Friday, October 18, 2013

Dearest Brady...

To my beloved Brady,

Today marks one year since we received your diagnosis.  The time seems to have flown by.  Over the last
year, you have met so many of our goals, and we have celebrated some amazing accomplishments.  When we started this journey, you were only 9 months old, and now we are quickly approaching your 2nd birthday!  I have watched you grow into the most amazing little boy I have ever known.  There are so many moments over these last 12 months that I will always treasure.  Seeing you sit unsupported after 3 months of intense physical therapy is a moment I will never forget.  Watching you drink from a sippy cup and hold a fork, clap your hands, and stack your cups, hearing your infectious laugh & seeing your illuminating smile, are all memories that I love!  However, I am not sure there is much that can top the day you finally began to crawl.  It was a goal we worked so hard to reach, and one we celebrated loudly!  The only moment that tops it was hearing you say your name!  It was a surprise that I was not expecting, and I am so thankful I caught it on camera!
In the years that lie ahead, I will continue to encourage you, motivate you, and celebrate every accomplishment with you.  You amaze me, and the possibilities in your life are virtually endless.  I hope you know just how much Abbie, Daddy, and I love you.  We are here for you, along with so many friends and family.  We are all so blessed to have you in our lives.  These challenges wouldn't have been as easy to tackle without the happy, giggly, and absolutely precious little Brady that we know today!

Loving you more every day...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Let's Talk

The mess of thoughts in my mind right now reminds me of the Lion King, when Simba is chased from the Pride Land by hyenas and tumbles down the cliff into the thorny brush below.  He is climbing over and under trying not to get hurt, and terrified of what is chasing him.  I am so sick of writing sappy blogs about my emotions, but as my favorite outlet I seem to resort back to writing each time I need a release.
In October last year, we received the MRI results and first learned of Brady's condition.  Neither myself or Derik really accepted or even comprehended what those results really meant.  We were lost, confused, and completely in denial.  The neurologist who gave us the diagnosis used large medical jargon that we were not familiar with at all.  We didn't understand anything more than he has a developmental delay.  As time has gone on, it has become more clear to us just how severe this disease actually is.  Brady's brain didn't develop correctly.  There is nothing we can do about that.  We can not provide a fix for the problem, and there isn't even a "band-aid" that we can put on this to make things better.  All we can do is work with what we know and have.  What we know is that the front, right lobe of Brady's brain doesn't function the way most people's brain would.  The front, left lobe is also affected, but we know that it is not to the same degree that his right lobe is affected.  We know that the doctor is shocked that Brady hasn't experienced seizures yet.  However, we do not know when he will begin experiencing them.  We do not know what type of seizure to expect or how often to expect them.

"And all the while I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even looks up."
Kate Winslet - Titanic

It is a strange feeling to feel like people are listening but not hearing you.  I feel just like that a lot.  People aren't sure if they can ask questions about Brady, so they dance around the subject.  People aren't sure they understand his limits, so they don't ask.  People don't seem to understand that I feel alone in this.  I feel like, with the exception of a handful of people, most do not even want to acknowledge that this is hard on our family.  I think a large part of this is that his diagnosis has come in pieces instead of a large BAM type diagnosis.  I also think that people attribute a lot of his disorder to "baby delay" and that isn't really the case.  He will be delayed his entire life.  This isn't something that he will catch up and move on from.  I wish I could help people understand, but I do not know how.  
I found a great connection and comfort in the support group.  I am so so thankful for the parents who have joined and who have provided me a place to field questions, seek answers, and find parents just like me... confused, seeking help, and dealing with the daily ins and outs of PMG.  
The internet has become my refuge.  I turn to it when I need to know more.  I turn to it when I am seeking comfort.  It has helped a lot, and the knowledge has brought peace and further heartache.  I want to know all I can about Brady so that I can help him.  

I thought this might simplify things for people.  I am going to provide a list of the things that I have heard enough of and the things that I wish people would ask!  This is not meant to insult or offend anyone.  If you have asked me any of the following things... you are one of MANY.  I am not bothered by these things, just feel like I am saying the same things over and over again.

Does Brady take his glasses off??
NO, he leaves them on.  I get asked this question more than ANY other.  A baby in glasses is unusual, and I understand that.  This is the first thing people notice about him, because let's face it... he may be the cutest baby to ever wear glasses!  He can only see about 6" away from his nose without his glasses, and he learned quickly that with glasses on... he can see!  He only takes them off when he is trying to rub his eyes or he has been crying.

His eyes aren't shaking much anymore, has it stopped?
NO, the nystagmus is something he will have the rest of his life.  He will never grow out of it.  His optic nerve is much smaller than it should me.  Since there is no way to fix a small optic nerve, he will always have nystagmus.  It does it worse when you are out of focus.  His glasses have helped things come into focus. However, his glasses did not fix the problem.  His eyes still jump, and they always will.

Is there some type of medicine or surgery to fix this?
NO, there is absolutely no way to fix your brain developing incorrectly.  All we can do is provide helpful therapies and do testing to manage the existing issues.  

Is he crawling yet?
NO, and I think this is the question that bothers me most.  People do not realize how bad I want him to crawl, and they do not realize how unlikely it is that he will crawl.  He will likely walk without crawling, but we have no way to really know what will happen until it does.

What exactly is wrong with him?
NOTHING!  Nothing is wrong with him, he is my perfect angel, and everything about him is exactly how God wanted him to be.  His left arm and leg do not have the nerve response in his brain like his right side does.  The right side your brain affects the left side of your body.  Since his right lobe is affected by this, he is unable to use his left arm and leg fully.  We do not know the full extent of what he will be capable of.  We do not know if he will ever be able to use his left arm correctly, but have accepted that he will likely not.

He doesnt talk yet?
NO, he does babble some, but no words yet.  I want desperately to hear him say Momma, or I love you, but he hasn't.  The fact is, we do not know if he ever will.  We are trying to get him into speech therapy, but we do not know if it will help.  Being that both front lobes are affected by this disorder, we aren't sure that his cognitive abilities will warrant speech.  I still refuse to believe he will never speak.  

A few of the things that I wish people would understand....

This is serious.  No he doesn't have terminal cancer, or a brain tumor, but I do not want to hear how this could be worse.  I use this mentality to ease some personal discomfort on occasion, but I do not want to hear it from others.  

You can not erase my guilt.  I have to deal with this issue on my own.  Telling me to get over it will not help, but probably make me feel worse.  Now I feel guilty for making it about me.  

Ask me questions.  When people do not ask, it feels like they do not care.  Asking questions will not offend me, and I am happy to talk about it.  Talking about it makes me feel like I am not alone, and that others care that our family is going through a lot. 

Suggesting medical advice is complicated.  Believe me, I have done the research.  If there is any available thing I can do for Brady... I will.  I even told Derik that I would like to fly us to Seattle to see the leading PMG specialist at the Children's Hospital there.  I will do whatever I can for my son, so please do not ask if I could do more.

He is NOT autistic, he does not have CP or Downs, he isn't epileptic... so your brother's best friend's in law's child who is going through something... is likely not going through what Brady is.  Please do NOT compare my son's situation with someone else's.  It ISN'T the same.  

I guess that about takes care of everything on my mind right now.  Please know that I love all of my friends and family dearly, and I did not mean to insult anyone who has asked any of the above questions or made any of the above statements.  We need all of the support we can get, and I do not want anyone to feel pushed away.  

 - Jessica

Sunday, June 30, 2013

When I Grow Up...

When I was 5 I loved the "What do you want to be when you grow up" question.  Each time someone would ask, I would smile big, and tell them that I was going to work at McDonalds, so I could wear one of those super cool headsets!  A few years went by and I had big dreams of being an Olympic Ice Skater.  I loved Oksana Baiul so much!  I wanted to skate like her.  I loved pretending to do triple axels in my living room, and my world revolved around updates and details of the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan scandal! Fast forward a few more years, and I was into gymnastics.  The 1996 Olympics were my favorite!  I watched Dominique Moceanu do her incredible beam routine, Shannon Miller land a double back layout, and Kerri Strug win the gold for the US when she landed her vault on 1 foot.  2 years later, Britney Spears hit the scene, and I had big dreams of being a dancer on tour with her.  I spent countless hours learning dance after dance, and hoping that one day I would have the opportunity to show her my skills!  As I got older, my vision for the future faded.  I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do tomorrow, much less the rest of my life.
It has been a long time since I have really thought about what I want to be, or who I want to be like.  For some reason my mind keeps circling around this concept.  In the last 48 hours, I have been told that I am not a good enough mother, and I am not doing enough for my kids.  I have been told I am not a good wife, and I should treat my husband better.  And finally I have a personality flaw that prevents me from having lasting friendships.
NOW... any one of those things would hurt anyone's ego, but having all 3 at the same time... OUCH.  I might add that my kids and husband said NONE of these things, they are all coming from outside sources.  I was raised on the mentality that until I have walked in someone's shoes, I really shouldn't judge them for the decisions they make.  That of course, didn't stop me from judging others, after all I am only human.  So after hearing these things, and feeling as though my spirit is all but broken, I thought I should evaluate myself and set some "goals" of my own.
When asked with the question now, I would say... "I want to be the wife and mother that Annie Camden was on 7th Heaven".  Those close to me know that I have been watching the 7th Heaven series from the beginning and working my way through.  The more I watch this woman, the more I aspire to be like her.  I know she is just a scripted character on a tv show, but for someone to write her character this way means that they too felt this is the epitome of a good woman.  With 7 children of her own, she keeps a clean house, always has dinner cooked, knows everything going on with her children, takes care of her husband, and is spiritual.  I find myself trying to emulate her.  When I feel like my energy is low... I think of Annie and the fact that she has 5 times more laundry than I have to do!  When I don't feel like making dinner... I think of Annie and the fact that she made a pot roast, veggies, and a salad, so I can at least make spaghetti!  Annie is my motivation each day.  I only have 2 kids, and I should be able to do what she does if she can do it with 7!
We all have insecurities.  They more than likely are not the same as the people you know.  Talking about them feels like airing your dirty secrets.  You don't want people to know what you think you are bad at because you feel exposed.  However, you all know... I am an open book, and I do not keep many secrets!  My insecurities are simple... looks, parenting, and friendships.
Looks... that is simple!  I am not happy with my post baby body, and I haven't made it a priority to fix it!  I have a gym membership, but I never find the time to go.  I could eat healthier, but I enjoy junk food.  I could work out at home, but I do enough in the day as is!  I think just about every woman has insecurities about their looks, even if they appear completely confident.
Parenting... not quite as simple as going to the gym.  I can read books, and ask for advice, but unfortunately being a parent doesn't come with a handbook.  It is all a guess and check system that I get wrong often!  We all have things ingrained in us by our parents, and breaking the cycle can by difficult.  I make decisions based on what I believe is best for my children, and I pray that my choice is the right one! it gets tricky.  I have never been a girl who gets along well with girls.  As a kid, a teenager, and even a single lady, it was totally acceptable to be "one of the guys".  However, that has changed.  Once you get married, it isn't acceptable to hang out with guys.  Once you become a mom, you begin to hang out with other mothers.  When you hang out with the guys... these mother friends wonder why in the world you are talking to their husband!  I was not in a sorority, I never had more than a handful of girl friends at once, because I preferred hanging out with the guys.  Guys are not catty, and there is generally a lot less drama when you spend time around men.  Once I became a mother, that had to change.  Being that Abbie is only 3, we can say I am still feeling it out.  I often feel out of place, and disconnected with my girl friends because I still feel like a rookie.  It will definitely not work itself out over night, but I will continue to try and better myself.

Now that I have aired my secrets and discussed my insecurities, perhaps people who read this will be a bit more sensitive about the things they say I should work on.  Unfortunately none of the people who said these things read this blog!  However, I am a human, and I do have a heart.  A heart that hurts when people tell me that my best still isn't good enough.  I would lay down and die for my husband or my children.  I would take a bullet for any of my friends, and I would give any of them the last dollar in my bank account if I knew they needed it.  I am loyal, and I am caring, and when I grow up... I want to be like Annie :).

 - Jessica

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


When you first learn you are pregnant, you are flooded with a million emotions and thoughts of the future.  You dream of the first time you hold your newborn. You dream of placing them in their crib for the first time in the nursery that you designed with love. You dream of sweet midnight rockings, and precious games of peekaboo.  You dream of the first time they will say Ma Ma, and the first time they will take a step.  My favorite dream was picturing my baby saying "I love you" in some sweet baby version of English. 

You do not usually think of the bad stuff, until after they are born.  Your innate sense of protection kicks in and you begin to worry about them, and guard their little lives with your own.  You worry about them rolling over in their crib, even though they won't be able to roll over for months.  You worry about putting them in the car for the first trip out, even though the car seat was built for their safety.  You worry about when they will crawl, walk, and talk, and you begin comparing their milestones to others.  No matter how hard you try, you start wondering why your baby isn't crawling when your best friend's baby did a month earlier.  Eventually you learn to lay back and just let your child go at their own speed, and usually they do!  You realize that doing all this worrying really doesn't protect your baby, and you can just let them be babies!

But what happens when the gap in their development compared to your friend's baby never closes.  What happens when you realize that something might actually be wrong.  What happens when you talk to a doctor and they begin to show concern as well.  What happens when you refer you for testing, and the test results show real problems.  What happens when you realize your child is special needs?


Life goes on.  Things are different, and you begin to make changes, but life still goes on.  Comparing your child to others may now make you sad instead of hopeful, but life still goes on.  Family and friends may or may not understand your situation, but life goes on.  
Finding out that Brady has a special brain condition may have given us "answers" but it also gave us a lot of questions.  What will life be like for him?  For me?  What will his limits be?  Will he ever understand?  Will he walk?  Will he go to school?  Will he drive?  Will I ever see him get married?  What do I do from here?  How can I make Abbie understand?  
The worst part of having all of these new questions is that there is no answers.  There are a lot of scary maybes and possibilities.  I have no clue what to expect for my son, but I know that it is my job to support him and encourage him the best way I know how.  The love I have for my kids is one that you can't understand until you have your own.  Feeling helpless and unable to do anything to make something okay for the child that you love more than life... hurts in a way that I can't describe.  I still have big dreams and hopes for Brady, but they have changed significantly since I learned I was pregnant.  

I no longer dream of seeing my son play basketball.
I dream of the day my son takes his first step.
I no longer dream of the day Brady goes to Kindergarten.
I dream of the day Brady points at the sky and tells me it is blue.
I no longer dream of the day Brady marries his bride.
I dream of the day Brady tells me he loves me.

I have to focus on the now.  My dreams will change as he grows up, and most importantly I will NEVER stop believing in him.  He is such an amazing little boy, and he has gifts the world will be blessed by.  I am so thankful for every day that I get with him, and I am thankful for everyone who encourages our family, supports, our family, and loves my children!  

I feel like my blogs are becoming redundant.  If I am writing the same thing over and over, I am sorry.  I feel better when I can pour my heart out into my writing, and feel free.  A songwriter writes songs about things they are experiencing in their lives, and I guess my blog is the same.  
One day at a time...
 - Jessica

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My name is Jessica, and I am agoraphobic.

So, the title of this post is not 100% true, however... I am beginning to wonder if it is becoming true.  This October will be my 4 year anniversary of staying home.  When I was 5 months pregnant with Abbie, I was laid off from my job.  I started drawing unemployment, and while applying for jobs... learned that no one wants to hire someone who is 6 months pregnant!  I decided to use my time to prepare for the baby's arrival.  Before I was laid off, I fully expected to return to work after Abbie was born.  Now that I was home, I wasn't really sure what the plan was.  It wasn't until the first time Abbie and I met, that my decision was made!  I knew at that moment, that I was willing to make any sacrifice necessary for me to be able to stay home with her.  Being a one income family, with a newborn, and A LOT of debt, meant that I stayed home A LOT.  I had several girl friends local that also had small children, and we did play dates.  However, there was no trips to the zoo or children's museum that weren't planned and saved for!  I became attached to my home.  I took pride in it.  When we relocated to Richmond, I was torn.  I felt like my house was a new prison, but it was also my safe zone.  In an unfamiliar city, I was scared, lost, and preferred to stay home.  Not long after our move, we learned we would be expecting a new baby.  The pregnancy brought nausea, fatigue, and emotional stressors that were in addition to the stress of being in a new place.  More than ever, I didn't want to leave my house.  When I did leave it was usually for a 10am play date or group meeting, and I was home safe and sound by noon.  Abbie's nap time dictated most of my days anyways, so it all worked out for the best!  Brady arrived and the chaos of a newborn continued to tie me to my house.  Traveling to Greensboro to visit friends and family had all but ceased, and going out was very minimal.  

It wasn't until yesterday that I began reflecting all of this, and realizing that it has actually led to the development of a phobia.  Agoraphobia is a real thing, and I am not trying to make light of it or offend anyone by misusing the term.  My confession today is that I do not like to leave my house at night.  I do not like driving at night, I do not like being alone at night, I do not like to be away from my safe zone without the safety of daylight.  When I go somewhere at night, it is always with a group of people, and I never drive.  We drove home from a baby shower last weekend after dark, and I was terrified.  Afraid that I would run off the road on one of those windy back streets and no one would find myself & my children.  Last night my phobia exploded and reached it's peak.  Needing to get groceries BAD, I decided that our schedules would only allow me to do my shopping at 10pm when Derik arrived home.  I headed to WalMart, and parked in front of the grocery entrance.  I did my shopping and was in line by 1045 (yes, I power shop when I am shopping for groceries).  For some unknown reason WalMart thought it would be a funny joke to close all registers except for 1.  All 50 people shopping that evening were in line at one register.  After waiting for a LONG time to pay, I headed to my car.  WalMart had locked the grocery entrance doors and turned off all of the lights.  The parking lot was dark on that side of the store.  My panic kicked in, and I dug my keys out before leaving the well lit doorway I was standing in.  I headed to my parking place that felt like it was a mile away.  When I opened the door to load the groceries in, I realized the interior overhead light was out... great.  Now it is REALLY dark.  I chucked my groceries in, and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.  All I could think was GET IN THE CAR, AND LOCK THE FREAKING DOORS.  A man walking from the BACK of the parking lot came into sight from the shadows.  He was walking directly toward me, and I stood frozen.  Afraid that he was coming to ensure my face to face with Jesus, I began a little prayer that Derik & the kids would know how much I loved them, and they wouldn't hold onto the injustice of my untimely murder for the rest of their lives.  The man walked past me and headed into WalMart, and I finally heard myself take a breath.  I then realized I wasn't alone in the parking lot.  Most of the people behind me in line had also parked in front of the grocery entrance, and were filing out of the store and into my dark hole.  I threw the cart into a return, jumped in the car, locked the doors, and headed back to my safe zone.  All I wanted was to be back at home.  Safely locked into my house with my alarm set, and resting in my cozy bed.  When I woke up this morning Derik asked me if I was feeling better, after my rough shopping experience  and I said yes.  Then my brain began to realize that what happened in that parking lot isn't completely normal.  Being aware of your surroundings is one thing, but the fear that had gripped me is not.  I realized that I want to be home all of the time.  I prefer not to leave.  I always offer to host events with friends, ask for play dates to be at my house, and will sometimes make excuses so I don't have to leave.  When I leave it is in the morning, and I am usually with a group.  The fear is paralyzing me, and I don't really know how to get past it.  I don't think I am writing this post to get advice, as much as I am just hoping this admission allows me to cope with it better.  I am truly afraid of the dark.  A dark room, a dark house, a dark yard... simple things, all terrify me.  As a 28 year old woman, it is humiliating to admit I am afraid of the dark, but I am.  I can only pray that I do not pass this fear onto Abbie & Brady.  I think a lot of my anxiety issues of spun off of this original fear, and it has definitely led to my mild agoraphobia 

If you have been affected by this fear, I apologize.  I fear that people think I don't want to come to their house, or go places with them.  That is not the case.  I do want to be social, and I love all of my friends... I am just afraid to leave my house.  I hope that you all can accept me for this, and be patient with me as I learn to cope with it.  Realizing that I have the issue is my first step, and now I have admitted it.  If someone else is dealing with something like this... I feel your pain.  My house is no longer just a happy place, it is my safe zone, my bunker, my panic room.

STEP 1... I am going to get the mail.  It is 1015, and it is pitch dark.  I will turn on the porch light, but I will still be afraid.  Maybe this is the start to getting over something that sounds so crazy.

 - Jessica

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I have missed my blog...

It has been a while since I have blogged, and since writing in my blog is really my favorite form of venting out my feelings, I think this post is long overdue.  The last 2 months have been a bit of a whirlwind!  I am not sure where the time has gone.  2 years ago today, I was unpacking boxes in our new home in Richmond, and boy has life changed in the last 2 years!
Valentine's Day this year marked Abbie's 3rd birthday!  She began preschool in March, and absolutely loves it!  March marked my 28th birthday, and then came April.  April came in quick, and is leaving me with a few scars.  April 10th was far from normal.  I had picked Abbie up from school and we went to a friends house for lunch.  I was working avidly on finishing my Child Training Bible, which I love, and Abbie was playing with her friend Mollie.  After lunch, the girls went outside, and about 30 seconds later... Abbie had 2nd degree burns on both of her feet.  She had followed Mollie out barefoot, and to avoid getting her feet dirty in the mulch, she walked on the black slate pathway in the yard.  It had been about 90 degrees all morning, and the stones melted the skin on her feet.  It was horrific.  We called 911, and rushed Abbie to the hospital for treatment.  We had many trips back and forth to the ER and the burn specialist since.  Having a 3 year old whom is suddenly unable to walk really changes EVERYTHING.
However, if that wasn't enough, April wasn't finished with us yet.  On the way home from the ER on April 10, Derik's transmission blew in his car.  The following Sat, we went car shopping and bought a new car.  I never EVER thought I would be a "Minivan Mom", but I think I can officially say I have joined the club.  After driving the car for 2 weeks, I love it.
Was April finished yet, Nooooooooooooo!  On April 24, I took Brady to his 15 month well visit.  After looking him over, the doctor voiced a few concerns.  He said that Brady's gross motor skills are that of a 7 month old, and he was concerned about the increasing delay.  However, Brady was leveling out in his weight, finally, and his language and fine motor skills weren't as delayed as his gross motor skills... so I chose to focus on the good news!  That wasn't our only appt that day though, and we headed to the Pediatric Ophthalmologists to get a new diagnosis of Brady's vision.  Brady's vision and hearing have both been a concern for a while now, and we had been told he would likely need glasses this year.  The exam showed that Brady can see about 6-12" from his nose.  He is SEVERELY near sighted and his left eye was far worse than his right.  GLASSES WERE ORDERED IMMEDIATELY.  He should have his glasses in the next day or 2, and we are very eager to see if his progress changes.  The following day, we headed to the Audiologist for a routine hearing test.  More defeating news.  Brady had little to no response to sound, and his response was on the right side only.  However, the audiologist agrees that his poor vision is playing a huge part in his hearing abilities.  If you can't see where the sound is coming from, why respond?

SO... Abbie is finally returning to school tomorrow, and she is elated.  Brady will get glasses soon, and we will schedule him for a sedated AbR test.  He will be put to sleep and they will do an "EKG" style exam on his auditory system.  In addition to all of this, we will meet Brady's new Pediatric Neurologist on June 14.  We are excited to hear a 2nd opinion on Brady's condition, and pray that she is more compassionate than the last doctor.  We are also moving on June 29.  We are not moving far, but moving our family of 4 will be a challenge!  I am eager to move and excited to be done with it!
Writing this out finally gives me a sort of closure to such a chaotic month!  I feel like I can put this behind me, and move forward.  Hopefully May brings us good news, happy memories, and is nothing like April!

 - Jessica

Thursday, February 21, 2013


For Christmas, my husband and kids gave me the best gift that any stay at home mom could ask for... a Mommycation!  I needed it so bad, and I was waiting not so patiently for departure day to get here!  I left VERY early on Jan 26th.  My car arrived about 415am!!!  My flight was at 6am, so I needed to get to the airport... early!  Since it had snowed the night before, I was greeted with a GORGEOUS Cadillac Escalade in my driveway!  They were using SUVs instead of town cars.  MY BONUS!  I got to the airport with what I felt was plenty of time to spare, made it through security, and found my gate.  I didn't have my butt in a seat for 10 minutes and the plane began to board!  It was a short flight, and I had an aisle seat.  Our flight was delayed 45 minutes because of deicing.  I was so afraid of missing my connection, but we finally got off the ground and headed for Atlanta!
After the chaos of changing terminals in Atlanta was over, I stopped for a bottle of water, some trash magazines, & a bathroom break!  I waited for about 45 mins before boarding, and I was so eager to get on the plane!  I didn't realize what a long flight this was!!!  I had a very sweet row buddy!  She was heading to Oregon!  We didn't have a window, but we had Economy Comfort seats, which I will tell you is worth the $19!!!  I watched a few movies on my iPad, and read my magazines.  I devoured a not so tasty & very over priced Turkey Sandwich, but I was hungry!!!  I seriously didn't think the flight would ever end!  I took a nap, but thought that it was longer than it really was!  Eventually we were set for landing in Salt Lake City!  It was so foggy that it looked like we were landing in Antarctica!  The gorgeous mountains that surround the city were peaking out from below the cloud of fog!  It was so beautiful!

Off the plane and past security, waited Mom & Ken!  A few hugs and pictures later, we were driving through the city!  First stop... Fleming's!  Mom wanted me to see the Fleming's there!  Fortunately Fleming's is located in a gorgeous shopping center, so the site seeing wasn't too shabby!  It's also right across the street from the Utah Jazz Stadium!  Around the corner, our next stop was Temple Square.  Now, I am not a Mormon, but the intrigue of this place draws you in!  The snow made it picturesque!!  I took a bunch of pictures, and we went into the visitors center and the Tabernacle!  It was a really pretty place!

The Temple!

Me in front of the Temple!

Mom & I...

Mom, Ken, & I!


The Tabernacle, so pretty!

The room with Jesus really demanded a Panoramic picture!

This building was so pretty, and I am a sucker for icicles!

They were so massive!

The Temple from across the lake in front... so pretty!

Loving me some Utah Snow!

Next stop was lunch!  We were all hungry, and with the time change... I was still feeling like it was 3pm!  So, we headed to the Red Iguana.  Ken told me they had the best Mexican food around, and I was pretty excited.  However, while they may have great food, they are suffering in the customer service department!  We were told to wait outside for a seat... not happy, we did what we were told.  We stood in the cold for about 5 mins and decided it wasn't worth the wait!  So... we headed to our Plan B... MOOCHIES!  I had watched an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, a week before my trip, and learned all about the yumminess that is Moochies!  So, we headed over... we found it in the middle of a neighborhood!  It was basically a tiny little hole in the wall with some pretty DELICIOUS food!  I was pretty excited to pay them a visit!

Guy Fieri was waiting for me inside!

I ordered Guy's favorite... the Homemade Meatball Sub.  HOLY JUNK... it was absolutely amazing!  My 6in Sub only had 2 meatballs on it, if that tells you how massive they are!  SO SO YUMMY!

Next, we made a pit stop by the largest Target I have ever seen... why do we not have these on the East Coast????  They are amazing!

Now it was time to head up the beautiful and amazing mountains to Snowbird Ski Resort!  I was beyond excited!  I have never been skiing, and just seeing the Ski Resort had me giddy!  The mountains were indescribable!  Pictures really don't do them justice, but I couldn't stop taking them!

So amazing!

The snow was beautiful!

Can you believe people live here?!?!

We finally made it to the skiers exit!  

We went into a small ski shop there, because I needed a hat!  
I passed on this one! 

And ended up with this one!  My head was so warm! 

Watching the skiers come down the mountain was so entertaining! 

We headed back to Mom & Ken's house, which is so pretty!  They live at the bottom of the mountain where Snowbird is, and they get to look at these amazing mountains from their kitchen and bedroom!
It was pizza night and I was stocked!  I suited up in my new Utah sweatshirt that Mom & Ken gifted me with!  THANKS GUYS!  And tore up some delicious homemade pizza!

The next day we headed to church and the clouds had cleared for me to really meet the mountains!
They were just glorious!  I felt like I met God!!!

After church, we took a ride over to the Winter Olympic Stadium from 2002!

Heading back to the house... I mean they are just gorgeous!  
The cloud are covering half of them, and they are still unreal! 

Later Sunday evening we went to Ken's parents house and I met his family!  
They were so wonderful, and we had such a great visit!  

I couldn't believe my eyes when Ken's nephews and niece ran through the snow barefoot!
They did it several times, and I just had to take a picture!

It was Sidney's birthday... green shirt standing up... so we sang and ate cake!

Except when the Sager's sing Happy Birthday, they tear the song up!
They yell and scream! 

Ken's dad, Richard, enjoying his "wet cake"!!!!
That is right, they eat their cake INSIDE of a glass of milk! 

I did taste it, but I did not go back for more!!! 

Leaving to go back home proved more difficult that we expected!  It snowed 8 inches in 6 hours, and we had to be very careful getting back!  The snow in these pictures was not there when we arrived! 

The following day was my last day in Utah, and it was a girls day!  Mom & I headed out for a girly day, but not before making some very yummy snownuts!!!

This was the view from my bedroom, Monday morning... unreal!

The view from mom's bedroom... these mountains have me hypnotized! 

Snownuts... I have truly missed you!

Mom took me to one of her favorite places for lunch, Normandies.  She had told me about this amazing turkey sandwich they make (and I had seen pictures) so we had to put this on our agenda!  We walked in to learn that they only had 1 of the sandwiches left... REALLY!?!?!  So, I let mom order it, and tried a bite of hers!  I ordered the Reuben and some pasta salad... it was fabulous!

Next stop... Deseret Industries, better known as DI.  It is a thrift store, but it may be the nicest thrift store I have ever been too!  I loaded up!  We went to 2 different DI's, and I was very happy with my take!

We also stopped by a JCPenny's which may not seem like a big deal, until you leave!  The view from the parking lot was incredible!  

Driving home... just gorgeous!

For dinner, Mom really wanted to go to JCW's.  I wasn't really sure what this was, but she said they had the best burgers she had ever eaten!  If you have ever met my mom, you know she is about as picky as they come when it comes to food!  So, I trusted her and said let's do it!

Very excited to try it for the first time!

Oh boy, was I glad we went!  Jalapeno Bacon Burger with Chili Cheese fries!
It may look like a heart attack waiting to happen, but it was heavenly! 

Oh yeah... it was that good! 

DELICIOUS!!  Finger licking good! 

Before calling it a night, I needed to find a place to get some souvenirs for my family!  It wouldn't have been right for them to give me this amazing gift and trip and not bring anything home!!!

We started at Trolley Square and had no luck!  
However... I was looking fabulous in my winter attire!

Ken and I awaiting the elevator!  
We were heading back to Temple Square! 

Such a beautiful shopping center!

I did find some souvenirs before calling it an evening.
Tomorrow morning we had an early wake up call for the airport!

My last view of Salt Lake City... heading home! 

LOTS OF LEG ROOM on my last flight back!!

My driver picked me up and took me home!

My trip was ABSOLUTELY amazing!  Anyone who has never been to Utah before, should def put this on your list of places to visit!  I was in love!  I am so grateful for my husband and kids giving me a Mommycation!  I am incredibly grateful to my mom and Ken for making my trip so amazing and memorable!  I hope I get to do this again... it was one of the most amazing trips I have taken!