Scripture Case Pattern

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Lately, Gavin has taken up an interest in rocks.  To kick off his spring break, I planned a rockhounding trip with my parents to the west desert.  At first I was just planning on going to the Dugway geode beds.  My parents took my siblings and me there when we were younger.  I remember being a little disappointed. We didn't really know what to look for, besides round rocks, or how to search for them.  That was before the days of the internet.  This time around, I wanted to make sure that we had a successful trip, so I started doing research.  I thought it would take a couple of hours of researching and planning.  It took hours and HOURS (at least 20 hours) of planning.  I found blog posts and forums that kept talking about Loy Crapo's claim having the best spot for finding geodes.  They would talk about how they got the GPS coordinates for the claim so that they knew right where to go, but they would never share those coordinates.  SO frustrating. After more searching, I finally found some info that led me to some useful information but also informed me of a bunch of other nearby places to find some fun rocks and crystals.  I decided that I would share our rock trip, with coordinates and all other useful information, here on the blog, so that others can go on a fun rockhounding trip without having to spend countless hours planning for it.

You will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a GPS.  There is no phone service out there, so your maps app won't work.

Dugway Geode Beds
GPS coordinates: N39 53.660'  W113 08.242'
visit for contact info to get permission to be on the claim

When you see this sign, you know that you have reached the
right place.
First off, this area is on a claim.  You will need to get permission first (find contact info HERE) and pay a $30 fee.  In my opinion, it is definitely worth going to this claim as opposed to finding your own place to dig that is on the BLM land.  The owners have an excavator that they use to dig HUGE holes, so that people have better luck finding geodes.  They go out there numerous times each season and turn over new dirt so that there is always a good crop of geodes to be found.  For $100, the owner will go out there with you and use his excavator to dig up some new stuff, and then he'll help you find enough geodes to fill a 5 gallon bucket.  If you want to skip the claim and dig on your own, you will have to dig down 6-10 feet to get to the clay level where the geodes are hiding.

You will probably see this excavator right at the entrance of the path down into the current pit.

I am standing on the other side of the excavator, looking down the path into the pit.
We came ready with shovels, buckets, rock picks, chisels, a sledgehammer, and a couple of regular hammers.  We were ready to do some serious digging in the clay wall.  I think that the owner had turned over some new dirt recently, because we had our best luck just searching through all of the loose stuff in the pit and along side the path leading down into the pit.  As we (my dad, mom, and I) took turns sitting down with Ander, we discovered that the ground we were sitting on was covered in perfect geodes. We were able to gather at least a whole bucket full just by picking up the ones that were within arms reach. There were tons of already broken geodes littering the place, but there were probably just as many, if not more, whole geodes.  We filled three 5 gallon buckets with geodes ranging in sizes from 1/2" diameter (we just wanted to see what those were like for fun) all the way to 9" in diameter.  The average size was about 4"-5".  We found a chunk of clay right at the beginning of the path that we started chiseling away at.  We ended up finding around 15 average size, completely intact geodes in it.

A panoramic of the pit.  We first started out trying to find geodes in the wall.  We found lots of little ones, but our best luck was in all the loose dirt along the path and down at the bottom of the pit.

Ander was not amused.  Tim finally figured out that Ander didn't like sitting on the uneven ground.  Tim took him up to where the cars were and sat him down on the flat ground, and Ander was completely content for the next hour.

As we were packing up to leave, the owner arrived and checked permission slips. They regularly come out and check on that, so I highly recommend that you get permission to be there.

Now that we're home, we've been trying to figure out how to clean they clay off and how to get the geodes open without costing us an arm and a leg (or a finger or two if we used our own saw) and also without destroying them.  Local rock shops charge at least $12 a cut (that's up to a baseball sized rock) and then the price just goes up from there.  We don't want to pay to get all of our geodes cut, knowing that many of them probably aren't really pretty inside.  We chiseled a few open with success, but it's all jagged around the opening.  We want a nice cut just in case they're really pretty and worth keeping.  We can rent a brick saw from Home Depot, but that can be really dangerous (you have to hold the rock in place the entire time, so small rocks are almost impossible to do on it).  We'll figure it out, and let you know.  I tried soaking the geodes in water for a week to see if that helped get the clay off.  It kind of did, but not really.  We borrowed a pressure washer, and blasted those things.  Some got a little cleaner, but not what I wanted.  I read somewhere that we could soak them in some kind of chemical, but if we go that route, then we would also have to soak them in continuously fresh water for the same length of time.  It would take about 2 weeks in the chemical solution and then another 2 weeks in continuously fresh water.  Grrrr...  I'll figure out a better way.  I know I will!

Most of our haul

one of the common small ones

the largest one we found

this one looks like three separate ones, but they are all interconnected

Gavin and Kade call this one the butt cheek one. I think it looks like testicles, but we'll go with butt cheeks.

Gavin and I cracked open a ton of the really little ones.  Almost all of them shattered/exploded.  When the first one that didn't explode came around, I examined it to try and figure out what those ridges mean and where the best place to put the chisel is.  I found that where all the smooth parts are, in between the ridges, is actually the thickest part of the rock.  To crack them open, find a place where the ridges are intersecting and place the chisel right next to them.  Don't try to chisel right on the ridges.  That is where the crystals start forming and it is harder than the actual rock.  Once I figured that out, I was able to cleanly crack open the rest.
Here you can see the ridges and the smooth parts that I mentioned

Obsidian Hill
GPS coordinates: N39 41.946'  W113 10.005'

All those black rocks are balls of obsidian
called Apache Tears
About 20-30 minutes south of the geode beds, there is an area called Obsidian Hill where you can find Apache Tears just littering the ground.  I thought it would be a fun, quick stop for the kids.  The best place to get them is up on the hills.  The hills are small and easy to climb, so no need to stress about a hike.  We decided to explore a little.  It was neat to see how the tears formed and all the different volcanic rock formations. The only tools you need are your hands and a place to put your rocks.

Tim calls this place Poop Hill. All three kids ended up pooping at this location and somehow Tim ended up having to help (or change a diaper) all of them. What a trooper.

This is a HUGE (about the size of a large living room) piece of volcanic rock.  The black, round this in it are the Apache Tears.

Typical Kade lying in the dirt.
Our largest and smallest Apache Tears
The Apache Tear collection

Topaz Mountain
GPS coordinates: N39 41.781'  W113 5.878'

About another 20 minutes southeast of Obsidian Hill is Topaz Mountain.  This took us FOREVER to find.  It's all completely dirt roads/paths with no markings. We have a super old GPS, and it would all of a sudden lose reception and show us that we were w
ay off the path, so then we'd turn around and back track until it showed that we were on the correct route again.  We did this about 3 or 4 times, getting to different areas each time (and we came to find out we were getting closer and closer to the correct spot) before our GPS told us we were actually not where we thought we were. We did this for over an hour.  On the finally time that we turned around and tried to get back on course, we found a camping area.  We stopped and asked for help, and the people directed us back the way we had just come from.  If we had stayed on the path 30 seconds longer, we would have seen our destination. Ha.  Figures.  So...if you want to do this, use a better GPS than we did.  I forgot to take pictures once we arrived.  Sorry.

You can go about finding topaz two different ways.  You can find clear topaz all over the ground, mostly in the washes, though.  When the sun is out, you can see the topaz blinging in your eyes.  Unfortunately, the sun was hiding from us the majority of the time that day, so we used gold sifting pans (found HERE) and our hands.  If you use a sifter, I recommend that you use an 1/8" screen.  We had 1/4", and it was too big.  The people that helped us find to place told us that they use a flashlight at night to find topaz. The guy gave us a handful of some really nice topaz pieces that they had found the night before, just in case the kids couldn't find any good stuff.  He was really nice.

The second way you can find topaz is to chisel away the gray rock.  It is HARD work.  You will need chisels, a hammer, rock pick, and possibly a crowbar. The topaz hiding in the rock is a beautiful sherry color.  It bleaches out within a few weeks once it's exposed to UV rays and heat (aka the sun). There is a huge gray rock right in the middle that people are chiseling away on (that is where we chiseled).  You can work there, or you can hike up the mountain and find your own places to chisel.  From what I've read, you'll find better luck hiking up the mountain on the west side of the basin.  There's not only topaz hiding in there but there is also garnet, some kind of really cool looking black, shiny, cube shaped rock, and the extremely rare (and expensive) red beryl.  If the sun is shining, you can see sparkles on the rock. You'll find that that is a piece of topaz in the rock.  Start chiseling away, and hopefully underneath that you'll find a pocket of other sherry colored topaz.  Also look for pockets and seams, especially near vegetation, and start chiseling there.  My little kids did not enjoy having to work that hard for the topaz, so they went back to searching in the washes.  Tim uncovered a few pieces of the sherry topaz, though.

Here's out topaz collection.  We found some purple and blue pieces of something.  We don't know if they're just glass or something else, though. :/
A piece of topaz (on the right) hiding in the rock. 
Sherry colored topaz compared to the bleached out topaz
Our sherry topaz haul

I had a couple other places that I wanted to stop by on the way home, but getting lost searching for Topaz Mountain cut into that time, so we dropped that from the itinerary.  We were going to hit up Drum Mountain for its agate (GPS N39 37.939'  W113 1.915') and Vernon for its wonderstone (GPS N40 6.145'  W112 21.434).

During my research, I found a book all about rockhounding in Utah. I immediately ran to Barnes and Noble and bought.  The lady informed me that it was just released the day before.  This book is great.  It shows a map of Utah with all the different rockhounding locations marked on it.  It gives coordinates, the tools needed, directions, and tips.  I highly recommend it.  You can find it HERE.

Go have some fun digging for rocks!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vanilla Part 2: Vanilla Sea Salt

Image stolen from my mom. This will be the only good looking picture in this post.{source}
Gah. I'm so bad at blogging. I've had the pictures all ready to go for this post for a month now, and I've just been too dang lazy to blog about it.  First off, I'm really sorry my pictures are terrible... like horrendously terrible.  I know nothing more about photography than point the camera at the object and touch the button to capture said object. And by camera, I mean my phone. We don't own a camera. ha. So, get over it. :)

Ok, on to Vanilla Sea Salt. (ok, so it's already taken me 25 minutes to get to this point. I'm already bored and distracted. :/ I need to work on that).

Vanilla Sea Salt can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It can be used as a finishing salt sprinkled on fish and other delicate seafoods, spring vegetables, green salads that have seasonal fruits in them, cookies, brownies, and caramels. Experiment. Have fun with it.


1 cup (preferably) flaky sea salt (I did not have flaky sea salt, so I used what I had on hand)

1 vanilla bean, split, scraped*

lidded container


1. Mix salt, vanilla bean, and caviar* together in container.

2. Give it a good shake every day or so for the next week, and then it's ready.

* I wanted my salt to be speckled with the vanilla caviar, so I scraped the bean and mixed the caviar in with it. You do not need to do it this way. The majority of the vanilla flavor comes from the bean itself, not the caviar. I did it simply for aesthetic reasons.


Jars in the very top picture: 2.7 oz week jars
Other good containers: HERE and HERE
Vanilla Beans:
 Sea Salt: Costco

Friday, January 3, 2014

Vanilla Part 1: Vanilla Extract

Last fall, my mother gave me THIS wonderful vanilla cookbook. I've been wanting to make vanilla extract for christmas gifts, and this book finally gave me the motivation to do it. At first I was just going to keep the gifts simple and give out extract, but as I started doing research and shopping around for things, my gift idea evolved into something much more elaborate. I became obsessed with vanilla. I wanted to bathe in it and eat it for every meal.  I wanted it for a child so I could love on it and drink in its' aroma anytime I wanted.  Everything about vanilla is amazing.

For Christmas gifts this year, I made vanilla gift baskets. Some were full of vanilla treats (vanilla lollipops, vanilla and peppermint French macarons, and vanilla marshmallows), some had vanilla baking supplies (Ugandan vanilla extract, vanilla sea salt, and vanilla sugar), and some were a combination of the two. For my in-laws and parents, their baskets contained some of everything plus two extra vanilla extracts made from Madagascan and Mexican vanilla beans.
Photo courtesy of my ma (link)
For the next few posts, I will be doing a series of vanilla how-tos. This post will be about vanilla extract and the difference between the different varieties of vanilla beans I used.

Vanilla extract is so insanely easy to make, I don't know why I have ever bothered with the store bought stuff before. Even though I haven't been able to try my extracts yet (they have to steep for at least 2 months), I can already tell they are better than store bought.  After the first week of steeping, I smelled them and they already smelled 100x better than any store bought brand I have gotten. I could barely even smell the alcohol. The vanilla scent was so rich.

I bought all of my vanilla beans from I shopped around for a while, and definitely has the best prices and selection, and the quality of the bean is far superior than any store bought bean I have gotten.  After reading the different descriptions of the vanilla beans, I decided to go with Ugandan vanilla. The vanilla that you buy in the stores is mostly Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla. You can also find Mexican vanilla for a higher price.  I wanted to use a vanilla bean that most everyone had not tried yet, so I chose the Ugandan. Beanilla said that its aroma is earthy with tones of milk-chocolate and its flavor is bold and is perfect for rich desserts. That sounded like my kind of vanilla.

After I made all the Ugandan vanilla, I decided I really wanted to make me some Mexican and Madagascan vanilla, so I ordered some more beans. After a week of steeping and being able to smell the difference between each extract (and also after a week or reading up on the different vanilla beans and how Tahitian vanilla is the king of all vanilla), I just HAD to order a few Tahitian vanilla beans and make some extract with it. Tahitian beans are very expensive, so I only ordered enough to selfishly make only myself some extract. The Tahitian vanilla smells so different from the other three vanillas. It has a floral/cherry smell to it and doesn't have that rich, vanilla smell that the other three do. The Ugandan vanilla definitely has a chocolaty smell to it. It's amazing. The Madagascan vanilla smells exactly like all those vanilla candles and lotions. It is the typical vanilla smell.  The Mexican vanilla has a more "buttery", earthy smell to it. This is what has to say about the difference in flavors:

Ugandan: very bold; perfect for rich desserts
Madagascan: rich, dark, and creamy flavor
Mexican: rich and smooth with subtle tones of smoke
Tahitian: aroma that is floral with tones of ripe fruit; flavor is rich of chocolate, licorice, and caramel

So, without further ado, here is how to make your very own vanilla extract:

Vanilla Extract

8 oz vodka
5 vanilla beans

1. Split vanilla beans length wise and open them up a little.

 2. Place in bottle

3. Fill bottle up with vodka

4. And give it some good shakes
5. Now, here's the hard part. You've got to let it steep for a couple months. During that time, shake it up weekly, daily, every other day, or whatever else you like, but no less than weekly.  To replenish your extract, once it is half way to two thirds of the way gone, top it off with more vodka and let it steep for 2 weeks while you give it a good shake every now and then.  You can do this a couple of times before the beans lose their flavor.

-For the vodka, you don't need a super nice kind. Bottom shelf vodka will work just fine. You can use another neutral flavored alcohol if you wish. Just make sure the alcohol content is at least 40%.  On someones blog (can't find the link, sorry), she said she used cream flavored vodka for her vanilla extract and it was amazing. I will have to try that soon.  Another person said that they used Everclear instead of vodka, because its alcohol content is 95%. They said that their extract was ready within a few weeks, instead of a couple of months.

-I bought my 8.5 oz bottles HERE

- As I was making the extract, some of the extract went murky. I don't know why some did and some didn't. I tried filtering it through coffee filters (multiple times) to no avail. I even let it rest for a couple of weeks to see if sediment would settle to the bottom and the extract would clarify... it didn't. I will let you know if it affects the flavor.
Left: murky, Right: not murky

Vanilla beans:
Pure Vanilla cookbook: Amazon

Ander says "hi"!

And so do Gavin and Kade:

Kade insisted that Ander needed to wear his new hat at all times

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Postpartum Depression

This post is going to be raw and very personal, but I feel that I need to share what I've been through and what I'm still going through.  If it could help even just one person, then mission accomplished.  I'm not here looking for pity, I just feel like I need to share my story, and possibly keep sharing it.  Hopefully this will be therapeutic for me also.

I'm not going to lie. This whole pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum experience has been very traumatic for me.  I still freak out and cry every now and then when I think about what happened.  The more I found out how close I came to having full blown eclampsia and death, the more I freaked out and am still having panic attacks. I'm so glad my doctors stayed calm throughout the whole ordeal, and I'm also thankful that it didn't drag out and that I was able to have a quick, safe delivery and a healthy preemie baby.

The hardest part has come post delivery. Those that know me, know that I have never been a fan of breastfeeding. I nursed Gavin for 4 months almost exclusively and hated it.  I was finishing up school, so he got one, maybe two bottles a day.  He would take 1 1/2 - 2 hours to nurse and ate constantly.  I would have to be in a dark, quiet room and would have to concentrate really hard on getting my milk to let down.  Nursing was HARD. He also got very sick 3 times (RSV, pneumonia, croup) during those 4 months and I didn't have the time to nurse him constantly to build my supply up.  The 3rd time he got sick (with croup), I also got sick with pleurisy, pneumonia, and a partially collapsed lung.  That was the final straw. My supply dipped so low that there was no coming back from it while I was still in school, so I decided to call it quits with the nursing. I wasn't too attached to nursing, so it wasn't that big of a deal for me.  As my milk dried up, though, I found myself getting kind of sad and missing that bond I had with Gavin, but I quickly got over it.

When I had Kade, I decided I would only nurse him for the first week so that he could get all that yummy colostrum. I was surprised that I got kind of weepy and sad like I did when I stopped nursing Gavin, but again, I got over it quickly.

With Ander I was planning on the same route that I did with Kade, but that changed when he was born 8 weeks early.  I felt so helpless and useless while he was in the NICU.  Pumping seemed to be the only thing I could contribute to his care, so I put my heart and soul into it. I diligently pumped every 3 hours around the clock.  The Lord really blessed me this time.  My milk let down so easily and pumping was a breeze. I was able to give Ander the nutrients that he so desperately needed. A couple of weeks after he came home, I decided I would be done with the pumping. Breastfeeding wasn't going to happen, and pumping was taking up so much time. I felt like I needed to get back on some medication that I couldn't take while nursing. I also don't lose any weight while I nurse, and I so desperately wanted to get the weight off, so I stopped with the pumping.

The first couple of days after I stopped, I felt fine emotionally, and then depression started to creep in. I started feeling extremely guilty for quitting. I felt so selfish (which I was partially being), inadequate, like a failure of a mother, etc. Over the next few days I could barely get myself out of bed to take care of the kids. I honestly felt like I had failed the world. I was crying constantly and beating myself up. Each day got worse and worse. I had my postpartum checkup (8 weeks postpartum instead of 6) and so I started googling postpartum depression, thinking I may have it. During my research, something caught my eye. There was a mention of PPD being correlated to breastfeeding, so I started searching for PPD and breastfeeding. There was a blog post (HERE) of a lady that shared her story about weaning her baby from breastfeeding at 8 months and as her milk dried up, she got PPD.  There aren't many studies done on it because PPD is only really looked for in mothers soon after childbirth, not months later, but there were literally hundreds of commenters on this blog post sharing very similar experiences.  With the drop of pitocin and oxytocin (the milk production hormones) levels, some women start to go through severe depression.  I knew without a doubt that this was what was going on with me.

The depression and constant guilt got to be so much that I started looking into relactation.  It had only been a week since I had stopped pumping, and had only been a day since I felt the presence of milk, so I figured I should give it a try. That Saturday I started pumping diligently once every 1-2 hours and every 3 hours during the night. I got at most 1 tsp of milk for that entire day, but as I pumped, I could feel my mood lift. By Tuesday, when I had my doctor's appointment, I had gotten up to about 3-4 oz of milk a day. The depression was completely gone. I felt like I was on cloud nine. I thought it was so strange that I would be so attached to something that was so solitary, something that lacked any interaction and emotional connection.  It was so obvious that my need to pump was completely hormone driven.  I talked to my doctor about my experience with getting depressed.  She suggested that when I felt like it was time to stop again, that I should try weaning slowing instead of going cold turkey and see if that helped and if it didn't then to give her a call and she would prescribe me something for the depression.

I won't go into my whole relactation process. That's for another time, but after a lot of hard work, I got my supply up to be able to give Ander just breast milk. I felt so complete. I didn't feel the need to get on my medication. I was able to function without it.  I was determined to pump as long as my body would allow it. I DID NOT want to ever feel that depressed again.  It scared me to think about weaning off in the next year, knowing what was in store for me, so I'd push those thoughts aside and take it a day at a time.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to feel a shift in my mood. I started to become anxious, withdrawn, and detached. I wasn't fulfilling all of my motherly and wifely duties.  I was barely meeting the needs of my children.  All I could focus on was pumping every 3 hours to keep my supply up. I remembered reading something about prolactin levels naturally dropping off somewhere around the 4th month. I was pretty sure that was my body reacting to the drop off.  Each day I got a little worse, until this past Monday I could feel the deep depression sinking in and I couldn't take it anymore.  After A LOT of tears and talking to my mom, I felt that it was best that I stop pumping, get on some antidepressants and my other medication, and get control of my life again.  I wasn't being the mom that my kids needed any more, and the guilt was so intense. I needed to be more than just a milk factory.  Ander needed more than just my milk.  He would be fine on formula.  My other kids were.  My kids needed my undivided attention, and I couldn't give them that between taking care of Ander's needs and the need to pump. This time around, I knew that it wasn't selfish reasons to stop pumping, it's what would be best for my family and for me.  I found some comfort in that.

On Monday I called the doctor and got a prescription for an antidepressant and started taking it the next day. It takes a couple of weeks to feel the full affect, but just getting on that and back on my other meds, I am much more functional.  It's only been three days on the antidepressant. Starting around 4:00 as the antidepressant wears off,  I start to sink and loathe myself.  The guilt for quitting pumping has come back.  Every time I see a bottle of my stored breast milk or when I pump to relieve some pressure and then have to throw that breast milk out, I bawl and hate myself all over again.  I keep telling myself that it's for the best and that Ander will be just fine on formula. I KNOW everything will be ok, and I KNOW that this will pass. It just sucks. At least I'm out of the bed and doing things around that house now. I find some joy in that (weird).  I've been making dinner for the family again, which is a HUGE deal, so I'll give myself props for that too. I hope with all my might that this medication will help stabilize my mood and help me get from day to day until my hormones stabilize by themselves.  I'm proud to know that I was able to provide food for my baby for 4 1/2 months and that, if I wanted to and was emotional capable of, I could have continued to pump for an indefinite amount of time.  I'm hoping that once my milk completely dries up and I'm able to put away all of my breastfeeding stuff so that I don't have constant reminders, I won't be so upset with myself, and it will be one less thing to make me depressed.

This whole postpartum experience has SUCKED. I have never had such an emotional roller coaster.  I have never felt so absolutely worthless. I'm TERRIFIED of getting pregnant again. I've been told I should be done, and I'm planning on being done, but what if my birth control fails? GAH! That's another concern to handle when I'm more emotionally stable.  Until then, I'll be taking this one day at a time.

And here's little Ander:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Labor Saga

**UPDATE  3/12/14: While I was going through some pretty intense postpartum depression and PTSD back in August and September, I felt like I needed to rewrite my Preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome story in as much detail as possible. I felt that it was the only way I could come to terms with all that happened to me and that it would be the next step for me to emotionally recovery from the experience.  It was as therapeutic as I hoped it would be.  It helped so much.  I've hesitated on posting it here, in part because it is sooooo lengthy and also because I've been afraid that those that read my story may think I was being overly dramatic and that what happened to me wasn't that big of deal.  I haven't wanted my experience discounted or my character belittled.  I guess what it really comes down to is that I don't want my worst thoughts about my self confirmed...that I'm a wuss and can't handle all that being a mother entails.  But then I decided that I just didn't care.  I know that what I went through, in all honesty, was not that bad compared to so many others that have had preeclampsia/HELLP, but, for me at the time, it was scary and traumatic.  This was my third pregnancy. I had never had a history of preeclampsia. It shouldn't have happened to me.  No one was really looking for it (except for the usual pee-in-a-cup test every appointment), so symptoms I experienced early on were discredited.  I don't blame my doctor.  She checked everything she could, and went off of years of experience to treat my pregnancy and symptoms the best way she knew how. Anyways, I'll post my updated version now. **

I figured it was time I write down my preeclampsia/labor/delivery story before I forget too much.  I'm giving you a fair warning up front that this is going to be long. I don't have any pictures to post, but my mom documented the whole thing from her perspective and added a bunch of pictures.  I highly recommend heading over to her site to see the pics of Ander and of the before and afters of my swollen face and feet so you can see the effects that preeclampsia had on my body.  The links are HERE and HERE.

Sometime during the second or third month of pregnancy I told Tim that I had a feeling that this pregnancy was going to be different than the others. I felt like it wasn't going to go quite right.

March 19, 2013- I went to doctor because I was more swollen than usual and I had been feeling off. I could tell something wasn't quite right. The day before I checked my blood pressure and blood sugar just trying to figure out what was going on with me. I'm not the type to read into things too much and assume the worst. I could tell that this was different than my other pregnancies. The doctor checked my bp and checked for protein in my urine. There was no protein and my bp was just a little higher than my normal (my normal is typically low, so having it a little higher put me in the normal zone). She sent me to the hospital to get a blood workup done to see if my liver was functioning correctly and to see how my platelet count was. Everything came back within the normal range. The doctor told me it was probably something really salty that I ate and that it was extremely rare for a woman to get preeclampsia in her third pregnancy when she hasn't had it with any of her previous pregnancies. The doctor checked for everything she could and felt pretty confident I was ok.

Wednesday, April 17- We started our trek to San Diego. That evening we stayed the night in Las Vegas. During the car ride I started to get really swollen. I figured it was from sitting for 6-7 hours straight.

Thursday, April 18- I woke up and screamed when I saw my face in the mirror. I was so swollen. I looked (and felt) HUGE. My eyesight started to get blurry that day, but I figured it was from staring at my iPad constantly for the past couple days (I was totally caught up in some book). The rest of the car ride I tried to elevate my feet and drink a lot of water. I also was watching my sodium intake. When we got to San Diego, I immediately laid down and elevated my feet. That night I woke up because my ring finger was throbbing. My hands had gotten so swollen that my ring (which is usually large on me) was cutting off my circulation. I soaked my hand in ice water and used soap and eventually got my ring off, along with a little bit of skin.

Friday, April 19- I continued to rest. Swelling and blurry vision stayed the same.

Saturday, April 20- I had Taryn check my bp just to make sure everything was ok. It was in the low 140s/upper 70s. That was high for me but still in the ok range. A slight headache started to come on that day. Headaches had been extremely common during this pregnancy, so again, I didn't think anything of it.

Sunday, April 21- We drove straight home (no stopping half way in Vegas). The second I got home I grabbed some ice packs and put my feet up with the packs on them. After an hour the swelling looked somewhat better, but not much. I wasn't going to to call the doctor in the morning. I had a doctor's appt Tuesday morning anyways, and I didn't want them to tell me is was something salty I ate. My vision was extremely blurry by this time and the headache was a lot stronger.

Monday, April 22- I had more energy than normal this day, but still had the headache and blurry vision. I went shopping for the cooking class I was teaching the following day and did a bunch of prep work.

Tuesday, April 23- I dropped Gavin off at school, Tim took Kade with him to work, and I headed to my 9:00 doctor appointment. I peed in a cup and sat in my room room waiting for the nurse to come in a do the normal tests. She came in and checked my bp and looked fine. She left and then came back a few minutes later with a different blood pressure cuff. She told me that they found protein in my urine (+1 level) and she would like to check my bp with a different cuff. They had been having problems occasionally with the first cuff she used. This time my bp was 164/110. She checked my other arm and it was in the same range. Dr. Robinson then came in and checked my pressure after I had rested for 15 minutes. It was still the same. She noted that I had gained more than the normal 1-2lbs a week. I had gained around 5 lbs a week. She asked me about any other symptoms like a head ache or spotty vision. I told her I had a headache but that's been pretty normal this pregnancy and that my vision was blurry, not spotty, but it was probably attributed to my staring at an iPad for an extended period of time. She scoffed at me (nicely) and said that all these little things add up to a big thing. She checked to see if the baby was under stress, and he wasn't, so she sent me Salt Lake Regional Hospital (the hospital I was planning on delivering at) to be monitored for a couple of hours and to get my blood tested again to check on my liver and platelet count. At that point I called Tim and my mom and got arrangements figured out for the kids. While at the hospital, they checked my blood, my bp every 30 minutes and my urine output (to check on my kidneys) and also started collecting my urine for the 24 hour urine collection to see how much protein my kidneys were dumping. Dr. Robinson transferred my care over to a high risk pregnancy doctor named Dr. Draper. He came over to the hospital to look at my lab results and to do an ultrasound. He started off with the ultrasound. He told me that before the mom starts to show symptoms of preeclampsia, it effects the baby by stunting its growth. Sure enough the baby was measuring approximately 3 weeks behind. Dr. Draper then looked at my lab results and compared them to the ones a month ago. All of my levels had started to shift in the wrong direction, but the levels weren't to a scary stage yet. The fact that they were shifting, though, was concerning because it was showing that my body was slowly starting to shut down. He monitored my blood pressure for another hour or so, and then came into my room and told me that my bp wasn't improving. He said I needed to be transferred up to the University Hospital because they are equipped to take care of babies born before 35 weeks. He told me that I was probably going to be having the baby that night or the next day. He offered to drive me to the hospital since he was on his way there, or I could take an ambulance and pay $4000 for it. I asked him if my husband could come up and take me. He asked if my husband was medically trained. I told him no and asked why that was a problem. He said my bp was so high that I was at a high risk of seizure and that I needed to be with someone that was medically trained. Dr. Draper then drove me the 5 minutes to the University Hospital. He took me to the emergency OB department. The hooked me up to all the monitors again and drew some more blood. I received my first of two betamethasone shots to help develop the baby's lungs in case I would be having him in the near future. The second shot would be given 24 hours later. During the next several hours, my blood pressure started to go down into the 160s/80s. Dr. Draper felt it would be okay for me to go home, but to be on strict bed rest. He was hoping that I could make it until I was 34 weeks. He told me it was a long shot, but that's what we needed to try for. He schedule me to come in the following day to get my second shot and turn in my 24 hour urine collection and then also scheduled a follow-up appointment for Friday morning where I would get my bp, urine, and blood tested and then also get another ultrasound. Tim drove me home and I decided that I would still teach my cooking class for the Relief Society that evening, but only if he would be my sous chef. I changed up the class a little so that I could sit the entire time. I arrived home an hour and a half before the class started. Tim rounded up everything I needed while I rested. The class went great. I was able to sit on a stool throughout the entire class and Tim was the perfect assistant. The Relief Society president and some others insisted that I check my bp periodically throughout the class to make sure I was okay. Tim and my dad gave me a blessing that night.

Wednesday, April 24- This day was uneventful. Tim arranged with work so that he could stay home with me through the end of the week. I went back to the hospital to turn in my 24 hour urine collection and to receive my second steroid shot. My mom was talking to HR at her work to see if she could get some time off to take care of me, and if that didn't work Tim's parents were on standby and were ready to fly up that following Monday. Later that evening Dr. Draper called to let me know the results of my urine test. To be diagnosed with preeclampsia, the protein levels need to be at least 300 mg. Mine was 506 mg. Severe preeclampsia is 5000 mg! My eyesight got much blurrier. Everything further than about 24 inches in front of my face was a complete blur. My headache was much worse also.

Thursday, April 25- Bed rest didn't go so well. Tim was really busy with work, so I was up and about way more than I should have been. By mid-afternoon I started having pain in the middle of my chest and in between my shoulder blades. It wasn't in the upper right quadrant like the doctor told me to watch out for, but it was still concerning to me. I also wasn't feeling very well. While Tim was at soccer games with the boys, I went down the street to Walgreens and got a bp cuff. I checked my bp and it was about the same as it was when I left the hospital. My heart rate, on the other hand, was scary low. After walking around, it barely made it above 50 bpm. At times while I was resting, it was in the 30s! I wasn't stressing about it because I knew I would be seeing the doctor very first thing the next morning. That night I barely slept at all. The chest pain and headache got so much worse. My eyesight was almost nonexistent. My mom found out that evening at work that she was approved to take the next 5ish weeks off!

Friday, April 26- My birthday! When Tim woke up that morning, I asked him to hand me my bp cuff. I checked my bp before I had even sat up in bed. It was 205/117! I told Tim to pack our bags. I was sure the doctor was going to send me to the hospital and we would be having a baby any day now. I called my dad (who was coming to watch the boys while I went to my appointment) to let him know that it was probably going to be a long day and to bring his books. My appointment was at 9 and Tim had to leave for a business meeting at 10. Since my vision was so bad and bp was so high, I couldn't drive myself, so Tim had to drive me. I called my mom, apologizing profusely for waking her up (she had a late shift at work the night before), and asked her if she could meet me at Dr. Robinson's office right away because I was sure they would send me to the hospital and I couldn't drive myself and Tim would be gone. At the appointment, they found more protein in my urine. I was now at a +2. My blood pressure readings were in the 190s/90s. The fetal stress test came back good, though. Sure enough, Dr. Robinson told me I needed to go back to the University Hospital, but before I go, she needed to switch my care over to Dr. Macy. Dr. Robinson didn't have delivery rights at the Univeristy Hospital, but Dr. Macy did. Dr. Macy came in and introduced herself and looked over my charts. She was amazed that I was getting preeclampsia for the first time in my third pregnancy. She also saw that I had been in a month previously because I didn't feel quite right. She figured that that was when the preeclampsia started to creep in. The previous ultrasound that Dr. Draper performed suggested the same thing.

My mom and I head up there while Tim goes to his meeting. As I was getting checked in, my mom needed to run back to the car for some papers that the hospital needed. While my mom was gone, I finished checking in and the lady sent me off the L&D. My eyesight was so bad, that I literally had to put my face an inch away from the signs to read what they said so that I could figure out if I was headed in the right direction. Everything was just a huge blur. I finally found my way and was hooked up to a bunch of monitors. Within 10 minutes my blood pressure starts to go down. For hours it stayed in the 160s/80s. Again, not awesome, but not scary bad. They hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of fluids and had me pee in a bucket so that they could see how my kidney function was. They took blood tests again and compared them to my lab results from Tuesday. The numbers had shifted in the wrong direction, but not enough for them to want to induce me right away. They kept doing a blood work-up about every 3-4 hours. They also gave me some blood pressure meds to try and get my bp lower. My dad and sister brought the boys to the hospital and my mom went out to gather some birthday stuff and we celebrated my birthday in the room. Right after they left (around 9:30 pm), Dr. Mize (the high risk Dr. that was on duty at the time) came in and checked some of my vitals and started talking to me about how he's not going to send me home, but rather I stay there for the next two weeks on bed rest. I was furious! I did NOT want to be at the hospital for two weeks! We talked for about 15 minutes, and then he started to check on my vitals and lab results one last time. My reflexes were extremely strong (severe preeclampsia will cause that), the bp meds weren't helping, my kidneys had stopped working (you're supposed to produce at least 30 ml of urine an hour, and I had produced 30 ml in 5 hours!), and my lab results showed a big drop in my platelet counts. He looked at me and said, "change of plans, we're going to induce you tonight." He called the nurse in and had her start me on an anti seizure med called magnesium sulfate (mag) and put a catheter in because I'm not allowed to get up and move around while on the magnesium. That magnesium is awful! It immediately made my whole body start to shake, my eye sight was already blurry and the mag made it 50 times worse, it also magnified my headache. I now had a full blown migraine. (The nurse kept telling me that it wasn't the mag that was making me shake. She said it doesn't do that. After reading a bunch more about sever preeclampsia/HELLP, I've come to find out that uncontrollable shaking is a symptom and usually precedes a seizure or stroke (eclampsia)) They wheeled me into a special delivery room that had a window in it that led right into the NICU. They asked if I wanted an epidural and told me if I did, now was the only time they would do it because my platelet count was getting too low. I told them to hook me up!

Saturday, April 27 - Over the course of the next few hours, things were kind of a blur. Every 30 - 45 minutes the nurse would come in and up the dose on my pitocin. I told the nurse that it took a ton of pitocin to get me to start to contract with my other two babies. I don't think she quite believed me. The magnesium relaxes muscles, including the uterus. I wasn't having any contractions, so the pitocin kept getting increased. The nurse also was trying to get my headache under control so that when it came time for delivery, I would be able to somewhat concentrate on it. Everything they gave me didn't come close to helping. Soon I was throwing up the medicine. My mom suggested they give me some zofran in my IV and then give me some more pain meds. I was finally able to keep the meds down, but unfortunately they didn't help.

Tim dozed off while holding my hand, and I laid there with my eyes closed when I felt a contraction. I could tell that my epidural wasn't working at all. The contraction hurt, but wasn't too bad. A couple of minutes later I felt a second stronger contraction. A few minutes after that I felt a really strong and painful contraction and I could tell that baby was coming. I wake Tim up and tell him to help me find the call button or go grab the nurse because the baby is coming. He was so disoriented and just kinda stared at me like I was crazy. Luckily the nurse came in right then. I told her that I was pretty sure it was time to push. She sighed with relief and told me she had just gotten an order from the doc to turn my pitocin up to 30 and if that didn't get me contracting, then I would have to go in for an emergency c-section.

The nurse checked me, and sure enough she could feel the baby's head but she could also feel something else. She figured it was an elbow. She called the team of doctors and nurses to come in and paged my doctor who was at least 10 minutes out. As the room was filling up with people (there were at least 10 people in the room and then 3 nurses at the window waiting to take the baby) my contractions kept coming one right after the other. It took every bit of energy and concentration I had not to push. The nurses and docs really wanted my doctor (Dr. Macy) to be the one to deliver. One of the doctors decided to turn off the pitocin to buy Dr. Macy some time. While we were waiting for her, 3 other doctors and nurses checked me and they all agreed they felt the head and what must be an elbow.

Finally Dr. Macy arrived. The staff informed her about what they felt. She checked me and told them she felt the same. By this time, my contractions had stopped all together. The magnesium had completely relaxed my uterus. This whole time I was trying everything in my power to be able to just concentrate on delivering the baby. I felt so sick and was in so much pain. My mom said that the doctor and nurses kept trying to get me to help hold my legs and I just laid there with my eyes rolling in my head. I don't remember any of that. The doctor kindly allowed the lights to be dimmed and the nurse put a towel over my eyes so that I could get a little relief from the headache. I remember being in the ridiculous position ready for the next contraction so that I could push the baby out and it never came. I had a room full of medical personnel while my legs are up and we're all just waiting.After 5-10 minutes of no contraction, Dr. Macy turned the pitocin back on. A contraction finally came, and I got to push. I gave a really big push and out popped a leg. The whole room went silent when they realized that the baby was breech, except for Dr. Macy. She calmly guided me with my pushing. She would tell me to give a short, big push, or to back off and do a little push, or to not push at all. I was so glad my epidural hadn't worked so that I was able to feel what I was supposed to do. Ander finally came out after only a few long minutes of pushing. A breech delivery definitely felt different than a normal delivery. Ander was quickly passed through the window into the NICU. 10 minutes later a nurse poked her head in and said that Ander's APGAR scores were 7 and 8 and that he weighed 3 lbs. 13 oz and was 16 1/4" long. He was doing great!

Over the next 30 minutes, Dr. Macy was trying to get me to contract again to deliver the placenta. I can't really remember what all happened because I was so out of it all, but I do remember it taking a lot of time and she had to up the pitocin again. After the placenta came out, my uterus wouldn't contract back down, and it really needed to to start the clotting process, so they had to give me pills in a not so pleasant place, and that finally worked.

Five hours after delivering, I finally got to see Ander. The nurse wheeled my bed into the NICU. I remember being so frustrated because I could barely concentrate on anything and my eyesight was so bad, and all I wanted to do was to be completely in the moment because I knew it might be a while before I could hold Ander again. I wanted to be able to take in all of his perfect little features, but because of the magnesium and my high bp, I couldn't enjoy the moment like I wanted to. It was two more days until I got to hold him again.

The next day when Dr. Macy came to check on me, we talked to her about the breech delivery. She's a little older and did her residency in the 80's, so she was trained in breech deliveries. In the mid 90's, doctors were no longer trained on how to do that and were told a breech baby was an immediate c-section. Dr. Macy knew the second the felt for the baby that she wasn't feeling the head and an elbow, but the butt and a foot. She also knew that with this being my third baby and the baby being so small, that a breech delivery wouldn't be a problem. I'm so glad that she was the one who delivered Ander and not one of the other docs. A c-section would have been very dangerous for me to have because of my low platelet count. A blood transfusion would have almost been guaranteed.

Monday, April 29 - I was discharged. 

Tuesday, April 30 - In the morning I checked my bp first thing and it was really high again (180s/110s). I called my doctor, and she told me to go straight back to the hospital, so off I went...again. Right after I got checked in, they hooked me back up to the magnesium and got a lab work up done on my blood. The results came back showing that I had gotten worse. I now had HELLP syndrome. My liver was failing and my platelet count was dropping further. Liver enzymes should be around 60, and mine were reaching 500. It is so rare for preeclampsia to get worse after delivery, but obviously it happens. The doctor kept me over night. He kept trying different bp meds to get my pressure down and kept an eye on my liver and platelets. I wouldn't be allowed to go home until my body had stabilized and he could find a bp med that worked. The doctor was also trying to get by headache and blurry vision under control, he was worried that I may have had a mini stroke at some point, and if my headache didn't go away, then I would need to get my head checked. I did not want to stay in the hospital any longer, so I lied and told him it was getting better and then prayed for the best. I know, not the smartest thing to do.  Don't follow my example. I was released the next night. It took three weeks for my headache to go away and my eyesight to return to normal.

4 1/2 weeks after delivery, Ander finally got to come home too! And that's the end of my saga. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's been a while...

I suppose this is the fastest and easiest way to update family and friends on my life, if there's still anyone out there reading this blog still. I don't blame ya if you're not. Even I got so bored with me I gave up on it. :)

First off...a few REALLY quick updates.
1) Exactly a year ago we sold our house in South Jordan and started renting an amazing place in Hollday. We absolutely love it here and have found that cleaning a house that was 1200 sq/ft to a house that is 3500 sq/ft to be much easier. There seems to be a place for everything and clutter that took up an entire room only takes up a corner of a room now! Yay!

2) I still have my pinky finger and it looks great, all things considered.

3) Tim and I finally became an aunt and uncle to two adorable boys (Maddox and Dash) and with ANOTHER nephew due in a month (Rowan)! I thought the Spencer family was the best at popping out boys, but as of right now, the Layton clan is killing it!

4) I'm 32 weeks pregnant with boy #3!! And we couldn't be more thrilled!

And now for the real reason I'm updating. This past weekend we went on a family vacation to The San Diego area for a little family reunion. While on the trip I swelled up to epic proportions. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and almost cried because my face was so fat and gross. My feet and legs were unrecognizable. I had pitting edema up to my knees. I tried taking it really easy while there. I rested, put my feet up, drank tons of water, and hoped the cool ocean water would help with the swelling. Nothing worked. I had my sis-in-law check my blood pressure. It was a little high compared to my normal readings, but it was still within normal range, so I didn't worry about it.  I chalked it up to the long car ride and elevation change. When we got home Sunday evening, I immediately propped my feet up and put cold packs on them. Within the hour I could see a difference, by morning there were tiny little bumps where my ankles are. I decided against calling the doctor about anything because I had an appointment first thing Tuesday morning. To make an already long story a little shorter, I'll use bullet points to fill in the rest of what happened once I arrived at the doctors:

- found a good amount of protein in my urine
-blood pressure was 164/110
- went immediately to the hospital for blood testing, fetal monitoring, and to start my 24 hour urine test (so fun)
- while there, my doctor sent over a high risk pregnancy doctor to take over my treatment for the most part. He did an ultrasound to check on the baby's growth and the amount of amniotic fluid and to also go over my blood test results and figure out a treatment plan. The baby is measuring 2 weeks behind (with preeclampsia, usually before the mom starts showing any signs of having it, the first thing affected is the baby's growth). The baby is still within normal range but on the very low side. Amniotic fluid and umbilical cord looked good, so that was a plus.
- - my blood test results showed that my platelet counts are slipping and my liver enzymes are increasing.  If this continues to happen, once they slip outside of the normal range, I'll have what is called HELLP Syndrome, which is a serious type of preeclampsia. They will induce me immediately, if that happens.
- blood pressure continued to stay high for the next two hours. My doctor told me they needed to get me to another hospital that can handle a baby born at 32 weeks, because the one I was at was only equipped to handle babies that are 35+ weeks. He was heading to the other hospital anyways, so offered to drive me instead of having to take an ambulance. I asked if Tim could come from work and drive me, he asked me if Tim was medically trained, I said no, and the doc told me nope because I was at a high risk for a stroke or seizure. So, the doc drove me to a different hospital.
- at that point he was pretty sure I was going to have the baby in the next day or so, and wanted to keep me over night for monitoring. I got a steroid shot to help with the baby's lung development. After a couple of hours of checking my blood pressure, he felt it had gone down just enough to send me home and put me on full bed rest instead. :/
- he won't let me go further than 37 weeks, but realistically he's thinking the best case scenario would be me being able to make it to 34 weeks. If I can make it just 2 more weeks, that could save my baby 3-4 weeks in the NICU. He said for every day I can keep the baby inside, it saves the baby 2 days of NICU time. So, we're hoping for longer than 34 weeks!
- I went back to the hospital on Wednesday to turn in my 24 hour urine sample (totally gross). Results came back that evening saying that I definitely have preeclampsia. To be diagnosed with it, there would need to be at least 300 mg of protein in my urine, and I have 506 mg. While that seems like a bit, it's no where near the 5000 mg that would classify me as having severe preeclampsia. So, that's a good thing!

I head back to the doctor first thing in the morning to go the gamut of testing again (blood draws, urine sample, blood pressure check, fetal monitoring, amniotic fluid levels tested, etc). As of right now, I'm supposed to go in about every other day for testing, most likely until they feel it's time for me to have the baby.  I'm totally bored with all this now, as I'm sure you are too, so I'll stop here. I'll probably keep this somewhat updated. I dunno. Maybe I'll update it a lot because I don't have anything else to do besides lay in bed ALL DAY and build a baby.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sugar Lip Scrub Recipe

The other day, a friend (Courtney) and I were at Sephora. Courtney and I sampled the Sugar Lip Polish. We rubbed it on our lips for a minute, wiped it off, checked the price ($22.50!), and walked away.  When I got home, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my lips looked so pink, plump, and smooooooth. I realized that the sugar scrub worked wonders! I never realized how much my lips needed to by exfoliated. Courtney and I HAD to have some, but not for $22.50, so we looked up some recipes online, found what one that we liked, went to Harmon's to buy some Coconut Oil, and then whipped some up for a whopping total of $5!  If you've never used an exfoliant on your lips, now is the time to do it.  Here's the recipe and how-to:


1 T coconut oil, in solid form
1 T honey
1 T brown sugar (I used light because it's what I had on hand. I don't think dark brown sugar would make a difference)

1. Add 1 T coconut oil in its solid state to a bowl.  If the oil is clumpy, whip it up until it is smooth. Then add 1 T honey to it and whip up until it looks something like this:

2. Add 1 T brown sugar and mix together. Put in a little container and you're done! Total prep time? 3 minutes! Also, this doesn't need to be refrigerated.
*note: if you find the scrub is too abrasive, try 2 teaspoons of brown sugar instead.  I've tried both and prefer 1 T.*

To use: rub a little bit on your lips for 30 seconds-1 minute. You can then let it rest for 3-5 minutes to let the oil penetrate and moisturize your lips, or you can lick it off (it tastes delicious...or so I was told...) or wipe it off. Repeat 2-3 times a week. Enjoy you're soft, sumptuous lips.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What did YOU do last Sunday night?

Me?? I grew a biggy.  Seriously, though.  I really did.  Here's how it went down.

Wednesday, March 7, I went to the doctor, he looked at my finger, and saw that there was still no progress. He scheduled me for surgery for Monday.

Sunday, March 11 night at 11:00, I was changing my bandages (like I do daily) and taking a final look at my finger.  It looked exactly the same.  There was no new skin growth up top; spaces were still without any skin; the scabs (that were supposed to have fallen off on their own 4 weeks previously) were still as stuck on as ever and showing no sign of wanting to come off (which is a sign of no new tissue growth underneath).  I tell Tim to remind me to take pictures of it once we get to the hospital.

Monday, March 12 I arrive at the hospital at 7:00 AM.  At about 9:00, I'm finally ready to for surgery. The nurses come and talk to me, my doctor chats with me, and then the anesthesiologist talks to me for a bit, then the next thing I know, I'm getting a tube yanked out of my throat and the nurse informs me I got to keep my finger. I look at her all confused, ask her what does she mean, she tells me the doctor said I could keep it so he cleaned it up really well and sent me on my way.  She tells me I was under for a total of 12 minutes.  I ask her if I can talk to the doctor and she tells me that he's back in surgery, but my husband will have more details.  I look at my finger and see just a regular bandaid on it.  I cry out of joy, confusion, frustration, anger, and pretty much every other feeling there is. I was sooooo ready for the amputation.  I wanted the amputation.  I had so many jokes planned that I now wouldn't be able to say or do. WHY DID HE LEAVE MY FINGER!? Just take the damn thing already and let me move on!!

There's a space of time that I don't remember anything, but somewhere and somehow Tim has arrived in a new room that I have been brought to. He gives me the low down on what went on.  Once I was under and he numbed my hand, Dr. Fryer started removing the last bit of scabs and checking out the area to see what he had to work with. As he was working on it, he saw that skin had grown where there wasn't any skin 5 days previously, and I had a complete nail growing where there had been no nail bed left.  I had a finger that was going to make it, so he cleaned it up really well and was done.  Tim says Dr. Fryer was SO happy and excited when he came to tell Tim.  Tim kept asking him, "are you sure? Because she's ready for the amputation.  She WANTS the amputation. 5 days ago you were all for the amputation. ARE YOU SURE?"  Dr. Fryer said, "if it was my finger, I wouldn't amputate.  I am completely sure it's good to stay."

When I got home, I took off the bandaid, and saw a completely different finger.  I scolded myself for not taking off the bandage and taking pictures of it before I went into surgery. I know that it was looking different because the scabs were gone, but there was skin in places that there hadn't been just 12 hours previously.  I still can't quite wrap my head around it.  My finger looks so different.  It's still got a ways to go until it looks decent, but that will all happen with with time.  I still haven't gotten to talk to Dr. Fryer, and won't be able to until the 27th.  I'm excited to hear what his thoughts were during all this.

Tim had given me a blessing after I had my first procedure.  He told me in the blessing that the finger would take and that it would heal and look really good.  I felt so sure that what he said was true.  Then, when the doctor said it wasn't healing, I thought that maybe I understood the blessing wrong and what was really said was that my finger, in general, would heal and look fine. The thing is, though, is that I kept telling myself, "I've got until Monday.  Things can still change.  I've got time.  Maybe the doctor will see a change in the operating room."  And that he did.

I know that I would have been totally fine even if it got amputated.  I was ready for it.  I just wasn't looking forward to all the pain again. But I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity to witness a miracle. I  know that this was the work of the Lord. I have no doubt.  I am extremely blessed to have had things go this way.  People keep saying, "Wow! Someone is looking after you!"  I feel bad when people say that, because it makes it seem as though the Lord isn't looking after those that do have to go through an amputation, which I know isn't true.  For me, the Lord needed to me to go through the entire process.  I needed to go through believing that my finger would heal, get an allergic reaction to the antibiotics that put me on my back for 4 days, get C. difficile that made me sicker than I've ever been in my life and losing 8 lbs in 2 days during it (and I'm still trying to gain the weight back), then accepting that my finger wouldn't heal, then accepting that I would have to get it amputated, and go all the way to the operating room and be put under anesthesia.  That entire time, I knew that I was in the Lord's hands and that everything would be ok, no matter what the outcome.  And for some reason, Heavenly Father needed me to witness this miracle.  For those that still had to go through an amputation, it wasn't because Heavenly Father wasn't looking out for them, it's because Heavenly Father needed them to go through that specific trial.  Now I know, that if it ever comes down to it (again), and I have to lose my finger, I am more than ready.

So, that's my story and hopefully the end of this whole finger saga.  I know I'm sure over it.

Pictures can be found HERE

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Scripture Case Picture Tutorial!

 Sheesh! It's about time I got this done! It's only been three years or so and over 8,000 downloads of my pattern.  You can download the pattern and written instructions by clicking on the button right under my blog header.  If I'm missing something in the directions or if something is a little unclear, please let me know.  Thanks!

   1/2 yd outer fabric
   1/2 yd inner fabric
   3/4 yd fusible fleece
   3/4 yd heavy interfacing (something like fuse-a-shade)
   12 inches of 1" nylon webbing
   coordinating thread

Getting Started:

- cut 2 panels from each fabric, fusible fleece, and heavy interfacing
- cut 1 strip from each fabric (2 total) 1 3/4" x 12"
- cut fabric for pocket (optional).  Mine was 7 1/2" x 8 1/2"          

{pocket piece}

1. Iron fusible fleece to the back of the exterior fabric and the interfacing to the back of the interior fabric.

2. Iron in the edges of the two strips of fabric that will be used for the handle. You will want to iron them in towards the middle just enough so that the nylon webbing fits snuggly in it.

3.  Fit the nylon webbing into one of the strips of fabric you just ironed. Place the ironed strip on top and top stitch through both fabrics and nylon webbing down both sides, keeping the edges lined up.  You can pin in place, if you like.  I found it made things more difficult while sewing.  You can also achieve the same end results by first sewing the two pieces together, right sides together, into a tube, then turning right side out and then try pulling the webbing through.  Personally, it was a lot harder for me to do that.

I tried pinning at first, but ended up just taking out all the rest of the pins when I took out the first one. I found them annoying and useless.

I tucked my nylon webbing in the black fabric

end result with a topstitch sewn down both long sides of the strap

4. Quilt all four of your prepared panels as much or as little as you wish.  This is to ensure the backings stay in place in the long run and it also adds a nice decorative touch.  This scripture case is for a boy (hence the black and blue), so I kept the stitching very simple.

I marked my lines first, but you can free hand it, if you wish

all four panels stitched
5. Next is the pocket piece.  Fold the fabric in half right sides together so that it measures 7 1/2" x 4 1/4".  Sew along all three sides, leaving a small opening on one of the sides for turning.

6. Snip the corners, turn right side out and press.

7. Center pocket on one of the interior panels.

8. Stitch pocket in place along sides and bottom.  I then made two stitches placed one inch apart each down the pocket for pencils.

9.  Place the exterior panels right sides together.  Stitch down the sides and along the bottom.  Repeat with the interior fabrics, but leave a space along the bottom so that you can turn the bag right side out later on.

This is the interior piece.  Note the opening  I left along the bottom
hmmm... I don't know why this picture is upside down.  Sorry.  These are the exterior pieces sewn together.  The bottom is sewn across the entire length. 

9.  Now we're going to sew the corners of the bag (picture one) so that they're squared off.  Open the corners of the exterior panels up (picture 2) and line up the side seam with the bottom seam (picture 3), and sew together. Repeat on the other side and also on the interior panels. The end result should look like picture #4. You should now have two inside out bags.

Picture #1

Picture #2

Picture #3 (check out my poor pinky. It popped up to say "hi")

Picture #4

10. Now we're going to put the bag together! Yay!  Keep your interior bag inside out.  Pin your handle to the bag like shown in the picture below.

11. Turn the exterior bag right side out. Place the exterior bag INSIDE the interior bag.  The handle is going to be in the way and will stop the exterior bag from fitting nicely in there.  That is OK.

12. Pin the two bags together all along the top.

13. Sew all around the edges, being sure to reinforce the straps by sewing back and forth across the straps

14. Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left in the bottom of the interior fabric.

It should look something like this

15.  Close the opening that you just pulled your bag through.  I usually hand stitch mine so it looks nice and clean. The kids I make the cases for like to turn their bags inside out sometimes. I like the nice, clean closer done with hand stitching, but because of my lame hand and laziness, I stitched it closed with a sewing machine...and did a sloppy job. Sorry.

16. Push the interior piece into the exterior piece so that you have a nice looking bag.  You're almost done.  Topstitch all around the top of the bag.  This keeps the two pieces in places better and gives is a nice, polished look.  You're done!

I didn't take a picture of the final bag.  I forgot.  Sorry!  But here are some previous bags I made: