Saturday, February 6, 2016

He Blinded Me with Science!

Nate had his first Pinewood Derby.

He put a lot of thought into what he wanted his car to look like.  Because he's fascinated with the ocean, he designed a hammerhead shark.  Dad did the big cuts and then Nate did all the sanding and finishing.

It has a back fin and a hammer head.  He painted it himself, including red eyes and gills.  He was very pleased with his design,

Then we started racing the cars.

Let's just say Hammerhead wasn't ahead.  A lot of the Dads had obviously helped A LOT with these cars.  

A little boy was very disappointed and I could see tears welling up in his eyes.

"Hold on, buddy," I said.  "Let's look at this."  

I pulled him up on my lap and we looked at the track and watched the different speeds for the different cars as the race continued.  I explained the design of the track and how the design of the track meant that any car with weights on the bottom had drag and friction as the weights impacted the clearance on the car.  I talked about gravity and airflow and pull.  

"All those things as acting on all those cars, Nathan, and each of those forces is impacting the speed of each car.  It doesn't mean you didn't do an awesome job or that your hammerhead isn't amazing.  It's just science and it's acting on each of those cars."

He was quiet for a bit.

"So, wait... you're saying science WANTS me to lose??"

(sigh... one more time from the top)


Friday, February 5, 2016

Many Cats. Many Bags.

A few weeks ago I walked in on Sophia sing-songing the word "Idiom" at her brother.

"Idiom..Idiom..."

It was your typical, "I'm going to say this word because you're going to think I'm saying "idiot" and when you try to tattle you'll be wrong and then you'll get in trouble for tattling" kid sister move.

After listening to them bicker and sing-song, I said," Sophia, do you even know what 'idiom' means?"

"Yeah," she said.  "It's when you say something and it means something else.... like when you say, "laughing your socks off" but really it just means you're happy".

I looked in stunned silence at my kindergartner, thinking it was probably  9th grade before I'd learned that word.

I left her alone.  I figured any 6 year old who can define "idiom" deserves a bit of uninterrupted taunting with it.

She'd earned it.



A few weeks later, we were in the store and Sophia came running up to me, eyes bright and sparkling and her little finger wagging at me.

"Mom!  Don't tell!  I'm a ninja!  It's a secret!"

"Oh!  OK," I said.  "I won't tell.  But will you say that again because you're kind of adorable and I want a picture."

(snap!)

We finished our shopping and went to the clerk.  

Next thing I knew my daughter was saying to the total stranger store clerk, 'Don't tell anyone! I'm a ninja!  It's a secret!"

"Soph!" I exclaimed. "I need to get you ninja etiquette lessons.  You're not supposed to TELL PEOPLE you're a ninja!  Ninjas are secret and no one knows they're ninjas!" as I smiled at the clerk. . Turns out the clerk had her own 5 yr old little girl ninja.  She and Sophia shared some tips and tricks of the trade for the clerk to take home to her daughter.


Then, the other night, I was tucking Sophia into bed.  She mentioned, "idiom" again.  I asked her if she still remembered what it meant.  

"Yeah... it's when a thing doesn't mean what it sounds like... like when you talk about the cat being in the bag."

I said, "You mean, 'let the cat out of the bag'?"

"Yeah.  That one.  What does that mean, Mom?"

I said, "That's when you tell a secret you're not supposed to tell.  

"Oh!" she said, her face suddenly very solemn and knowing, "Like when I tell people I'm a ninja.  That's letting the cat out of the bag, right, Mom?"

Yes, sweetheart.  That's letting the cat out of the bag.

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Look Fantastic!

Dressed up for an evening out - Jan 2015 - wearing pink Hello Kitty gardening gloves and an understated single strand of pearls



Sunday, January 31, 2016

WWDMD (What Would Doc McStuffins Do)




Jan 2014

Sophia fell asleep hard on her bed.  Nathan got out the play doctor set and tried to listen to her heart to "make sure she isn't dead, Mom"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Citizenship

A couple of years ago, Nathan recieved his US Citzenship.  It doesn't look like I posted about it, but we had a barbecue with a bouncy house and had all the neighbors and family over.

It was the culmination of several long years of work for us.







Friday, January 29, 2016

Parent Teacher Conference

Nathan is in Chinese Immersion.  It's his 2nd year and it's not easy.  They have two teachers - one teachsuer does their Spelling and Reading in English, and then the other half-day they move to the classroom next door and their Chinese teacher does their Math and Science, but in Chinese.  They end up learning the same things as "regular" school, but with Chinese thrown on top of it.

This last fall, we went to parent-teacher conference.  His teachers had good feedback on Nathan.

When I got home, I pulled him into my lap and said, "Your teachers say you're doing really well.  Your reading has improved, you do a good job with spelling and math.  Your Chinese teacher says that when she calls on you, you always know the answer, even if you hadn't raised your hand.  I'm really proud of you for working so hard and for doing your best."

He grinned, the special smile he does when he's thrilled and trying not to let it show.  It's restrained but you can see in his eyes that he's bursting with joy.

"Will you tell me that again?" he said.

I snuggled him some more and told him the same words again.

He took a shower and got ready for bed.  He came to me before bedtime and said, "Tell me again what my teachers said", still reveling in the news that he was succeeding.

The next morning, he came into my room before my alarm went off.  He climbed into bed with me and said, "Mama, tell me again what a great day I'm going to have at school today!"

I try to tell them when they're doing well and praise them for trying.  It was a good reminder that maybe there are never enough kind words rained on young, growing hearts.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The More You Know

June 14, 2014

Sophia:  I not a mom; I just a sweetheart

June 26, 2014

Nathan told me I needed to "realized that people are different" when I asked why did he didn't like the dinner I made.

June 28, 2014

Nathan says his bike isn't just a dirt bike.  It's also a grass bike, a snow bike and a concrete bike.  #themoreyouknow


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fishing?



8/2015
Took the kids for a drive in the canyon.  They each had a pair of little kid binoculars.  Sophia bent down with hers and stuck the ends in the water to "see fish".

Nathan watched her for a second and said, 'Does that work?? I'm totally doing it!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Observations

12/2014

Sophia watching me polish my shoes before work.

"Mom, what is that stuff?  Make-up for your shoes?"

(pretty accurate for a 5 yr old, right?)

4/11/2015
Nathan:  Mom, I'm thinking of my favorite shape I'd like to be.  (Looks at me with eyes that say, "Guess what it is!:)
Me:  Hmmm... let me study your face.... is it a square?  No?  Is it a circle?
Nathan:  Nope!  it's a rectangular prism because it's my favorite shape and it's also a word I like to say! (Said with tone like 'BAM! (drops microphone))

5/7/15
S: Is Mama coming home?
N: Yes. she's coming home.  What did you think?  She went to Seattle?
S:  Who is 'Attle?

5/25/15

Nathan and Brent were tickling and Brent made a weird noise.  Nathan said, "You sound like a wolf with a kidney stone, Dad!"

6/12/15
Sophia gets in trouble for calling her brother a "butt" and saying other words that we classify as "potty words". . She was playing around, putting a pillow on the floor and then jumping off the couch onto it and I heard her exclaim the first time she landed "Look!  That didn't even hurt my potty word" (literally using the words "potty word" instead of saying "butt")  Apparently we need to work on context and intent....

7/18/15
Me:  Nate, I think they're making another 'Finding Nemo' movie.
Nate:  Ugh!!  He's lost AGAIN??
(My sister's response to this story was that she believes the entire plot of the 2nd movie is a crew following Dory around while she tapes "Have you seen this fish?" signs on telephone poles.)

7/29/15
Sophia:  Mom, Nate had a friend over and they invited me into their funness!

8/3/15
S: Mama, remember when I was a baby and then I grew up and up and up into this person?

8/17/15
Nathan has a friend over.  I can hear them wrestling (what is it about 8 yr old boys and wrestling?)
I hear nathan say, "Now, here's a little something I like to call 'expertise'!"


Sunday, January 24, 2016

More quotes

7/7/14

Me:  Nathan, what does "old man" mean?
N:  That you're old and a man and you're going to die soon.
Me:  So is Dad an old man?
N:  Nah... he still has a few weeks

8/14/2014
Sophia to Brent:  Daddy, ,you can do anything!  You can kill flies or even turn on cartoons!

8/25/2014

Sophia:  That boy is looking at me.  It must be because I'm so cute.

(Now, 18 months later,, she's figured out they're staring at her stub and it really bothers her.  Wanted to document the earlier days)

9/15/14
Nathan to neighbor who was working in her yard.  Nathan was over chatting and just talking, and apparently trying to figure out why certain bugs were named the way they are:

"Did you know that the biggest bug is an ant that's as big as a person?  They live in armies.  My grandpa was in the Army, but luckily he never saw any of those ants."

11/25/14
I dropped something on the floor.

Sophia:  Why you drop that?
Nathan:  It's called 'gravity'

11/30/14
Nathan:  Mom!  I just had a great idea from my scientific brain!

11/30/14 (continued)
TV show mentioned the year 1926.  Nathan said, "That's my favorite time" and I said, "That's a year, actually".  He said, "Yeah, but you just feel so much like yourself then."


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cute Haircut



This was a couple years ago, but thought she was super cute.

 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Not as Old as You Think

Nathan was asking what school lunch was like when I was a kid.

I tried to explain that we didn't have chicken nuggets back then, which was baffling.

I was also trying to tell him that we didn't get choices... we just got whatever they served (and we liked it because we had no choice).

Nathan wasn't understanding what I was saying.  Finally, in exasperation, he said, "Mom, if you wanted to have turkey for lunch, would you buy it or catch it or rent it??"

Never get the rental insurance on the turkey, folks.  That's where they get you every time.  And always remember to top off the turkey before you return it...



In other news, Sophia was recently worried that someday in the future she'll have to get braces because "then I won't be able to scratch my teeth when they itch!!"  (I just live here)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hello, Snow!

12/21/2015

I went somewhere with Sophia this weekend.  When we got out of the car,  there was a bank of fresh snow in front of us.

She started to cackle gleefully and exclaimed, "Hello, Snow!  Did you miss me??" and then proceeded to stomp happily through the clean drift.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A week into Kindergarten...

Sophia was watching a cartoon about Clifford the Big Red Dog.  This particular episode was when Clifford was a teeny puppy.  She said, "I've never seen this one.  I've only seen the upper-case Clifford."

Here's her face on the way into the first day of kindergarten:




And here's the after!  She loves school!


She has made friends and absolutely adores her teacher.

She did tell me one day about playing, "Duck, Duck, Goose" at recess with another girl.  I said, "Who else played with you?"  She said, "Just us.  You can play Duck, Duck, Goose with two people, Mom." (eye roll)

Wow... I'll bet the anticipation is overwhelming.  WHO WILL BE THE GOOSE??

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Catching up old posts

Aug 17, 2015 (just before Nathan's 8th birthday, which is the age, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that children become accountable and can be baptized)

Nate and Sophia were playing rough and I told them to stop.  Nate said, "She told me to" and I said, "You know better than that."

Nate raised an eyebrow and said, "I'm not baptized yet... you know this."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shriner's Hospital for Children

Sophia has had a variety of challenges relative to missing her hand.  We'd been told that she'd need surgery to fuse her elbow (which bends in both directions instead of just one) before she'd be able to use a prosthetic, so we put it off, not wanting to put her through that sort of surgery at such a young age and wanting her to be old enough to have some say in the process.

She's been going to gymnastics for a few years.  She'll line up with the other kids and do all the things they do and fall flat on her face every time (because it's very difficult to do a handstand one handed or do to a one-armed cartwheel, even if you're good at it, and particularly if you're little).

Jumping off the rings at Gymnastics

She never gives up.  She just jumps to her feet with a smile and does it again and falls on her face again.

She started riding a bike and we found it's a bit like watching NASCAR... because of how she has to loop her stub around the handlebars of the bike which then tilts the steering to an angle-  she's always going in a circle the same direction.  One day she was really sad after riding her bike.  She said, "Mom, I just want to go straight."

She also said she wanted to be able to go somewhere and come back home.

That threw it over the top for me.

We started looking at options and were discouraged with what insurance will or won't cover.


Then we found Shriner's.

Honestly, there are no better people on the planet.  Their hospital is catered to children with serious needs and every single person we encountered there was joyful and caring and hopeful.

We had a consultation and they determined that she would not need surgery and that yes, they could help her.

They did molds of her arm, and instructed us to find the fabric we wanted to have cover it.

And they made her a wonderful, modular prosthetic.


It is lightweight (carbon fiber, kevlar and fabric layers with a resin that keeps it together and lets you wipe it down).  There's a sleeve that goes over her stub with an attachment pin.  The sleeve is all that holds it too her stub, but the latex-y material on the inside is enough to keep it gripped to her skin.

The prostethetic is the blue part (she picked "Elsa-colored butterflies" for her prosthetic fabric.  Years ago they used try to make them look like skin and it never really ends up looking natural so the thinking now is to make it an accessory and let it be its own thing, embracing it for what it is.)

She can put the whole thing on and off by herself.

The prosthetic two attachments that screw into the bottom of the prosthesis  - "the mushroom" she uses for tumbling and gymnastics and "the Lego hand" that is meant for riding her bicycle (the handlebar slips into the "Lego" looking part so she can steer.

Again, they used to try to make them something you'd wear all the time, but with the type of amputation she has, it never really works quite right and they learned that the limb would actually atrophy because the weight of the prosthetic and the bulk of the device would actual lead to fatigue and the child would end up using it less than they do the amputated limb.  Really, the limb doesn't stop her - she can do anything a regular kid does, light fight with a lightsaber....


...climb on the playground....


...fight like a pirate....

 ...play with her big brother...


But now she doesn't fall on her face at gymnastics and when she rides her bike, she can always turn the right way to make it back home.

Thank you, thank you, Shriner's!


Homemade Gecko

Nathan received a gecko for a birthday present last year.   He wanted his sister to have gecko, too, so he made this for her (it's a stuffed crocodile in an old aquarium, and yes, there's a bowl in there for water and a stick for ambiance)


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pin the Tail on the Elephant



12/2015
I'm positive someday I'll need proof of how well they get along.

Nathan made her a Pin the Tail on the Elephant game.  She was so excited..  He put a Santa hat on her and pulled it down over her eyes, and then spun her around, but he wanted her to win, so he guided her hand to the right spot.

This Made Me Laugh Way More than Was Appropriate for a Grown Woman

Christmas 2014

Sophia cut her finger on an ornament hook while we were decorating the tree and loudly exclaimed, "Mom!  I got cut by a hooker!"

Yeah, Cried Massive Mom Tears With This One

One of my favorite pictures of my kids was taken right after Sophia came home.  Nathan, you may recall, was so looking forward to teaching his new brother or sister how to not be afraid of the curvy slide.  Even though Sophia came home in February, it wasn't very long before he was out there, helping her climb up on the slide and teaching her to have fun on it.  A dream come true for my Little Man.

For my birthday last year, Brent had our awesome sister-in-law draw the photo I took of that day.

Yeah, cried some massive mom tears with this one.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Banana Slug and other discoveries

Nathan turns 8 in a few weeks.

The other day, he and Sophia spent a good 30 minutes chasing each other in the backyard.  He came in the house, winded from all the fun.

"Mom," he gasped, "The closer I get to 8, the more my body's slowing down.  I could run super-fast when I was 6, but now..."

"Wow," I said, biting my cheek to hold in the laugher.  "That sounds serious.  Would you like to see a doctor about that?"

"What are you going to do?" he said, throwing his arms in the air.  "That's just life."

We called my parents to tell them of his miraculous discovery.  My parents can tell, when I call, whether or not I'm trying to tell them, "This is hilarious, but don't laugh aloud or he'll quit telling us these gems".  They were stellar to act appropriately shocked at the news of his discovery without laughing.

"Nathan," my dad said, "I'm over eight times your age.  How do you think you'll feel when you get as old as Grandpa if you're slowing down at 8?"

"I bet I'll be slower than a banana slug!" he replied.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Catch up

Here are some stories I haven't told:

Couldn't make it to one of Nathan's basketball games because I had to be somewhere else with Sophia.

Tia texted me and said that Nathan had come up to her and told her about swimming in a stinky pond behind our friends' home (true story).

Tia said, "EWW" right as Collin came up.

Collin asked what they were talking about and Tia said that Nathan was just telling her a gross story.

Collin said, "Don't tell me... it's about kissing girls, right?"

Nathan said, "Oh, that happens all the time, but that's not my story."

(no, it's never happened... I don't know where he gets these things)
________________

Sophia was trying to spell her name the other day: "S-O-P-H-I-J-K.... wait... that not it"

_____________

Nathan (after falling down), "I don't like earth.  Everything wants to hurt me."
____________

Randomly, last Sunday, Nathan told me he felt he was "BORN to play the piano" so we had our first lesson.  It's amazing how different it is when it is his idea vs. me trying to get him to believe me.  :)
_______
And Miss S, excited about a song she learned the day her preschool went to the fire station.

In our family, when we do "knuckles", we pretend it hurts and then she kisses it better because it's adorable.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

High tops

We just bought a part of high tops for Nathan.  He was so excited.

He wanted us to get a pair for Sophia as well, but I told him a 4 yr old didn't need a pair of high tops.

When we returned home, he took matters into his own hands.  This is him drawing and cutting out a pair of high tops for Sophia.  I thought it was cute so I took this picture and went about my night.
Some time later, he came up to me and said, "Look, Mama.  I made Sophia a shoe box."  He'd found a lightbulb box and drawn numbers on the side so it looked like his new shoe box.


"Open it." he said.  

He'd found a pair of his own dirty socks from some dusty corner of the basement and literally glued his cut out high tops onto them so that Sophia could pull her new "high tops" onto her feet.

Seriously, how sweet is that?


Unfortunately, there's no picture of Sophia wearing said "high tops".  She didn't get or appreciate it.  

I think it's awesome.  He's a very kind, loving brother.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's a quail... not a Gogurt

We have quail.  A lot of them..  they go with the hawk in a sort of "circle of life" sort of thing.

A year ago, when the first batch of babies were hatching (Brent orders eggs online and then hatches them here), Nathan was having great fun holding the wee little chicks.

One day Nathan came running down the hall and said, "Mama!  This chick is sick.  You have to help it!"
He held out his hand and there was a very limp baby chick in his hand.  I looked at his hand and thought, "That chick is dead."

I could see from his eyes that he was panicked.

"I said, "Oh, baby, I'm so sorry."

He started crying.

"I said, "Did you squeeze him too hard? You have to hold them so carefully and be so gentle with them."

And he said, "I was just trying to squeeze all the poop out of them before I held him.  I didn't want him to poop in my hand."

"Oh, honey... it's a quail, not a Gogurt!"

Some catch up...

Drumroll, please...

Twenty-three years after I started, I finally have my Bachelor's Degree in Business with a minor in Information Technology Management.

Feels amazing to have that one off my Nagging List of Things I Never Finished.

So here's some stories from my kids to catch you up.

March 2014

"Sophia just told me she's not a turtle.  She says she's too big to fit in a shell and that this is her home."

___
was out running errands with the kids.  Nathan grabbed a pair of sunglasses, put them on and said, 'Now my name is Johnny Fabulous."

June 2014

Me: "Sophia, stop screaming"
Sophia:  "I not screaming.  I louding."
____
I was watching How to Train Your Dragon with Nathan.  There's that scene where Hiccup is trying to get the wild dragon to warm up to him and he finally gets to the point where he puts his hand out.  The dragon pauses for a minute, and then reaches out and touches Hiccup's hand and then flies off.

Nathan turned to me and said," Did you see that?  It was like the dragon said, "Well, that was a pleasant little moment.  I'm going to go now."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Presentation from BYU Women's Conference Last Year

Topic: Define Ourselves by Divine Qualities: Measuring Our Worth the Lord's Way:  Worldly influences shape our idea of beauty and womanhood causing us to compare ourselves, set unrealistic goals, and spend our energy on counterfeit sources of self-worth.  How can we recognize these false standards?  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "I want you to be proud you are a woman.  I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you really are."  Where does genuine self-worth come from?  How can understanding our divine worth strengthen our self-worth?

On the day that I received the invitation to speak here, I was also notified that we had been selected to adopt a daughter.  Sophia is three and was born in China.  She was born without a left hand, meaning her arm stops below her elbow.  This was caused by amniotic fibers getting wrapped around her developing arm while she was in utero.  Those fibers and her growing form fought for space and control and eventually the fibers won.  Her forearm and hand weren't able to develop.  She will forever bear the signs of that battle before she was born. 

Things aren't easy for girls born in China.  Things are even worse for disabled girls born in China.   On the day she was born, she was abandoned - written off as not worth it by a society that places emphasis on healthy, male children.

But Sophia is tenacious.  To survive orphanage life, you have to be.  She's a fighter and that's what kept her alive and it carries her through her daily life.   She is happy and cheerful.  She sings and dances and bounces with joy most of the time. Watching her struggle to pick things up or pull herself up, it's obvious that she's completely unaware that she's missing a hand.  She doesn't know she's different and she doesn't know what life would be like with two hands, so she's really not fazed by missing one.

As she grows, Sophia will be notified of her differences - in glances, in whispers and blatant comments from others.  As her mother, I worry that she'll lose that innate cheerfulness and that she will become preoccupied with why she's different; why she was adopted; why she was abandoned; and why God didn't see fit to give her another hand.  In the meantime, we're just rejoicing in having her dynamic personality in our home.  My son is thrilled to be a big brother and I don't think my husband will be more pleased this year than he was when he taught her that the correct response to the question "who are you" is the answer "Daddy's girl". 

Sometimes it’s easier for us to look at someone like Sophia and think that “Oh, I’ll bet God gave her that body so her eternal spirit could learn something special” than it is for us to remember that the same statement is true for each of us.  My body is a custom-built teaching environment for my soul.  God sent me to this earth in a body that allows me to experience the world differently than anyone else around me.  My height, my scoliosis, my infertility, my mental health, my FMS, my relationships, and my experiences all combine together to create the incubator that Heavenly Father knew was best for my spirit if I let Him use them for my good.

The funny thing about Earth Life is that we're here to try to remember, to try to figure out what Heavenly Father already knows about us.  The God of the entire universe, He who knows the beginning from the end, did not send us down here to fail.  He sent us here with perfect knowledge that we could do this, that this test was not only achievable but that it is in our eternal best interests.  He knows that we are absolutely capable of succeeding.  He's so confident at our chances for success that He authorized eight year old children to make eternal covenants with Him.  They can’t even blow their own noses and He lets them make covenants.  He knows we can do this.  We, personally, need to find that out for ourselves. 

Long ago, before we were born, you and I were also involved in a battle.  Our bodies are the sign of that battle – they’re a token of what we endured, what we fought for and what we won.  We don't remember the details but 1/3 of our spiritual siblings were cast out.  CAST. OUT.  That's not "kindly shown the door and asked to take their bad attitude elsewhere."  CAST. OUT.  I don't think it's possible for us to fully grasp what it meant for them to choose to follow the other plan.  But the part you should keep in mind is that you are here.  You have a body.  You won.  Your body says that you, too, are a fighter; you're a warrior and you can do this.

I don't know the details of that battle in heaven, but I do know that Satan is forever trying to bring us down to his level make us “miserable like unto himself”.  Our bodies are one of the tools he tries to utilize.  The very symbol of our triumph incenses him and he attempts to thwart our forward progression.  In the universal spirit of balance, Christ is the Rock of Our Salvation and Satan is the Wet Cement of our Doom.  Somehow, even though he has never had a body himself, he seems to be able to target our thoughts about ourselves and our bodies to try to break our will and have us surrender, stop, or quit.  He makes it an easy mental leap from “there are things about my body or life that I’d like to change” to “I have no worth.”

Perhaps he's still smarting over not "measuring up" the first time, but Satan would like us to focus on perceived measures and feel that we're “not good enough”.  The world we live in, like Satan, is preoccupied with measures - the size of your paycheck, the size of your waist, the size of your house are all used to indicate success and worth in Satan's world.  The messages of what the world thinks we should be doing or who it thinks we should be are loud, frequent and pummel our very souls. 

You and I have been warned about these things.  We sat through the YW lessons and we got that message.  We learned that the world would have us be prideful and that this keeps us from the Lord. 
We, as good Mormon women, know that it's wrong to judge others or to treat others as if they are inferior.  All that "putting yourself up on a pedestal" and thinking you're better than everyone else - we won't do that.  That's clearly wrong.  We know that's pride and self-centeredness.   We've all read The Book.  We know how well that turned out for the Lamanites. 

Yet here’s where Satan's sneaky subtle means catch us.  He would have us veer so far from being prideful that we actually start to focus on what we don't do well - you know, just to keep ourselves humble.  We tell ourselves that we need to remember our flaws to prevent ourselves from getting prideful.  In fact we honestly think we're doing the RIGHT thing by starting this list of our flaws and weak spots.  Funny how easy it is to add to that list of what we don't do well.  Maybe we aren't the shape we want to be or we don't read our scriptures as studiously as we know we could.  Maybe we can't get over our hang-ups with Visiting Teaching.  Gradually you start to notice when other people receive praise for something.  Maybe you keep a little mental tally of whether or not you are also praiseworthy in that area.  Maybe you find yourself listening a little closer to the testimony meeting, to see if the sobbing sister going through a tough time will mention that YOU, YOU helped her and when she doesn't you wonder why your service didn't find merit. 

Next Satan has us notice what others have that we lack.  Maybe it's a better job.  Maybe it's a husband. Maybe it’s a child.  Maybe it's a healthy body.  Maybe it is seemingly instantly answered prayers.  "I'm obedient.  Why don't I get what I want?”  We tell ourselves that if God loved us he'd give us what our hearts desire and bless us like he blesses Sister So-and-so.  We continue to use that sense of "measuring up" to count our blessings, or our perceived lack thereof, and try to use that to explain to ourselves how God must work- not realizing that we’re measuring Him with Satan’s measuring stick of “having equals worth”.  We look at what we want and compare it to what we don't have and find it's easy to tell ourselves that He hasn't answered our prayers because if He loved us He’d do it our way.

Then Satan has us recite that mental list to ourselves a few times. And it's funny how when you're looking for an excuse, any one will do. 

Next, we're recognizing how significant people in our lives always take advantage of us and how we're always the one left cleaning up after everyone else and how no one really understands or appreciates us anyway.  Slowly, the list of perceived wrongs seeps into our thoughts, and then our vocabulary.  It taints, poisons, and sours the way we think about ourselves, and others, and soon the way we think about God himself.  It no longer seems like a large leap of logic to hear yourself say, "God does answer prayers - just not mine.  God does reward righteousness - just not mine.  God does love his children, but he's disappointed in me.  After all, I'm disappointed in me, why wouldn't he be disappointed in me".  

So how did we make the leap from lessons in humility to spiritual chains?  How are being humble and lacking confidence different?  Elder Glen L. Pace taught that when we focus on our weaknesses – when we "wallow in weakness", if you will, we do not “allow weak things to become strong".  "Our condition is frequently misdiagnosed as humility when, in reality it is a lack of confidence". Humility is recognizing our utter dependence on the Lord.  We are aware that we do things well, that we have talents, but we don't become prideful about it because we know that everything we have is a gift from Him.  Similarly, we recognize that we have weaknesses but we realize that the Lord can help us turn those weaknesses into actual blessings; therefore we don't overly focus on them either.   As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often.”  And to quote Thomas Harris, the humble realize that "the feeling of being okay does not imply that a person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems.  It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them."  They realize that if it seems they’re being short-changed then there really must be more coming beyond the horizon of their current perspective.   The humble realize that there is a greater plan and that it will be OK because the Lord Never Cheats Anyone.  He literally cannot and the humble have faith in that. 

Lacking confidence, on the other hand, is to have low feelings of self-worth.  It's focusing on what we can't do, don't have, or haven't mastered.  We forget that we are "daughters of a Heavenly Father" - we're Heavenly Father's girls - and He loves us.  I don't mean that in a distant, noble, "He loves me because He created me and therefore He has to love me.  Otherwise it wouldn't be very godly of Him" sort of way.  I mean it like a "Daddy's girl", sort of way.  I mean it in a "rejoices in every small triumph, weeps with you when you weep, hopes you remember to call home daily" sort of way.  And just as no mother would withhold love from their newborn because they're can't seem to pass the AP Physics test, our Heavenly Father does not "start" loving you when you achieve a certain level or when you check off a certain number of "obedience points".  He loves you now, where you are, for who you are now, who you've always been, and who He knows you have the power to become.

Cunningly Satan hides that fact that pride and lack of self-worth are both rooted in self-centeredness and in an essential disrespect for God's Eternal Plan. Both deny the power of God and his ability to work good in our lives. Those who lack self-confidence become the victim of their own self-talk. They think that putting everyone else besides themselves up on a pedestal, while finding all the ways they personally don't measure up is not anywhere near the sin of pride when, in reality, both views are both embedded in self-focus:  one for what we do well, and the other side for what we think we do poorly.  And those minutes spent feeling sorry for ourselves are minutes that we will never get back for progression or forward motion or peace. 

In the spirit of measuring and distracting us from God’s Eternal Plan, Satan has us think the “lack” in this tiny part of our eternal existence is the most important thing.  He would have us focus no further than what we are “not”.  In reality, God turns all things for our good, inasmuch as we’ll let Him.  We mere mortals have a very different definition of affliction and “lack” than Heavenly Father does.  Even if we live to be 100 years old and even if we are in physical pain and even if we live alone each of those 36 thousand days, the physical pain and the loneliness isn’t the important part.  What we need to be delivered from is whether or not our reactions to, and our thoughts about, those days create a spiritual struggle that keep us from our Heavenly Father.  It’s the heavy heart, the tendency to complain, the “poor ol’ me” syndrome that’s more important.  In the Eternal Picture, it’s not as important that my life is comfortable as it is that I learn from what my life gives me.  The actual eternal damage from afflictions isn’t physical; it’s spiritual.   

While Heavenly Father and our Savior love us no matter what, the Holy Ghost cannot accept invitations to personal pity parties.  He cannot.  He cannot abide such falsehoods.  He must be where there is light and truth and honor and a serious case of the "poor old me's" is none of those.  We may find that the home we have built for our thoughts in our hearts is in such a location that we can no longer see the truth of who we are from the doorway. 

But the purpose of this life is to learn how to make choices, including how we feel about ourselves and our circumstances.  We are here to learn, and that includes how to control our thoughts.  It is never, ever too late to choose a new path or choose a new line of thinking. 

In John 9 - the Savior walks by a man who was blind from his birth.  His disciples ask him who sinned, the man or his parents, that caused the man to be born blind.  Now, mind you, it's like the disciples think he's deaf!  The man is sitting RIGHT THERE and, since he can't see anything, he's listening to everything.  And the Savior says, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be manifest in him" (See what He teaches there… things aren't perfect because God needs us to allow Him to use those things to help us become stronger.  Why is it easy to see that fact when it involves someone else - like my Sophia's lack of a hand or this man's blindness - then we can see that those trials are "a blessing from God" but when it's our own life and our own "lack" we feel picked on and slighted by the God of the entire universe?) 

Anyway… "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground." 

What a lovely word… "spat".  It's like onomatopoeia in that it sounds like what it is. "SPAT!"   Now remember, this is Christ.  He could heal this man anyway He wanted to.  But this man is blind, and as you study the rest of the chapter, you see that this man will need to testify about what was happening.  So Christ did this healing in a way that allowed the blind man participate in the healing.

 "… He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle…"

Now I don't often go around making clay out of spittle, but I'm going to guess that was a lot of spit.  Spat!  Spat!  Spat!  How close in proximity to the blind man do you think Christ was when He did that?  Do you think the blind man had been spat upon before?  Maybe the man started feeling his face to try to wipe off what he usually finds when he hears that sound… spat.  Was there a smell to the newly wet dirt used to make a clay?  That had to have an odor of some sort, right?  Now maybe the man smells something.  “What is going on?”

"…made clay of the spittle and he anointed the eyes of the blind man”… so this man, sitting, hearing these men say this not so nice things about him…hearing the fantastic response from the Savior...hearing the spit again and again, maybe…smelling the wet dirt…feeling the wet clay on his eyes…  How do you think that touch felt?  Did the Savior press it in there or just set it on his eyes? Do you think the blind man reached up and touched the Savior's arms to try to find out what was going on?  How did they feel?  What did the wet clay feel like?  How much was there?

 “…and then said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”… and the man is healed.    

The Savior could have chosen any way at all to heal that man.  There are no inherent healing proprieties the combination of spit in dirt.  Certainly clay does not restore sight.  Christ could have said, as he did on other occasions, "go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole".  But this man needed a testimony of the Savior, as you see in the rest of the chapter, and so, to prepare that one man for what was to come for him, the Savior chose a very intimate method for his healing and a very unique way for the man to participate in his healing. 

Thus it is for each of us.  There is spiritual spittle, if you will, to shed light on our every blindness.  There is tenderly placed clay for each affliction, if we chose to let the Spirit show us is it there. 

So what do we do if we can’t feel the clay on our own spiritual afflictions?  If that is the case, there is hope. 

In Helaman 5, the story is told of Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, who were cast into prison.  A group of Lamanites came to slay them and, to their surprise, Nephi and Lehi were surrounded by fire.  And the scriptures tell us that the Lamanites (Hel 5:28) "they were overshadowed by a cloud of darkness and an awful solemn fear came upon them."  Does that sound like what we've been talking about at all?  Does Satan's plan to let us talk ourselves down to an immobility of spirit sound at all like a “cloud of darkness” and maybe even “an awful solemn fear”?  The scriptures go on to say in vs. 34 that they “could not flee” because of the cloud of darkness, and also they were “immovable because of the fear which did come upon them.”  Does it ever feel like you can't move forward?  That you can't change the way you've been feeling about yourself?  That you can't break the weight of those thoughts and emotions?

The scriptures continue and explain that there was a man in the group who had been a member of the Church but fell away.  And in vs. 36, "And it came to pass that he turned him about and behold he saw through the cloud of darkness."  Isn't it interesting that they included the phrase that “he turned himself around” before he could see through the darkness.  He had to repent, to change, to turn, in this case literally, "before he could see through the darkness” brought on directly by his choices to attempt to slay Nephi and Lehi. And it says in vs. 37 that the man “did cry unto the multitude that they might turn and look” and then watch what happens, "And behold, there was power given unto them that they did turn and look"

Who gave them that power?  Did the man do it?  Did Nephi and Lehi do it?  No, it came from the Lord. And in vs. 40, like so many people in the scriptures who experience a change of heart say, these Lamanites said, "What shall we do that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?"  And what answer are they given?  "You must repent… until you have faith in Christ, and when you shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you."  

Repent??  Does that mean I'm bad?  Isn't that a bad thing?  NO. In fact, it's a commandment to repent, so if you don't repent, then you'd have to repent of not repenting and that just gets cyclical and no one really wants to go there, right?  This is why He provided a Savior - a Savior who wants to annoint your eyes that you may see yourself the way He does.  The Lord can give you the power to turn - to turn your heart, to turn your thinking, to turn the way you feel about yourself - into a way that allows you to not be paralyzed by being human.   

We seem to forget that we're mortal and that the dirt and the rocks and the trees were designed to always exactly fill the measure of their creation, but for us, He expects more.  He needs us to fail so we can rise up again.   We need to make choices so that we can see that we can choose rightly and we can hold to a course that we do deserve what He offers us (which is “everything He has”, for those of you playing along at home).

Years ago as a missionary, my companion and I were put into an area where two senior single sister missionaries had been proselyting.  They were both going home and we were moving into their area.  Our mission president had them stay an extra week to acquaint us with the area.  So my companion and I slept on the floor of the front room for that week.  We younger sister missionaries had to be up before the senior sisters.  Every morning I would try so hard to not wake Sister Anderson as I would head to the bathroom.  And every morning I would hear her soft voice say, "You can turn the light on, if you want to."  It became a game of sorts for me, to see if I could get through my morning routine without waking Sister Anderson but every morning I'd hear her soft statement, "You can turn the light on, if you want to."  I've come to know that this a great truth.  My "want to" decides if the light is on in my heart and my life, or if it is not.  The Lord does not force obedience… that was someone else's plan.  I can turn the light on, even in how I feel about my own self, if I want to.  He is the switch for that light.  “Ask and ye shall receive”.  And don’t hesitate to include a medical professional in that asking and seeking.  Medicine is a blessing of the age in which we live.

A final story.  Right after I returned from my mission, I had the opportunity to serve at the Open House for the Mount Timpanogos Temple.  When I showed up for my volunteer shift, the worker that was coordinating which volunteers would be in which locations asked me if I was married.  I must have been a little too obvious with my, "No!  No!  I just got home from my mission!" because he kind of smiled at me and said, "I know just where we're going to put you."  He led me to the Bride's Room in the temple… and turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “I think you'll find this room to be quite comfortable for you."

He explained to me some features about the room, the beautiful stained glass window and the chandelier, just in case someone asked questions.   Then he said, "Before I leave you to your post, I want to tell you something.  Come with me."

That temple’s Bride's Room has "eternity mirrors" on the walls, reflecting their image back and forth seemingly forever.  He stood in front of the mirror and gestured for me to stand beside him.  

I have to admit, I probably rolled my eyes a bit internally. I was sure I knew where this was going, but I took my spot next to him and looked at our image in the mirror.

"What do you see?" he asked.

"I can see forever..." I said, while thinking, "Yeah, I've heard all the Young Women's Lessons.  I know what you're going to say."

He said, “Can you really?  Can you see me forever?"

I looked at our image again and said, "Yes, I can see you forever."

"Can you see YOU forever?" he asked.

I looked at the mirror again and was surprised with my own answer.  "No." I said.  "I can't see me forever."

He smiled knowingly.  "Oh, really?  Why can't you see yourself forever?" he asked.

I looked at the mirror again and studied our reflection.  "I'm standing in my own way." I said.

"Exactly", he said.  "YOU are standing in your own way."

He continued, "THIS is what I want you to remember about the temple, about mirrors, and about eternity. We create eternal marriages because we all need someone who can help when our own vision is blocked.  We need an eternal companion because we forget who we are.  We forget that we're our Heavenly Father's sons and daughters.  We lose sight of our own potential and our path.  Just as you can see me reflected forever, we all need someone that can see who we can become and our capabilities; someone who can remember who we really are when we, ourselves, forget.  

“However, if you don't get where you want to be - if you don't reach your full potential, it will be because YOU stood in your own way.  You are responsible for your choices and what you do with your life.  You have no one to blame but yourself if you don't become your best self.  Others are there to help you along the path, but the travel is up to you."

We may not all marry in this small portion of our eternal existence but the Lord never cheats anyone.  We ALL have One who knows us perfectly, who knows exactly what we are, what we were, what we always have been and what we'll be.  Before you dare think “that doesn’t count” remember that’s the God of the Universe to whom you are referring.  When we forget who we are, when we lose sight of our own potential and path, there is One there who is waiting for us to want to turn on the light, who will anoint our eyes, and who will help us turn our hearts until we, too, can see ourselves as Heavenly Father's girls. 

Remember that he could have chosen any name or title for Himself.  He could have forbidden us to mention His name at all.  Instead He chose for you to call Him Father.  He hopes and wants you to speak to Him, invites you to discuss concerns, and potential solutions with Him – multiple times per day.  You, as His daughter, have those membership privileges.

In the words of Neal A Maxwell, "It’s extremely important for you to believe in yourselves, not only for what you are now, but for what you have the power to become. Trust in the Lord as He leads you along. He has things for you to do that you won’t know about now, but that will be revealed later. If you stay close to Him, you will have some great adventures… the Lord will unfold your future bit by bit."


I know this earth life is painful.  I know it's hard, but you’re Heavenly Father’s girl and you can do this.  At the end of the day, I know the Lord Never Cheats Anyone.  Ask and ye shall receive.  He will help you turn the light on in your own life.  I testify that this is true.

So many little things I haven't blogged about

Miss Sophia turned 4 in January.  We just had the grandparents and our neighbors over.  She was so thrilled with every present.

My parents gave her a doll cradle and when she unwrapped the bundle and saw what it was, she nearly squealed as she said, "It's a baby laydown!" and ran to her room to get a baby doll to put in it.  So cute!

_______

The other night, Nathan came up to me and said, "I know she's out there, Mom."  I said, "Who?" and he said, "The girl I love."

He's so very sweet with his sister and they play together really well.  He's also just a funny kid.

The other day I was doing some school work on a Saturday morning.  I was aware that Nathan was spreading out this blanket of his on the floor and that he seemed to be redoing it a lot, but I wasn't really paying attention.

I was then vaguely aware that he put his hoodie jacket and a pair of shoes and a couple of toys in the blanket and then he spent about 10 minutes folding and unfolding and refolding them into the blanket.

Then, I was a bit more aware when he said, "Well, see ya!' and headed out the door.

I sat there, stunned for a moment, as I realized that he wasn't folding... he was PACKING.

So I went to the door and out to the street.  He was headed down the road, was already a couple houses down, with his carefully wrapped bundle under his arm.

I called him back home.

"What are you doing, Nate?"

With excitement in his eyes, he said, "I'm going off to have an adventure!"

I explained again about how Mamas always need to know where you are and that you really do have to ask before you choose your own adventure like that, but that I was proud of him for thinking through what he'd need for his little journey.
________


Friday, October 11, 2013

Calm Down

As I'm sitting here, catching up posts, I'm reminded that one day several months ago, I was sitting in the living room and I heard Nathan say, "Calm down, Nathan.  Just calm down."

I looked up and he was standing on the countertop, facing the couch in the living room (it's a great room sort of thing - there's only a walkway width between them).  He was trying to convince himself that he could jump from the counter to the couch successfully.

He did end up doing it, but it was really cute to hear him talk himself through it.

And here's a more recent picture.  The night after school pictures, Brent gave him a mohawk of sorts.  He was so excited.  We went over to my parents' house to show them and he has one of my dad's chameleon's on his head.
 And, here's a picture of his school picture.  He's a handsome boy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Robot Hand

Took the kids to the store.

When we got out of the car, Nathan was  wearing one winter snow glove.

"Nathan, what are you doing?"

"Mama, shh... I want people to see me and think, 'Oh!  That boy has a robot hand."

Who can argue with that opportunity?

Sure enough, a few times as we went through the store, he's whisper, "Mama, that guy's looking at me.  I'll bet he's thinking I have a robot hand."

Yeah, something like that...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baby Doll

Miss S has a baby doll that's her favorite.  I need to get her to hold still long enough to take a picture, but that's not the point of this story.

The point of the story is that she named her baby doll "Disney Jr." which means that she rocks it in her arms, while singing, "Dis-Nee- JR".

We might watch too much TV 'round here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Broken

.... Three weeks ago, N and Miss S were jumping on the trampoline in the backyard.  They do this daily and they really do take joy in playing together.  They've invented a game where our two dogs are bad guys and they laugh their heads off jumping on the trampoline while squeeking a dog toy to make the dogs bark and run around and around the trampoline.

This time was different.

Nathan soon came rushing in, yelling that Miss S was hurt.

When I reached the backyard, she was SCREAMING.

I'll note here that while I was carefully lifting her off the trampoline (she didn't fall off - we have a surround... she landed on the trampoline strangely), Nathan went in the house, got a Ziploc bag and filled it with ice.  He's a good helper.

Long story getting shorter, she broke her ONE ARM quite severely.


We ended up having emergency surgery at Primary Children's Medical Center later that night and they put three pins in to put the head of her humorous back into place.


She looks so tiny in that big bed....

This was after her surgery as I was getting her settled into her room.  The sweet nurses gave her a little kitty with his arm bandaged, too.  

She had a very rough night.  Didn't fall asleep until like 4 AM.  But, after a few hours of sleep, she was back to being herself.

In the mirror the next morning, "That's me!", she said as she sang and danced with her reflection - just like nothing had happened.


A few days later, she had her hard cast put on.  It's PINK and she loves that.




She's been a trooper.  Can't feed herself or do anything really.

"Tan you feed me?  I tan't do yit".

(As a side note, Nate just saw the above picture (with him in the background) and said, "Look.  I'm making her sling into my pretend satchel".  I'd already forgotten that.  Sometimes the words he uses... )

If she's healed well when she sees the surgeon this week, her cast will come off (a concept that she was very worried about because she remembers that the cast made it feel better).





Monday, October 7, 2013

Pop

Miss S has had a rough time of sorts.

Mind you, she's still happy, busy and did I mention, happy.  She sings.  She dances.  She loves gymnastics class (Nathan goes to gymnastics, too and is getting some mad kick-over skills).

Sometime mid-summer, I picked her up by her ONE ARM.  It's one of those things that you know you're not supposed to do, but you have something in your hand and you think it will be fine.  You know what I mean.

There was a cry in pain.  Lots of crying in pain.  It was awful.

Took her to the Instacare and they checked her over and determined that I'd probably popped her elbow out and said all was well now.

She was still terribly uncomfortable.  I gave her a bath later that evening, and was gingerly patting off her arm.  I very careful wrapped the towel around her arm and, in the process of drying her off, I rotated her wrist and it POPPED.

She jumped in surprise and then said, "OH!  Thank you, Mama!".

It hadn't been her elbow that was popped out - it was her wrist and now it felt much better.

I felt terrible about it.

She seemed to know I felt terrible about it.  She kept bringing it up.  At dinner, she's say, "Guess what!  Mama pick me up and, 'POP" my wrist hurt."

The clincher was when she walked into the room one day, holding her baby doll by one arm.  She lifted her up and said, 'Look, Mama, I'm hurting her wrist."

Delightful.  I get it.  I was stupid,  I"m ten thousand times sorry that I was stupid.

But that was only a small thing compared to what was to come....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Birthday - N turns 6

Nathan turned 6 this past summer.  He was so excited to be growing up and could hardly wait for his birthday to come.

A couple of things I want to remember about this birthday for him:

The night before his birthday he said, 'Tomorrow, I'm six.  Does that mean my hands are going to get bigger?"

Somehow over night, this concept solidified with him.

When he woke up in the morning, he stumbled to the bathroom and I heard him exclaim, "I can see more of me in the mirror!" (because he was obviously taller overnight.  Then he came down the hall and stumbled again and I heard him say, "My balance isn't good yet because now I'm taller."

For his birthday, he received several Legos and he was thrilled.

Mama took the day off and Nathan and I rode the train to Salt Lake together.  Daddy and Sophia met us at the Children's Museum and we spent the afternoon there.
Then we came home to dinner with Grandmas, Grandpas, TiTi and Colly, and our neighbors.

And one point during the day, Nathan looked at me and said, "This is the best birthday ever!"




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Symbiosis

N: "Mom, what does symbiosis mean?"

Me:  "Symbiosis?  Where'd you hear that?"

N (incredulous): "Where'd I hear it?  I just said it!  Listen and I'll hear it again: symbiosis"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Leg Bone's Connected to the WHAT?

Nathan's favorite food is "chicken with the bones in it", as he calls fried chicken.

We had some KFC the other night and he had a drumstick with something sort of tendon-y on it.

"Mama, is this the chicken's crotch because it tastes disgusting!"

Friday, July 26, 2013