Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

This is the time of year where I miss my mom the most. Last night was the General Relief Society broadcast. Think General Conference for women only. ( The men have their own broadcast on Saturday evening of Conference weekend.) Our family tradition is to go out to dinner beforehand and attend the RS broadcast together. Usually it was Mom, twin sis, and me. Sometimes we added a sis-in-love or a neighbor. But it was our time to be together. As much as I loved attending this session with my ward sisters (and the hilarious dessert-fest after, wow were we LOUD!), I still miss having that time with my mom.

This Sabbath I am grateful for:

The Relief Society Broadcast. For those of you who saw it, wasn't it fabulous?! For those of you who didn't see it, check it out here. My favorite was Elder Uchtdorf's talk, although the rest tied for a close second.

My Relief Society sisters. They have cheered on my running goals. They lifted me up during my darkest hours when we first got the go-ahead for The Love Magnet's heart surgery. These sisters (and bless their hearts, they are indeed sisters) are a force to be reckoned with. If something needs to be done, they will do it. If you don't let them know what needs to be done, they will find something.

That Secondborn is so self-motivated. I have been stressing about my other children when it comes to school. Secondborn needs no monitoring. He gets things done and aims for top grades. I try to tell him as often as possible how proud I am of him and his efforts. (He is still beating me in the grades department but I am slowly moving upwards. I'm still in the race.)

Our pediatrician. I took Thirdborn in for a physical to make sure we had a clean slate before our meeting on Monday. Ped. Dr. suggested another ped. dr. who focuses solely on testing for learning disabilities. Our ped dr. said that if Thirdborn was his child, this is what he would do. How can I argue with that? Our dr. has really been on top of things. He also recommended another cardiologist for The Love Magnet, since the local cardiologist that PCMC recommended hasn't returned our calls.

Sunday morning waffles. (I know, a tiny blip of nothing in the great plan of the universe. But Sunday morning waffles makes my family happy. I find a lot of joy in making my family happy with my cooking.) Whoops......Mr. Wonderful just reminded me that its Fast Sunday - after we ate the waffles.

Going back to school. I'm really enjoying the challenge. Yes, A&P is giving me stress, but its still fascinating. I firmly believe more and more while studying this that there is no way the human race happened by chance. There is some incredible engineering that has gone into designing our bodies. Our Heavenly Father is a genius.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Important High School Stuff

The Love Magnet: "Mom, where is my high school stuff?"

Me: "Ummmm, high school stuff?"

The Love Magnet: "Moooom, I need it! I school stuff!"

Me: "?" (I am completely clueless here)


The Love Magnet: "Mom, I find my high school stuff."

She is carrying a sparkly pink butterfly purse and my old cell phone without the battery. There is also a blue raspberry flavored lip balm in there. All the important high school stuff my 6 year old Love Magnet could possibly need.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monsters In The Dark

I can not remember when I first became afraid of the dark as a child. I only remember it as my first fear. It must have occurred when I would see snippets of scenes on television of dark, scary houses with monsters hiding in them. I then equated the dark with monsters hiding in wait to catch me. I would constantly have nightmares about running from unseen monsters, knowing that I was just about to die.

I hated the bedtime ritual as I knew that when it was done I would be left in the dark. I felt incapacitated when my parents would turn the light of my room out at night. To rationalize this fear, my child mind created a complete set of rules about the monsters in the dark:

1. Monsters hide from adults. When adults came into the room, monsters disappeared. When I just knew that my doom was near, I would call out to my parents who would come in, turn on the light, and try to convince me that there was no such thing as monsters in my room.

2. Monsters can only come out when it is dark. Light poisons them. If I could some how turn on the light, I would be safe. Often I would insist on sleeping with my light turned on. Sometimes I would hide a flashlight under my pillow.

3. Monsters can not find me if I am hiding under the blankets. If so much as a toe stuck out from under the blanket, then the monsters would find me. I learned to sleep with blankets over my head. It was smothering and unpleasant but a necessary safety precaution.

4. The darker the space, the more monsters there are in the space. The darkest room in the house was the freezer room, a room with no windows located at the end of the hall in the darkest part of the basement. I would only go there if I turned on the light in the basements stairs, the hall light and the lights in the room across from the freezer room.

5. Monsters could only get me if I was alone. Since I am a twin, this is the rule that saved me the most. Twins are rarely alone. Where I went, my sister would follow. We kept each other safe. We shared a room so I determined that this rule only worked if she was awake. If my parents did not come to my rescue, I would wake my sister instead.

Just like Watson’s experiment with Little Albert showed that Albert’s fear grew to encompass more than the white rat, the monster culture that I invented grew with every scary movie that I viewed. Adaptations of scenes would merge with my thinking. My dreams would occur more often and be more frightening.

As I grew older these rules would weaken as I learned more about family dynamics: My parents would not always come when I called. My twin sister did not like to be woken out of a deep sleep, nor did she like to sleep with the lights on. I noticed that no one else in my family had to turn on every single light in a dark hall, nor did they seem afraid to go to the freezer room by themselves. No one was attacked or eaten by monsters.

By the time I was a teen, I knew that monsters did not exist. It did not change my attitude completely. While I was not afraid of the dark, I still did not like it. Some of my rituals stayed the same. At bedtime I would turn out the light and immediately pull the covers up to my chin (rather than completely over my head). I would close my eyes and refuse to open them. I knew this behavior was silly but the habits were entrenched in me.

These habits finally changed when I was an adult with my own children. Now I have no problem walking down a dark hall to check on my sleeping children. I don’t bother to turn on the lights. I can sleep with no covers. I still have nightmares with monsters, but they usually entail me saving my family from monsters, attacking the monsters with weapons and being angry that they would dare threaten my children.

The conditioned fear response hasn’t completely left. I hate scary movies. If I do watch one, I can’t get a restful sleep for weeks. But I can still move around in the dark. Perhaps it is my role as a parent and a protector that gives me courage.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idiots who cheat

I am ticked.

My A&P exam was done on Blackboard (from home computer) and open book. I didn't get that great of a score but managed to score better than class average.

An unidentifiable number of students found a way to cheat by taking the test together on their laptops and sharing answers or else watching someone else take the test so they would know the questions.

Some were caught.

Now the A&P prof has declared that test null. Instead that test will be divided into four parts and a part added onto each of the remaining four tests. Instead of open book tests, the tests will be given in the classroom with no books/notes allowed.

I'm not the only one who's livid. When the prof announced this in class tonight, the people around me were wanting to find out the names of those who had been caught so we could surround them in the parking lot. I am not sure if the cheaters were kicked out of class. or better yet, kicked out of school. I hope so.

I am willing to bet that the remaining cheating idiots (who were not caught) feel no remorse. Thanks, people. You made things more difficult for the rest of us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes (on a Monday)

Its seems that despite my study of the wrong text.....I aced my Psych test. Overflowing gratitude here (and a big Snoopy happy dance). I also received an A on my first Psych paper. While my A&P test is not an A, I am still above the class average. Too bad its not graded on the curve.

Gratitude for every aching muscle in my legs. (They were so sore on Sunday that I am sure I was a funny sight trying to hobble up and down the stairs of the stand so I could sit by my family during the talks and special musical number of Sacrament meeting.) Those aches mean I have muscles that work. Those aches mean that I can improve. Those muscles mean I am still so proud that I ran the entire hill! (Truly, I will quit patting myself on the back tomorrow. Maybe.)

While we're at it, I'm grateful for all of you who cheered my 5K with me through blog comments, emails, shoutouts and phone calls. It meant the world to me that you were excited, too.

I'm grateful for my running partners. The 5K was not the end. We are meeting tonight.

Mr. Wonderful took me out for a nice dinner date at what is now my new fave restaurant. Quiet. Classy. Awesome food. (Hey twin sis, we have a new place to visit when next you come.) I wasn't hungry all day after the race. That changed pretty quick when the waiter brought out appetizers. We shared the night with my Uncle and Auntie who live here. Good company to match the good food.

Today I took Thirdborn and The Love Magnet to the hospital for blood work. The Love Magnet never cries over blood work. She took it without a peep and was excited to dig through the prize basket afterwards. Thirdborn (surprisingly) didn't cry either. He is getting so grown up about things like this. His blood work was precursor to a physical this week to make sure he's healthy before we start with the big meeting next week about his struggles in school. I'm grateful that we have the facilities and the insurance to do this.

On Sunday, Thirborn had been asked to read a scripture and say the prayer at the end of Primary. We found a simple scripture and had him memorize it. Thirdborn still insisted on carrying his scriptures up to the podium to read from it before he said the closing prayer. I had been worried given the problems he has been having at school. He did this assignment just fine. He really needed that boost to his confidence. I am so grateful that it went well.

I'm grateful that Firstborn had a good swim practice week. It looks like he will be able to swim his specialty at his next meet after all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
- John "The Penguin" Bingham

Rain. POURING RAIN. As in "climb aboard Noah's ark" rain. We were soaked over an hour before race started. Last night the weather guy said the low temp would be 61. Nope. More like 45 degrees. There I stood in my usual running shorts and top, really wishing I had warmer gear or at least a hat or poncho. Some women were carrying umbrellas. Every time the lightning would strike and the thunder rolled the women would cheer. Some guy proposed to his girlfriend before the race started. More cheering. If we weren't so cold it would have been a wild party.

Did I mention that they were expecting 16,000 women at this event? Picture 16,000 women dancing to "Let's Get Loud" and "We Are Family" - not just to psych us up, but to keep warm while waiting to start.

I was completely soaked before my wave started. Running in squishy shoes is different. I made it up the hill with no problem. I did walk for 20 seconds after that and then 20 seconds again before the big down hill on the final mile.

Time: 36:04

Not the 35:00 I was aiming for. But I can't complain about the time. I did my best. Now I have a baseline time to beat next year.

Oh, yeah, I am doing this again. I called K (who is at Disney World right now) to let her know my time. She left a little gift for me to wear during the race - a little pewter running pendant. I told her that it would be my good luck charm for all my races. K told me of a 1/2 marathon she is running in October. She said they also have a 5K.

Sign me up.

I am officially a runner.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Raising Love for Nie

You 'd have to be hiding under a blogging rock if you haven't heard of Nie.

Navel Gazing is putting together a book about funny blogging entries. She wants you. Literally. Send her your funny blogs, shamelessly promote her blog book. All proceeds will benefit Nie and her recovery. Check it out here.

I sent in a few. They might only be funny to me. We shall see.

When was the last time you set a goal? I triple-dog-dare you to make one right now....

A real honest to goodness goal. The kind that takes a while and a lot of sacrifice.

A few months ago I would have said that the last time I set a goal was .........a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Back when I was a young woman working on my Personal Progress (do they even do that anymore in YW? I've been in Primary and Music callings for so long that I would not know.)

Tomorrow is the end of a goal I set back in June. Thirteen weeks worth of work. I started out as a couch potato, running 2 minutes and walking 2 minutes and wondering how I would survive. Now I am a runner who can run a 5K in 35 minutes. Which is a good thing because tomorrow I have to run a 5K in 35 minutes or less.

I've lost 3 pant sizes and 1 shirt size. I've lost 5 lbs (which doesn't make sense to me either, but hey, I look better). I now look forward to exercise - never saw that one coming! I feel so much better about myself. I've made some really good girlfriends. My confidence has grown.

I'm appreciating this goal-making much more than I ever did as a YW. I'm thinking the RS should start a program of writing down goals. I'll get through my race tomorrow and return and report. Then I will spend some of my Sabbath making new goals.

Do you have goals?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please Excuse My Pity Party For The Next Ten Minutes

Today's Anatomy & Physiology test wasn't pretty. I knew the organic chemistry would be hard but I also struggled with the lecture I missed about organic molecules, monosaccharides, disaccharides, polysaccharides, triglycerides, fatty acids...... (sigh).

When I took the first level of anatomy (at a different school) I aced the class. This A&P lecture class is a real big kick in my ego. Yet again I have a high appreciation for my mom (the nurse), my brother-in-love who is finishing his residency right now, and anyone else who had to take uber-high levels of medical classes (and would find my A&P class a piece of cake right now.) Mr. Wonderful would find this class a piece of cake and (I think) is a bit jealous of my opportunity. He has been out of town and unable to tutor me. No more out of town for Mr. Wonderful when I have exams coming. I won't let him leave.

Obviously I am going to have to come up with a better plan for study. As it is right now, Secondborn will be winning the "Choose The Family Vacay" contest with his straight A's unless I get it in gear. My only consolation is that my A&P prof will be deleting the worst test off of my final grade. That means I have a second chance. That means I will be attending every single tutorial available. That means I am actually considering whether or not to get a Franklin Planner of sorts to really schedule out my time. I am a free spirit with poor organizational skills - at least when it comes to.....well.....nearly everything.

I feel good about my Lab test coming up as well as Art. My next Pych exam will go much better now that I am literally on the same page with the rest of the class. There is a writing lab on campus where (I've just found out) I can email my upcoming Comm and Psych papers for review and suggestions.

In the meantime, my head really hurts. My ego hurts. For some reason my hip socket hurts, too. I missed my final training run last night because of it. I sure hope its better before Saturday. I would be so disappointed if, after 13 weeks of training for this goal, I can't run.

Grumpy Girl is going to take a break for a bit before I work on my Psych paper about fear. And put together a lasagna for dinner. And fold the last load of laundry. And scrub the tub.

I think I deserve a foot rub tonight.
Mormons Going Veggie

I've been invited to be a contributor at Mormons Going Veggie (see it here or click on the link on the right). No, I am not going completely vegetarian (my kids my try to take over the cooking duties if I did that.....wait....that might be a good thing). I do cook vegetarian 2-3 times a week. I like the ideas posted on this new blog. Its been fun to go onto the other contributors blogs to learn about them.

Check it out. Try the recipes. Leave a comment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Running update:

Final countdown to the 5K this Saturday. Tonight's run wasn't timed but I feel that we ran at a good clip. Still stopped at the end of each mile to walk one minute, although I felt that I could have kept running. It was gorgeous tonight and I felt great. The walking is definitely a mental thing. I need to get over that. If Mr. Wonderful can make it to the 5K, I will have him take pictures. I have heard through the family grapevine that my daddy can not wrap his head around the idea of my running. (I know, Daddy. Shocks me, too. I no longer grand jete down the street........I really run.)

I realized tonight that I need to make another goal after this 5K is over. I don't want to waste the effort it took to come this far. I'll have to aim for a 10K in the spring. There are more 5Ks to run this fall, too. I am definitely loving this cooler weather.

I'd like to start swimming, too. Why not? After all Mr. Wonderful is the mild-mannered alter-ego of Aquaman. Not sure where to find the time to swim........

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

Just when I think that Life can not get crazier, it laughs at me and goes wild. What I am grateful for this week:

Sunday is a day of rest (and that my parents were really adamant during my upbringing about what was okay and what was not okay in keeping the Sabbath holy). I kept supper prep simple (supper bombed today - it turns out that we are not cube steak people. No on likes the texture. At least there were garden veggies, potatoes and gravy, and corn-on-the-cob. Dear Doggie Girl got the meat - and was thrilled. Won't be buying that stuff again). It was nice to be back in church after two weeks off.

I also got to sub in The Love Magnet's primary class today. It was eye opening. There were some comments about Lauren by the other kids that were surprising (and a bit hurtful to me). I asked them to repeat what they said......they weren't willing to once they realized that I heard. I explained to the kids that my daughter needs extra time to learn things and that it would be a really great help if they would all be examples for her. I'm grateful that I could handle it in what I hope was a positive way. I'll be attending next week to see how things go.

Nice neighbors. My next door neighbor has a daughter in New Zealand. She sent him various seeds from NZ to try in her garden. Dear Next Door Neighbor knows that Mr. Wonderful's family is from NZ so DNDN delights in bringing us the NZ veggies. (Today we ate a New Zealand cucumber with our dinner.) They keep an eye out for our house when we are out of town. Mrs. DNDN brings treats for the kids. They include us in their prayers and we include them in ours. They are good people.

Thirdborn's school teacher. This woman is really on top of things. I've asked her to call a meeting so we could meet the entire team and make decisions concerning Thirdborn for the school year. He has started to be teased (mildly, I don't think there is really malicious intent here) by class mates about his reading skills. Mild or not, it is affecting my son. Teacher and I have swapped emails to keep up to date with each other. Mr. Wonderful and I are worried about our son. We're not sure where things are going, but we are thrilled and relieved to have Thirdborn's teacher on our side.

That The Love Magnet is doing well in school. Mr. Occupational Therapist mentioned this past week how much of a difference in her work that he could see which had to be a result of the heart surgery. We can't explain it, but she is doing so much better at everything. Except for the occasional bad words, she seems to being doing well. She loves gym class, music, library, and computers. She loves-loves-LOVES her teacher and her aides. Everyone has really worked hard to make these first few weeks of full-day school successful.

That Mr. Wonderful is a great A&P tutor. He will be a great math tutor (I've got to take that placement test soon and I dread it.) He has also been a great sounding board. I've really got to stop taking advantage of him like that.)

The weather has been good for running. This is my finally training week. Only two more runs and then a rest before the big race this weekend. I can't believe I am doing this.

Firstborn had his first swim meet of the year. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it between going to school and heading to Parent Night at Secondborn's school. But he did fairly well. This past week he saw the backstroke and beat everyone on his team. I am now hoping that his coach will stick him on backstroke and really let him shine. (He was so proud of the fact that he finished that far ahead of the rest of his team in practice.)

That Secondborn's teachers all love him. He is doing so well in school. He really loves math and science and is looking forward to World Civilizations. I told him I wanted to study that with him. His teachers were all impressive to me. I thought their curriculum was fascinating. One teacher hunts petroglyphs during her summer breaks. I wonder how she will include that in her teaching this year.

My parents have a date to come home from their mission!!!! They will be spending a week in France (they certainly deserve that) before coming home. I wont' be able to see them until the following weekend. If the weather is bad, I might have to wait until Thanksgiving to see them. I hope the weather cooperates. I am missing my mom and daddy. Check out their blog for the latest.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I went to the Bookstore to return my text. They weren't quite sure what to do with me - my Prof had not called yet.

The guy helping me was gone a long time to talk to his supervisor. She came out to ask questions. No, I did not have the receipt (I wasn't planning on returning the book.) No, I didn't know the name of the guy who helped me the first time. I could give a description, if they wanted it. As I ran through the features of not-so-helpful-after-all Bookstore guy, recognition appeared on their faces. They knew exactly who I was talking about. And they were not happy.

Either somebody was playing a really poor joke on his last day working, or he is going to be fired this weekend. I'm not sure. Whatever they were thinking, I have a feeling that this guy has been/is/will be fired.

Now I have a new Psych book. No grade on the test yet. I'll see what happens and then talk to my Psych Prof. In the meantime, I have a lot of A&P to review: bonding- types and their importance, Ph scales and body fluids and how its all derived, Macromolecules and everything about them, Organelles and their functions, Plasma membranes, osmosis and tonicity, and all the vocabulary. Yup. Brain mush.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I REALLY need a punching bag. I was wondering why I was struggling so much in Psych class. Today was our first exam and it wasn't pretty. Turns out that the university book store GAVE ME THE WRONG BOOK! When I approached the prof. after I finished the exam to determine that I had the wrong book, he told me that the bookstore has done that to other students in his class (I make student #5, which makes me feel less stupid than if I were the lone stupid student). He will be calling the bookstore to demand that they refund my money in full and get me the right book. I don't know if I will be allowed to retake the test. I will be emailing him next to see what my options are. No wonder the reading was going so slow and didn't seem to follow his lectures directly. If it were my mistake, I would just bite the bullet and go on, but the bookstore did pick it out for me (they said they were making sure I had the right book, as there was some confusion about which book went with which class).

I did not need this stress today.
My Brain Is Mush

As I have tried to balance homework and study with housework, soccer practices and games, church callings, kids homework, training for my 5K (one week from Saturday!) and the Grand Central Station busyness of my phone ringing: I am feeling overwhelmed.

I had a Psych paper due last Tuesday and my first Psych exam today. Tons of study planned for this weekend for a Anatomy & Physiology Lecture exam next week followed by another Psych paper, A&P lab exam, and my first Art exam the following week.

I have been on my knees a lot the past week, asking for help to remember what I study (especially A&P), and for the ability to do everything I need to.

Things aren't getting done around the house as I am still learning how to juggle. Mr. Wonderful has been awfully patient. Last night, after listening to me vent about everything, he reminded me that things would not get easier, but that my ability to handle things would increase. I sure hope that happens soon.

In the meantime, my brain is mush. I feel like I am not retaining much. Tomorrow I will be attending the A&P tutorial available at school. Mr. Wonderful has offered to help me study this weekend. We have a datenight planned to hopefully help the two of us de-stress. We also have soccer games, 5K training, housework to catch up, swim training, .....I'm sure something else will pop up. The Love Magnet has been begging for dance or gymnastic classes. I have no idea when I can fit that in, too. She needs something.

I am looking forward more and more to keeping the Sabbath holy. I really need that day of rest.
(Okay, truly I will get off this pity party. I know there are other moms out there much more busy than I am. I know there are moms that have many more challenges that I do. Sunday will be a good day to really count my blessings.)

One blessing I just have to count right now: two days ago my trainer Kaidree and my running partner Kerry sent me flowers to let me know that they were thinking of me. I loved the flowers. I really loved the note. Every time I look at the flowers and note I feel lighter.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Running update:

After four weeks of running 2X or less per week, I am determined to get back on a schedule. Tonight's run was 3.11 miles. Mile #2 was hard - really tired ankles. I didn't beat my PR of 10:23/mile (Is that right, K? - K keeps all my stats.) But I did do 10:40/mile (or so) on mile #1 and #3. I think mile #2 was in the 12's.

But all said and done, it felt good to get out and clear my head after working on my first Psych paper.

My first 5K is in two weeks.

and in case you were wondering, my Psych paper assignment was this:

Considering what is known about the damaging effects on of poor nutrition, drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol on the fetus, what can be done to protect a baby from the effects of its mother’s activities? Should any legal action be taken?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Polite princess manners make even the worst social faux pas excusable

As I am finishing up my blog and checking others, I hear The Love Magnet behind me. She runs to the top of the stairs and right as she gets there I hear a very loud bass-sounding "BWWAAAAAAP" that reverberates in the two story space of my family room. then I hear a giggle and in a very polite, princessy voice:

"Oh, my. Excuse me." (to no one in particular)

The Love Magnet may burp better than my teenage Firstborn but at least she has princess manners. Even if she thinks no one is listening.
Sunday Gratitudes
This weekend and last were so tender and sweet. My heart feels too big for my ribcage right now, with all the love I feel for my family. This week I am grateful for:

1. My twin sis and sis-in-love making my Primary song into keepsakes for Grandma's funeral. And for all the encouragement to send it into the Friend. Maybe I should...

2. Spending time talking with my sibs and their spouses. I am so grateful for each one of them. We went out to dinner on Friday night. Finally had to leave the restaurant as they wanted to close. Ended up talking for another hour outside of the restaurant. Good people. Good times.

3. Time spent with my in-loves. We had a steak BBQ for Dad-in-loves' birthday. Simple food. Fresh garden tomatoes. My Mom-in-love got online with her fabulous family history skills and printed out census records that mentioned my Grandma and her family. She put everything in a binder for me.

4. Uneventful trip home. No problems.

5. For a good friend willing to take over my Sunday chorister job for me while I was gone. God bless her, she volunteered without me asking her.

6. For my uncle who so graciously put up with all of my questions before, during, and after the funeral. Not once has he lost patience with me. I pray he is blessed with everything good. He deserves it.

7. Teachers and aides who have worked so well with The Love Magnet and Thirdborn this week. The Love Magnet is thriving with her aides working with her and a wonderful teacher who not only loves her, but is so eager to include skills she has (ASL) in regular classroom teaching. I am so eager to see how this ASL combined phonics (not sure how to explain it yet, I'm sure I just did it poorly) works for the entire classroom. I'm thrilled to find out that the entire first grade will be doing it. Thirdborn's teacher is already an absolute gem. She isn't waiting for test results that could take until Christmas. She is starting full swing right now to help Thirdborn with his reading and spelling.

8. Coming home to my own kitchen. There is something comforting to me in getting back to routine after being away for awhile. I am tired of traveling. Within 10 minutes of getting home I made up a recipe I'm calling Malted Chip Crispie Cookies. Good with milk. Mmmm.

9. The start of fall. My favorite time of year. I actually saw a tree with leaves changing as we entered our hometown. Pretty soon temperatures will be cool enough for cute sweaters and boots and yummy fall flavors. I might even make some curried pumpkin soup this week.

10. Mr.Wonderful for picking up so much of the slack this week while I was with my family. You are truly the best decision I ever made, my Mr. Darcy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Lessons from Grandma -
She's not done teaching yet.

Grandma's funeral was held today. I hope she laughed at the stories. I hope she enjoyed the speeches. (No offense to my uncles, but my mom's talk - read by my beloved twin sister - was the best. I'm not biased.....)

One thing that really stuck out to me. One thing that I never knew. One thing that I have never heard from ANYONE else before. Grandma had held many callings in church. Young Women's leader. Relief Society President. I'm sure she also had some teaching positions and surely something in Primary. But guess just which calling was her favorite?

Visiting Teaching.

I kid you not. Not only did she absolutely love Visiting Teaching, she requested that the inactive sisters be put on her route. She said that they needed her more than anyone else did. I remember her telling me many times about doing her visits on the front porch because the women never invited her in. After months of porch visits, they would feel comfortable around her enough to invite her in. She would always be thrilled.

Grandma nearly always took a treat when she visited. I'm sure her famous raspberry jam (at least famous to her family and neighbors) and homemade breads and cookies made it into many homes in her ward. As a child, I would watch her put aside a plate of cookies or a loaf of bread wrapped in a kitchen towel, and tell us kids not to touch it. It was for her visiting teaching sisters.

She faithfully visited every month. My Grandma, who is as busy as everyone else, always found time to check on her "Sisters" and make sure everything was all right. If they needed her help, she would be there, ready for anything. According to my mom, she would take a meal over to an expecting mom. Grandma said that many people brought meals after the baby was born, but it was before the birth when the mom-to-be needed extra attention. She would clean or fold laundry. If Grandma saw a need, she saw herself as the one to fill it.

Grandma is still influencing me, even though she isn't here. All right, Grandma. Message heard loud and clear. My visiting teaching habits have been good, but they certainly can be better. They are definitely not up to your standards yet.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My darling Grandma

I copied this off of Kimberly's blog. I am not sure but I think it was taken on or just before Grandma started dating Grandpa. Doesn't she have a sweet face?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes on a Tuesday

On Saturday my twin sis called me. Grandma had fallen a few days before and had deteriorated rapidly. Within an hour I had my suitcase packed and was headed to the airport.

Sis picked me up and gave me details. It had been decided that Grandma would be taken to my brother and sis-in-loves home where she could be surrounded by love for her last days on earth. We arrived at St. Joe's where Grandma was currently being cared for until she could be transferred. She was awake, incoherent, and in pain from cellulitis. My uncle and cousin gave Grandma a beautiful priesthood blessing, telling her that the her life was well lived and her transition would be peaceful.

We drove to Mark's house to see what we could do to help prepare. His house was ready, so we headed to my parent's house next door. While Mom and Daddy are on their mission, Nate had been house-sitting. Most of my family was there, preparing it for any visitors who might need a place to stay. We cleaned until late at night. Christie and I went out for dinner before we headed to her house.

I couldn't sleep that night. My mind wouldn't shut down. I thought of so many good times I've had with my grandma.

The next morning we headed over to my Mark's house to wait for hospice to deliver the hospital bed. The bed was late and arrived at the same time as the ambulance did with my grandma. The EMTs were so kind. They waited while the bed was set up and very carefully brought Grandma in the house. Later the first hospice nurse came by with morphine to make Grandma comfortable. I hovered, listening with twin-sis and sis-in-love as instructions were given on what to expect. It took a while for the medicine to kick in. Grandma opened her eyes a few times. Once in a while it seemed that she knew what was going on. I asked Nate to get his guitar to play for Grandma. She opened her eyes and said clearly "Yes." The remainder of the time she was not able to communicate but held up her hand which we would hold. Christie and I sat by her most of the evening, each of us holding a hand.

Christie, Mark, Kimberly, Nathan and I sat up late that night in Grandma's room, talking and laughing about the good times. One of the funniest was that each of us had a story about how we found Grandma's secret stash of candy - we each thought we were the only one who knew where it was. We also talked about sliding down the cutting board when Grandma put it next to the fireplace (she had a piece of counter board left over from when she cut the space out for her kitchen sink that she used for a gigantic cutting board. It made a perfect slide for little kids). How much we all hated shucking corn and we thought it wasn't fair that Christie didn't have to do it. (Christie had horrible allergies. What we didn't know is that she was made to work inside the house shelling peas or getting the kitchen ready to process the produce). At one point I leaned over to Grandma and said "Grandma, when you see Grandpa, you run. You run, do you understand?" Christie leaned over on the other side of Grandma and said "Make she she understands that she is supposed to run TO Grandpa and not AWAY." We started laughing so hard. And then Nathan pointed out that Grandpa might be riding Joe (his beloved horse) when he comes. There were a lot of good memories. Yucky rolls (truly delicious Sunday rolls but the family joke was to call them Yucky). Three kinds of homemade pickles in the cut glass pickle dish at every Sunday dinner and holiday. Homemade ice cream (we all had to list our favorites). Being sent out to pick beans for dinner. Popcorn balls at Halloween. (I made sure that my kids, Mr. W, and I were the last family to come every Halloween so I could get all the extra popcorn balls. I would give each of the kids one and save the rest for myself. I would break them up in a bowl and pour milk over them and eat it like cereal for breakfast.) We though that Grandma might leave us that night so I stayed up along with Nate all night. Grandma's breathing followed the pattern that hospice told us would be the end. But then before sunrise her breathing went back to just being shallow. Nate went back next door to sleep. I stayed up to help Kimberly.

That morning, hospice aides came to check on things. We were told that Grandma would most likely pass in the next 24 hours. The day was filled with visitors, violin music from Tiffany, guitar music from Nate, and my parents calling on SKYPE so they could talk to us. It was the first time in a long time for them to see Grandma. My heart broke for them, but I knew that they had to remain in Africa. We were all at peace with that decision. (for my mom's account of what happened, see her DR Congo blog).

My flight left that evening and I had to go. I was in tears, selfish tears as I knew that it would be so wonderful for Grandma to see Grandpa again. I hugged all of my sibs and my uncle. I didn't want to leave - I wanted to do my part in helping. I cried all the way to the airport. Again selfish tears.

I was so exhausted when I arrived home. Mr. Wonderful and I sat the kids down and told them about Grandma. We shared happy memories (playing with Grandma on her swing, eating her cookies, having lunch at her house, picking raspberries) and a few tears. I ate a quick meal and went to bed at 8:00. I slept deep and woke 10 hours later. There was a message on my answering machine from my sister that Grandma passed in the night. My brother Nate was with her at that time and, miracle of miracles, my Mom was on the SKYPE. She was on the other side of the world and still able to be with her mom during those last tender, peaceful moments.

So my Sunday gratitudes are posted on a Tuesday. I am so grateful for my knowledge of where my Grandma is right now. I'm grateful that I will see her again. I am grateful for all of my family who surrounded her with love in her last days. I'm grateful for Mr. Wonderful, who insisted I fly out there immediately, and took care of things at home. I'm grateful for the hospice workers who all showed such kindness to my grandma and my family. Most of all I am grateful for Grandma. The woman who taught me all about whole foods and nutrition by her example. She passed down her knowledge about gardening and canning through my mom to me. She served others with every waking moment.

Selfish tears. Because I' am going to miss her so much.