{December 30, 2016}   Tripplett Christmas Miracle

Christmas 2016


Christmas is a time that people typically associate with “miracles.”  There are movies, television shows and songs that all display this theme.  In Christian circles, we talk about the “miracle of Jesus’ birth,” but few of us recognize the day-to-day miracle in our own lives.  For me, this was an ethereal idea, but hard to pinpoint with actual examples.  It was easy to philosophize about, but difficult to see.  Of course, there were the petty examples of finding a prime parking spot during the holiday bustle.  Or, getting a seat on the train into the city.  Or, finding the perfect gift, in the perfect size, on sale.  But, the actual life-changing miracle of Christmas… well, that was just a passage in Luke.


That is until this year.  My parents were coming to visit us and I was thankful that I was not going to have to travel.  I was excited to spend the holidays with them at home.  I wanted everything to be perfect.  I worked hard at getting the preparations completed before my parents’ arrival so that once they were here, we could just enjoy our time together.  I bought tickets to see the Nutcracker.  We were going to take an evening train ride through the canyon.  I wanted to do a little shopping with my mom.  We were going to bake cookies and put together Gingerbread Houses.  I was excited that they were going to be here for the children’s piano recital and the baby’s preschool program (he was the cutest, little sheep).  I had great expectations for the Christmas season.


They arrived on a Thursday and we immediately started ticking things off my list.  Friday, preschool program – check.  Saturday, piano recital – check.  Sunday, Nutcracker Ballet – check.  Then things slowed down.  My husband, Larry and I were going to have to take a quick trip to Los Angeles to help his family with something that had come up.  I felt badly leaving, but I was also grateful that my parents were here and could help take care of our children.  We decided to take the 2-year-old (Matthias) with us so the they only had to concentrate on the schedules of the older 3.  We were only going to be gone one night, maybe two.


Sunday night, as I was busy relaying the children’s schedules to my mom, I noticed Matthias felt a little warm.  We all were lacking sleep, so I figured that he maybe just needed to catch up.  With the activities of the previous few days, he had missed a few naps and gone to bed late.  I knew that we were going to be leaving really early in the morning, so I put him to bed for the evening.  Just in case, I packed some Motrin, but I didn’t expect to have to use it.


We woke up early and got on the road at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Matthias still felt warm, but I rationalized that he still needed more sleep.  Once we arrived in LA, we immediately started our tasks.  I had a detailed to-do list and a plan to accomplish those items.  I decided to give Matthias some of the Motrin.  Larry and I had a couple of meetings, we got stuck in traffic, we went to a large furniture store and finally stopped for lunch.  While sitting down to eat, I noticed a small rash starting to develop on Matthias’ left forearm.  By the time we left the restaurant, there were also a few bumps on his left cheek.  Larry and I decided that we had better get him some Benadryl in case he was experiencing an allergic reaction.


That night we got to the hotel and Matthias felt hot.  I did not have a thermometer with me, but I was up most of the night with him.  I started giving him the Motrin every 6 hours (a regiment that would continue for the next few days).  By the time Tuesday morning arrived, the rash had spread to his entire body.  His hands and feet were swollen, he was irritable and he no longer wanted to walk.  We immediately took him to an Urgent Care a couple of blocks from the hotel.  The doctor there told us that it was a rash in reaction to a virus and would likely clear up on its own in a few days.  She told us to continue the Benadryl.  I argued that the Benadryl had not worked at all.  In fact, the rash continued to worsen after taking the medicine.  She prescribed a stronger Benadryl.


We carried out the rest of our tasks, continued the Motrin and planned to return home the next day.  That evening we were thrown off by an emergency car accident in Larry’s family.  By the grace of God, no one was hurt.  We were not able to return to the hotel until after midnight.  During all the commotion, I started to notice that the white part of Matthias’ eyes had now turned red.  Larry and I decided that Matthias and I should fly home while he stayed an extra day to tie up some loose ends with his family.


After another sleepless night with an irritable baby, we woke up Wednesday morning.  I called Matthias’ doctor and made an appointment for later that afternoon.  Our flight landed early afternoon.  I had just enough time to come home, eat something and hug my other children before heading out to the doctor.   We waited at the doctor while children with the flu, asthma attacks and broken limbs were all seen.  When the doctor was finally able to see us, she took one look at Matthias and said that she is pretty sure he has something called Kawasaki Disease.  “Kawa-what?”  I said.  She told me that it is a very rare, but treatable disease that can affect the heart.  She told me that I was going to have to take him to Children’s Hospital and that I should expect to be there 1 or 2 days.  I was dazed.  I immediately called Larry and had her explain all of that to him on the phone.  I knew that he was going to have questions that I was too shocked and sleep deprived to be able to answer.


On my way home, I called my best friend and gave her a 30 second run down of the past 3 days.  I told her that I would call her once I got to the hospital.  I also called my dad.  He was going to have to take me to the hospital so that he and my mom would have a car to be able to continue to help us take care of the other children.  At home, I grabbed my bag that I had not unpacked, threw in some clean clothes, kissed my other children and headed with my dad to Oakland Children’s Hospital.


My dad waited with me for a few hours.  My friend, Maya came and brought me dinner.  Larry got on the road and started driving.  The doctor in came and said we needed to do some tests.  As word spread that there was a “Kawasaki Case,” intern, after resident, after doctor came to examine “him” (They were all a little too excited to see the disease).  Apparently, Matthias was a textbook case, displaying all the typical symptoms.  In the 6 hours that we were in the ER, 5 different doctors and countless nurses came to see “him.”


It was almost midnight before they finally admitted us to the hospital.  He had a 102.4 temperature, but they refused to give him any more medicine.  In order to get a true diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease, Matthias needed to run a high fever for 5 consecutive days.  Thursday would make the 5th day.  Sometime close to 1 in the morning, Larry arrived at the hospital.  Maya waited with us until 2:30 am.  Throughout the night, they continued to take his vitals, but refused him medicine.


Thursday morning (later Thursday morning), a team of 5 new doctors came in to see “him.”  They all examined him and decided it was time to actually diagnose him with Kawasaki Disease.  They started talking amongst themselves about tests, treatment protocols and observation periods.  After doing some mental math, they concluded that if everything went perfectly, Matthias could go home late Sunday afternoon.  Sunday afternoon?  Today was Thursday and Sunday was Christmas.  Were we really going to have to delay Christmas?  What about the other children?  I started to cry.  Larry rubbed my back and the doctors left the room.  Larry reassured me that we would make it work no matter what.  We both agreed that we needed to concentrate on getting Matthias well.  Larry went home to shower and see the other children.


I went with Matthias to have his heart scan and echocardiogram.  He was frantic.  The procedure took 45 minutes and he screamed the entire time.  By the time it was over, he collapsed into my arms and fell asleep.  That afternoon, Maya returned to the hospital with some soup for me.  Larry’s dad came to visit and another friend came to visit also.  The text messages and phone calls started to pour in.  Larry returned to the hospital with a package from a friend of mine.  She had sent a mini Christmas tree with ornaments, a big stuffed dog, and some hot wheels.  This generosity started the tears flowing again.


Matthias was started on a 12-hour intravenous drip called IVIG that administered antibodies to his system.  While initially on the medicine, his vitals needed to be taken every 15 minutes.  After they upped the dosage and he was able to tolerate the amount, they were able to only check his vitals every hour.  After only a few hours, the fever went away and the rash started to fade.  It was a miracle.  I could not believe how quickly the medicine was working.  He even ate part of a sandwich.  The cardiologist came to see him.  She told us that his heart was strong and looked completely normal.  Another miracle.  At this point, Maya lovingly told me that I could benefit from a shower.  She lives only 2 miles from the hospital and insisted that I go to her house to take a little break.  I was hesitant, but I went.


Her girls had made up a bed for me and set out some towels.  Her husband made me a cup of coffee.  I stepped into the shower and finally felt free to really cry.  I sobbed hot salty tears as the water poured and washed them from my face.  All the fears, anxiety, exhaustion, and relief fell from my eyes.  I knew Matthias was going to be okay.  After my shower, I laid down and slept for about 40 minutes.  I returned to the hospital and found my baby boy resting peacefully.  Larry returned home to sleep and I stayed at the hospital.  They continued to check Matthias’ vitals every hour and he continued to grow increasingly fearful of doctors and nurses.  It was not an easy night, but we got through it.


By Friday morning, Matthias appeared to be a completely different baby.  He ate half a cup of dry cereal, some fruit, and a cup of yogurt.  This was the most he had eaten all week.  He had responded beautifully to the treatment.  While Matthias continued to improve, he asked for more and more food.  Over the next 2 days, he ate pizza, French fries, hamburgers… But, the miracles did not stop there.


On Saturday morning, after a persuasive conversation with Larry, the doctors agreed to let Matthias go home that night.  They had never broken this protocol before, but given the improvement that Matthias showed, they agreed to let him spend Christmas at home.  WHAT A MIRACLE FROM HEAVEN!  Late on Christmas Eve, we were able to take our baby home.  Our other children were elated.


On the drive home, Larry and I reflected on the miracles of this Christmas.  We were obviously overjoyed with the miracle of Matthias’ health and being able to come home for Christmas, but there was also another equally great miracle that we both experienced.


Christmas is a time of year when everybody has a lot going on in their lives.  People are doing last minute shopping.  There are Christmas parties, recitals, and school programs.  Relatives travel in town to visit.  People travel out of town to visit their relatives.  There are church services and presents to wrap.  During all of this, we were bombarded by the gracious generosity of our community.  Our friends called us and prayed with us.  Our friends brought meals to the hospital. Our friends brought meals to our home.  Our friends offered to wrap our Christmas gifts for us.  Our friends brought more gifts to us and sent us flowers.  Our friends baked cookies and bars and brought them to us.  Our friends visited us at the hospital.  Our friends read scripture to us.  Our friends made sure that we were taking care of ourselves.  Our pastors came to the hospital and prayed with us.  There were countless phone calls, emails, and text messages.  During a time when it is hard to fit everything in, our community dropped everything and came to our side.  They stood with us to let us know that we were not fighting this alone.


It reminded me of another Christmas miracle.  When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were away from home.  They did not have their friends and family to surround them with love and support.  And yet, God still provided them with an eager, supportive community to welcome the baby.


Luke 2 tells us,

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”


We want to thank you all for your kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness.  They are my Christmas miracle; my treasure and I am pondering them in my heart.  We give all the glory to God for all of you.


Thank you.


Natasha & Larry Tripplett










{November 6, 2013}   Literary License

As a writer, it is a common practice to take literary license.  You tell a story, add some details that may or may not have happened and then you slap a witty title on it.  Publishers bid for your work.  They throw tons of dollars toward marketing.  You get multiple starred reviews and end up on the Best Seller list.

Every writing workshop or conference that I have been to tells writers to live in the worlds they create.  Think like your character, act like your character, feel like your character.  Not only have I embraced that piece of advice, but I have also started using what I like to call “Literary License of the Mouth.”

My husband calls it lying.  Really, I’m just trying to beef-up the interesting-factor of everyday life.  For example: To protect the innocent (that being me), on planes I invent crazy stories about myself when I am forced to talk to strangers.  One time, while sitting next to a lady and her seat-kicking two year old, I told her that I was only 6 days free from a mental hospital.  I said, “For safety reasons, they did not allow the patients to have pens” while clicking my pen in my hand. – Literary License of the Mouth

Or, there was the time when I sat next to this college student and his girlfriend.  I told him “I work at Macys where it is my job to turn off the escalators at regular intervals.  This is done in effort to be compliant with the state’s health initiatives.  People always assume that the escalators are broken, but think about it.  You think that one of the biggest department stores in the world can’t afford maintenance people to ensure that people can get to and buy their products quickly?  They are actually doing it on purpose.  They even conducted a study that found out that when people exercise before trying on clothes, they feel like they look better and will spend more money.  The study was published jointly by Fitness Trends and the American Association of Finance Journal. – Literary License of the Mouth

I even play this game with my husband sometimes.  He’ll call home from work and ask what I am up to.  I’ll say, “Hi honey.  I just washed, folded and put away 4 loads of laundry.  I was just about to start the vacuum when you called.  Thank goodness, I hadn’t or I might not have heard the phone ring.  How is your day going?” – Literary License of the Mouth

I consider these exercises character sketches or verbal world-building, if you will.  I know that I have the gift of justification.  I have been told that on many occasions.  Regardless, I also know that not everyone appreciates that gift.  But, before you judge me from your self-righteous computer chair, ask yourself, “is it true or did I just take Literary License?”

{October 30, 2013}  
Ready to Write!

Ready to Write!

{October 29, 2013}   Halloween Writing Contest

I decided to try my hand a Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloween Writing Contest

You have to write a story in 100 words or fewer using the words spooky, black cat and cackle.

Here is my attempt.

Sweetie’s Scary Night

Sweetie always hid on trick-or-treat night.

Tonight, Sweetie crawled under the stairs of the front porch.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Mouse gruffed.

“I’m hiding from the spooky little people and their bags of weapons.”  Sweetie trembled.

Sweetie and Mouse could hear footsteps on the porch.

Mouse frowned at his uninvited guest.  Under his leaves, he pulled out a hat.  “I’ll get you my pretty,” Mouse cackled.

Sweetie shrieked and leapt onto the porch.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!  A black cat!” A goblin, a witch and a superhero threw their bags and ran away.

Sweetie smiled and took their weapons.

{October 1, 2013}   Why do you write?

I recently posed the question, “Why do you write?” to my writer’s group.  Everyone writes for different reasons, but I wanted to encourage my group to examine themselves deeply.  Be honest for one paragraph.  I don’t want to know how long a person has been writing, I want to know why they write today.  I believe that as writers, if we can answer that question, we can fuel ourselves into our next story.  My answer is as follows:

I write to feel alive.  I write to indulge in a world that is different from the reality that I live.  I write so that I do not have to fully grow up.  It is a responsible way to evade responsibility.  I write to put words together in a way that no one else can.  I write to explore the inner sanctuary of my own mind.  I have the ability and the confidence to share life through words.  I am a writer.  

{February 1, 2012}   My coffee journey and Starbucks.

Being a coffee-drinker and being from Seattle, is a little bit of a curse.  On the one hand, I love great coffee; the stronger the better.  On the other hand, I am a bit of a coffee snob!  This is a problem because I currently live in the Midwest.  We are not afforded such luxuries as coffee-snobbery.  I have legitimate good friends who still believe that it is okay to brew coffee from pre-ground beans that come in a can.  I must say that not ALL Midwesterners think that is okay to do.  I do have some friends that understand things such as dark roast, bold flavor and how humidity can affect the taste of the brew.

I guess I should start from the beginning of my coffee journey.  I was first introduced to the smell of coffee as a young child.  In fact I can’t ever remember not knowing about coffee.  You see, my parents were connoisseurs of the drink.  Although then, they too drank the drink made from a can.  Coffee was a reason that people got together.  Many times my parents would “have people over for coffee.”  It took me a while to learn that they were actually coming over for a visit and being served coffee.  I thought that my parents just made amazing coffee.

When I got to college (in the Midwest) and started having to stay up late nights studying, I decided that I better learn to drink coffee, because that seemed to work for other people.  I had tasted my parent’s cups before and thought that it was disgusting, so this was going to be a serious endeavor.  My first legitimate cup…  I made a mug of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, drank a quarter of it and filled the rest of the cup up with coffee.  I could handle that.  The next cup had half hot chocolate and half coffee.  Little by little, I used less and less hot chocolate and more and more coffee.

My dad always drank his coffee black.  He never put anything in it.  He always scoffed at the idea.  “No, no.  I will not adulterate this drink.”  My mother, on the other hand used cream and sugar in her cup.  At the time I decided to learn to like coffee, I was in that ‘my mother is a moron’ stage of life that every girl goes through.  I was my own woman (at 18) and was going to make my own decisions.  My dad’s cup seemed like the better of the two to emulate.  So not only did I have to learn to like coffee, but I had to learn to like it black, unadulterated!  Had I made this decision in grade school, I would probably drink coffee with cream and sugar in it.

After my first year of college, I moved back to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Seattle.  I soon realized that if I was going to be anyone, I was going to be doing a lot of coffee drinking.  I also learned that there was a war going on in the city that every citizen was a part of.  The central question in the war was, “which company makes the best cup of coffee.”  It was serious!  In my family alone, there were four different arguments.  “Starbucks is the best.”  “No, Seattle’s Best is clearly the best.”  “Don’t be an idiot!  Everyone knows that Diva’s has the best coffee.”  “Are you serious?  Do I need to brew you a cup of Tully’s?”  These are conversations that never seem to have happened in the homes of my Midwestern friends.  When I try to explain, I am met with a blank stare.

I decided that I needed to answer that question, but in order to do so I was going to need to be on the inside.  I was going to find out what happens behind the brew at Starbucks.  That and I needed a job to buy my college books.  So I took a job at the Starbucks in the food court by the Space Needle at Seattle Center.  I soon realized that coffee is very involved.  There were actual recipes for the drinks and things like water temperature of filtered water, roast time of the beans, sit time of the brewed coffee, the number of times you tap the metal doohickey for espresso drinks all mattered.  In fact it all mattered so much that you had to go to “coffee school” at headquarters.  There were manuals, and tests, videos and pop quizzes, I felt like it was another college class.  My barista days only lasted about 6 months.  I could not afford to park my car while I worked for the amount of money that I was making, but this did not end my affair with Starbucks.

In Seattle, a person is only 2 degrees of separation away from someone who has ever worked at Starbucks.  Our paths would cross again.  After college, I started working for a video production company.  We did commercials and training videos for other companies.  Low and behold, Starbucks hired us to update their training videos.  I was then working with the owner, Howard Schultz (the Steve Jobs of Seattle), on video shoots.  I was helping to make the very same videos that I hated watching.

Did life with Starbucks end, when I found a new job?  No.  You see, I was dating a University of Washington football player.  He was starting to become kind of a big deal in Seattle.  Apparently he caught the attention of Howard Schultz who approached him and asked him to speak at his son’s school.

I decided that there was no getting around Starbucks.  I was just going to have to roll with it.  I picked up a copy of Howard Schultz’s One Cup at a Time and decided to further inform myself about the company (this was not required reading during coffee school).  I learned that there was a lot that I actually liked about the company.  I really enjoyed reading the book.  It was not, although, enough to get me to like Starbucks over Seattle’s Best Coffee.  That is until Starbucks bought out Seattle’s Best Coffee.

So here I am in the Midwest.  Starbucks begrudgingly destined to be my coffee of choice.  It has been a long journey, but I am an aficionada.  I even pay for my drink with the Starbucks App on my iPhone.

{November 20, 2011}   From Madden to Super Mario Bros.

When I met my husband, he spent many hours addicted to playing video games. His drug of choice? Madden, an NFL game. In fact, we met in a college class. A class that he was three weeks late in attending. His excuse was that the new Madden game had come out and he could not make it to class, because he needed to play the game.

As the years progressed, I think that I must have gotten used to him playing. He would sit on the floor with the controller in his hands while I curled up on the couch reading a book. It was a peaceful arrangement that was only occasionally disrupted by my then-boyfriend yelling at the TV because a player on his team had dropped a pass. I got used to reading about social injustice or Jewish concentrations camps while listening to John Madden’s “brilliant” obvious game commentary. Without even watching the game, I learned that “if you throw the ball to the other team, that’s an interception.” Or, “They’re gonna have to put some points on the board if they want to win the game.”

Shortly after our first wedding anniversary, I gave birth to our oldest daughter. It was not long after, that I was finally able to convince my husband to put down the sticks and pick up a bottle. A new baby meant more responsibilities and less time to play. We were official grown ups and needed to act the part. Thankfully, he was also growing tired of Madden.

I lived in this “only occasional video game playing utopia” for about seven and a half years. It was wonderful. My husband and I talked, we cooked together we even went to bed at the same time. We still had video game consoles (just in case), but he rarely played them.

We now have three small children. Our oldest is seven, we have a five year old son and a two year old daughter. When the Wii came out, we purchased one for the kids to play. It was great fun to watch them play the Michael Jackson Dance game, or to see them compete in the bowling game, but they could take it or leave it. The Wii was only for occasional fun. A rainy day activity, if you will.

A few weeks ago, my husband downloaded Super Mario Bros. (1,2 and 3) on to the Wii. He had a great time reminiscing about his childhood while he played the game. Soon the kids were interested and constantly wanted to play. They would ask if “daddy could play” with them.

Our time together has dwindled. I have come to the conclusion that it has been a conspiracy from the day our oldest child was born. He must have said to himself that he would give up Madden for a time, but when the kids were old enough, he was going to get me back. This he has done with a vengeance.

Our daughter does not want to do her homework because she wants to play Super Mario Bros. Our son is too busy to take his bath because he has to save the princess. So after I am “mean mommy” and get everyone to bed, I go downstairs only to find my husband playing the game. He smirks at me while Mario catches a feather so he can fly above the evil ghosts who are trying to take away one of his lives. Meanwhile, I am in the kitchen cooking alone. I wonder what book would pair well with the Mario Bros. theme song playing in the background?

et cetera