Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Rat's Tale

This is the tale of two rats.

Over the last several months, the Sachs' backyard has been blessed with the presence of not one but two uninvited rodents.

We live in a very urban neighborhood, so rodents are not things we generally see much of in our yards. At least not until recently.

The first of the vermin appeared a couple months ago, at dinnertime of all things. My mom was out of town, so Jeff, Evie, and I were all eating a quiet family meal together. At meals, Jeff pulls his chair up to the side of the table, and he and I sit next to one another so I can feed him. We always sit on the side of the table that faces the backyard. It was a lovely evening, and we had the blinds open to enjoy the splendor.

Mid-way through the spaghetti with meat sauce, Jeff abruptly says, "Oh my god there's a rat in our backyard."

Me: "What?"
Evie: "WHERE?"

In unison, Evie and I leaned to the left to get a better view.

There he was, slowly making his way across the concrete toward the brick fire ring.

His lack of speed signaled he was either sick or injured.

He found the side of the fire ring, and apparently he was quite comfy there. So he snuggled up against it, put his nose to the ground, and stopped to rest - or perhaps to die.

My appetite was immediately thrown out the window. I sank down in my chair, and stared at the little beady-eyed booger, with a look of absolute loathing on my face.

Jeff said what I already knew. "You're gonna have to take care of it."

I knew the truth of the matter, and I turned to him slowly and said in a low, dry voice, "You've got to be f***ing kidding me."

Evie was on her feet at the door jibbering about the rat, regaling us with tales of where he came from, how he's probably sick, maybe he ate something that made his tummy upset, I wonder what his name is, look at him he's sooo cuuuuuute!!

Jeff's appetite was unaffected by the appearance of the rodent, and he spurred me to keep feeding him. I mechanically shoveled the food in his mouth, my thoughts bouncing from one scenario to the next on how I was going to confront this rat.

Offhandedly, Jeff asked, "Do we have a shovel?" to which I answered, "I am NOT smashing the rat."

After 30 minutes, we figured the rat was pretty close to dead, so the plan was for me to pick it up with the pool skimmer, put it in a bag, and dispose of it in the outdoor trash can.

I went back to the bedroom to put on my sneakers. As I tied my shoes, I was wishing I had a good pair of work gloves and lamenting the fact that the only pair of gloves I actually owned were made of soft chenille with fuzzy poufs at the wrist.

Evie's shrill voice broke into my thoughts, "IT'S MOVING!"

Apparently the rat wasn't as dead as we all thought. I scurried down the hall and joined the rat in the backyard as he lumbered across the concrete into the thick plants along the side of the house. As he disappeared into the brush, my relief overflowed. I turned to Jeff and shrugged an "Oh Well."

"Let him go," he said. Like I was really going to go into the bushes after the darn thing.

Fast forward a couple months, and once again, during a family meal - this time with Nana present - Jeff exclaims, "Oh my god there's a rat on our pool cover."

Evie, Nana, and I all darted to the back door. Sure enough, there's a rat - doing an awkward lurch/crawl/side shimmy down the middle of our pool cover.

This time, I knew I had to act fast. You see, our pool cover is two separate pieces - cut that way for ease of taking it off and putting it on. And the rat was fast approaching the break in the two pieces. It's unlikely he would successfully make the journey to the second piece. The more likely scenario is he would fall through the split and meet his demise at the bottom of the deep end.

I ran back to the bedroom, fumbled to put my shoes on amidst the shouts from the kitchen ("Hurry, he's getting closer to the split!"), raced back down the hall, flew out the back door, flung open the pool gate, grabbed the pool skimmer (from my first plan), and scooped up the rat before he touched the water.

Here's where I went wrong. For as Jeff so delicately pointed out to me after everything was said and done, I did not have a plan. What was my purpose in scooping up the rat? To save it from drowning? To simply get it out of the pool? To kill it? I had no idea. And so I froze.

I guess I expected the rat to just lie there all waterlogged in the pool skimmer. I could NOT have been more wrong. As soon as I lifted it into the air, that little guy sprung to life. He dug his sharp claws into the net and began to CLIMB OUT!

I yelled out and swiftly swung the skimmer over to the small grassy area as the rat flopped onto the ground. I snapped the skimmer down around him and trapped him underneath. As soon as the skimmer hit the ground, I realized that I now have a live rodent trapped by a flimsy pool net. I was beginning to think a dead rodent at the bottom of the pool might have been better. I think it's safe to say that both the rat and I were now in a precarious position.

I could hear yells from the peanut gallery stationed just inside the back door. Jeff's voice isn't as strong as it used to be, so I couldn't make out his words. But luckily, Evie was repeating everything he said at the top of her lungs.

"Scoop it up and throw it over the fence!!!"

Even if I was able to scoop it up from my current position, I wasn't about to possibly subject an innocent passerby to a rat to the head, so the fence idea was no good.

My mother's bright idea was to introduce two plastic terra cotta planters to the scene. She came up behind me carrying them.

"What are those for?"

"I dunno. Maybe to trap it underneath. Then we can go get the neighbor and ask him to take care of it."

She crept around the other side of the pool toward the already trapped rodent armed with her trusty plastic planters. As she got in closer, the slimy rodent tail slid out from under the skimmer toward her. She flinched and let out a mortified yelp.

I told her to go back in the house.

As I tried and tried to scoop the rat back up into the net, it became increasingly apparent that the effort was futile. My only option was to a) let it go, or b) smash it. And as I'd already made clear in the encounter with the first rat, I was not about to smash it.

My mom was now shouting that Jeff wanted me to come to the back door so he could talk to me. I guess he expected that the rat and I would just call a 30-second time out so I could go talk to my coach before once again resuming our veritable tug of war.

I explained that once I let go of the skimmer pole, the war would be over. So unless someone wanted to come out and relieve me of my position, I wouldn't be able to chat right now.

The peanut gallery was oddly silent.

So I took a deep breath. I stared down the pole at the rat, made up my mind, and said, "All right, buddy." I pushed the skimmer slowly toward the edge of the backyard where two rows of bushes meet. The rat was scurrying beneath, sometimes losing his footing and simply rolling along. We made it to the bushes, I ensured the rat was facing away from me and had a clear view of his new oasis, and I lifted the net.

He rocked back and forth a few times, then he slowly made his way into the bushes.

I turned around, hosed off the skimmer, and went inside to pour myself a glass (or two) of wine. I said a cheers to the rat and our mutual stand down.


So why, exactly, am I sharing this story other than to highlight my pathetically hopeless exterminator skills?

Because this is the stuff Jeff should be doing. This is the stuff he wants to be doing.

As wild and humorous as the night was, it's still hard to face these scenarios. To accept that these types of jobs - the yucky ones that guys are generally just better at than girls - are no longer Jeff's to handle. They will always be mine to physically accomplish.

And that just sucks.

But hey, at least I still have Jeff to advise me on stuff like this. Granted, given the situation that insight can range from the indispensable (remember the BBQ post?) to the idiotic ("Throw it over the fence!"). Still, I couldn't ask for a better sidekick.

Who knows, one day I might actually be able to add "accomplished exterminator" to my bag of tricks. :)

God, I hope not!


In 2015, we moved to a new home in a new state. And in 2016, a mouse had taken up residence in our BBQ. Here's a video of me and Evie setting - and checking - mouse traps. If nothing else, Evie's narration is hilarious. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Smallest of Measurements

It seems our life is dictated by the smallest of measurements. Inches, fractions of inches even, make all the difference.

Let me explain.

Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I was washing dishes at the kitchen sink. Jeff's caregiver was back in the bedroom tending to Jeff. I heard her footsteps come down the hall and she greeted me in the kitchen.

"Kristen?" she said in her sweet, quiet voice. I turned around to face her. "Did you know Jeff has a ... bruise ... on his left heel?" She knew her words would startle me, so she said them in the most delicate manner possible. Bless her.

We hurried down the hall, and I knelt down to look at the bottom of Jeff's heel.

There it was ... a purple bruise the size of my thumb print just under the surface of the skin.

From Jeff's vantage point, all he could see was two faces staring intensely at the bruise. I knew he could tell I was both worried and bewildered. I probably should have tried to conceal my concern a little better, but there was no use pretending.

He peppered us with questions. "What does it look like? How big is it? What color is it?"

We described it in detail, took pictures of it, and tried to figure out where it came from. We checked his orthopedic boots he wears at night to see if perhaps a spider had gotten in there and bit him. Nothing.

As we discussed the possible causes of the bruise, I could hear the voice in the back of my mind telling me what this bruise really was. A dreaded pressure sore.

My heart sank as my panic rose.

We've had experience with a pressure sore in the past, and it ended in surgery. Jeff developed a terrible pressure sore on his tailbone in the months following the accident. By the time doctors began aggressively treating it, the sore was so deep and infected, it wouldn't respond to treatment. I remember crying in the car when I would drive home from the hospital because I was scared to death of that pressure sore.

I am convinced that the pressure sore surgery saved his life. That sore was eating away at his body. He ended up having two inches of his tailbone removed because it was infected. If we had waited any longer, the infection could have spread throughout his body.

He had the surgery 3 months and 8 days after his injury. That's how quickly a pressure sore can get out of hand. And that's why I hate them so much.

In facing this new sore on the heel, we backtracked to try to determine how and when it happened. While Jeff watched football on Sunday, he settled into a comfy position in his chair with his feet extended out a little more than usual. He diligently did his pressure relief by tilting his chair back and forth to alleviate the red spots that tend to develop on his elbows and rear end. He always does a great job at his pressure relief. But the one thing he didn't do that day was change the position of his feet as they reclined higher than usual. He just figured they would be covered in the tilting pressure relief he usually does. I thought so too.

That night as I got him ready for bed, we went through the nightly responsibilities quickly as we were excited about our favorite show making its long awaited season 5 debut. So as we settled in to watch The Walking Dead, it's likely I overlooked the developing bruise.

On Monday morning, I was kicking myself for not doing a better job.

We're still dumbfounded at how one small change in his routine - reclining his feet an inch higher than usual - can have such dire consequences. Plus, his right heel is perfectly fine. There's no pressure sore there. So it's likely his left hip was slightly forward causing his left foot to protrude just millimeters beyond the right foot. Both feet were pressed against the footplates. But the slight differences, simply put, made all the difference.

And so we're dealing with a new pressure sore. As long as we keep all pressure off it, we're hoping it will heal in time.

Jeff won't be able to wear regular shoes for a while - probably months. He is wagering that the mark left by this sore will still be on his foot this time next year. I think he's right.

Looking back on our journey, we have so many things in this new life that are determined by the smallest of margins.

Some days Jeff is totally comfortable in his chair. Other days, he is miserable. And most of the time it's because something is just slightly off. His shoulders need to be rotated, or one knee needs to be pulled forward.

I remember when Jeff was in rehab, one of the therapists was showing me how to adjust Jeff in the chair. He told me to rotate his hips. I looked at the therapist like he was crazy. I said, "I don't think I'm strong enough to move him like that." He said, "You don't need much strength. The slightest movement can have a big effect." He was right.

Sometimes my mind takes me all the way back to the day of Jeff's accident. I often wonder how different our lives would be if Jeff's injury was just one vertebrae lower. Jeff is a C4, and in very general terms (because no two SCIs are alike) his injury means he cannot breathe without a ventilator, and he has no movement below the tops of his shoulders. If he were a C5, not only would he would be able to breathe on his own, he would be able to move his arms.

Needless to say, those differences would be life changing.

But it doesn't do to dwell on the if onlys. We have to concentrate on the here and now and deal with the latest set of challenges.

And so we keep going. Taking this giant journey one small step at a time.

Photo courtesy of Evie

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Hairy Situation

Chores, chores, and more chores. Our lives are filled with things we have to do. 

Think of all the chores in your life. There's always one that stands out as the one you dislike doing the most, right? It might not be the one that takes the most time. And it might not be the one where the most effort is involved. I'm talking about the chore that for some strange reason, you just don't like.

For me, the household chore I loathe is unloading the dishwasher. My feelings toward this chore are completely irrational. I don't know why I hate it. But each time I find myself opening a clean dishwasher, loaded with sparkling dishes, I groan. Ugh. Not again. I would much rather mop the floor or vacuum the carpets. Even do the laundry. But the dishwasher ... It's my nemesis.

Besides the household chores, my life is also filled with Jeff chores - the stuff I do to care for him. And just like the house, there's one chore that I dread each time we have to do it ...

Trimming his beard.

Again, completely irrational. There's so many other things I do that are ... how do I put it ... much more personally invasive. And frankly, most have a much higher yucky factor. 

There's just something about trimming his beard that I do. not. like.

My god, I wish there was a pill I could give him to stop the hair on his face from growing. 

Don't get me wrong, I like my husband with a beard - a nicely trimmed beard with tight lines - just like he used to wear it. Back in the old days. The days before I was in charge of grooming his facial hair.

I was looking at some old pictures just the other day, and came across one of my favorites of Jeff and Evie. Here it is.

Once I picked my heart up off the floor, I began looking at the picture more closely and thought. "Wow - Jeff's beard looks great here." 

Here's a visual of what I was seeing in my mind:

Believe me, I never truly appreciated the art of beard grooming until now.

It's just something, as a woman (who is not a hair dresser - or a barber) that I guess I never expected to have to do.

When Jeff was in the hospital, we went months without trimming his beard. It was only when the itching became too much for him to handle that he asked me to do it. I remember him instructing me which clippers to bring in, how to charge them, then how to HOLD them when I was in the act of trimming.

He reassured me that I couldn't screw it up. I laughed a laugh that said, Yeah, right.

I was so nervous. I mean, this was his FACE. What he presents to the world.

Back in the days before the accident, the only hair grooming I was in charge of for him was trimming the back of his neck after he would give himself a haircut (i.e. clipper cut). For the most part, I did a decent job, though we both remember, and would like to forget, the time I botched the left side so badly that I had to cut into the right side just to try to even it out. It was still lopsided until the next trim.

So I was going into this whole beard trimming thing with little confidence.

Over time, I'm happy to say I've made some strides in the confidence area, and perhaps my skills have increased a bit.

Still, it remains a chore I abhor. And honestly, I let waaaay too much time pass between trims.

Case in point.  Here is another heartwarming picture of Jeff and Evie I took just a week ago. They were caught sharing a taste of the brownie batter - one of their favorite things to do.

Once I wiped the sappy smile off my face, I looked more closely and thought, "Gah! His beard looks awful!"

Here's what my mind saw:

So needless to say, yesterday was beard trimming day. I don't have any photos, but I can assure you it looks better than the one above. I also confess that the only reason I gave in to the trim is because we're taking family pictures on Monday. And I couldn't have my husband looking all scraggly.

I really should get on board with the whole beard trim. If for no other reason, just to pay homage to the great job Jeff used to do.

How many times did I watch him trim his beard?


How many times did I applaud him for his trimming skills?


How often do I wish he could raise his hands to his face and trim away?

Every time I turn on the clippers.

(Believe me ... the results would be so much better!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Name I Dreaded Hearing

Before Jeff's accident, we didn't know anyone with a spinal cord injury. No one in a wheelchair, even.

There was really only one person we knew of who had lived with this injury. Who had been thrown from a horse years before, who breathed using a ventilator, and who had died from complications due to paralysis. He had become the face for those who had suffered this type of catastrophic injury.

In the days and weeks following Jeff's accident, I had thought of this person, but wouldn't let my mind dwell on him long enough for reality to sink in. In those early days, I was still holding on to hope. Clinging to the idea that Jeff just might walk out of the hospital, and with some time and effort, our life would go back to normal.

I remember one of the ICU nurses talking to me about a week after the accident about looking into getting Jeff transferred to a rehab hospital. She named a couple that were relatively nearby, and I listened to her with a pleasant look on my face as if I were hearing her every word. What I was really thinking was Rehab hospital? My husband doesn't need rehab. Once he starts regaining feeling, once he starts moving his arms again, we're going home. 

I didn't even really know what a rehab hospital was.

But even then, deep down, I knew that that ICU room was just the beginning for us. But I had to go through the denial like everyone else who experiences a life-altering scenario.

After about a month in ICU, Jeff was transferred to the 4th floor where he was under close observation. Every day, countless doctors, nurses, therapists, and aides paraded in and out of his room. We got to know these people - their personalities. We got to know their schedules.

One night, late in the evening, Jeff was almost asleep, and a night-shift respiratory therapist came in to administer a breathing treatment. She was one of the more - truth be told - annoying therapists. She always talked too loud, and her stories tended to linger just to the edge of my patience.

Like the nurse in ICU, she started in on the topic of rehab hospitals. After a minute or so of hospital chit chat, she looked at me and said, "You know, Christopher Reeve considered coming to Southern California for his rehab before deciding to go to one in New York."

I didn't hear anything else she said.

That name - Christopher Reeve - was ringing in my ears.

My heart was pounding heavily. I hoped Jeff was asleep and didn't hear her because he and I hadn't yet talked about that name.

I wanted to smack the therapist across the mouth as if she'd said the dirtiest of words. While she chattered on, I was screaming at her in my head Shut UP! How DARE you say that name in front of my husband! Don't ever say that name again! My husband is NOT like Christopher Reeve!

But of course, that is exactly who he was like. And as annoying as that therapist was, she was the first one to make me face that reality. Like Reeve, my husband - my super man - was stripped of all his physical ability and strength in the blink of an eye. And in the prime of his life.

That evening, after Jeff was asleep for the night, I Googled Christopher Reeve for the first time and read the details I didn't want to know, but knew would open up a whole new world for me.

I remember hearing of Reeve's accident when it happened in 1995. I was just out of high school, and was shocked at the news wondering how something so awful could happen to someone so vibrant. I recalled seeing pictures of him in his wheelchair with a tube coming out of his throat. I even recalled seeing his wife Dana by his side - knowing only her name, that she and Reeve had a young child at the time of his accident, and that she had tragically died just a year after her husband.

I laid in the cot in that tiny hospital room with tears trailing down the sides of my face wishing I could talk to Dana right now. If anyone could understand, surely she could.

But unlike me, Dana had no organization to turn to for help, advice, information, or just to find people in similar situations.

So Dana and her husband created one. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

And for the first time, I visited that website and my mind was spun by what I saw - stories of injuries, pictures of people in wheelchairs living, actually living, with paralysis, statistics on spinal cord injuries, and endless information on things like medical research and financial assistance.

It was all too much to take in at one time. But what I did take away was that Jeff and I weren't alone in this. There is a whole community of people dedicated to helping those with spinal cord injuries maximize their recovery and learn to live again - due in large part to one man: Christopher Reeve.

Today, we have a magnet on our fridge of Christopher and Dana Reeve. She has her arms around him, and they are both smiling. When Evie saw the magnet, having no clue who these people are, she simply said, "Oh look, he's got a vent, just like Daddy."

THAT RIGHT THERE - Evie  being able to recognize that there's other people out there like Daddy - that alone makes this journey just a little easier to bear.

I am still learning about Christopher Reeve and his wife, and the legacy they left behind. Today is the 10th anniversary of his passing, and his foundation is rolling out some exciting news in the SCI world about the latest research and therapy.

My husband is not a famous actor. He's not an acclaimed director. And it's unlikely he'll ever start a foundation that will change people's lives. But he is forever linked to Christopher Reeve by the stark fact that they share the same catastrophic injury with almost identical outcomes: total body paralysis.

The main thing I take away from all this is simply that even though Christopher Reeve was an accomplished individual before his accident, he was able to continue those accomplishments - and more - even after becoming a quadriplegic.

And in that, I find hope. And the acknowledgement that there is, indeed, life after this injury.

Thank you, Christopher Reeve.

Thank you.

Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders from

My Super Man

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our Little Helper

Evie is an incredible helper.

Helping and nurturing have always been in her nature. When she was a toddler, she would lovingly lay all of her stuffed animals on her bedroom floor for naps, then wake them up with little kisses or soft stories.

In pre-school, and even now in Kindergarten, she is always so happy when she gets to help the teacher do something like pass out supplies or clean up the classroom.

There's no doubt that her instinct to help has proven itself an coveted blessing in our new life.

Still, Jeff and I are extremely conscious of how much help we ask Evie to perform with his daily care. We desperately want to strike a balance by including her in our daily chores but not burdening her with oppressing duties.

Some days we rely on her heavily. To help when we need her. To ask her to wait patiently when Daddy needs something.

And other days we try our hardest to let her be a normal kid. To say yes quickly when she asks a question and turn our wholehearted attention to her smiling face.

Most of the time she performs her duties with a skip, and a smile. Sometimes she is in and out of the room turning the vents on and off so quickly, her presence is a blur.

Will she, as she gets older, have moments where she scoffs at us for asking her to help with Jeff's care?


Will she have times of frustration and anger at not being able to do things other families can so easily accomplish?

No doubt. We've already experienced some of that.

Will she grow up knowing that her presence in our home and in our lives has made all the difference in our world? That her contributions, her sacrifices, have not gone unnoticed?

It is certainly our hope.

Soon after Jeff came home from the hospital, we decided that we would carve out some chores specifically for Evie. We have assigned her these roles in Jeff's care for several reasons. We want her to feel included. We want her to not be afraid of these duties as she grows. And sometimes, frankly, we just need her help.

Because these duties are a big part of her life.

Evie's hands-on role in caring for Jeff has not only served as a way to build her sense of responsibility, but has also strengthened the unbreakable bond between her and Jeff.

Evie and Jeff have always shared a strong father/daughter bond - from the day she was born. Last year when Jeff was injured, and out of our home for seven months, that bond was tested. My heart sobbed because Evie and Jeff couldn't physically be together during that time. The pain of the realization that Jeff will never physically hold - never physically play with - his daughter again is agonizing. It is an ache that seeps down into your bones and invades your entire body.

And no one has felt that ache more than Jeff.

I've held him as he's cried at how this injury has stripped him of his role at being Evie's big, strong Dad. I've reassured him, tirelessly, that he is just as much the father to her as he was before the accident. And since he's been home, I've witnessed an incredible transformation in their relationship that, to me, is a strong indication that that bond is indeed still intact.

But no one can convince him that he is, in fact, that same old Dad deep down inside.

No one, but Evie.

She doesn't even know it, but every day, in the little things she does, she's reassuring him.

Like when she belly laughs at the silly faces he makes.

Or when she nervously approaches him and asks him whether or not she can have dessert.

Or when, in the evenings, as my mom and I roll Jeff onto his side to remove the transfer sling, she scampers to the side of his bed and plants kisses on his puckered lips, then they both share a giggle as if they've done something ultra sneaky.

It's those times that, when Evie can just be a kid - a daughter, that we know she is thriving in this new life.

But even though she loves just being a kid, there's other times when Evie embraces her inner caregiver, and she becomes very protective over Daddy. And what she transforms into is astounding.

This happened a few days ago.

We had an intense heat wave in So Cal over the last several days. Temperatures have been in the 90s where we live. That's really high for coastal living. We don't have air conditioning in our house because, most of the time, we don't need it. So we've been surviving using fans and strategically open windows and doors to maximize cross breezes. Still, it's. been. HOT.

Jeff's body just doesn't regulate temperature the way it used to. So as the rest of us were sweating amidst the sweltering temps, Jeff was overheating without even realizing it. Jeff doesn't sweat anymore below his his neck - another side affect of having a spinal cord injury - so he doesn't usually realize how hot he is until he's miserable.

About half-way through dinner on Friday, his appetite dumped, blood pressure rose, and he had to take refuge in the coolest room he could find - our bedroom. Working quickly, I took off his shirt, wiped him down with a cool washcloth, and put the fan on him.

As I went back out to the kitchen to clean up, Evie decided she would "watch on" Daddy in the bedroom. So she kept him company as I cleaned. A little later, I was heading down the hall to get the broom from the closet, and when Jeff heard my footsteps, he said, "Kristen - can you scratch my face, please?"

I came in the room ready to put my fingernails to work, when Evie let out an "Oh!" and hopped down from the bed. "I got it. I got it," she said, and extended her arm toward me with her palm facing out - a gesture telling me to back away. He told her where the itch was, and her little fingers made quick work of it. Then she turned to me and said, "Mama. You can go back to your work."

"Are you sure?" I asked, eyebrows raised, looking at both her and Jeff.

"Yes," was her confident reply. "Go back to your work."

And she shooed me out of the room.

After sweeping the kitchen floor, I came back down the hall and put away the broom. I peeked into the bedroom, and Evie had a freshly wet washcloth, and was wiping Jeff's arms down. Then she laid it across his chest and said sweetly, "There you go, Daddy."

I caught Jeff's gaze. We smiled at each other with glossy eyes, sharing in the knowledge of our good fortune at having such a sweet, loving girl.

The next morning, she did her weekend a.m. duties of raising Daddy's head up using his bed's controller, then getting the table in place next to his bed for our family breakfast.

After orange rolls and bacon, she swapped her fuzzy princess robe for an Elsa dress and wig, and belted out a heartfelt, off-pitch, ear-splitting rendition of Let It Go in our bedroom.

She put her whole heart into that performance. Just like she does in every facet of her life.

She's a princess. She's a kindergartner. She's a helper. She's a caregiver.

She has the sweetest of hearts.

She is our daughter.

Even Queen Elsa has vent duties.