Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I abandoned this blog soon after Elisabeth was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Life with four children is beyond busy but adding her diagnosis and our new life on top of it has ushered me into a new stage in my life.   One where I am older and wiser and call desperately on the Lord to help me each minute of each day.  I think suffering does that to us.  Refines us into the depth of humility.

I look back at all of the trials we have had and smile at how easy they have been compared to this newest burden we must carry.  I know this isn't the last load we will have in our lives but this has so far been the heaviest.  It's not even the daily worry and care that goes into the daily tasks of having a diabetic that make it so heavy.  I give shots better than any nurse and my 7 year old can prick her finger and check her blood glucose like a pro.  What gives me the most worry is how the symptoms of low and high blood sugars alter her emotions and effect her schoolwork.  How her once confident self is withdrawn, shy and timid.  And more importantly, how her sweet spirit tries to come to grips with a disease that will never be cured.  I often cry myself to sleep the nights she wishes she could be born again and that this trial was not hers to bear.  Maybe I cry because I feel we are all alone in this fight.  No family near and the family far are rightfully enveloped in their own lives. (I do need to make note that my brother took his Spring Break to come help us and a sister-in-law that offered to come as well.  I will never forget his sacrifice.)  This is the stage of a trial when your true self is proved.  At the beginning, people shower you with love and support.  But then time waxes and the support slowly wanes.  Naturally, people forget.  People move on.  And then you have to pull yourself up and decide whether you are going to forge on or let it break you.  A trial of your faith.  A true reliance on the atonement of the Savior.

We have been very positive with her about her diagnosis and we work hard on building her up.  I hope I can disguise the anguish and anxiety I feel insdie for her.  She will live a long, beautiful, healthy life that will be filled with adventures and blessings.  I am just so ill-equipped to help her confidently realize these dreams as I need so much help with my own state of mind.

Top all of this off with a 5 year old who has behavior issues of his own (which could be a post in itself) and two other babies who need lots of attention and love.  I joke that we are barely keeping our head above water but that is such an accurate description of our lives.

I guess I wanted to just keep all of these struggles private which was why I stopped blogging.  It was my way to protect my children from the outside world knowing the demons we are fighting in our home.  It was a way for me to prove to everyone that I am capable and can handle things.  Insomnia tonight induced the thought that I needed to document my struggle. 

Now before anyone reading this feels the need for an intervention - know we will be ok.  The words of one of my favorite hymns run through my mind constantly.  This is why I know, despite the heartache and heaviness,  we will be ok.

Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee
Lord, I would follow thee

Who am I to judge another, 
when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden 
sorrow that the eye can't see
Who am I to judge another?   
Lord, I would follow thee   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

FAQs about Elisabeth's Diagnosis

Elisabeth after she had been treated for Diabetes.
 Love to see her smile again.
Almost everyone has asked the same questions over and over again about Elisabeth and her diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes.  I figured it would be easiest to write a blog post about it.  Possibly because it will be a little therapeutic to write it down.  I will warn you I am pretty exhausted so my grammar may be off.

With what was Elisabeth diagnosed?  Type 1 Diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?  There are two types of diabetes - The more common one, Type 2 is where your body is insulin resistant and usually happens later in life.  Type 2 is very hereditary and is often a result of lifestyle or other health complications such as high blood pressure.  You can often control the effects  of Type 2 with diet and exercise.   Type 1 is where your body stops producing insulin and you are dependent on taking insulin in order for your body to be able to process the glucose in your blood.  I like the explanation on the Mayo Clinic website the best.  It is a plain and simple way to describe what is happening in her body.

Can Type 1 Diabetes be prevented?  No.  There is nothing we/she did or didn't do that caused her to develop this disease.  It was not that she ate too much sugar.  (a common misconception.)  The researchers are not 100% sure what causes Type 1 Diabetes.  They do know that it is a genetic disease and that it is most likely triggered by a virus.  A predisposition to develop Type 1 diabetes is passed through generations in families, but the inheritance pattern is unknown.  

What is her treatment regimen?  She must find a balance between insulin injections, eating a healthy, carb controlled diet and exercise.  She receives 2-3 shots of insulin a day and must check her blood sugars with a finger prick/blood glucose monitor before every meal and bed every day.  Her diet is limited to 45 carbs a meal and 15 carbs a snack.  Sweets are limited to special occasions.

How did you know to take her into the doctor?  Ever since Henry was born she hasn't been herself.  She has been very sad, whiny and always said she was too tired to do the things we asked.  She started to not make it to the bathroom at night and was constantly hungry.  We thought all of her behaviors could be explained by an adjustment to a new baby brother.  Then she started to really lose weight.  I thought at first she was just going through a growth spurt and thinning out.  Which could explain why she was eating constantly.  When her eyes started to look really sunken in, she seemed very depressed and Lance had to carry her to school on Friday, March 20th, I began to worry.  My friend Mara called to chat on that Friday and I  voiced my concerns with her.  The clue that tipped me off to possible diabetes was that my friend Mara said that Elisabeth had drank a half a case a water the week before when Elisabeth had spent the night. (That's a whole lot of water for being there less than 24 hrs!  She would get her own water at home so I never noticed.)  All the other indications that we had thought could be explained by other reasons now all made sense.  I remembered a little girl that was neighbors to my girl scout troop leader years ago was diagnosed with diabetes and the symptom she had was that she was thirsty all the time. I called the pediatrician immediately and set up an appointment. 

Side note:  I am forever grateful that my friend Mara was inspired to call me that Friday and that I remembered a story of a girl I only met once when I was 8 years old.  Both of these tender mercies remind me that our Father in Heaven is aware of all of us.

How long will she have this disease?  Her whole life.

Is there a cure out there for Type 1 Diabetes?  NO.  I write that in all caps because I can't tell you how many people have told us they read on the internet somewhere or know of a homeopathic doctor that can cure her of this chronic, life-long disease if we alter her diet or try some herbal remedies.   I realize all of those comments from others are made out of love and concern.  Here is what we have learned:

Type 1 Diabetes is very different than Type 2 (which in some cases can be controlled with a diet & exercise)  It is an autoimmune disease.  For some reason, her body sees the cells that produce insulin in her pancreas as foreign cells and it has been killing off those cells for awhile.  She only has about 10% of her pancreas still producing the cells that create insulin.  No change in her diet will restore the 90% of her pancreas that no longer produces the insulin.  No herbal remedy will stop her body from attacking the cells that produce insulin and it is only a matter of time before the last 10% of her pancreas will no longer produce insulin.  We have done our own extensive research and trust the scientifically-based research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals along with the health professionals who have devoted their lives to researching, treating and trying to find a cure for this disease.  Of course we pray that there will be a cure to this disease within her lifetime but are now focusing on learning how to treat her and help her life a normal, happy life.

How long was she in the hospital?  Five days.  She was admitted to ICU on Friday, March 20th for DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis).  She was a very sick little girl but luckily was moved down to the regular floor about 24 hours later.  The rest of the time in the hospital was to stabilize her blood sugar and to educate all of us on how to live life now.

Elisabeth the day she was admitted to the hospital.  

Can she eat sugar now?  Yes.  Within moderation.  She can still participate in birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, etc.  We just have to monitor her blood sugars and give her insulin if she wants to eat more than her allotted carbs.  The biggest blessing is that our whole family will be healthier because of this.

What kind of life will she have?  Honestly, a normal one.  People with diabetes who manage it well live long, normal, healthy & happy lives.  They can do everything anyone else can do besides be a pilot for a commercial airlines or go into the military.  The key is planning ahead.

One week after her diagnosis.
Love this beautiful, brave girl.
How is Elisabeth coping?  We are so proud of our brave little girl who has always hated needles.  (She is my child we have had to pin down when it is time for a vaccinations.)  She is mature and accepted her new life in stride for the most part.  There are good days and bad days, though, as we adjust to our new normal and she is still very young.  There are going to be some hard times ahead emotionally as we continue to adjust and try to figure out how to navigate school, extra curricular activities and normal things that we never had to worry about in the past - like going on play dates over meal times or grocery shopping at Costco.  This is a lifelong learning process for us all.

How are we, as parents, coping?  One. Day. At. A. Time.  Sometimes one hour at a time.  Having a newborn at the same time as this compounds the challenges exponentially.   But we have been blessed by service from so many people.  Plus my brother came out here for a week to support me (which was so necessary and I am so grateful to have him here!!!).  I know God is carrying us through and that we are very blessed to have so many dear friends and family who love us.

Elisabeth is going to be OK.  We are going to be OK.  We are blessed and know we will be better for this trial in our lives.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name. . . 3rd Edition

Laura Jane - 1 year photos
I have been meaning to write this post since Laura Jane was tiny.  Now 18 months later I am finally getting around to it.  Once again the curse of being the 3rd child becomes evident in my blog posts.

Naming our babies is important to us.  We try to name our children after family members or give them names that have special meaning.  We want their names to be something to which they aspire.  And more importantly, they just have to "feel" right to us.

Laura Jane Beverly is our little one with lots of names.  A handful of family and friends teased us when we told them our chosen name.  Asked us if we were from the South.  Or if were of another ethnic origin who gives multiple names to their children.  It doesn't bother me though, especially considering who she is named after.

Kristi Amundson and Laura Virki-Kosonen
Laura - While serving our mission in Finland, both Lance and I had an opportunity to get to know a member of our church named Laura Viri-Kosonen.  (Pronounced lao-rah).  She is the most Christ-like woman we have ever met.  Generous, kind, spiritual, soft-spoken, and loving.  A dear, dear woman who dedicated her life to the Savior and the kind of woman I aspire to be.  The kind of woman I would love for my Laura Jane to grow up to be.

Jane - As a Jane Austen lover, Jane has always been one of my favorites.  We have an Elisabeth.  Why not a Jane?   Plus I have two friends who named their daughters with two first names - Emma Jane and Sally Jane.  I'm not sure why but these little girls with two names seemed so charming to me.  What convinced Lance, who was resistant to the baby having two names at first, was the meaning of the name Jane. Jane means "God is gracious."  Laura Jane was our first "surprise" miracle baby and is a testament that God is indeed gracious and kind.

Laura Jane meeting Grandma Bev for the first time.
Beverly - Beverly is Lance's mother's name.  Beverly has been an amazing example to him his whole life.  She is hardworking, selfless, unfailingly generous with everything she has, faithful, loving, devoted to her family and has undeniable strength.  We wanted to honor Mother for all she has sacrificed for her children by naming our baby girl after her.  And like Laura Kosonen, we want nothing more than to have Laura Jane emulate her grandmother's strengths as she grows.

Some day Laura may shorten her name.  In the meantime, please don't call her Laura.  It doesn't sound right to us because that isn't her name.  We sometimes call her Laura Janie.  And much of the time "Baby."  But never just Laura.  Laura Jane continues to be such a happy blessing in our lives and is adored by every family member.

NOTE:  You can see the meaning behind Elisabeth's name here.  I was surprised to see I never did one for Carsten.  Oops.  I better get working on that entry as well!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Now wait just a minute. . .

This kid cracks us up constantly with his high pitched voice and insights on life.  (When we aren't ready to lose it from how much he picks on his little sister. Those two have the worst rivalry going on.)

His new favorite ways to start a sentence:
- Now wait just a minute. . . 
- Actually. . . 

He is turning into quite the train engineer and almost daily wants me to take a picture of his handy work to send to someone.  At random times he will bring up a certain design with pride.

He is obsessed with Jesus and trying to figure out the secrets of heaven.  I am amazed at how much he does internalize from church and things we say. 

By far the most endearing quality is how he asks for about 10 signs of affection before bed every night.  It started with a snuggle and he has gradually added loves, kiss, hug, sugar, gentle, back scratch, leg rub, Eskimo kiss, bottom tap and bottom pinch to this nightly routine. 

Part of me wants this sweet boy to stay this young lover forever.  And the other part can't wait for him to grow out of the spitting, hitting, gross, pesky stage in which he is.

Oh the dichotomy of parenting a preschooler.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Be your own kind of beautiful

Anyone out there have a constant battle with weight?  I know there are a few of you out there who can relate to me and what I am about to say.  I'm not talking about the tiny little pooch you might have left over after giving birth 6 months ago or the love handles that showed up at 30.  I'm talking about the need to vigilantly watch what you eat constantly or you will pack on 10 lbs in a few weeks.  Those of us who are addicted to food and eat our feelings.  Weight Watchers and I have had an on again and off again relationship for years.  I manage to maintain my weight well usually with a little fluctuation but after having baby #3, I found it hard to lose the weight.  Age, stress?  Who knows.

So imagine how the inner turmoil I am facing now - 25 lbs heavier than I have ever been and pregnant.  I know, I know.  Having a baby is a miracle.  I am grateful for that.  But having to go out and buy new maternity clothes because you can't fit into the ones you wore your last three pregnancies is depressing.  And knowing you are about put on at least another 25 lbs is even more disheartening.   I know how my body works and even if I give up sugar, eat super healthy and exercise 5 days a week, I still pack on the weight.

Add to the discouragement the fact that I have two thin sister-in-laws expecting along with a few friends.  You know the kind who only look pregnant from behind?  Or who lose all of their weight after about 5 months?  It's hard not to compare.

I can already hear the comments for others.
Are you having twins?
You must be having a girl because you are carrying the weight all over!
When are you due?  Soon? (when I'm 25 weeks)

I just decided today while at church that I just have to let it go.  It is what it is.  God made my body a certain way and it knows what to do so it can grow a child and then be able to feed that baby for at least a year afterwards.  This whole journey is quite miraculous - who would have ever guessed I would be having baby #4 and so far my body had done an amazing job at creating life!   Some people are going to make insensitive comments (because they always do) or compare me to other pregnant people  (because that happens naturally.)  But I can't care. What I look like on the outside does not matter.

The number on the scale does not change who I am inside.
It does not make me less beautiful.
It does not minimize the many talents I have.
It does not make me less of a mom, wife, or friend.
It does not have to take away from the true miracle and blessing this baby is in my life.

So pass me the muumuu.  I'm ready to do all in my power to be healthy in my life and just accept whatever size I am.   And enjoy an occasional Dairy Queen blizzard.

No make-up?  Not the most flattering pic of my arms?  No problem. Embracing the moment to take a pic on the first day of school.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sweet Surprise

Sweetheart #4 due to arrive Valentine's Day 2015.  Surprised?  So were we!!!

In fact, two weeks before I took the pregnancy test I told Lance that I thought we could be okay with only three kids.   I had just begun to feel like I am getting the hang of the craziness three kids six and under brings.  But, as always, I am reminded yet again that God has a plan that doesn't necessarily fit my own.

I have been more sick around this time and have spend most days barely functioning.  For the first time in my life I had to cancel giving a talk in church because I have been so sick.  I think the fog is beginning to lift, though, and that I am returning back to my normal self.

One thing is for sure - I can safely say our "infertility" is cured after having two "surprise" pregnancies in two years.  We feel very blessed indeed.

Now come the prayers for a healthy baby.  I really feel like I am getting too old for this!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Worm, 3rd Edition

This baby could read books all day.  I finally weaned her this week.  She has been my hardest baby to wean (thus by far my longest nurser) and I was sure she would protest loudly.  However, she has decided she prefers "bah!" After "bah!" And "no-noak" is no longer needed.  

We all love reading to her.  There is something about the way her eyes light up when we read a book she has chosen or how she knows exactly what book she wants.  The kids flock to her room before naptime/bedtime and clamour to be able to read a book to her.  She tolerates them.  Sometimes.

Every night I spend time reading to each one of my children and I treasure that time with each of them.  Carsten's newest fav is Maybe a Bear Ate It.  Elisabeth jumps back and forth between books she can read, chaper books, and other picture stories.  Laura Jane loves Goodnight Gorilla and Susan Boynton's The Going to Bed book.

Books open up worlds of imagination to my children and allow me to see and experience tender parts of their soul as we snuggle and read together.  

Proud to be a family of bookworms!