Thursday, December 31, 2009

A life is like a poem.....

A life without hopes, goals, dreams,
Without a sense of moving forward,
Obsessed with the ancients long past,
Refusing to embrace the changes,
Life with a dearth of opportunities.

Is like a poem without descriptors,
With stagnant language,
Which refuses to paint a vivid picture,
Instead relying on old cliques,
A poem without anywhere to go.

Welcoming the New Year

I watch the snow, melting
Rain pelting down on it,
Forcing it to change its state
Into a form that flows freely.

This year of hardened memories
Resists the press of time
Not wanting to slide a little further,
Leaving the present
To the new and unthought experience,
Yesterday flowing more freely
As the new year comes.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christ's love

I have always struggled with the idea of a loving Father, and an indulgent and guiding Elder Brother. As the oldest in my family, I have tried to follow Christ's example in loving my younger siblings, and trying to show that love in ways that are meaningful to them. The fact that I am not nearly as successful as Christ in doing this goes without saying, and I know some of my siblings are disappointed that I am not the older sister that they would choose if they could. I often wish that I understood my siblings better, but I also know that I cannot force a relationship when one side is uninterested. I think Christ must feel that sadness when He is offering his love, attention and gifts, and we do not see the value in them, or are offended that His gift is not what we want for ourselves.

I had it suggested to me some time ago that one of my particular failings is that I am not able to think like my siblings, and understand them. When I asked for clarification I only received vague responses that I personally found unhelpful, but it has made me reflect on a number of situations, although I doubt my reflections were those that were hoped for. However, in my studying of how Christ offers gifts to us, and how we are given the chance to accept or reject them, but not choose what they are, I have gained some insight into my own relationship with Christ and Heavenly Father.

My relationship with my own father is complicated, and generally very painful. For years that colored my views of Heavenly Father, and made Him almost incomprehensible. I could create an abstract "loving father" in my mind, but had a hard time translating that into concrete actions or feelings within my life. While I might have wished for another father, or one with qualities which I feel would have be more complimentary to me, that is not the "gift" that I was given. Just as my siblings may not always think that a gift I offer them is what they want, and may even be offended by my inability to read their hearts and minds, I was offended that a loving Heavenly Father would give me an earthly father who would cause me so much pain.

For quite some time, I have wished that I could change a significant portion of my early life, and in doing so create a family in which I felt like I belonged. I wanted relationships which I have never had, and a chance to look back on my life with fondness and a desire to relive, at least in memory, my earlier years. I recognize that while the Lord does not personally wish to give us pain, He does wish for us to have experiences that will help us grow and become more like Him. If he had given me a life without the pain of my past, how much farther away from His experiences would I be now? He was willing to take on all of the burdens, sins and sorrows of the world. He was willing to serve those who would rather that He would never have been born. He was willing to forgive those who spitefully used Him. If I had never had any pain in my life, would I be able to understand Him, and be appreciative of the gifts of the Atonement?

I do not mean to say that I think that the Lord wants us to commit sins, or to make mistakes or hurt other people. Part of becoming more like Him is to not wish those things on others. However, we know that the Lord invites us to repent. None of us will escape this life without sin or blemish. None of us will go through life without offending another, or hurting someone else. None of us have committed such "small" sins that we could atone for them ourselves. None of us have the power to make ourselves, or others, whole after we have transgressed. Certainly the Lord desires that we do our best not to commit sins needlessly. He wants us to learn of Him and to do everything that we can to follow His example. However, if we think we can live a life that is good enough that we don't need the Savior or His atonement, we are simply deluding ourselves with foolish pride. We all need the Savior to intercede with the Father, if we wish to have any hope of returning to live with Them someday.

Since all of us have need of repentance, and of learning to ask the Lord for forgiveness, then to become more like Him, we also all have need to learn to forgive others, and truly move beyond those episodes. If we still hold onto grudges, hurts, or feelings of superiority over those who have sincerely asked our forgiveness, or for those who see no need to ask for it, we have not learned to be Christlike, and are in danger of having Christ refuse to forgive our sins. When we are told not to judge, because we will be judged in the same way we judge others, this goes beyond merely needing to give a token forgiveness. Christ does not forgive us, but refuse to let go of the pain and hurt caused by our sins. We do not expect that all future things we do will be found unacceptable because of a sin which has been repented of, and yet how often are we guilty of refusing to see the good that someone who has previously wronged us has done?

I do not want this to sound like a lecture. I am in the trenches of figuring out how to forgive others, especially when they show no remorse for what they have done. I struggle with frustrations and insecurities which make it harder to forgive and move on. I find that there are walls around my heart, put their by pride and past hurts, that I must allow Christ to show me how to tear down. Some of those walls are exceedingly high and wide. I have to remind myself that I am NOT justified in leaving them up. When I allow Christ to show me which brick is the foundation of my stubbornness, and work on that particular issue, I must constantly stay grounded through scripture reading, prayer and listening for answers after I pray.

I think the biggest lie that Satan tells us is that there is nothing positive that can ever come out of a sin. It is true that sinning is not positive, but if we let the atonement work in our lives, and strive to become better people, who are more in tune with the Lord, we can find many positive things which happen after we have committed a sin. It is the learning and growth that comes through repentance, forgiveness and restitution that allows us to become more Christlike, and closer to our Heavenly Father. It is when we forgive others that we can see the beauty within us, that comes from being Heavenly Father's spiritual children, who are struggling through an earthly and physical experience. When we understand that this life is a test, and that the score comes not from adding up every mistake we have made, but instead it comes from looking at home many mistakes we have fixed, and how forgiving we have been to others as they have made mistakes, that is when we truly start to understand Christ's love.

I believe that Christ will help me to forgive those who have hurt me. I have not completed that process, and I do not know all of the steps that it will take. I know it will include forgiving myself, and accepting that Heavenly Father knows me better than I do, and the Christ, as my elder brother, has gifts for me that I would not have chosen myself, but which are essential for me to live with Him someday.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beautiful snow.....

We have beautiful snow on the ground outside. I haven't been able to go out and take pictures, but if you want to see some, see my mom's blog.

It started snowing a little this morning, and by mid-afternoon, it was coming down in full flurries. I spent most of the afternoon with a fussy Maddy, but would peak out the window and enjoy watching big, wet, beautiful flakes as they fell from the sky. It wasn't such a beautiful sight for Michael, who had a very long ride home. You can read the details on his blog.

Now, I look out over the glistening snow. It is still 3 inches thick, and flurries are still meandering down occasionally. I don't know if it will be there in the morning, but it was nice to have a piece of magic, in the middle of a stressful holiday season. I am so glad to have Michael home in one piece, and no harm to him or the new car. I am glad that Maddy is finally on the mend, and that we are at home, and not at the hospital. I am also very grateful for small miracles, and for the Lord's help in allowing me to be aware of the small and large graces that He sends into my life.

Baby its sick in here..... (sung to the tune of baby it is cold outside)

For the last couple of days Maddy has been having loose stools and some diarrhea. Last night, she decided that wasn't enough, and so she added vomiting to her list of tricks. She did it a bunch. We finally turned off her pump to give her tummy a break, and have been trying to get some thickened pedialite down her. So far she throws most of it up, but is maybe keeping a little down. We took her into the doctor's at lunch time, and he wants to watch her, but is hopeful this will only he a 24 hour flu. She managed to only throw up once at the doctor's office, which we all took as a good sign.

So, we came home. Maddy is super cranky and clingy. She was not going to let me bring the groceries in, no matter what. Luckily it is 29 degrees outside, so nothing is going to spoil if it waits until Michael gets home and one of us can bring them in. I had just gotten her cleaned up from her last time throwing up, when I felt my stomach heave. I made it to the little garbage can, and took the bag outside so that I wouldn't have to smell it. Now I just hope that it is a one-time thing for me. I don't think having both of the only two people home, barfing all over the place, is going to work very well.

I am really hoping the doctor is right, and this is only a 24 hour flu bug. Here's hoping......

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Elders singing for real this time

Thanks to my brother David for letting us use his YouTube account and for helping me finally get this up!

Merry Christmas Grays and Garners!!

(I am not sure why it is having an issue playing on the blog, but you can go to to watch it as well.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Elder Garner and Elder Gray singing the Portland, Oregon mission song

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with the elders tonight. At the end they sang this song for us, and we taped it to share with their parents. They are great missionaries, and we are so glad they are serving here in our area!

UGH!! I can't get it to upload. Any suggestions of where I can put it so their families can see it?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Laughing so hard it hurts....

On a day when I made over nine hundred (900) cookies, five (5) batches of fudge, and had twenty (20) people over to help with it, it may surprise you that those events will only take the first few lines of this blog post. It was fun, and we will have all the goodies we need for delivering to a retirement community tomorrow.

However, the newsworthy part of the day happened after almost everyone left. One of my daughter's friends and her brother stayed later since their mom was working. She had finished dinner early, and was playing with Joshua. All of the sudden she came down, visibly disturbed. We were talking to one of the other kids and told her she needed to wait until we were done, and then we would help her. She went into the other room, and then started crying uncontrollably. I left Michael to finish the conversation, and went to find out what was happening.

I walked into pure hysteria. She was crying, and could barely wheeze out that Joshua had put her toe in his nose, and that now she was going to die. I asked her why she thought she was going to die, and she told me that you could get diseases from peoples noses. I told her that she was going to be fine, that she didn't have any cuts on her feet, and that she could wash her feet if she wanted to. The twins helped her get a bath going, and she jumped in, completely dressed and splashed water all over her legs and feet. I was trying to make the snack that was the follow-up to our previous conversation, so Michael went in when the foot bath wasn't calming her down.

Michael tried to reason with her. He helped her wipe her feet with disinfectant wipes, and then dry them. She was still hysterical, crying and crying uncontrollably, saying that she was going to die. I tried calling her mom several times, but wasn't able to get ahold of her.

I have to say, I was trying to be understanding, but Michael and I were laughing through most of this. It really was hilarious. I have no idea how she thought she was going to die from having her toe in Joshua's nose, but she really believed it. We really were trying to help, but laughter would bubble up in the middle of trying to explain immunology to a six year old.

So, I finally got her to snuggle with me. She was still crying, but at least she was only proclaiming her imminent death every couple of minutes. I asked her how she knew that she was going to die, and she said that her throat was already starting to hurt, and that was the first step. I asked her if she thought it might hurt because she was crying. She said she didn't think so. I asked her if she wanted to keep crying, or if she wanted to stop. She said she only wanted to stop if she wasn't going to die, but since she was going to die, she thought she should keep crying until her mom got there to pick her up. Since we had another forty five (45) minutes until that arrival was supposed to happen, I decided to try another tack. I pulled out my secret weapon; peppermint tea.

I offered her peppermint tea. I told her it would help her throat, and that it might kill any germs that were left after the disinfectant. After my brilliant explanations earlier, I was surprised that she was willing to try the peppermint tea idea. Her mom called just after she had agreed to the plan. She cried for a while on the phone to her mom, and then handed it back to me. Her mom didn't understand what was going on, so I explained that Joshua's toe had ended up in her daughter's nose. The mom's first question was if Joshua was okay. She had heard that someone was going to die while talking to her daughter, and thought that their might have been real damage done. I explained her daughter's concerns, and she relaxed. She asked again at the end of the conversation if Joshua was okay, and then said she would try to be there in about half an hour.

By the time mom arrived, the peppermint tea, and conversation with the twins had inspired a miraculous recovery. I helped Sarah find a bag to put her Christmas present in. While I found the bag, Sarah gathered the items. Then, she asked if we could give her friend a bottle of hand sanitizer, so she could use it on her foot next time she got it stuck in someone's nose.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cranky Momma....

Some days are just cranky days, and today is one of mine. I am tired, exhausted, and didn't sleep well. I had several nightmares last night, and those never help me feel all that great. So, all day I have been fighting to balance feeling cranky with needing to be a good mom and wife.

Some days I just wish I could sleep until I woke up feeling rested. Before I got sick, I didn't really think about what a luxury it is to feel rested. I have always been someone who woke up ready to start running, and so feeling exhausted when I wake up has been even more dragging than it would otherwise. I keep hoping that I will get the energetic me back. In the meantime, I am trying to do as much as I can to stay healthy, keep my kids and husband happy, and do the things that we need to do.

So, I have a decision to make. The kids and I have been planning a baking day for weeks. It is set for tomorrow. Several other families are invited, moms are coming with the kids, and all the ingredients have been purchased. So, do I let my exhaustion cancel the day, and still have to figure out some way to keep my kids happy, or do I let the plans stand and risk being even more exhausted tomorrow?

Complicating the decision is how much the kids want to make the cookies, how much I enjoy adult conversation (which I don't get that often with having been sick) and how important I think it is to make holiday memories with my kids. I also think it is important for them to get to see friends they don't go to school with.

So, I will keep thinking and praying about it, but I will probably go ahead with the baking day, and hope that we all sleep well tonight. But boy, it is a struggle not to be cranky with everyone......

Monday, December 21, 2009

The meaning of Christmas

Tonight we delivered the presents to one of the families that we adopted. The twins and Josh went with me, and they helped carry the presents and food in. Then, they handed out the presents to each of the kids.

The nine-year-old in the family kept saying, "Are these really for me?" Josh told her that not all of the gifts were new, but that they were all things for her, and that he hoped she liked them. She then asked the kids why all the presents said they were from Jesus. Kat told her that since it was Christ's birthday, that we would have given the presents to Jesus, but since He wants us to share we were giving the presents to them instead. Josh added that we love Jesus, and He teaches us to love other people and serve them. Sarah them piped in with the thought that service means doing things for other people, even if you don't know them.

As we drove home all three kids told me that they felt warm inside, and that they were glad that they got to help other people. Sarah said that she felt like Jesus was there giving us all a hug.

As a mom, nights like tonight are my payday. I hope that when I look back at my life, that there will be more times like this, or that these times will at least be the ones I remember.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The gratitude side of elfing

Tonight we had nine wonderful people who came and brought us wonderfully wrapped Christmas gifts. They filled our table and brought smiles to all the faces of our children. We sang Christmas carols with the group, and all of us could feel the love of the Lord in the room with us.

In sacrament meeting today they talked about how it is impossible to be proud, or to feel pride, and to still be under the influence of the Lord. Sometimes I think that I shouldn't ask for help, that I can do this without the help of anyone except the Lord. But that is pride in one of it's purest forms. If I believe that the Lord wants me to help others, as a stand-in for him, then the idea that I want the Lord to help me, without letting others be part of the process, is simply me being proud. So, my goal for the next year is to ask for help when I need it, to be gracious when other people suggest I need help, and to give help to others whenever I possibly can. Maybe then I can say that I am a little less proud, and a little more Christ-like.

So, I have a few other thank yous to share.

Thanks to Mark for watching Maddy all day Friday while Michael was in the hospital. Maddy was happy, safe and obviously had a lot of fun with grandpa. We really couldn't have done that day without you!

And to my wonderful, loving and compassionate husband, thank you for all the times you put me, and our family, first. I know that when we both are hurting, that you will think of both of us, and not just yourself. You make me want to be a better woman, because you are constantly working at being a better man. I truly am a lucky woman!

I love this picture of Michael and Maddy together, it is so representative of how close they are!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


One of my very favorite things about Christmas is the chance to do "elfing." It is an important part of any Christmas. Elfing is basically anything that is done as a surprise for someone else. So, it includes the shopping (which is okay, but not my favorite form of elfing) and then the wrapping, delivering, etc. Tonight Michael and I did the elfing for the families that we adopted for Christmas. We sorted all of the toys first by family, and then by child. Then, we wrapped them all up. The kids will help with putting on the bows on Monday. (Yes mom, we will have them all out of the dining room before you come home.)

As I was writing out all of the tags, I wrote the child's name in the To: part, and then wrote "Jesus" in the From: section. About halfway through all of the wrapping, it hit me that this was part of fulfilling the covenant I made to act in His name, and to always remember Him. I know that this is the true meaning of Christmas, that acting in the ways that Christ would act if He was here is why we give gifts, and why we are supposed to go outside of our own small piece of the world, and look for others that need our help. Isn't it cool that He loves us enough to let us act in His name. Isn't it important that we do it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I want the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.....

Okay, on a family vacation long long ago, in a land located between here and Olallie Lake, we spent a number of hours following a vehicle whose license plate read: Tooth. It belonged to a dentist, who was also a family friend. We spent a great vacation together. The huckleberry cobbler was especially memorable. The other memorable thing was chanting, over and over, until my parents were about ready to kill us:

I want the tooth,
The whole tooth,
And nothing but the tooth.

I am sure that parents out there will be surprised to find out that you can chant this for hours at a time, and as a preteen think it is hilarious. Younger siblings will join in because it is cool to be as funny as your older siblings.

So, during my root canal, which lasted for an extra hour and a half, making it over 3 hours, I guess it is only fair that I would start having this chant in my head. At first I thought it was funny and might help me stay calm. (I REALLY do not like having my teeth worked on, although I love having my teeth cleaned.) So, in a form of cosmic justice, I had the chant stuck in my head for at least an hour, and it has come back every time that my tooth hurts. Since they had to take out about twice as much of the tooth as they had expected, it hurts quite a bit. I guess it will get better once the infection is all cleared up. I am hoping that will be soon.

So, to Kuhn and all other dentists who have ever inspired silly chants, this is the whole tooth, "It hurts!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off to the dentist

So, today is the day. I get to have my first root canal. I am still not sure how I feel about it, but I am going. I hope my tooth stops hurting. I still wonder if I should just have it pulled and save the money, but everyone says I am too young for that. I hate having dental work done, although I love having my teeth cleaned.

Oh well, wish me luck. Don't forget to comment on the fudge contest post if you want some!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A wish or two….

I wish that I understood Isaiah better. It is a little easier when I can read the Book of Mormon, but I know there is so much in his writings that I miss every time I read. Oftentimes I get small glimpses as I read, and yet I know it is only the tip of the spiritual ice burg.

I wish I could find a pair of jeans that fit without being too long, too tight, or too loose.

I wish I knew what I wanted to be “when I grow up.”

I wish I could figure out a way to get the kids to keep their rooms clean.

I wish that Maddy would go back to sleep…..

I am sure there is more, but I would need a little more sleep to come up with anything very interesting. I am glad that I have such a wonderful husband as I try to figure it all out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who knew?

Well, we officially get to try Maddy on yet another new formula. They (yes, the infamous they who are always helping to make decisions about all things medical) think that putting on her Nutramigen AA (the AA stands for Amino Acids)might just help us get her on a "full strength" formula. We are finally all in agreement that Maddy's protein processing issue was a tad stronger than originally thought, and that by giving her an amino acid formula, we may not need to water down the formula with pedialite all the time.

I want to take a time out and explain how we usually prepare Maddy's food. The first thing that I, as a parent, must decide is; am I making food for Maddy's mouth or Maddy's pump?

Maddy has a very sensitive mouth. (Think a bloodhound, but instead of a sensitive nose, her mouth can tell even small changes in texture or taste.) So, if you I am making something that is going in Maddy's mouth, there must be no formula involved in the mixture at all. So, if it goes in her mouth, then it must be breast milk that has been freshly pumped. It cannot have been put in the fridge and then warmed up (this changes the texture ever so slightly) and it must not have been allowed to separate. It can have pedialite added to it. Maddy prefers that the mixture be half pedialite and half breast milk. And with all things that will go into Maddy's system, it must be thickened with HydraAid to nectar consistency. Once this has all been mixes, then it can be put into a 3 ounce bottle for Maddy to eat. (She has to have a small bottle that she can get her hands around and hold up by herself.)

If it is going in Maddy's pump, it is a little easier. I start with four ounces of water, add two scoops of Nutramigen and shape vigorously. I then add the thickener and shake it up before I add another four ounces of pedialite. All of this then gets put in her pump, and it goes in at 48 ml per hour. (That is an ounce and a half an hour for all of you who are not expert baby feeding chemists.)

So, while nothing would change with the milk Maddy gets by mouth, if the Nutramigen AA works, we would simple add four scoops of powder to eight ounces of water, and then add the thickener. It would make one step easier at least. It would also mean that we could cut in half the amount of time that Maddy has to be on her pump. With only needing to be on nine hours a day, she could have most of that time when she is sleeping. That is a huge advantage as Maddy is starting to walk around tables, and she is already crawling backwards for longer distances than her cord can go. It is only a matter of time before the weight of her pump pack would affect her ability to be mobile.

So, we start the new experiment tomorrow. Wish us luck!

A Little Hilarity

Being a mom can be tiring, challenging, fun, uplifting, and oftentimes hilarious. This last weekend, the hilarious seems to be bubbling up. Here are a few vignettes.
Joshua has eczema. It is itchy, and it the medicine is starting to work, but with all the very cold air, it is still spreading. He has a hard time not itching it. This morning Josh was itching his leg, and I asked him if he needed more lotion. He told me that he was okay, that he just needed to get a few more layers of skin moved around, and then he thought the itching would end. I asked him why he thought that, and he told me that since it was spreading but that some of it was getting better, that he thought it was wiggling around his body, and that he hoped it would wiggle somewhere that wouldn’t itch.
Kat came and gave me a kiss a few days ago. She had put some lip gloss on, and was disappointed that it didn’t leave a lipstick kiss mark. She asked me if I would stay still, so she could go put more on and try again. I told her that it still wasn’t going to leave a lipstick mark that you could see, but that I could feel it on my cheek. She was very pleased at that and left the room. A few minutes later I heard her telling Sarah that she had put a disappearing ink kiss on me, and that was the best kind of magic. It still makes me smile to think about it.
The kids were part of the nativity scene at the ward party. All of the kids in the ward were part of it, and they were asked to bring whatever costumes they wanted. Some of the kids were just in jeans and t-shirts and other kids were in full costume. Kat and Josh each brought blankets, and Sarah brought her purple bathrobe. Joshua led the parade of kids holding the star, which was hanging from a fishing pole. When the bishop was talking to Sarah after it was done, she told him that Kat was an angel, and that she was a person in a purple bathrobe. Gotta love how literal Sarah can still be.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fudge Contest

Who doesn't love fudge? Well, other than Mark, who is allergic to chocolate? And, come to think of it, even her likes maple fudge. So, this is your chance to have a batch of fudge delivered, or mailed, to you. I don't promise it will be there by Christmas, if I have to mail it, but it will come. I am making cookies and fudge with the kids on December 23rd. If the person who wins lives close, we will deliver it to you, if not, I will send it out on the 24th in a USPS One-Rate box.

So, why send fudge? What do you have to do?
First, you must become a follower of my blog, or make a comment if you are already a follower. (Michael is the only one that applies to, since he is the only one who follows it currently.)

Second, you must post a comment telling me your favorite kind of fudge or holiday cookie.

That is it. I will make slips of paper with all the names and have the kids choose the name out that night.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I have had Maddy, Sarah and Joshua all up with me tonight. Maddy and I have been watching videos, and I am thankful that there are such wonderful messages that we can watch together. It helps me be thankful, even when my body and mind are exhausted. I am blessed.


Friday, December 11, 2009

The rest of the day......

Well loyal readers, I thought I would give you an update on how the day went.

1) I got a call from the rep for Enfamil telling me that she had some samples for Maddy. The call came at 9:00 am and she said if I could get to Gladstone before 10 am, she could give me some samples. So, I gave up my nap, got dressed and went over to meet her. She gave me two cases of Nutramigen, worth almost $400, and told me that she would arrange for some samples of another formula called Nutramagin AA, which is even more "broken down" than the regular stuff. So, that was the first blessing of the day.

2) I got another call driving back telling me that I could get three days of samples for Maddy's thickener, instead of having to buy it from the Feeding Clinic. (We ordered the thickener earlier this week but it won't be here until Monday.) Since I had to go out that way anyway, which makes it was another $13 blessing.

3) I got several other errands done, including picking up a prescription for Josh at the doctor's office. While we were there I gave them the phone number for the Enfamil rep, and they were able to call her and get some formula for another baby whose mom couldn't afford it. The mom actually came out to the waiting room to thank me for giving them the contact info. (I am still amazed that formula reps don't usually work with family care doctors, only pediatricians and specialists. Sarah, the nurse there, told me that she is pretty sure that the rep said yes because I had already talked to her and she knew about Dr Scott from that conversation.) I am glad I could help another little baby. He was adorable, and the mom reminded me so much of me four or five months ago. I gave her my phone number and told her that if she needed to talk she was welcome to call me. Even if I never hear from her, I know that I was on the Lord's errand. I am grateful that he trusts me.

4) I picked up Maddy to go have lunch with Michael, and got a call from someone at the school district asking me if I could come pick up some things for my children. I asked them what they were, and they said that they had some items donated to the district, and that our three kids were part of the group chosen to receive them. I picked them up, but didn't have time to look at what they were. When we opened them up, after the kids had gone to bed, each bag had a brand new pillow with pillow case, a warm blanket, socks, and a pair of sweats. The kids will love all of the things, especially with all the cold weather. The sweats are all too small for the kids, but they will be great to pass on to the family that we are adopting. We will talk with the kids about it on Monday, but I am sure they will be glad to have more new things to give the family. They have been coming up with wild schemes to get more things for that family all week.

5) At my doctor's appointment there was no real news. We know a few more things it is not. They took 14 more vials of blood, some will be processed here, some will be sent to Utah, and some will be sent to Philadelphia. It will take a few weeks to get the results. They are also going to do an upper-GI to look for a certain kind of ulcer that doesn't show up on blood tests, and to see if there is anything else unusual there. The doctor is going to call and see if he can twist some arms so that they will do it, even though I am still havign fevers. Someone should call me Monday to let me know when they are going to do it. He also added several more areas that he wants scanned when they do the MRI next Wednesday. They started me on another antibiotic. It is the last one to try that we haven't used yet. Anything after this would have to be an IV antibiotic. He doesn't really expect it to work, but it is one of the things to "check off the list" as we are trying to figure out what it is.
He reminded me today that we have excluded thousands of possible diagnosis, but that there are still quite a few more that we need to discard, and it may be a while before we get it figured out. He also wanted me to be prepared for the chance that it will go away at some point, and we won't ever know what it is. If that happens, it could come back, or it could just end up an episode that never has an explanation. He says that it happens more often than most people would think, but that as long as I am having more than two fevers a week, we need to keep looking for the cause.

6) I have laughed a lot today. There have been a lot of moments of mirth at our house. From Maddy getting her finger stuck in her nose, and fussing until I helped her pull it out (it wasn't really stuck, she just kept pushing it in farther instead of pulling it out for some reason) to Kat deciding to make toilet paper art, there have been lots of small moments that remind me how lucky I am to be a mother to such great kids. I am also very grateful for a husband who laughs along with me, and who can see the humor even in dark situations. No matter how bad things get, when you can laugh and smile with the person you love most in the world, it feels like a blessed day.

7) We still haven't had any snow or freezing rain, but the weather people keep promising it will arrive sometime tonight and stay, in at least small amounts, until Sunday night. Mom and Mark went up to visit Polly and help her with moving into her new house, Maleena and Max are traveling down to California, and Anna is heading to the coast for the weekend. So, we are keeping lots of people in our prayers, praying that their travel is safe!

8) Sarah has had a migraine every day for the last six days. She got another one tonight. The are upping the dosage on her prophylactic medications, and we are hoping that helps. They still don't have the MRI/MRA results, but hopefully by next Wednesday they will know if there is anything beyond the migraines going on. In the meantime, prayers for her are always appreciated.

I am so grateful for a warm house, food for everyone (including Maddy), clothes that fit, and insurance that covers the ongoing medical costs for the whole family. I am blessed.


Some days I just feel overwhelmed. It isn't debilitating, and it doesn't stop me from doing things, but it certainly makes me wish that life were simpler. Usually I just get on with life, but today I thought I would share what is overwhelming me.

1) Maddy is almost out of thickener. It has already been ordered, but it might not arrive before we run out. I left a message for the feeding clinic to see if there is somewhere that we can buy a few days worth in the Portland area. If there is, I will need to go pick it up, hopefully before the snow/freezing rain hits.

2) Which leads to the fact that we are supposed to get snow/freezing rain. I love snow, I love playing in it, watching it fall, and the peace that comes from walking as the snow falls to earth. I do not love freezing rain. Snow I can drive in, freezing rain I do NOT drive in. It is dangerous, and I am always worried about anyone who has to go out in it.

3) Michael is enjoying his new job, but he comes home exhausted. There are a lot of things he is learning, and so by the time he gets home, his brain is already fried. I am glad that he has a great new job, but it will be nice when he is feeling more comfortable with it, and a little less grumpy when he gets home.

4) I go see the infectious disease specialist this afternoon. Some of the lab results are supposed to come back this morning. Either we will have a clear idea of where we are going, or we will know what tests we need to run now, but in some ways I am not sure I want to know. It could be great news, that we know what is wrong and it is easily fixed. It could be okay news, that we know what it is and the treatment isn't easy, but it is treatable. It could be bad news, that we know what it is and it isn't treatable, and I will always be in this pain. Or it could be more waiting, not sure what is wrong, but knowing that something is wrong and we have to keep trying to find out what it is.

Okay, there is more stuff, but it is either small stuff (I am almost out of clean underwear) or stuff everyone deals with (like I hate the extra 5 pounds I have gained since I got sick and haven't been able to exercise). I get a few hours for a nap, and I am going to take it! (Thanks Anna for taking Maddy!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Spirit

I asked the kids, about a month ago what they wanted to make sure we did for the holidays. I have been pretty sick since October, and since that doesn't look like it is going to change very quickly, I needed to find out what was most important to them, so that I didn't waste energy on things they don't really care about. So, it turns out that these are the things the kids definitely wanted to have/do this year:
1) Have a Christmas Tree
2) Adopt a family for Christmas
3) Make Cookies with friends
4) Make home-made hot chocolate on Christmas Eve, and have Baby Jesus Birthday cake (Baby Jesus Birthday cake is angel food cake with frozen strawberries and home-made whipped cream)
5) Go shopping with Michael for a present for me (this has become a tradition that the kids love, and Michael is learning to love)

Those requests seemed reasonable. The cookie making is set up for the 23rd. The Hot Chocolate and Baby Jesus Birthday Cake can be done Christmas Eve, and we are shopping for the tree this weekend. I am not sure when Michael is going to take the kids shopping, but I put aside the money for them to do it in our budget. Until about a week ago, I was really waffling about whether to adopt a family this year.

Things have been so tight for us, and then we found out that Michael's new employer pays differently than his old one, and so for the first 6 weeks, we will only get paid for 2 weeks worth of work. After that, we will be okay, but it means we are having to be even more creative. Since I do most of our holiday shopping throughout the year, and I got the rest of the stuff on Black Friday by ordering stuff online, there will be some presents under the tree, and we already sent the presents to my sister's family (who we have in the family gift rotation this year). I have gifts that still need to be mailed to a few family members on Michael's side, but no one will be forgotten this year, even if the gifts are fairly inexpensive.

Which brings me back to my dilemma about what to do this year. I always wanted to have adopting another family as part of our family's holiday tradition, and I am thrilled that the kids consider it an important part of our holiday. Even last year, when we were so broke we weren't sure how we were going to pay for my medication, we were still able to help another family. The help came from our food storage, for the most part, and by passing on a Christmas tree that we had gotten for free. I remember praying that the Lord would help us find a family that we could help, so that we wouldn't have to break the tradition of adopting another family. The Lord provided a family we could help, and I am grateful that we were listening to the whisperings of the Spirit, so that we would know who to help.

Which brings me to several nights ago, when I prayed that Heavenly Father would help me to know what His will was for our family this year. I asked Him to help me know if we should focus on our family, or try to find another family to help. I told Him that I would need His help, since I didn't have as much energy as usual, and I have been trapped in the house and didn't really know of any families that we could help. I fell asleep after that prayer, only to be awakened two hours later, with the distinct impression that if I wanted to be worthy of the blessings that the Lord wanted to bless my family with, that I needed to be ready to adopt a family.

I got on Craigslist, typed in "Christmas" in the wanted section, and there was an ad that had been posted half an hour before asking for help for a woman, her daughter, and two of her granddaughters for Christmas. The girls were the right ages that we could give them some of our hand-me-down toys and clothes. I emailed the woman, and asked if she would be okay with used things, and if so, could we bring her some Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. I left it up to her whether she was willing to have the kids bring the gifts wrapped, or if she would prefer to wrap them herself to give to the kids. She emailed me right back and told me she would love to have the kids come and deliver the gifts, and that they would be very happy to have used things, as most of their clothes and toys come from Goodwill. She also told me that she had received four emails before me, and all of them had been very negative, telling her she shouldn't have even asked for help. She was about to take the posting off, in despair, when she got my email. She said it made her cry. Which, of course, made me cry when I read it.

We have emailed back and forth several times to make sure we are providing them with things that will be meaningful for their kids. My kids are sorting through the toys and clothes in their room, finding toys that are still in good shape and have all of the pieces. They are talking about how they are looking forward to wrapping all the presents on the Monday before Christmas for our Family Home Evening activity. It has been wonderful to see my children focus on how they are going to help someone else this holiday season. I am so glad I woke up, and followed the prompting to look for a family NOW to adopt.

The Lord reminded me that there is nothing good that we do that He won't turn around and bless us for. The evening after we had "adopted" our family for the holidays, I got a call from a woman I have never met. She is in charge of a bible study group at another church. She called because one of my children's teachers had nominated our family to be "adopted" for Christmas. She was calling to get sizes for the kids and to find out what they were interested in. She had lots of questions, and to be honest, I was so stunned that she had called that I answered her questions, but it didn't really sink in until a few hours after she called. I considered calling her and telling her that she should find another family, that we were okay, and that we didn't "need" any help. As I knelt to pray that night, I asked Heavenly Father what I should do. I felt this sweet peace that this was what Heavenly Father wanted for our family, that by accepting this help, we would not be depriving anyone else, and that if our family felt good in helping another family, that those who were serving us would be equally blesses in their lives.

So, I did call back, but to invite the group to come and share some holiday cookies and carols with all of our family when they drop the gifts off. They are coming the same day that we are baking our Christmas goodies, so we will be able to send each family home with a plate of goodies. My children will learn about giving generously and receiving graciously. And my heart will be stronger as I face the medical challenges, because I will have given and received love this holiday season. Isn't that the true Spirit of Christmas?