optic nerve hypoplasia, miracles and gratitude

by jani on November 21, 2012

What do you do when one of your baby twin daughters just doesn’t appear to see you? Or if she does, her eyes go way up, leaving quite a bit of white underneath. I knew when our girls were three weeks old that something was wrong with our firstborn twin. She just never seemed to be able to focus on me, while her twin was spitting bubbles and trying to smile and coo as she looked directly on my face. Yes, there was a definite difference between the two. I made the appointment with our babies’ doctor. He couldn’t see anything wrong, but he took my word for it (don’t you just love doctors that will really listen to the mom?)  He made the call to the number one pediatric opthalmologist in Utah to set up a consult.

I’ll never forget that day… walking in with our one little baby girl, feeling more than a bit concerned. After the doctor checked her, he said, “She has optic nerve hypoplasia.” I asked,”Well, does that mean she’ll need to wear glasses throughout her life?” The doctor’s reply (I’ll never forget what he said to me next), “Don’t be so vain, Mother! Your daughter has  irreversible damage to her optic nerve, which took place sometime during your first trimester”.

My head was beginning to spin. He handed me a card with the contact information for the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind.  I needed to contact them; they would help our family adjust.

I was numb. I didn’t start crying (more like sobbing),  until I was far away from this doctor’s office. But I did pour out my heart to my sweet HB the whole way home. What would you do? Make the call to the school the next morning? Not me. It took me two weeks to face the reality and build up my nerve. But I finally made the call. A therapist from the school was just a marvelous and compassionate woman. She scheduled a visit to our home, requesting that our entire family be present. She explained the partial blindness in terms that we could all understand and then had each of us try on a pair of goggles that looked like we were looking through Swiss cheese. She explained that with our daughter – their baby sister –  she had found her clear sight of vision  through looking up… that her irises would always be positioned on the upper part of her eyes with the lower half of her eyes completely white. She then went on to explain that our daughter would likely be unable to drive and that her life would be altered because of her disability.  But they would send a therapist to our home weekly until she was old enough to attend their school.

This is a photo of our twins, one of whom was focusing normally. It’s apparent which one had the dark, blank stare and partial blindness.

What would you do? Pray for a miracle? I’ve seen miracles throughout my life… but this? Was it asking too much from God to heal our baby girl? I don’t know why some receive the answered miracle they seek, while others don’t. It’s certainly not from lack of faith. Why did I have four miscarriages? Why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa? I don’t have the answers to all these questions. What I do know is we desired and prayed for a blessing –  a miracle – and in our daughter’s case we received one.

I remember that second visit back to the opthalmologist as he said, “I don’t know how to explain this! She doesn’t appear to have optic nerve hypoplasia. But, that’s impossible!”. Our reply was simply, “No it’s not, Doctor –  because she received a blessing from God!”

Our daughter has beautiful doe-like eyes with lashes that touch her eyebrows. They have always been filled with a sparkle and joy every time she smiles!

So in this month of November, when we all express our gratitude for the blessings we receive, this miracle is right up there at the top! Our daughter is now a grown, married woman. This experience has helped me to see… really see – the beauty that surrounds me in my daily life just a little bit differently, so often thinking back on those moments and realizing the marvelous wonder of the gift of sight!

This Thanksgiving what will you be adding to you list of thanks? Mine is well past 100…how about your list?


maple pecan yam bake

by jani on November 12, 2012

Is it just me – or does it seem almost impossible that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? That’s right folks – so let’s do the countdown – 11 days until Thanksgiving and 44 days until Christmas.  Well, at least the latter doesn’t sound that close… but still?!

Close or not, we are so excited for Thanksgiving this year. We will be enjoying (almost) the whole family at our home… we’re talking l-a-r-g-e here. And if you asked any of our kids… Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without HB’s own recipe, Maple Pecan Yam Bake! Of course the turkey, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pies are a must. But this following recipe is seriously the best yam recipe I have ever eaten. And,  of course I’m not biased!


  • 8 large Red Garnet yams
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cube butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2  cup genuine maple syrup, or increase to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp cinnamon or to taste
  • 1/2  tsp ginger
  • 1/2  tsp nutmeg or mace
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (or to cover yams in ramekins or 9 x 13 casserole dish)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans (or 3 half pecans per ramekin)

Slice tips off yams and discard, pierce yams 6-8 times with fork or knife. Bake at 425 F on baking sheet for one hour (use aluminum foil sheet to eliminate cleanup) or until fork can easily pierce through. Remove skins and scoop meat into large mixing bowl. Add butter, half and half (or whipping cream), maple syrup, eggs and mix until smooth texture. Mix in seasonings. Remove mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish or ramekins. We used 8 ramekins and placed remainder in a smaller baking dish. Layer marshmallows and pecan pieces to cover mixture, broil until marshmallows are golden brown. You will want to watch closely, as they can easily burn.  Serves 16

Notice the pierced fork marks; this is very important for the yam (or potato) to release steam as it bakes.

A fun job for the kiddies is layering on the marshmallows and then placing the pecans – just so!

I promise you that this recipe will be a hit at your Thanksgiving table or any fall dinner you’re planning. Your guests will love their individual ramekin yam casseroles! The best part about this dish is it’s super easy to make. Enjoy!

Just a quick note: If you decide to cook your yams the night before, make sure to melt the butter before adding it to the mixture and bake the ramekins or casserole for and additional 30- 45 minutes before broiling the marshmallows.