaten and were appreciative, but wanted us to keep our food. We also boxed up leftovers for Lowell and had plenty for ourselves.

 We spent time talking about what we were thankful for and just relaxing. The day was very laid back and informal - not traditional or what I could consider a "big deal" which was both a blessing and somewhat of a disappointment. I guess it would be best described as a non-event. Sometimes I miss the days of the huge family gatherings that were part of my childhood and wonder if my children are missing out because their experiences don't mirror my own. On the other hand, the day was full of smiles, was free of stress and there were no blowouts or fights. Peace... That was nice.
So much to be thankful for and so very blessed. #Grateful

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Days and Moments of 2016

 The many faces of my babies who I love so very much.
Nathan and his bike, riding and learning and gaining more and more independence. And graduating from 8th grade and moving into high school.
Chloe getting Oliver - Smoggy, her deaf Austrialian Cattle Dog; taking many selfies and running in the 5K Bubble Run with her sister and I.
Jillian perfecting selfies, working on her identity as a middle schooler; taking a trip to AstroCamp; enjoying 4th of July and generally growing into a beautiful young woman.
And Wyatt, the many, many faces of Wyatt. His expressions as so adorable. His eyebrows are amazing! 




Enjoying SnapChat filters -- especially the dog! These two girls make me smile every day. They've made me cry a couple times too, but usually because I'm just so proud of them!!!
People ALWAYS tell us we look alike, and I take it as a wonderful compliment. My girls are beautiful -- inside and out. This year has been one where they've been provided many opportunities to show their compassion, patience and empathy. They've been awesome and made me proud.

 Speaking of looking alike - this year was the 5th anniversary of the passing of my mom. I took that opportunity to mash up a picture of the two of us at fairly similar ages -- I was 35 and she was 40. She was only 46 when she died. Next year I'll be 36..... There was a lot of positive feedback from this picture - from the people who knew her, and that made me happy. I wonder what could have been, even now. I no longer wonder what she would think about me, however. I'm beginning to define myself without the approval of others, finally. Maybe letting go of this portion of my relationship with her will allow me peace. And to be more joyful about the times we did have together.

More look alikes... :) I am so in love with this giraffe filter and I am heart broken that they don't have it very often!!! I wish I could buy it and use it every day. I still have quite the obsession with giraffes and my bedroom is covered in them. I have posters of them on my wall and stuffed animals and tchotckes and statues of them all over my room. It is my little giraffe sanctuary. When the kids' friends see it, they often make comments about it, but my kids just laugh and say "That's my mom". It makes me smile that they love me just the crazy way I am and support me in front of their friends.
They really are special kids.




Back to Wyatt... This little ham and his crazy faces! He is loved by his teacher, by his friends, by our friends, and by people in public. He can have an absolutely, insanely strong-willed attitude and can drive me completely up the wall some days!! But then other times, he can be the sweetest, most loving child, and the funniest little performer on the planet! He loves to sing with very specific taste in music. His favorites aren't very age appropriate -- he tends toward AC/DC, Nickelback, GreenDay and others of the same genre. He loves to play the air guitar and is asking for a drumset for Christmas. Heaven help us! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Epilepsy Saga

 I spent a week at Mayo hospital in Scottsdale at the beginning of this month doing an epilepsy study.

The tech made me smile

Jillian had Lowell bring over pictures from
home so I would be more comfortable.
And they brought me cards and flowers!
Me and my baby girl!
They hooked me up to 32 sensors on my head and more on my chest, had me monitored 24/7, made me wear a seat belt in bed and tried to stimulate a seizure. I went off my medication a couple days before going in the hospital and haven't taken any more since. They attempted to re-create the shower while I was there as well as sleep-depriving me and using the flashing lights and hyperventilation. Nothing was successful. They even sent me home on Friday to wear the contraption at home to see if I could have a seizure in the comfort of my home.
Sunday morning I went back to the hospital to have everything removed. Sunday afternoon, I had a seizure. The positive, at least, was that Lowell and Chloe video taped my seizure and that it didn't happen while I was in the shower so at least I'm fully clothed. The negative, of course, being that it wasn't captured on the EEG. They are going to re-do the test in a couple months. I'm praying that life will be less stressful at that point so that I might be able to actually have a seizure while monitored in the hospital.
 While there, they also had me meet with a forensic psychologist to test my memory issues and had me do a tilt-table study to look at my heart and blood-pressure. The goal of the tilt-table test was to have me on the table for at least 40 minutes, then given me medication and then put me back on there for about another 20 minutes. I only lasted 22 minutes total before my pulse dropped to 30 and I passed out. Not a seizure, but a "cardiac event". This is being reviewed by the cardiologist.
The memory test was 4 hours of asking me questions, telling me stories and showing me pictures and then trying to get me to recall details. It was exhausting and I still haven't gotten the results of either test. :(

Lowell made a little cap for Chloe to mimic my own 'do
I'm so thankful for having good insurance coverage and being able to even do the test. The bills I just got in the mail indicated that my hospital stay was about $12,000 a day. Currently, I'm praying for some sort of resolution and answers so that we can get my seizures under control and get my memory back! I know my seizures are scary for my family but the most frustrating part for me is the problems with my memory. It affects my job, my family, my feelings of confidence and even my stress level. Just prayers that the whole thing that be resolved miraculously but thankful for God's provisions in the meantime.



Such A Ladies Man



For some reason, Wyatt got really excited about painting toenails the other day and it expanded into a full on paint fest. Destiny and Kaytlyn lived with us for about a week while their family was moving and so they benefitted from the artistry of the littlest Trent as well. He was adamant about color choices and didn't let people choose their own (except mom. :) )  So adorable!

Recent Happenings

Chloe - 12 years old
Jillian - 10 years old

 My Babies! Picture day 2015

Nathan - 13 years old
Taken 4th of July
Fourth of July was spent celebrating with Coy and his family as well as at our traditional place at Youngker here in Buckeye.
On the 3rd, we went to Lake Pleasant and swam and then watched the fireworks over the water. Jordan came too so that was a lot of fun this year! Then for the 4th, we stayed home and rested most of the day and then went over just before the fireworks. We found a secluded spot and basically got a front row seat all by ourselves. I love 4th of July so much and love spending time with our little family!
Our photo day this spring was at a school in Palm Valley, at the park with the water and outside Target, lol. I love taking pictures with my beautiful family and my babies! :) So blessed to have these little humans in my life!
Wyatt - 4 years old
Hard to believe its already almost the end of August and we'll be doing fall pictures soon. My kids are growing so fast - time is flying. I was recently reminded of the quote that says the days are long but the years are short - a lot of truth in that. Monday the kids will be starting school again and we'll be back into the rapid fire days of school, work, daycare, practices, homework, dinner and sleep. Soon it'll be Halloween, then Thanksgiving and then Christmas. And, before I know it, it'll be 2016. Mind boggling. 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Recent Events

Chloe Climbing a Tree
We went camping Easter Weekend in northern Arizona. The weather was beautiful and mild and we enjoyed a hike to the little lake as well as an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. Chloe and I were the resident beauticians, braiding everyone's hair and, like usual, Wyatt was the resident comedian. One of the other families who went brought craft supplies so the kids could make wind chimes.

At lookout point on the drive home
On the way home, we took the scenic route and discovered an awesome lookout point where we could see a lot of the valley. If the day were more clear, we probably could've seen the whole expanse.

The Zipper!
Jillian and her band class went to the Maricopa County Fair to preform and got to spend the rest of the day at the fair riding the rides. I was also fortunate enough to chaperone this same field trip for Nathan and Chloe. Jillian was, by far, the most brave of the biggies. She eagerly jumped into line for the most exciting, adrenaline pumping rides including my personal favorite - the Zipper. Because of other students wanting to ride and needing at least two kids per car, she actually went on it 3 times in a row because there wasn't anyone else willing to go. She had a blast. Because the band preformed on the first day of the fair and at 11 in the morning, the midway was almost empty and there were virtually no lines for the rides.

This is Wyatt on his Jeep. In the background is Jordan's bike and Grandpa's truck. They had come to visit on a Sunday afternoon. On this day, Wyatt and Nathan were driving around together - Nathan on his little dirt bike. Jordan even rode the little dirt bike around with Wyatt. He loves it so much. The girls ride around the back yard with him on their bikes too. He's a lucky little boy.

Jillian on the bull
For Jillian's birthday we took two of her friends and the other kids to JumpStreet, a local trampoline park. Coy's family met us there. The kids jumped and rode the mechanical bull, climbed the walking sticks, played dodgeball, jumped into the foam pit, played basketball and had a great time for two hours. Then they were "starving" so we headed over to Coy's house where we intended to have a bar-b-que, but changed to having pizza instead in the interest of time.


Gwen, Jillian and Isabel
Nathan recently had a birthday too, but opted out of a party this year. We made him a little cake and sang to him here but he wants to get a present instead of a party. Seems that being a teenager is too old for a birthday party. Seems impossible for me to have a teenager!

Lauren and Wyatt in the bouncy house
Chloe's birthday is coming up soon too. She'll be 12. She is deciding between having her room redone and going to JumpStreet too. She wants Grandpa to build her a shelf, wants to paint one wall pink and some other little decorations.
And  then, Lowell and I have our 15 year anniversary in June, right after Wyatt turns 4. Time is flying.  I don't know how we're going to celebrate our anniversary... Maybe just a stay-cation :)
I'm sure Wyatt will want a party - especially to hang out with his friend Lauren, pictured here with him. And his other friends Layton and London -- Chloe's best friend's little sisters. More info and pictures to come. :)




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jillian at the 2015 TOPA Talent Show

 
video

So proud of this girl!!!!! Jillian chose to participate in the talent show again this year and, again, wanted to sing. She is so passionate about singing and music. The song she chose also has a message she is passionate about. It is by Dove Cameron and called "What A Girl Is". The song sends the message that all girls are perfect just as they are and don't need to conform to someone else's idea of beauty.
Here are some of the lyrics:
"On a scale of 1-10, I am perfect like I am.
And the stupid magazines want me to change my everything.
It don't even matter, they're not taking my power.
I'm so over all these voices around, they've said enough its my turn, lets get loud!

I'll show you what a girl is, cause all of me is perfect.
Who cares about the dress size, its all about what's inside.
I'll stand up now, and won't back down.
We're breaking through the surface, to show you what a girl is."

She didn't get to sing the whole song because of the two minute time limit given to each act, but she did a great job!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lucky Girl

This was part of my journal entry for Christmas Eve:

Today is Christmas eve, 2014. It's actually very close to Christmas day as its about 11:40 at night. Christmas day will be Thursday – Monday night I had surgery on my ankle. That set of circumstances leads me to a hospital bed in my living room surrounded by a knee scooter, bottles of pills, and assorted items to keep me occupied while I'm on bed rest for at least a week. Christmas definitely doesn't look "normal" this year but, with the small exception of a few moments this afternoon when I learned I wouldn't be able to stand the pain of the ankle brace that would allow me to attend Christmas Eve services at our church, I've been upbeat and so very thankful. On TV right now is Christmas music and the image of a fireplace decked out in Christmas finery. I smell coffee coming from the kitchen because Dad and Lowell are in the garage having another marathon session of pool. I can hear them laughing. Chloe is asleep on the floor next to me because Grandpa is supposed to be sleeping  in her bed. Checkers occasionally meows from the bathroom; we're letting her stay inside overnights right now because she's so old and her foot is broken. There's a cat on the TV fireside video – a little orange one. :)

Lowell bought me the knee scooter. He said he was going to WalGreens but, in fact, he went to Goodwill and then, after coming up empty handed, got on Craigslist and found one in Tartesso. He was proud of himself because he called the person on his own and set up the time to go and get it – all by himself. If you know Lowell, that’s a big deal because he doesn't like that type of thing. He said he even stayed and talked to the guy for about 30 minutes because "he was lonely". Such a caring guy I have! He really is wonderful. He bought me a treadmill, my scooter and an Arizona Cardinal's sweatshirt for Christmas. But more than that, he put in the effort to go and get the scooter, he's been watching the games with me and Dad, he's taking care of me and helping me get around in the house, he's had the kids come and spend time with me, encouraging them to do a skit for me and then having Nathan come and play cards with me when I was upset about not being able to go to church. He's so thoughtful. He loves me.


I just wanted to post this to show what I wonderful husband I have. There are many other details or stories like this I could include but this is a good example of how caring and generous he is. I love him and I'm so lucky to have him.

This Year So Far



 Recent life has included many varied experiences including sending my oldest off to the other side of the country, spending days working with a physical therapist to improve my ankle, a birthday, a day at the park, family day at the mall and many other moments of both joy and sadness.
The picture here on the left is of Wyatt playing at physical therapy. He became quite a little superstar there and was always welcomed by name. He got familiar with all the equipment and "helped" me do my exercises for 6 weeks until I completed my therapy. I'm not back to normal yet but I'm on my way!

Above right is the night we said goodbye to Nathan when he left for his DC trip. It was stressful to let him board that bus for places unknown for 6 days but I was so thrilled he was blessed with the opportunity to go. He had a great time!
Here are Jillian and I at the mall on our mommy/daughter day. She's holding a sign that describes her and she picked one for me too. :) We had lots of fun together. 
 Jillian turned 10 on March 15th. Chloe and I made her cake and totally scored with a HelloKitty cake pan that was accidently returned to Walmart's store instead of online.  She loved it!
Wyatt loves his trains. One morning, while the biggies were at school, Wyatt and I got out a lot of his train pieces, most that came from Christmas, and built a huge train track. We had lots of fun playing together and just lounging around. He has such a great imagination; I just love listening to what his little mind creates and how his little brain works. He is such a joy and I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with him!
In addition to trains, he's recently begun expressing his love for music by dancing to his favorite songs. We've gotten a couple of his dance sessions on film and I adore them! I can't wait to use them against him when he gets older! :)


 Because they had Friday off school and their mom had to work, there was a day my surrogate daughters came over to spend time with us. We went to Goodwill and then to the local golf course to feed the ducks where we discovered ducks that were afraid of people. So, now that Wyatt was intent on feeding ducks, we loaded up and went to Friendship Park in Goodyear to find ducks were knew were friendly. Armed with a cheap loaf of bread and 6 children between the ages of 16 and 3, we set off. The girls are great and I love spending time with them. I've also taken them to the playground right near our house where they played on the equipment, dug in the sand at the volleyball courts and played football.
Upcoming events include Jillian's field trip to the Grand Canyon; Nathan, Chloe and Wyatt's birthdays; school getting out; my job moving locations; Lowell having a couple days off; another camping trip; lots and lots of swimming and more general chaos. Next week the kids have standardized testing, this year called AZMerit. At least it means no homework this week. Right this minute, Wyatt and Nathan are riding around the back yard - Wyatt on his Jeep and Nathan on his dirt bike. They both look so happy! Looks like lots of good times ahead!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, Even More Late

It seems unbelievable that its been so long since I've posted. And, additionally, this is my 395th post. It hasn't been consistent, but I'm so thankful that I've recorded our life (intermittently) over the past few years! I just spent some time reading over some past entries and I'm so thankful that I took the time to record those memories; to memorialize those moments. Whether its genetic or due to my epilepsy, I have a very hard time remembering things and there are so many precious things to remember as a mother. Here I have a record of some of those priceless comments, the frustrating days, the beautiful pictures and the hilarious antics of my little family.

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving and there were so many things to be Thankful for. The day was peaceful and wonderful. It was just the six of us and Dad and not stressful in the slightest. We prepped food the night before and then Lowell helped me cook the main dishes Thursday. We managed to watch all three football games, played some board games, made lists of the things we are thankful for and had a genuinely good day.

We were also bombarded with household issues recently. We have had on-going issues with our pool pump and the water softener system but then experience the death of one of our toilets, our garbage disposal and our hot water heater. All in a period of about 3 weeks. We're still working on the water softener and the pool pump because they were lowest on the priority list but we've since taken care of the other three - one due to a little help from our church for which I'm incredibly grateful! You never really know how much you appreciate hot water until you live awhile without it.

Personally, I experienced a recent triumph. I passed my LAC test!!! I haven't gotten the official letter in the mail yet, allowing me to change my title to "Rani Trent, LAC" but all the I need to do is done. Now I'm working toward professional, independent licensure that comes after accumulating 1800 client hours. If I had taken the test immediately after graduation like I should've, I would be at around 1600 hours presently. C'est la vie. Live and learn, right? I'm focusing on the positive - and the truth is, its a big accomplishment and I'm proud of myself.

Halloween

I have to say, however, that it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family. My kiddos put up with me being gone evenings to classes and locking myself in my room or running away to Wifi to work on school work and also ended up coming to every class with me for a semester when we only had one car. The kids have been so helpful with chores and watching Wyatt so I could study.

Go  Minotaurs!
My husband has worked hard to make up for the financial strain and has picked up the slack around the house too.  He's cooked dinners, cleaned floors, done laundry and even wiped a few noses and at least one dirty bottom to allow me to go to school, study for my test, and now work at a job a love which keeps me away evenings. I don't know what I would do without him but I know I wouldn't be the woman I am today without the blessing of him in my life.
Rani Trent, LAC

With my license, I'm able to continue in my current position helping victims of crime, focusing mainly on those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or child sex abuse. Both my education and my life experiences have combined to put me in this place where I am equipped to reach out and empathize with people who are hurting. There are days I question God about why He placed me in this field, working with these people, in a job that can be so heart-wrenching. And then there are days when I get to see healing, where I am present for the moments where people are finally freed from years of guilt and shame. I honestly believe I have been created for this job, for this calling, and that all that I have experienced has been for the purpose of helping others. I'm so blessed to have a family that supports me and allows me to do this.





Christmas, a Little Late


Today is December 8th. I'm a stay at home mom on Mondays. I've been doing the things that moms do – wiping noses, picking up toys, making lunches, giving snugs, rubbing feeties, laughing at silly boys, enduring endless cartoons and being unbelievably blessed… And then those things that are specific to the holidays – decorating the house, hanging ornaments on garland, finding ways to add more festivity and twinkle lights to the house, thinking about the upcoming party, listening to Christmas music and trying to keep a myriad of secrets and contain my excitement.

Christmas in Phoenix is much different from my holiday experiences as a child. This first week of December is mild, about 10 degrees warmer than normal for the area, and I am walking around in my signature tiara-Santa hat combo, a tank top and yoga pants with both the front and back doors open enjoying the breeze.

Sitting on the couch, I can revel in the lights on the tree, the wreath on the door, the garland and ornaments hanging on the hutch…. I can see the snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and remember my kids working with my dad to hang them. I see the stars, the little dolls, the statues… And the stories behind each of them. There are new decorations from the dollar store, for endless Goodwill trips, the decorated pictures Chloe and I worked on together, the wreaths we re-made from their thrift store glory…

The items themselves are not precious. Most are worth only pennies but they evoke such feelings of family, of togetherness and memories. These are the things I love about this time of year, whether it be a white Christmas or flip-flop worthy. I love celebrating the birth of our Savior and am excited to teach the kiddos that the spirit of Christmas exists in the hearts of those who love Him, not in the endless to-do lists or presents or twinkle lights. Christ came as a gift. My family is a gift. For both, I am thankful.