Apr 30, 2011
For those of you with 24/7 stuffy noses, if you can manage to get at least a smidget of air through both nostrils before you use it, the Nedi Pot will open up to you a whole new world of nose breathing.
I'd post a video of how to use it but I don't wanna spoil the fun that comes from learning. Just know that it's one of life's little treasures!
Apr 29, 2011
I was shootin the breeze the other day (no pun intended) with a buddy of mine, and he was telling me how much fun he had going shooting with his friend. He told me it was the first time he'd gone shooting. I was a bit taken back by it being his first time. I mean he is a dude, he is in his mid twenties, and he has lived his entire life in the gun-friendly state of Arizona! Never-the-less I enjoyed listening to him ramble on about the different guns he got to shoot and how he didn't care if he was shooting a pile of dirt, he was having a good time.
I didn't even bother to tell him how much I love shooting guns. I couldn't bare to take away his thunder. He was like a kid in a candy store just talking about it.
I'm just like my friend. I don't care if I'm shooting at an old milk jug, a tin can, a pile of cow crap, a flock of mourning doves, a mound of dirt, or a "no dude you see that tree like 50 feet away" "Ya" "Well look like 5 feet to the left of that, on the ground, there's like a funny lookin rock." "Oh ya dude I see it. Shoot that thing." It's therapeutic, and IT'S ALWAYS A GOOD TIME!
I am indebted to my father for teaching me gun safety at a young age. I am grateful that he introduced me to hunting, to guns, and to the outdoors. I can hardly wait to take my own sons camping, hunting, and shooting.
If I'm having a "bad day," I'm so glad I live in a place where I can drive 20 minutes away, take a few guns with me, blow up a few milk jugs, obliterate a few pieces of plywood, and/or kick back in a camping chair and shoot the same mountain dew can 57 times while Johnny Cash's greatest hits blares from my truck speakers.
Here's to my therapy!
Apr 27, 2011
Both of my parents are still alive. I am so grateful for the roll each has played in my life. I am indebted to both. They are different in many ways, including the ways they choose to express their feelings. My mother expresses her love for me verbally and frequently. My father expresses his love for me through encouraging words, and kind deeds. I gladly accept both!
Recently I re-read an article that I had written for a journalism class while attending BYU-Idaho almost 6 years ago. The story was about my roommates fiance. It was was a profile story on her life, and how it changed after she learned her father was diagnosed with, and eventually passed away from, Lou Gehrig's Disease.
I share both this story I wrote (It's a bit wordy but very touching), and a slideshow I created at the end, with the utmost love and respect for fathers, and most of all for those who have lost their Father's earlier than they would have liked.
The slideshow contains pictures of my Uncle Steve, my dad's only brother, and Father of 7 children, who passed away almost 2 years ago from Pulmonary Fibrosis. A few months later my dad lost his father to a heart attack. I wrote about these amazing men here.
The song that goes with the slideshow is a tear jerker, but I believe there is happiness in knowing as the song says, "I'll see you again some day." While the Story and the video are about 2 different people, I believe the message is the same. I am so grateful for the love, hope, and happiness that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Here's to the courage of Heather Norris and her family, Steven Sorensen's family, and to anyone who has lost their father, or loved ones early.
I wrote this for a newspaper originally so I apologize for all the spaces.
REXBURG, Idaho – Heather Norris sat patiently in the driver’s seat as her father David made his way to the car. Suddenly she sat up straight. David was walking slower than normal.
“Something was definitely wrong,” said Heather. “His foot had gone limp, and he had to lift his leg extra high just to walk.”
Heather went home and discussed the matter with her mother. A few months later Heather and her parents sat restlessly in a neurologist’s office awaiting a diagnosis.
Life for eighteen-year-old Heather Norris was about to change forever.
“It couldn’t be anything bad because I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” thought Heather. “I had convinced myself that it would not be anything serious.”
The verdict? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; a neurodegenerative disease that disables the use of the muscles, and has no cure. Her thoughts turned immediately to what life was going to be like without her dad around.
“I was terrified,” said Heather. “I could only remember my dad being sick three times in my whole life. I always thought he’d live forever.”
Heather admits she did her best to live in denial but she had to be realistic. One afternoon, Heather and her friends were playing football at the park near her home. Heather was enjoying herself, laughing and running around. Life was great. Suddenly, her mind began to wander. She stopped running. Her previously peaceful brown eyes swelled with tears.
“I can’t believe it,” cried Heather. “What if he’s not here when I get married?”
She was at war with reality.
While Heather struggled emotionally, her dad remained optimistic. “If this is what I have to do to get back to my Heavenly Father, than this is what I have to do, and we’re gonna do it,” said David.
Heather struggled to understand how her dad could be so positive. “It would frustrate me sometimes because I would just want to bawl and be angry at the world. I wanted to say ‘no one understands’ and ‘poor me,’ but then I’d see dad smiling and think, ‘OK, now I can’t be mad.’”
The doctors told Heather and her family that most people with ALS die within the first eighteen months. They said a good indicator of how long he would live would be his rate of decline during the first year.
Heather said that her dad went from walking with a brace to walking with a walker in the first year so she was not that worried. However, the disease had a paralyzing effect on her dad’s muscles.
On one occasion Heather and her father were sharing a peaceful moment at the dinner table when he began to choke on his food. Heather leaped from her seat and helplessly screamed for her mother. Her heart racing, she smacked him on the back.
Desperate, she took a few steps back. Her hands trembled as she mumbled under her breath, “Oh my goodness.”
Finally, her mom arrived and propped David up in his chair. She repeated what Heather had tried and smacked him on the back. This time it was successful.
“OK, not gonna eat that food anymore,” said Heather’s mom as they shared a moment of relief.
However, the emotional damage had already been done. It was times like these that left Heather feeling scared and helpless.
“I’m a control freak so anything I have no control over is terrifying,” said Heather.
As David’s condition worsened, Heather and her mom had to adjust to David’s needs. At one point the muscles in his hand grew so weak that he could no longer grasp a fork. To solve the problem, they got him a fork with a wider handle.
“Things like that were easy to deal with,” said Heather. “But when the disease began to affect his breathing, and his ability to get around, it became very difficult. It eventually got to the point where he couldn’t lift his own body weight and mom would have to help transfer him to the wheel chair.”
Despite her father’s rapid declination of health, Heather shared many fun times with him. They would go for walks in the park, and loved to watch television together.
Heather would sit comfortably on the couch, while David sat silently in his wheelchair. His eyes would be glued to his favorite television show, “Fear Factor.”
A woman on the show grabbed a juicy cockroach from a small glass container while the other contestants cheered her on. Then, with one hand pinching her nose, she placed the ripe insect into her mouth and began to chew. It was too much for her to bare as she spit the remains back onto the table.
Heather and her father erupted in laughter.
“He definitely loved ‘Fear Factor,’” said Heather. “He loved the crazy things they’d make the people do, and we’d just sit there together busting up laughing. This allowed me to still see his personality.”
In November of 2004, with his condition becoming very serious, David Norris retired from his job as a math teacher at Brigham Yong University-Idaho.
“That was his focus, to teach as long as he could,” said Heather. “He absolutely loved teaching. He loved working with the students and helping them understand something that they’d been afraid of for so long.”
When David began to lose control of the muscles in his throat, a feeding tube was inserted into his stomach, and his ability to speak was impaired. He began to get tired very easily and had a hard time communicating with people around him.
“It got to the point where it wore him out to have to focus on what I was saying,” said Heather. “So we’d just sit and I’d watch TV with him, and he’d make comments but I wouldn’t try to have a conversation with him.”
Eventually David lost most of his ability to speak.
“He couldn’t talk so he used hand signs,” said Heather. “It was difficult at first, and the signs would change from time to time, but we would adjust. He could still kind of laugh or smile but he wasn’t normal by any means,” she said.
During this difficult time, Heather had a friend that became her solace.
“There were times where I’d call my friend whose mother had cancer and we’d talk about what we were going through,” said Heather. “We’d talk to each other about the bad days and about the future.”
Heather said one of the things that helped her the most was being able to help her friend. “I realized that living in my situation helped me to better understand her and what she was going through,” said Heather.
After her friend’s mother passed away in January of 2005, Heather and her friend continued to talk to each other and help each other during difficult times.
In February of 2005, David’s condition grew steadily worse. He began to lose his eye sight and was unable to read. Heather said that this was particularly difficult on him because reading is something that he loved to do. She said that her mother would read scriptures to him at night, but it was still hard for him to focus on anything for an extended period of time.
As David became more physically weak, it took more time to care for him. Heather said that her mother was “absolutely amazing through it all,” but it was difficult to see her mom struggle emotionally.
“Mostly just seeing how hard it was on her really hurt me,” said Heather.
Soon, Heather found herself being the “mom” around the house while her mother tended to David’s every need. She would clean the kitchen, make dinner, run errands, and pretty much anything else that her mother would normally do.
Both Heather and her family received a great amount of help from friends and neighbors, but many of them felt helpless also.
“For the most part it’s just an odd situation and people just don’t know what to do,” said Heather. “Everyone would say, ‘How’s your family doing?’ and then say, ‘I wish I knew how I could help,’ but none of them would ever come over because they didn’t feel comfortable.”
Heather’s father did receive frequent visits from a good friend, Brother Cullin. Heather said that Brother Cullin was a huge help, and was constantly aware of the situation and was always asking what he could do to help.
“He was great,” said Heather. “He would come and visit with dad, and take him for a walk around the park in his wheelchair. He was awesome.”
During these many months of struggles Heather balanced her time between her father and her boyfriend, Andrew Anderson. Before long, they were engaged to be married on August 20.
Towards the end of May, Heather and her mother noticed that David was more tired than normal. He would spend almost the entire day in bed. Heather’s mother contacted an ALS clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah and explained the situation to them.
The clinic told Heather and her family that when someone suffering from ALS gets to that point, they usually have about two weeks left to live.
“I was absolutely terrified,” said Heather. “Now I wasn’t sure if he was going to be alive when I got married.”
Heather had an older sister who got married in March, and another sister engaged to be married in July.
When they heard the news that David’s time was very short, Heather’s older brothers and sisters did the best they could to come and spend time with him. Her brother Jon was unable to make it home, but frequently expressed his love for his father over the telephone.
On June 13, 2005, David woke up early, looked at his wife, and said calmly, “I’m going to die.” Heather’s mother ran downstairs and woke up Heather’s sister Caitlin. Caitlin than ran into Heather’s room and shared the news.
“She came in and told me what happened and I was like, ‘OK, this is it,’” said Heather. “There were things going through my mind like, ‘OK, three years ago I wish I would have talked to him more and learned more.’ I always regretted that teenage “brattiness” that everybody goes through, but mine was just perfect timing.”
Heather’s mother called the hospice nurse who arrived shortly. The family had gathered in the room with dad, wondering if this was really his time. The family stayed with David for the entire day. That night things got very tense.
“He wanted something, but we couldn’t figure out what it was,” said Heather. “He had certain signals and they meant certain things. He kept pointing outside, which usually meant he wanted to go for a walk. But then we’d ask him if that’s what he wanted and he’d shake his head no. It was devastating for mom because he wanted something so much but she couldn’t figure out what it was.”
He continued to point.
“We were all in tears,” said Heather. “He just kept doing the same signal, and he was so adamant about it.”
They called David’s good friend, a local Bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Greg Edwards. Bishop Edwards struggled with the rest of the family in trying to figure out what David wanted.
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” asked Bishop Edwards. David shook his head, “yes.”
“We figured he wanted to go to the hospital because he thought it would help. The hospice nurse let him know that there was no need to go there because she could give him the same medication that the hospital could.
Eventually David calmed down and the rest of Monday night was quiet.
“Tuesday was also quiet,” said Heather. “Dad just stayed in the recliner on the respirator and we just kind of hung out with him that whole day. He took some morphine to calm him down and make it easier to breathe.”
That night Heather and her family gathered for family prayer. This was a special prayer for Heather’s brother Jon, who was still away at school, and was unable to be there during that time.
“Tuesday night we all slept in the living room with dad. Mom fell asleep clenching his hand.”
Wednesday arrived very peacefully, much like Tuesday. Heather’s brothers and sisters debated on whether or not to go home or stay a few more days. They decided they would leave on Thursday.
“That afternoon mom talked to Jon, and told David that Jon loved him very much and wished that he could be there. She spoke with Jon on the phone and told him that his father understood that he couldn’t be there and that he loved him very much too.”
Soon after the phone call, David Norris passed away.
“He passed away very peacefully and very quietly with all of us around him,” said Heather. “There was a great feeling of peace because we had seen him struggle for so long.”
Now, as Heather prepares to get married, she said that there are things she wishes she could ask her dad, but does not have any huge regrets.
Heather has been forever changed because of her experiences with her father during the final two years of his life. Soon after he died, Heather reflected on what a positive attitude her father had maintained through it all.
“He’d always been amazingly optimistic about the whole situation,” said Heather. “He would say, ‘it’s OK, this is how it’s supposed to be and everything will be all right.’”
From the time of her father’s diagnosis to his peaceful passing just two months ago, young Heather Norris exemplified faith and courage in the face of adversity.
Enjoy the slideshow -- We miss you and love you Uncle Steve!
Song: Kenny Chesney's -"Who You'd Be Today"
Apr 26, 2011
I live for fresh air! I have weekly dreams about raising a family in the mountains of Idaho/Montana and living the simple life. I HATE the heat, and LOVE cool mountain air! I'd prefer to take a nap leaning up against a tree in the Tetons, over laying in a bed any day. Call me crazy but there is something blissful about not listening to power tools, carhorns, and your neighbors rat dog on a daily basis. I can hardly wait to have a wife and kids to enjoy these places with me!
So here's to the great outdoors and some pics I've taken of my 3 favorite places over the years.
Starting with the Grand Teton Mountains, and Teton Valley...
Apr 24, 2011
We conversed briefly, shared a few laughs, and exchanged phone numbers. I did the proper thing and waited a few days before I called her. We chatted for a bit and agreed to go out that weekend. Seeing as how she lived in hour away is BFE and I was unfamiliar with anything to do out there, I gave her the reigns. I believe my exact words were, “whatever you wanna do.” Those 4 words lead to the most expensive date of my life!
The morning of our rendezvous I called to find out what she wanted to do. Much to my chagrin she expressed a strong desire to see the final installment in “The Work and the Glory” movie series. Being polite I agreed to the movie and asked if there was something else she wanted to do before or after. Bare in mind it's been years since I've seen this girl, so I was dying for an opportunity to ramble incoherently about my life, and a movie didn't grant me that opportunity. She told me that next door to the movie theater was a place called “As You Wish.” It sounded like a jewelery store. I inquired further and she told me that it's a place where you paint pottery and then they bake it on and you can pick it up a few days later. Sounded harmless. I obliged.
Soooo... fast forward to “As You Wish,” and let the money flow! I picked a giant lizard off the shelf, she selected a guitar, we grabbed some paint and a few brushes from the counter, and proceeded to unleash our inner Picassos. The conversation was chuck full of reminiscing, witty banter, and bad date stories. I'd put our date on that list today, without hesitation.
After finishing painting, she offered to clean up while I took our classics to the counter to pay for them. I stood there admiring my freshly painted lizard and her psychedelically painted guitar while the cashier crunched some numbers. “One guitar, one lizard, 2 sitting fees, 2 paint fees, yada yada, ok your total comes to $52.50!
$52.50?!?!?!?! My heart skipped a beat, my jaw dropped, and I might have pooped my pants a little! The cashier was quick to notice my change in facial expression and in a light-hearted attempt to make me feel better she chuckled and said, “First time here isn't it?” I remained mute, but nodded slowly. I swiped my debit card, and took my time entering my pin, making sure to look behind me at least 5 or 6 times at my date still cleaning up our mess.
Fast forward again, to the moment we walked out of the theater and she saw the glowing Coldstone Creamery sign a mere 30 feet away. “Hey wanna get ice cream?” NOOOOOOOOOO! Please be closed, I thought over and over as we inched closer to the entrance. Thankfully, both me and my checking account breathed a sigh of relief when we noticed the “open” sign lacked it's usual luster.
I dropped her off and started the hour long journey back to the west side. I couldn't get over the fact that I had just spent $52.50 on pottery, and $20 on a cheese fest/chick flick with a religious undertone. I was almost speechless. I left the radio off and drove home in silence wondering how I get myself into those kinds of situations. Had I known this girl well at all, I wouldn't have been so frustrated about it.
BUT WAIT.... IT GETS BETTER! Here's the kicker! Long story short, over the next 3 weeks I learned the following:
1) She was already seriously dating a guy when we went out!
2) She gave the guitar she painted, AND I PAID FOR, to her boyfriend!
3) She got engaged!
The moral of this story? I don't know... It hurts to think about!
Anyone who's had the privelage of attending a Phoenix Suns game with me (I prefer the term privelage though I know many will disagree) is well aware of my "fanhood." At least as it pertains to the Suns. Here's a look back at the "privelaged" times.
Apr 23, 2011
Well, "A blog a day... for 44 days" is like that ninja turtles pizza throwing machine, or that Mariah Carey CD you longed for as a child, and I want you to attack every one of my 44 posts like a pack of angry badgers! Not just one. A rabbid pack! None of that was intended to make any sense.
Recently my brother-in-law was flipping through channels when I caught a glimpse of a girls basketball game. I sarcastically shouted, "Dude you don't wanna watch girls basketball?" His response? "I'd rather watch grass grow."
In sarcastic layman's terms I can't stand watching girls basketball for 3 reasons.
Reason #1: I could take my right hand, run it through a table saw, have my thumb and middle finger surgically reattached, and I could still count on that same right hand the number of females on this planet that can dunk a basketball. I know of 2! One is in the picture above., and the other is the nappy-headed-ho pictured below... WHOA WHOA WHOA... I'm only kidding. Don't fire me. Don Imus started it!
Reason #2 and #3: Refer to reason #1
Now before all you future WNBA stars start screaming profanities... take a deep breath, chew on a tic-tac, shampoo your hair, and let me finish. Notice I said 3 reasons why I can't stand "WATCHING" girls basketball. When I get married if I had 8 girls and every one of them played basketball their whole lives I'd have ZERO problem with their choice of sport! I would however rather scratch my wrists and do push-ups in salt water than go to every one of their games. Whoops! Settle down Geno... You're girls might have won 90+ games in a row but none of them can dunk!!!!
Stay tuned tomorrow for posts #2! I'm calling it "Fanhood" and I promise it has absolutely nothing to do with girls basketball! Peace!