Tuesday, July 22, 2014

wifey & mommy

Before I begin writing about all the things that are on my heart, I wanted to answer a couple more questions that were emailed to me.

Q.  What personality traits has Cale maintained through his brain injury? Are there things about him that are the same as before the injury?
A. He still very much has his humor. In fact, last week at breakfast he thanked God for his humor specifically. He is still very loving and sweet to me. His mind still works with patterns and numbers. He still doesn't love to sit and watch a movie. He still somehow knows the lyrics to every song on the radio. He still loves to be around people. He still hates vegetables. Honesty is still important. He still likes to cuddle. He still plays Xbox. He is still stubborn. He still loves Jesus. He still loves to play board games. He is still a cribbage champion (at least against me!). He still has crazy muscles. Friendship is still so important to him. He still likes hockey and really loves the Red Wings. 

There are so many things that are very much Cale. 
So many things the same. 
Yet...so different. 

It's a hard reality that the man I married is very much not the same man I know today. He still likes a lot of the same things as well as has a lot of the same interests but even those are all different. Can I even just say that his kiss is different? Over time we've had to relearn each other, including how to talk to each other. I clearly remember what being his wife was before and what it felt like to be married to another man. I still miss him. I miss him very much. I also love the man I'm with today. I can even say I love them differently.

Every day, there is a craving within me to find a rewind button and go back to the life before the car accident. Sometimes it's an intense desperation that I don't even think I can control. 

Is life dull and miserable now because I miss him so much the way he was? Absolutely not. 

My heart aches and longs for him to be restored but to be very honest, if I had a genie in a lamp that I found while I was wandering around the desert and I was offered to have Cale back exactly like he was before the accident-I'm not sure I would so quickly say yes

I know that may sound insane. 

In my defense, I know this Cale now. 
I love him this way.
I would miss him. 
I would miss us.

Do I wish so bad that he would continue to heal and gain his independence back? Absolutely.

I wish that he didn't need someone with him all the time. I wish that he could drive and work again. I wish that his speech was clearer. I wish that he could play sports again like I know he wants to. I wish that he could follow conversation easier. I wish that he wouldn't get angry so easily. I wish that he could walk better. I wish so bad that friendships didn't come as such a challenge for him. 

My heart truly aches for these things. 

He is very different-but he's still my man. 

Ashton, that was way more than you probably wanted me to answer! Haha...sorry. ;)

Q. Can he read?
A. He can! It's difficult when there are too many words too close together and he gets stuck on words but sometimes he even helps me with words! Simple and short is better. During my whole pregnancy and even since Nora has been born (except for a few weeks) he reads to her every day. For the most part they're very simple books without a lot of words on a page. He's pretty good at reading though! 

I loved getting these two emails with questions...remember if you have any ask! I'll try to be good about answering! :)



On to my heart...

-Being a mom-
"Is it everything you imagined it would be?" That's a question I have been asked multiple times. My response is that it is so different than I thought it would be. 
I love it. 
I love her. 
I loooooove being a mommy. 

If you've talked to me in person about being a mom, you've probably heard me say that since having her, the word "love" has never been so plain. I more than love her. I somehow want to mesh her into me. There just isn't a word in my English dictionary that can describe how I feel about her. 

As much as I love her and love being a mom, it's hard.
Can I get an Amen?
I've never experienced so many emotions in one day...and I've dealt with some pretty crazy things in my life time (you know, all 27 years of it...haha.)
There has already been a time of Momma Bear coming out-and I had no clue that kind of passion existed in me! Oh my! 

I was talking to Mama one day about how I can't imagine what it felt like for her to watch me go through everything that I've gone through with Cale. I know I have felt such indescribable pain and she had to watch me live through it. 
I look at Nora's little face and want to protect her from anything bad ever happening to her. I know it'll come. And, I know if she loves Jesus, He'll carry her-doing a far better job than I could ever do...but I already feel as though I want her to be in a protective bubble for the rest of her life. 


It has been a struggle of balancing life.

I know that I'm not the only one.

It's hard to adjust from giving Cale all of my attention (and him adjusting to not getting all of my attention) to dividing it between him and Nora when both really need it. 

I had to search my heart and pay close attention to even my attitude towards Cale because suddenly when he wanted my attention for little simple things, I wouldn't be as patient. When before it wasn't an issue at all. I needed to make sure that he knew he was my husband and that he was still important.

I've been working hard to be intentional about making time for him and treasuring our relationship in a new way.

Becoming a mom has challenged me in so many ways-so good for me!


I very much enjoy my home clean, organized,  and everything in it's place. I like making plans and knowing the plan. I throughly enjoy everything just so.

It's how I'm wired. If you've ever worked on a project with Mama...you know where I get it from ;)

This in a whole is not bad but when it's my source of peace-it's not a good thing.

With Nora coming into our lives, it's made all these things that I love-a little harder to make happen. I've been struggling with it quite a bit lately.

The other morning I was trying to figure out what was going on with me. Why was everything overwhelming me so much?

I realized that my insane need for control in this area stemmed from a lack of control after the accident happened.

I've had to take a step back and lay my need for control at the foot of the cross.

Well, I'm in the process...

I'm learning to rest and leave the dirty floors.

Although, I do feel like I can relax more when things are the way I like them-but I'm learning it's ok if they aren't. It's ok to sit outside and swing for awhile even if dishes are in the sink.

I'm learning.

This has been my place of escape lately...

We have two chairs up so Cale and I will sit out together and enjoy each others company and let the rest of everything fade away...it's been such a gift!

In this post you've read that I wouldn't so quickly say yes right away to my husband being exactly like he was before the accident and you've read that I've been overwhelmed...

Let me just say, for his sake and his life, I would of course want him healed and his life back the same again. It hurts me that so much has been taken from him. My point was that I love him just the way he is and I enjoy him fully. I don't look at him every day thinking he's only a fraction of my husband.

Also, I have felt overwhelmed and struggled with all that being a new mommy brings, but we've got a pretty solid team of people helping. It takes a village right? :) And I know those emotions are normal! I just had some other stuff going on as well.


I've been thinking a lot lately, I'm guessing because of Nora being here, about our family. As a wife, I think about everything that has taken place with Cale. I think about how I have fought so hard to keep our marriage husband and wife-I didn't want to move into another roll. I wasn't willing to throw in the towel and just be "caregiver."

I'm his wife!

So, it's been a journey for sure and we've had to go through quite a bit...but it was worth it. We now get to live a life where he's my husband and I'm his wife.

Now, we have a baby. This looks different then it might for some, but for us, we have taken on the roll as daddy and mommy. We both love it. Truly.

It's such a blessing to me to think about how Cale's life was almost taken, yet, he's still here. He gets to continue living! He gets to continue being a husband and now being a daddy.

These were two things that before his injury were so important to him-and he wasn't robbed of either. I'm just so darn grateful for how far he has come.

I know looking from the outside in, you may be tempted to think our life is so hard and sad, but I just want to be very honest and let you know that we're genuinely happy. Life is full of joy and it may seem like the oddest most unnatural thing to live the life that we do and be joyful through it...and if we didn't know Jesus, we wouldn't be able to.

If I wouldn't have surrendered my life and begun a relationship with Christ when I was younger, and if Cale wouldn't have done the same thing-I honestly don't know what our life would look like at this point. I'm guessing I wouldn't have stayed. I wouldn't have spent every day by his side...although, I don't know if that's true either. Maybe I would have.

I know that there's no way for anyone to live full of joy and peace and abounding in hope like we do unless they know that Jesus died for them. Unless they could grasp that His strength given new every day was possible and enough.

I know some of you reading would disagree, but I can openly say the way we love each other-it's real. There's nothing fake in my heart or his. We're both very capable of knowing the depth of our marriage...

and it's only because of Jesus.

For this, I'm so very thankful.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
-Romans 15:13

Saturday, July 19, 2014

all about the Cale...

I logged onto my blogger account this morning and realized it was all a bit foreign! I haven't logged on since my last post so there were several comments that I hadn't even read. 

Sorry to be so distant and slow about updating. Life has been a wee bit involved. ;) Not in a bad way...just...definitely a change! 

It's been a long time since I've written a good update on how everything in our home is going other than giving you little snip-its here and there.  I'll be honest that because of a specific event today (not because of anyone in our home) my heart is distracted and heavy at the moment...I'm going to try to set that aside and be as open and in the moment as I can be! 

Since it has been so long since I've given a good update on how he's doing, yikes! I don't even know where to start. I know that sometimes I get on here to post and because my posts are so few and far between, it may come across that Cale hasn't progressed and changed as much as he has...and for this I'm sorry! It's kind of hard to allow you into our lives through a computer screen as easily as if you were all gathered around in my living room with coffee (or other beverage of your liking! Ha.) and seeing me face to face. 

This will have to do! 

FIRST, this may not seem as big of a deal as other growth subjects in this post but know it's HUGE for us! Cale has (for the most part!) stopped drinking Mt. Dew! Say WHAAAAAT?!?! No joke. Can I also add that it was his decision! Again...WHAAAAAAT?!?!?!

He wasn't sleeping good for awhile and over several weeks he kept saying, "no more Mt. Dew after..." and insert whatever time. The issue was that he would either forget or decide that he didn't care and then drink it anyway. After a span of time without saying anything about it after that, he all of a sudden one day said, "I give up Mt. Dew." I think that was about 3 weeks before Easter. We then had a few weeks of him drinking a mass ton of Root Beer and Cream Soda. Now, they don't have the caffeine or the radioactive look of the Dew, but have you seen the amount of sugar in those drinks? We had been given some Hansen sodas to try and he did love those but they still had a lot of sugar for how much he was drinking. Although Cale can be very child-like at times, he is not a child. Very much a man and I'm not able to just control everything he eats and drinks-unfortuantely. Ha. Jk. 

So...after Nora was with us, I had gotten some flavored carbonated water from the store. I love them. But...at one point I was questioning if it was giving Little Lady gassy issues so I asked Cale if he wanted them. He tried one...and then drank the rest of it...and the next morning said, "Um, this is better than pop. Don't buy me anymore pop. I don't need it." 


Now, he does still drink soda when we're out to eat but we haven't purchased soda to have at home in a long time. And, I know that the carbonated flavored water isn't the best option, it's waaaaay better than what he was drinking. AND, he actually has been drinking more water with the Mio flavoring stuff lately...and took a sip of my water one day and said it was actually good. 

I would ask you to dance and celebrate with me...but maybe that's not needed. 

All joking aside, this has been a prayer of mine for SO many years-way before the car accident. Basic Training for the Army couldn't even break him of drinking Mt. Dew. No friends, only Jesus can do something like that! 

Although, he does still love this sign which hangs in his man cave...

I've been asked some questions and have been made aware of some questions so I thought I'd just go ahead and answer some-

Q. Is Cale still doing any therapy?
A. Yes and no. Let me explain. When we came home from Walter Reed last year, it was after about 2 weeks I think, I was on the phone with our Case Manager from the VA discussing when to start therapy and getting those appointments set up. After hanging up, Cale looked at me with a desperate expression, "Can't we just live life?" Whoa. 
That was a very deep thought for him at that time. Even now, I look back and those words slowly unravel in my mind. 

Can't we just live life?

I was quickly reminded that this is Cale's life. He doesn't get a do over or a second option. As wonderful as it is to watch him make progress and continue to heal, I didn't want our lives to revolve around hospitals and therapy appointments any longer. Not that those are bad things, but I felt for the season we were/ are in, we needed to live life as Cale had asked. I feel that making that decision for us was the best we could have made. Our "just" living life has become the best therapy possible! 

To add to that though, he does have a speech therapist once a month that comes but she even hangs out with him and takes him places rather than a typical speech session. In fact, he has no clue she's actually doing therapy with him! 

Q. Does he still get really angry?
A. This would be another yes and no answer! Haha...
He has a severe brain injury and because most of his injury is his left frontal lobe, there will always be a lack of control with his emotions. Not completely uncontrollable, but...more of a challenge for sure. We went through a period of time where Cale became violent when he would get angry. I didn't post too detailed about this but I'm pretty sure as you read my posts during the time we were back in the hospital you could figure it all out...

Was it scary? Yes. Did I get help? Yes. 

We went inpatient for 5 months and with medication changes and with learning (for both of us) how to better handle outbursts, Cale came home and the violence stopped. That doesn't mean that it will never ever happen again, but, it hasn't yet and if it does, we at least have help in place. 

Let me expand on this. 

When Cale gets angry and has an explosion or outburst, it's not an all of a sudden random grabbing and hurting someone. The times that he has hurt me in any kind of way was when I tried to prevent him from doing something; mostly escaping. 

Taking off is Cale's way of dealing with his anger. Before when he would try, it wasn't safe for him to just take off down the road by himself. I couldn't just let him leave and so I would try to stop him. Once this was made aware and realizing what his needs are, we created the man cave so that when we came home, if he got upset (which he still does) he can flee to the man cave and we don't have to get in his way. There have been times since being home that he's chosen to ignore the direction of the man cave and has gone out the front door. Do I stop him now? Nope. I let him go. I follow after him and try to talk him down until we can head home. 

If this happens and I can't just leave, for instance, if Nora and I are the only ones home and Cale takes off but Nora is in her crib sleeping, we've already set up with the police department that I can call them and they can look for him. They have his picture and a statement with his needs which is not coming at him in a aggressive manner. They know that he needs to be redirected. We also had dog tags made for him to wear that have all of his information in case he was for any reason in a position to not be able to communicate. 

For the most part, when Cale gets angry nowadays, it's just him yelling and maybe slamming a door. He's really learned how to channel his anger in a more positive way. 

We all get angry and have to learn how to control our emotions...it's just a little more challenging for him. I'm so thankful for all the resources we've been given and have learned! 

Q. What age is he functioning at?
A. Hmm...so very difficult to answer this question. I typically try to give an honest picture so I'll respond to that with saying between 13 and 18. Everyone is so different and it's so hard to paint a clear picture of this. In some of his thought processes and the way he responds or acts, its very much like a young teen. In other things its an older teen behavior. This is just the age group that he seems to connect better with and fit in more with. 

I'll just make an obvious statement that I'm sure most of you wonder about, you are reading that my husband sometimes functions as a 13 year old...and now we have a baby. Oh goodness. It's just not an easy thing but can I tell you something? Although he may function in life like a teen, he was 18 when we decided to get married. He was a man. Was his thinking as mature as a 27 year old man...probably not. But he was still very much a man with manly thoughts and needs. He was man enough to marry me knowing the commitment as well as join the Army. 

Does that make sense?

Cale is now very much able to express his own opinions and even join in on a discussion. He gets lost and confused sometimes and often ends up playing his iPad because he can't process what's being talked about quick enough, but if you want to sit and talk with him, he is very much his own person with his own thoughts and ideas. 

He clearly isn't able to make all the decisions that need to be made for our family or be in charge of our finances or lead our family the way he once was able, but I have tried from the very beginning of him emerging from his coma to continue to give him the roll of being my husband. For example, while in NC (oh wait...you don't even know we went! I'll post about that soon....) last month, I was about to get my nose pierced with my niece. I've already had mine done twice and had it taken out each time but thought third time would be a charm. Right? Well, Cale for whatever reason did not want me to get it done, He made it very clear and even voiced his reasons. 

I didn't agree with all his opinions and ultimately I could have just decided I was going to get it done despite what he thought but he's my husband and I totally respect what he says. I didn't get my nose pierced or anything else for that matter. 

He is very much my husband...it may look different but he's very very much my husband. 

Q. Does he drive?
A. Nope. And, this will probably never be an option...but all things are possible right?! ;)

Q. Do you have help?
A. I do! Thankfully I have an amazing Mama who lives with us and is very willing to hold a baby when I'm needed elsewhere :) Cale also has a guy (someone from our church actually!) come hang out with him M-F. The idea is that Cale would be out in our community. This allows him to have more social opportunities, do things he enjoys and have his own time away from me like he normally would if he was working. This has been such a blessing for us! In the evenings we're able to talk about what each of us did for the day. Sometimes he remembers...sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he mixes up what he did but either way, we're talking about it and enjoying being together again. And...lets be honest, I get a break from being a "caregiver" and get to be more of a wife when he comes home. 

He also has been going to the gym working with a trainer that is provided by Wounded Warrior Project. This has been one of the best things to happen for him. His trainer is incredible! At first the gym was really difficult. Cale hated going because it wasn't a part of his routine. Once it did become  a part of his routine after a few weeks of going consistently, he now loves it!! 

I've gone with him a couple times and he always shows off. 

If you happen to see him out and about around town, feel free to say hello! He used to get weirded out, but he loves it now ;)

Q. How is Cale doing with Nora and sharing your attention?
A. I absolutely love answering this question. I'll start with a conversation I had the month before Nora was born. I was talking to a lady at church about Cale's progress and how he was doing. She was asking several questions and at one point said, "I'm so glad that Cale was able to father a child." My response was, "I'm so thankful that not only does he get to father a child, he gets to be a daddy." He is very much a part of raising her. Her first few weeks were a little more challenging for him, but like everything, he needs to have time for something to become a part of his routine. Change good or bad is difficult for him. Not to mention, like most men, a newborn baby just isn't that interesting. They're like a blob...except they eat and poop. 

Now that she is smiling in response to us (she is! I'll have more to share on this...), Cale is head over heels for her! He adores her. I've never seen a baby loved so deeply. Is it a cake walk with no challenges at all? Not in the slightest. It is however beautiful. 

Actually, there have been several things that I have been talking to a friend about referring to something that had been hard to deal with as far as Cale and the new baby and their response would be that it was totally normal for men! Their husbands had the same challenge. Brain injury adds a different dimension and often can be more extreme but nothing new to life with a new baby in the home. 

The last couple weeks we've gotten into a nightly routine and he reads children's books to her. It's the sweetest thing listening to him talk to her. He tells her all about random things and even told her the other night about how she doesn't speak English yet. 

I know her growing up will come with it's many adventures and challenges. I know that sometimes having a daddy with a disability will bring so much joy and fun...and I know that sometimes having a daddy with a disability will bring questions and tears. 

I know he's already been an amazing daddy who is so tender and concerned. He's protective and loving. I pray that as she grows up with a daddy who has a severe traumatic brain injury that we can help raise her to love Jesus the most and see everyone around her the way God sees them and not the worldly view of whatever disability, color or race they have or are. I pray that we as her parents can together invest in her life in a way that instills in her a passion for the Kingdom and that she will grow into a radiant godly woman.

I know that so often Cale is teaching me. Teaching me to be more honest; to laugh more, think more, learn more. He encourages me in being me rather than trying to act a certain way. He continually helps me find joy in the small mundane things. As a daddy, I know that he'll constantly be teaching Nora. He'll be able to spend more time with her and invest in her life more rather than being away from home working all the time. 

It's all exciting and crazy to think about. 

I know that I am thrilled to get a front seat look at the two of them bonding. If it's this sweet now...how much sweeter once she can interact with him more?

I think this just about covers the questions I've been hearing lately referring to Cale. I would need to spend more time looking through emails that I've received lately. If you have any other questions or had asked one that I forgot to answer, I would love to receive an email from you! I think I've said before on here, I'm not always the best at responding to every email but I do read every one! 


And, lucky for you...I'm going to be posting a lot more over the next week. I want to say it'll happen the next three days but I know that may be stretching it! The next post will be more about me and where I'm at and the one after will be about Nora more and I'll be writing about her birth story. The last will be an overall update on everything that's been going on in our lives! 

I know it's long...thanks for taking the time to read! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Easter Sunday...we were 40 weeks and ready to meet our little girl... 

On Wednesday April 23 at 9:11am the most beautiful sweetest little lady entered our life.

There are no words that I could think of to describe the emotion and experience of meeting her...

Cale reading to her out of the belly! :)

I posted on Facebook the other day...

There have been several moments that I'm overtaken with emotion as I look at this baby girl. I can't believe she's mine. Many women have talked to me and told me about the love that is like no other experienced when you have a baby...I didn't get it. I couldn't understand; and then I held her. My whole world has changed and I don't think it could be anymore beautiful or that I could be anymore thankful. Watching Caleb love her is like a tender kiss from the Lord over and over. The reminder of how He has walked every single day holding us and never leaving us and will continue to do so. 

For this child I prayed...
1 Samuel 1:27

I snapped this picture quickly this am- she was exactly a week old! :)

I had planned on working on getting this post on here last night but got too tired to finish. I had time today to get it posted but this was so much better...

After being in this house for a week without leaving, I had my first trip out today! It was to good ol' Walmart. Thankfully I had a hunk of a man to go with me!

and later today, little Miss Nora had her first trip out of the house!

I will be posting at a later time about how labor and delivery went. For now I'll just say that it was incredible. Painful. But...so incredible. I couldn't have asked for anything to have gone better.

Cale so far has been adjusting as best he can. There have been hard days and moments that make it clear that brain injury is in this home. There have been the sweetest moments that melt me to mush. Please continue to pray for him as he adjusts to such a big change in our home. Also, we do have a new RS that will be joining us, we're just in waiting for all the paperwork stuff to go through!

Mama has just about been stuck to a chair or in bed this last week. Between her knee in serious pain, her allergies in a serious mess and then getting some kind of GI bug, it's been difficult. I think she's on the mend and starting to feel like herself again.

I'm doing great. Really. I've been a wee bit surprised with how well I feel. I have had points that I was just too tired to carry on another conversation and some crazy emotions that came (which I was told was normal...but yikes!). I'm absolutely loving getting to know this sweet Nora of ours!

Thank you so much for ALL of your prayers.

We'll keep you posted on how things are going and how this baby girl is doing! :)