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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Please send Stanley home.......

Erika Anslow is desperately searching for her missing dog Stanley. Stanley went missing from her Qualicum home. Qualicum is located on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. It's believed Stanley has been stolen. Stanley is Erika's therapy dog. He is a brown labradoodle. Stanley went missing around September 18, 2015. Stanley has many distinguishing features, including a large cyst on his left eye, a back left paw with only three pads and a scar on his left shoulder from a cancer operation. Please keep your eyes open as Stanley can be anywhere. This beloved family member needs to be returned to his rightful owner. If by chance you know where Stanley is, or by chance you are the one housing Stanley, please do what's right and return him home, no questions asked. We have dogs of our own, they're a part of our family. I know Stanley would love to be reunited back with his momma. Please send him home...... 





Monday, December 28, 2015

Goodbye 2015 - we won't miss you"

January 2015 was our littlest daughter's dual hip and groin surgeries. It was a rough two week hospital stay after our daughter contracted the super bug and developed a controlled blood infection. For me as her mother it was very difficult to witness while my daughter suffered immensely. Recovery went well and by the Spring, our daughter was almost back to normal! 
 Here is our daughter at our friend's birthday party dedicated for Emily. Judy dedicated her 70th birthday to Emily to help fund raise for an all terrain jogging stroller. It's been purchased and it's used all the time! Thank you Judy! We will always remember and be forever grateful! We love you!
In March I went over and spent the day with my oldest daughter. It was a great day together. My oldest showed me everywhere she hangs out, we tried the Brewery and we had a great day together. I really enjoy hanging out with my adult children. It's on a completely different level.  
 April was a busy but fun month. We had many birthdays, different outdoor family outings and celebrated Easter. This picture below I made for my granddaughter's second birthday. April is always a great month for everything - including weather!
 In May I started running with Emily. My plan was to run a half marathon pushing Emily with her all new terrain jogging stroller! It's still a plan eventually!
 At the end of May my husband started complaining of a sore neck. From there.....after four emergency visits with no success, he was finally assessed at the third hospital in Comox a week later. Diagnosed being severely septic throughout his whole body due to a fast spreading infection called MRSA. The picture below was my husband's condition when I wheeled him out of Victoria General's Emergency because they would not admit nor properly assess him due to our previous emergency visits to the Nanaimo hospital (three times) We were told we had two many fish in the sea, and go home and take his pain management. From Comox he was air lifted back to Victoria where he remained in ICU for three weeks, then released after two and a half months. The MRSA spread throughout his body and he needed a chest operation to drain infection pockets around his heart. The day of discharge was an emotional one however upon returning home, my husband was septic once again. He then was transported to Nanaimo, where he remained another two weeks. 

 July and August became a blur. It was back and forth traveling from our home to Victoria. We had family arrive from up north. We had family and friends help support and look after our children while I was away. We lost a season completely and the stress of being told (a few times) I was going to loose my husband was becoming unbearable. Not many know...but during this time I had to get power of attorney over everything. I was preparing for the worst while remaining hopeful that one day he would come home. Finally when that second attempt of coming home was successful, we learned to administer is iv medication. Nightly by gravity flow until late October we never missed a treatment. 
 During October and November we started to venture out more. We would take short day trips with our children, and tried to find normalcy while still worrying with my husband's diagnoses of MRSA and the high chance of relapsing.  
 My husband and I started going out together more. We have always dedicated ourselves to our family. Our children. Now, we are taking more time for ourselves. Seen below, we went to a little town called Chemainus twice. In October and November. We watched two live theater performances. 
 This is how we live.....
We were so happy to continue our annual Christmas party!   
This Christmas was special for several reasons. Not only did we survive 2015, for the first time, we spent Christmas with more family members. Seen below is my Brother, myself and my father! 
 For the first time ever, we had Christmas with my oldest sister and her family!
 AND my oldest daughter surprised us on Christmas eve knocking at our door at 8 pm. She flew across the Country to spend Christmas with us!
 This picture below is not all of us. We are missing five of our children, plus the rest of our family however it's a cute Christmas photo saying, "Good bye 2015 from our family to yours!" 

Now that 2016 is here I feel ready to move on from 2015. It's a reflection that I hope to let go. Normally I love our experiences. Normally I write more posts. 2015 was very difficult for us. The lack of posts proved that my mindset wasn't into sharing how I was feeling. The exhaustion. The stress. The worry. The stigma even against us was at times overwhelming. Sometimes the support was overwhelming. We were definitely lost emotionally in 2015. To update, Gerald has gained strength and weight however has chronic spinal pain which results in several ongoing pain in his body including his hips, back and knees. He has hypertension frequently but his TIA's (mini-strokes) seems to have subsided. The specialist says it's unfortunate and that recovery will take a long time and chances for relapse is unknown. Gerald can't work due to his spinal injuries from the MRSA. We are taking it day by day in hopes for a full recovery and 100% health in our future! 

I'm personally looking forward to a brand New Year with many exciting experiences, memories and insights to share! I want to take this time to thank everyone that supported us, believed in us and most importantly was a listening ear. For the first time in a long time, I needed to be at that other end. To conclude, it was so amazing being a part of a community coming together. I appreciate every one. The list is too long. Love to each and every one of you. 

"Goodbye 2015 - we won't miss you"  

"Hello 2016 - you are even, and you have that sweet sixteen number inside you - you are our year!"

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dec 14th - some words and reflection!

I will admit that we have been busy! Slightly hectic around here juggling December! To the point where it doesn't matter if I'm driving around like this!
 However, sometimes the hectic lifestyle all folds into place! Three of our girls were ready for our Christmas party and anxiously waiting for our departure!
 Then we have a few of our boys that are calm, cool and all together collected!
 Family is so important. Seen below is our two older sons (brothers) forever into adulthood!
 Santa is always a great surprise! Seen below is our youngest daughter ecstatic with his arrival! 
 And seen below is our youngest son listening to Santa's story. Our Santa is a long time family friend, he has known me since I was born. Now he remains in our family as this magical special Santa. Our elf this year was a beautiful friend inside and out. She's also an amazing friend on whom our children call, "Aunty Kelly"
 Once again, my sister (Aunty Laura) made a cake for our party! A cute snowman!
 Seen below is my brother in law, myself, our elf  and my sister!
 We managed to supply more then enough prizes! And thank you to a few friends that donated, and helped during this process! I appreciate absolutely everything. Making children smile during a magical evening is an event I hope and wish to continue!
 The talent show was fun. Thank you to my mother (Verna) for continuing to support her grandson with his love for music, and all our amazing beautiful teachers that support our family too! 
 Me - "I've learned to love myself first, then I can take better care of every one else second"
 Seen below is one of our sons (Austin) With perseverance, and a lot of persuading, nudging, semi-arguing through the duration - he has a great job and now is his own driver! Proud of him, because after all....we know our children have what it takes to succeed! They just need to go out there and get it! 

 The glue!
You know....we have had many serious challenges in our marriage. And now while still fighting illness we have come closer together then ever. My message is; if we can survive, you can! Life isn't meant to be easy. It's a rocky road, and it's a road worth fighting for. Remember, you are stronger together. Relationships are work, and at the end of raising children, we are left with each other. I've learned my husband is my best friend. 

 Merry Christmas and wishing every one a healthy 2016! 

"Live & Love"



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Join us for a Christmas party!



It's that time of year again! Dec 12th is our annual Christmas Party! 

Please bring a labelled present with your child's first and last name on it for Santa's bag. 

It's a potluck, please bring something to share to the dinner table!

There will be a talent show! Practice your talent and sign up! We are! We will be singing as a group and our one son will be signing up doing a solo on his guitar! Talents not to be missed! 



 AND there will be prizes!

A craft table!

And dancing! 

It's a casual party but you're more then welcome to wear your Christmas ugly sweaters! We are! 

Hope to see you there! And if not, "Merry Christmas" to your family from ours!

PS - if you need any more details and location, please feel free to email me at hohnstein@shaw.ca 






Thursday, November 19, 2015

Support Syrians

We started decorating for Christmas. I'm finding it strange. Since we literally missed the summer season time seems faster then ever. December!? What!? We carry on, day by day doing what we do best. “Following the seasons” Our life hasn't been the same. Having a sick husband is difficult. The future is more unknown then ever. Then I feel so grateful we're alive, we have a home, clothing and food. Lately following the news it's been so sad. Daily people are dying. Children are suffering. Racism is escalating. I feel our complaints are extremely minimal. I feel selfish writing how I feel on a computer that I own while safely sitting in my home. Decorating for Christmas. Suddenly our situation doesn't seem so significant anymore. Missing a season means absolutely nothing. I've been following peoples opinions and/or judgments on how we shouldn't allow Syrian refugees into our Country. The ongoing debate makes me sick. I completely understand every ones concerns about the terrorists and on how this could potentially be dangerous for our Country. However if this was your family, your children, wouldn't you want safety? I have read over twelve million people have fled and half of those people are children. These children are malnourished, exploited and abused. These people are human beings that need our world's help. I understand that we all need to protect our own but seriously? When did it become our own? Where is the compassion? We would open our home in an instant. If it was your family, you would too. I really think people need to rethink what they're posting on the internet. What they're quickly concluding too. I understand the fear. I fear for our future almost everyday WITH a roof over our heads. Imagine fearing what your next meal is, or if your children will survive the night and worse. It saddens me to hear that people would close their doors. I know we have our own homeless on the street. I have heard comments, “Take care of our own” Our own? I detest that comment. People are forgetting that we are all people living on one divided planet that shouldn't be divided in the first place. We are all so selfish. I know this is a huge debate and many wouldn't agree with me. Even family and friends. I'm not afraid to say how I feel, and I'm sad that our world is so corrupt. That people are dying daily and we can just wash our hands of it. So my thoughts today are for the refugees. Their suffering. I hope that people start opening their doors, their hearts – face their fears and support each other and remember we are all human beings. Stop spreading hate and racism. That only comes from ignorance and fear. Think about it – if we all supported and worked towards peace, eventually we will win. To conclude, you might think I'm naive, or out of my mind crazy but we all are.... if you think that we are safe ourselves from the same pictures below and if that day comes, you would hope too for an open heart. 





Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Victory

We have a new addition in our home! The HMS Victory! A ship that was launched on May 7th, 1765 out of the Chatham Dockyard. This ship has honors and awards from the particpation in the first battle of Ushant in 1778, the second battle of Ushant in 1781, the battle of Cape Spartel in 1782, the battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797 and the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It's a 104- gun first rate ship of the line, weighs approximately 3,556 tons and it's over all length is 227 ft 6 inches. It's a beautifully designed full-rigged ship that has a maximum speed of 15-17 km an hour. The Victory served an unusual long service. In 1922 the Victory was placed into dry dock where she remains today with the title of the oldest commissioned war ship in the world at the National Museum Royal Navy in Portsmouth. This model scale replica took over six years to build by my father and it now resides in our home for every one to admire. Our children have been admiring the detail and we're all proud to have this on display. I plan on adapting the Victory in a homeschooling project and a history lesson. This model isn't just a model, it's not just history, it's our children's grandfathers hard work and dedication. His time, and his patience with every delicate little detail. It's not only just craftsmanship, or a part of the British history, it was a part of my Dads. We feel very honored to have this in our home. For our children to admire and say, "My grandfather built this!" We have several important and sentimental pieces in our home including paintings from my husband's grandmother and my mother. I have these beautiful acoustic guitars that I need to learn to play my mother gave me. She's extremely talented with art and music. You know, I'm not at all materialistic. However I am completely sentimental. I appreciate my parents, my family and my friends. I know eventually that we won't be here but our history will. I want my children to continue to share, admire and remember. Thank you to every one that has provided a piece of themselves for us to cherish, we will continue to pass these beautiful creations from generation to generation in hopes it remains in our family. Seen below is the Victory. Pictures do not give it any justice. So you will have to come and visit, and admire it in person. 



Friday, November 6, 2015

Day by day

A few updates......

Gerald's MRI results confirmed there has been no change since August. So his specialist stopped his IV medication. The specialist said it's unfortunate and we're told to watch for relapse within his future. I won't get into any further details at this time. 

It was a busy week having one of our children reassessed with our Neurologist. We call her our family Neurologist. It's nice forming connections. 

A reminder - Our annual Christmas Adoption Party is still happening on Dec 12th at 4 pm. It is a pot luck. Please bring a dish to share. Please remember to bring a gift per child labelled with their first and last names on it for Santa's bag. There will be a talent show, dancing, crafts and prizes. A fun night for all! This Christmas party is for every one. Adoptive families and friends. Please spread the word because without the attendance we won't continue this magical event. 

I'm leaving you with this thought.....

People often ask me, "How do you manage now with a sick husband?" 

I look for something positive in each day, even if some days I have to look a little harder. For us, we live day by day with hope. When we awake it's a brand new day to be productive and to continue to proceed with our life's goals. 

I hope to see you on Dec 12th! 




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Life or death"

I watched a plane in the air fly by and I immediately was reminded on how amazing we are as people. We are intelligent. Look how far we have come. How we evolved throughout these years. From traveling great distances on horses to flying. From the first typewriter now to this. It's truly astronomical. While watching the plane pass while knowing it was holding hundreds of people above me it reminded me about the trust we have in each other. In our chosen professions. We trust one hundred percent when we seek medical help, when we're passengers, when we outwardly seek help and believe in confidentiality. We believe in each other. Back within that first week in June when we were turned away not once but four times from emergency when my husband was clearly so ill, so sepsis was that moment I lost trust in our medical system. Even now (today) as my husband is undergoing a full MRI (October 28th) and while five months later still on daily IV with escalating white cell counts, weekly blood tests, chronic spinal pain, heart issues and TIA's (mini strokes that he takes simple aspirin for) has halted his quality of life. He looks much better, he has gained weight and strength but we still don't know what his future looks like. We're heading into our sixth month and he can't work, he wouldn't be able to catch that plane and enjoy a vacation. He can barely sit for long periods of time. He suffers every minute of his day while trying to maintain that father and husband figure while pushing through that chronic pain, those periods of extreme exhaustion and bouts of temporary paralysis from poor circulation. He lacks sleep and while struggling to maintain some normalcy, some happiness, my husband is mentally stressed and worried about our future. We continue to believe that he will be a MRSA survivor.... but we constantly question at what cost. Spinal pain is the worst pain someone can chronically have. It effects absolutely everything. When I was doing MRSA research I found out that time is an essence, it's a deadly quickly spreading infection. So....that first week while being turned away repeatedly from emergency, while begging for a simple urine or blood test it resulted in "what exactly" is the question? No apologies. I wanted to go to the news, the news is fully aware of our story however we are currently waiting to see if we have a law suit. The problem is, there is so many unknowns. Honestly, the future I know will be complicated and compromising. I personally believe the medical negligence we received warrants some sort of reprimanding. There was fault. The medical system can hide, blame or continue to say that it was easy to misdiagnose however there wasn't a physical examination in the first place except for the obvious, an opinion. A judgment. That landed my husband in ICU. So as we wait, wonder and hope for better news from his full MRI today – I'm still sick to my stomach that the intelligent professionals that we trusted broke that. It wasn't a simple mistake. No. You don't turn away someone that can't barely walk, talk and is pushed out of emergency by his wife while in septic shock with no tests or treatment. You don't tell that wife we're not admitting your husband today while she is in tears and is at a loss of what to do with him. No. I worked in first aid for years. One of the first things I learned was not to judge. You do your A B C's. You fully examine, and do a RBS. (Rapid Body Survey) You address every complaint. You take the appropriate tests. AND jeeze, blood work and urine samples are easy and usually instant. We are heading into our sixth month. I feel saddened by everything I've seen this man go through and still goes through. As we don't know his future, or if he can endure working as a mechanic anymore. Will he ever car race again? I have to think about what can I do. For me, it's not that easy. I need time. So I've proceeded to make a two year goal. I have applied to go back to school in hopes that I can obtain a Social Work career part time come 2018. Financially right now is this the right decision? Is it the right decision while my husband is sick? Having many children under my wing is this the right decision? I don't know except I have too. I want too for my family. For myself. What I do know is our current ongoing situation has changed us. On the positive side, we continue to live, love, and experience life as much as we can together. We understand how short life is, and on how quickly within seconds it can change. So there isn't time to waste. I'm grateful we are all intelligent, and that technology has expanded from just typewriters. That way I can share our experiences, I can explain to you to trust your extincts when it comes to your precious health. We are all intelligent but mistakes are made. And when those mistakes happen, we should be accountable for them. Simple. As that plane disappeared miles away in the distance I was in awe on how we trust our lives in others hands, and so we should. However always keep in mind to follow your heart, those gut feelings and to understand that your life is one hundred percent in your hands, not always in the hands of others. Well... unless you're unconscious or in an airplane! Then continue to keep your eyes closed and hang on tight! But if you're heading into an emergency department and you know something isn't right, you know it's just not gas – sit down and don't leave until you're properly evaluated or thrown out. I regret I didn't do this for my husband but what I can do now is to share our experience and advocate for others. Make sure you're not treated like we were. It can equal life or death.   


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"The glue"

Before my husband became ill we never really spent one on one time together. Our focus was all about our children and our home. Building that perfect atmosphere for our family. It worked. We were both focused completely on our children. Our outings were mostly family orientated. We have switched this up. My husband and I are trying to get out more together. Recognizing us as "the glue" we need to spend more time. I surprised my husband with a Chemainus Theater experience and an evening away. It was nice and we soon realized even twenty four hours was too short! (Ha ha) 


It's true what's said. It usually takes a life changing event, or an illness to recognize what's truly important. What's right there in front of you. 

 "It is so amazing when someone comes into your life and you expect nothing out of it but suddenly they're right in front of you and it's everything you needed" - unknown.

We are hoping to have more opportunities because after all, we are "The glue" that molds our family together. We can't loose sight of that.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

MRSA Education


I was struggling if I should write about this or not. Constantly throwing it around in my head. I decided that I have too because we keep being questioned with concerned individuals about my husband's medical condition. We are feeling a sense of isolation, and/or distancing. I know MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a bacterial infection that many aren't educated about. In fact before my husband became severely infected throughout his body, we had no idea what it was either. I also understand with the lack of education that people would be afraid. I also understand (even with the education) why people would be afraid. It's a devastating bacteria that is hard to kill and once infected your life can change forever. Ours has. My husband is still on home IV. We are into our fifth month. Do we know what the future holds? Absolutely not. Are we afraid that one of our children can contract MRSA? No not really because it's that rare. It's like flesh eating disease. It's something that is stated contagious but how often do you hear of someone having it? Not often. Our life has changed. In many more ways then one. So I decided to write about MRSA. Below you will read MRSA information from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

What is MRSA?

Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria that may commonly live in the nose, on skin and in moist areas of the body. This is called colonization, which occurs with other bacteria all over our bodies.  It does not normally cause a problem.  Staphylococcus aureus can cause infections such as boils and abscesses.  In the hospital it can cause serious infections in the blood, lungs or other areas for a person who is already ill or has had surgery. 
Staphylococcus aureus can develop resistance to certain antibiotics.  When this happens, it is called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA.  Infections caused by MRSA are not more serious, but can be harder to treat as different antibiotics must be used. 




How is MRSA spread.

MRSA is spread from one person to another by contact.  MRSA can be present on hands, either from touching the skin or contaminated material, such as towels, sheets and wound dressings.  When hands are washed thoroughly or rubbed with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer MRSA is removed or killed.    
MRSA can live on surfaces, so hands can very quickly become soiled again. Frequent hand cleaning is necessary to prevent spreading MRSA. 

How would I get MRSA?

MRSA has been found in the community and in hospital settings, on people and their surroundings.  Healthy people are at low risk of acquiring MRSA. Some may be at higher risk if they have frequent hospitalizations, frequent use of antibiotics, compromised or broken skin, or lowered immune-system function. 

What precautions are used in the hospital?

It is important that additional precautions are taken to reduce the risk of MRSA spreading to other patients in the hospital.  These precautions include:*A sign on the patient’s door to inform staff and visitors that precautions are required *Use of gowns and gloves by all staff who enter the room to provide close care *The room, and equipment used in the room, is cleaned and disinfected regularly, with some equipment dedicated only to the patient*A commode for toileting purposes may be designated for the patient’s use only  
Patients with MRSA are asked not to visit the cafeteria and other public areas of the hospital. *They may be asked to remain primarily in their rooms, other than for tests or procedures *In some cases of respiratory illness, patients are required to wear a mask outside the room  

Some patients will be offered a body wash and a cream for the nose to treat the MRSA. * The body wash covers the entire body and is then rinsed off daily for 7 days*The nose cream is put up the nose twice a day for 7 days*A week after this treatment is done, the patient is swabbed again, to see if the MRSA has been successfully treated (if the MRSA is still present, the nurse and patient will discuss further treatment options)

What about family and visitors?

Family and friends are encouraged to visit and have close patient contact such as hugging, kissing and handholding, as normal. All visitors must clean their hands before entering and leaving the room. *Visitors are not required to wear a gown or gloves, unless they are helping the nurse with the patient’s care*Visitors must not assist or visit other patients in the room they are visiting*Visitors must use public washrooms only, not patient washrooms 

How can I help?

Perform hand hygiene:*Before: eating, drinking and entering/leaving a patient room*After: using the bathroom or blowing your nose*Before & After: touching a dressing or wound or applying personal care products  
Hand hygiene is:*Washing with soap and water OR rubbing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer *Washing hands when they are visibly soiled*Turning taps off and opening bathroom doors with a paper towel 

What about future readmissions?

On any future admissions to hospital, additional precautions may be taken - and the patient may be checked again for the presence for MRSA.  
Patients should notify other health facilities or providers that they were on precautions for MRSA, in the event similar precautions need to be taken. 

What precautions should be used at home? 

If a person has MRSA at the time of discharge from hospital, the chance of spreading the bug to others is very small.  MRSA is no more infectious than other bacteria that people carry on their skin and are exposed to every day; however, people with MRSA should tell any health-care providers that they were on precautions for MRSA.  
People with MRSA can carry on with usual activities, ensuring they wash their hands after going to the bathroom or touching their nose or wound.  This practice should be a matter of routine and not just for MRSA. It is good to remind everyone to wash their hands often.   
Recommended practices at home
:*Everyone who helps with personal hygiene or toileting should wash their hands afterwards
-Clean hands before the preparation of any food and before eating 
-Cean hands well after using the toilet, and encourage family members to do the same
-Do not share personal items that touch the skin such as razors, towels or bar soap 
Cothing may be laundered in the same manner as the rest of the household laundry 
-No special cleaning of furniture or dishes in the home is required.

To conclude, it's your choice. I understand either way. For us, the recovery is nothing but hard. A daily frustration on many different levels and including this one. We just keep living day by day. Thank you for reading. Carrie.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

We not only love, we live.

From sky to sea some of us enjoyed a day adventure. Funny, I decided to take a different route through the logging roads towards Port Renfrew. We ended up momentarily lost. High in the mountains where active logging was happening. Luckily we were given directions back on our right path.
 We ventured towards Sombrio Beach looking for the Sacred Water Fall. This trail (seen below) was absolutely stunning. The pine needles that fell off the trees resembled the red dirt that's in California. The sun was the guiding light. 
 We didn't hike for long before approaching this bridge. A wonderful opportunity for a beautiful picture while relaxing. 
 Sombrio Beach is one of many trail heads near Port Renfrew. A section of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Four of our children enjoyed this day hike carrying packs. We had a discussion about over night and longer hikes in the future. 
 Along the beach were several caves. Little nature nooks to relax and play in. 
 One of my sons found this rock that resembled an owl, or a ghost. We packed this rock, and many others back home. 
 Can you believe that this was October 5th? My boys had a great time jumping the ocean waves, and yes - swimming!
 Inukshuks were everywhere. We even left our navigation points. 
 Washing up in the river after swimming in the ocean. 
 This sign below is located near the Sacred Water fall. The Pacheedaht First Nation has four reserve lands. Definitely a beautiful land to respect and honor.
 Here we are standing beside the Sacred Water fall!

 And all four of my boys were brave enough to shower!
 I wasn't that brave....
 This says, "Love is the answer"
To conclude this epic journey, love is not the only answer - living is. I truly believe experiencing the outdoors, taking adventures when you can is the best therapy. We are a complex family and we survive because we not only love, we live.