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brains should stay where they belong

Oct 21, 2015 in the hip | 2 comments

I have an Upright MRI today to start the process of discovering if the ligaments holding my brain in place have become so lax that my brainstem is being compressed or CSF flow is being blocked. If those things are happening, the answer is most likely brain surgery.

Oh, my goodness, this feels big. And yet I am doing quite well at staying calm and in a place of trust in God.

During the surgery, they open the skull, trim the cerebellar tonsils, cut away part of C1 and possibly C2 to make more room for the drooping brainstem – so it is not being compressed – and make some sort of covering for the dura matter. Then they fuse C1 and C2. It is a big deal with lots of risks and a big recovery period.

At this point, we don’t even know if I have this problem. Several things have pointed us in this direction, but we don’t know. And if I do, we don’t know that we would decide to do surgery or if it is even my best option. Often I have a pretty good attitude about this whole connective tissue thing, but right now part of me is scared and overwhelmed and a huge part of me doesn’t even want to find out if I have it or not. The thought of my brainstem, the thing that is keeping my alive, being compromised, is a lot for me to take in right now and part of me wants to run away from the whole discussion.

I’m a little nervous about starting down this path and would be ever so grateful for your prayers that one, I make it through the testing without an episode and two, that the people doing the testing will be guided by God to get the images we need to see.

amazing grace

Oct 20, 2015 in blessings, inspiration | 1 comment

Grace. Oh, how I need my Savior’s grace. Sometimes, usually on the day before my period starts, I forget the lessons God has taught me about His power to redeem me and actually believe I am a hopeless cause, but most of the time, I cling to His grace. A few years ago I watched His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox and it changed my perspective on grace. Saturday night I had one of those fall apart nights where I forgot that I am forgivable, redeemable, and not a hopeless cause.

And then the Sabbath came and I remembered my covenants and decided to try again. As I sang the words to “I Believe In Christ” at church on Sunday, I cried tender tears of gratitude for my Savior who not only has the power to redeem me, but also enough love for me to actually do it.

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign
‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,
To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: “Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be.”

I believe in Christ–my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I’ll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love
In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I’ll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

This morning Annesley and I watched this beautiful arrangement of Amazing Grace and more tears came. Watch it, hear it, feel it. Let your heart be filled.

I love the Lord Jesus and thank Him for setting me free again and again. It is truly amazing that he can break the chains that bind each of us.

yummy fried rice

Oct 20, 2015 in food we love, recipes | Comments Off on yummy fried rice

Cooking is a challenge for me. My brain struggles with making sense of the whole thing…what is essential, what can be substituted, what is the dish missing, what flavors go together…all of that is a foreign language to me. Thank goodness I can call Kat and have her tell me how to rescue a meal. My kitchen skills are sorely lacking as well. Burning myself, cutting off hunks of skin, and dropping pans of food are pretty regular occurrences. My recent Facebook post illustrates my cooking situation.

I am trying to make dinner for my family a little more frequently than the not-ever-making it I have been doing. This is how it went tonight. 1. Lost the chicken broth lid under the fridge. 2. Turned off the stove long before the pasta was done cooking. 3. Turned on the stove when I noticed I had accidentally turned it off. Except I didn’t…when I went back to check it, it was still on OFF. 4. Dropped the vacuum on my ankle…the one that is having a really hard time staying in place. 5. Poured the spinach steaming water/juice all over the griddle, across the cabinet, and down the drawers where it finally made a puddle on the floor. 6. Lost over half of the pasta in the filthy sink when the colander tipped over. 7. Dropped the boiling hot pan still full of 1/8 of the pasta on my tile floor and scared one child half to death (didn’t break the tile though!) 8. Saved what pasta I could and poured the delicious spinach mixture all over the top. 9. Ate it with one silent child and one whiny child. So delightful. 10. Forgot about the water that must have spilled out of the pan and the whiny child slipped on it. 11. Ran out of food before husband got home from work to eat it. (since more than half of it got ruined in the filthy sink). 12. Now have to run children to Scouts, Young Women, pick up from Irish, get ready for iFamily and Primary Auxiliary Training tomorrow and have no time to make more food.

This is why I don’t cook. I have such high hopes and my skills don’t measure up. Pretty sure I could win $10K on America’s Funniest Home Videos if I just kept a video camera going in my kitchen at all times!

In spite of all that, I make really good fried rice. After trying for years to make my fried rice taste delicious, I found a recipe online that insisted on the importance of sesame oil. I had always used olive or coconut oil or NO oil in an effort to save money and surprise, surprise, it was pretty disgusting. Trust me, the sesame oil is essential. It is expensive, but it is essential! The original link of this recipe is dead in internet land or I would source it for you. I have changed it a little bit from the original, so now it is time to share this deliciousness with the world. This is exactly what I do and it feeds our family of six with enough leftovers for lunch the next day. I haven’t messed it up yet – it turns out fabulous every time!

Fried Rice

  • 9 TB Sesame Oil
  • 3 Small Onions or 2 Large Onions, chopped (I usually do 2 large onions…less peeling for me!)
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 3 C. Peas and Carrots (frozen bags)
  • 6 Eggs, barely stirred, not whipped
  • 9 C. Cooked Brown Rice
  • Braggs Amino Acids (we use this in place of Soy Sauce)

Pour the sesame oil into a really big frying pan with high sides (I can use my 13″ frying pan, but I usually use my Tramontina 4 Qt. Braiser since the high sides hold the food in better.) and heat it up for a few minutes. Watch it so it doesn’t burn. Saute the onion and garlic and then add in the peas and carrot mixture. Scoot the vegetables to one side of the pan and try to get your oil to the other side of the pan and pour the eggs in on the oil side. Stir them gently until they are cooked. Add in the rice (carefully and slowly so it doesn’t spill all over the stove…there is a lot of it!). Pour the Braggs deliciousness all over it and carefully mix everything together. Add some more Braggs until it tastes as strong as you like it.

The original recipe called for chicken and it was fabulous, but I have only added that in once because it is delicious without it and I tend to be a meat hoarder, saving meat for those meals where it is absolutely necessary.

When I make it, I fill my rice cooker to the 10 C. setting (which makes 20+ cups) and use less than half for this dish. Then my children have leftover rice in the fridge for several days that they eat with milk, cinnamon, and honey.

week 3

Oct 19, 2015 in blythe's mission | Comments Off on week 3

Our girlie has now been in California for nearly three weeks and left our home almost five weeks ago. It is going by so fast. We mailed her a ukulele this week, have to say Amazon Prime is AMAZING. Click, click and two days later it is delivered to her. Her mission president served for a long time in Tonga and Hawaii and he has created a Polynesian feel to the mission. They have ukulele lessons on P-Day at the mission home and she was dying to participate. Now we need to put a package together with pictures from home, piles of drawings from Annesley, more of her facial lotion, and her nutritional supplements. She must be being diligent about taking them if she is already in need of replacements. We are SO happy for her and are enjoying being a missionary family. It is wonderful to hear our children praying for their sister with fervency, faith, and heart. It is wonderful to think of her throughout the day and imagine what she is doing. It is wonderful to think carefully about what we should say to her each week in our letters. Since she only has a few minutes to read our emails, we want to make sure we share the things that will help her the most.

I have really enjoyed this week, though it’s been a little hard. We were not able to make much progress with anyone and spent a great deal of time trying to get in contact with people with less success than we hoped. But this upcoming week should be better. We were able to make contact with our referral, though it took most of the week and were even able to set an appointment! We had an awesome visit with Eileen M. (who married the Muslim man, Max) and her mom, Bernice. They both are exceptional seamstresses and make amazing things. We asked them about it and they showed a ton of their things and got super excited. Eileen made her tribal wedding dress for the Muslim wedding and it is amazing! She showed us this gorgeous quilt Bernice made her. It is the most beautiful quilt I’ve ever seen with vibrant aqua blues and greens and every square has these beautiful embroidered flowers of various kinds. SOOOOO pretty!!!! Then we were able to slip in President Uchtdorf’s talk about our desire to create and make it a very natural part of the conversation and showed the video to go with it.

We were not able to teach Joanie again. Her son has a mental illness, as I think I mentioned, and his meds were switched and were not working. This week has been crazy for them trying to get that fixed, but we stopped by to see her on Friday and it happened to be her birthday. We couldn’t stay long, but we’re keeping in contact. Should happen this week.

On Saturday we went on exchange with the Sister Training Leaders and for the first time that week we had absolutely nothing to do. I was staying in our area so I was in charge of knowing where to go, what to do, etc. and we had contacted the LAs and none of our potentials could meet with us. We actually ended up getting quite a few contacts and were able to get in contact with Samantha B., an LA who is good friends with Liz S. (our referral)! Super exciting! We actually talked to her dad, a non-member, who was working on his rose bush. He was really abrupt, and not terribly sociable, which is interesting since his job is a salesmen. I’ve since been told he’s very outgoing at work, but as soon as he gets home he’s a hermit. The funny thing, though, he was wearing flip flops and his toenails were totally painted in stripes. As soon as we were gone we just died!!

We have a few possible potentials among the friends of the YW within the ward. (Tell me if I’ve told you about the Mausses yet.) One sounds like we might get a whole family. One of the other friend’s parents are staunch Catholic and don’t want her learning about the church. The mom said (not to us) that she sees how happy her daughter is when she’s learning about the church so she’s going to shut it down now, because she knows that if her daughter goes she’ll get baptized because she’s so happy there. It’s very unfortunate because the girl is quite miserable at home and school and loves the gospel.

Sister W.

hebrews 2:13

Oct 19, 2015 in ponderizing | Comments Off on hebrews 2:13

This past week I ponderized Hebrews 2:13. We studied the book of Hebrews in Sunday School last week and I fell head over heels in love with it. What a treasure trove! Of course, I have read it before, but this time through, my soul was hungry for its plain answers and powerful testifying of Christ and His mission.

And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

I have trusted in God. Many times. And yet, I need to keep trusting. Again and again and again, I need to make the choice to trust Him fully. There are so many times I do not trust Him. So many times I lean unto my own understanding and rely on my own strength and allow fears and worries to kick out the peace of God.

We are facing some pretty big things right now and it is hard to stay in a place of trust. But I am actively trying. Every day, I am taking a few minutes in the morning to let Him speak to me and reassure me that I am in His keeping.

The greatest desire of my heart is that my children will trust God, that they will turn to Him and trust Him with their whole hearts. This week, my mind has more fully realized that I must model God’s love for them. Teaching and showing them how we trust Him needs to more evident in our daily lives.

twenty-two

Oct 15, 2015 in blessings, family | 2 comments

I woke up this morning with his lips on my forehead and his tender voice whispering “Happy Anniversary.”

Twenty-two years of being loved by this man. Twenty-two years of being tutored in love’s actions and feelings. Twenty-two years of tenderness.

image

I am so blessed. So very richly blessed.

Last night I taught the Music Leaders of our Stake for 45 minutes. For the past several weeks I haven’t known what to teach. Nothing felt right. I didn’t feel like I should teach them anything about the mechanics of their calling or give them a list of things to do or not do. But I didn’t know what I should share. And then, just yesterday, it came to me. I needed to share the power of teaching doctrine to the children and how it changes lives. One part of that message was my sharing a little bit of my story and how the song “Families Can Be Together Forever” gave me something solid to hold on to when my family fell apart. As a young person, I wasn’t at all sure that families COULD be together forever, but this song gave me the courage to try to create a family that would be together forever. Everyone in the room cried. My face and neck were covered in tears as we each felt the power music can have in saving souls.

I am so, so grateful God gave me the courage to say yes to our marriage. Richard’s pervasive goodness, kindness, calmness, and steadiness has blessed me and changed me for the better. Our marriage has given me our precious children and a life of happiness in motherhood I could not have ever imagined. His love has transformed me.

This morning I read all the posts I have written on our past anniversaries and my heart filled up with joy. Oh my goodness, I love my Richard!

celebrating the family video

Oct 13, 2015 in homeschooling, inspiration, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I saw this video yesterday and have to share it because I love it so much! I set a goal to memorize The Family: A Proclamation To The World this year in our homeschool and even had an awesome giant poster printed (thanks to Valena!) in the weeks right before Blythe left, but we haven’t started yet. I haven’t even hung the poster up! But today that is changing. Today we begin! This video gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track with this goal.

If you want to make your own giant 24 x 36 poster, here is the pdf file. The awesome Valena also made a matching poster for The Living Christ. You can download that pdf file here.

week 2

Oct 12, 2015 in blythe's mission | Comments Off on week 2

This week has been really good. Some days were less awesome, but we’ve seen some exciting success. On Wednesday we finally made contact with this lady named Joanie, who we’d tried to see pretty much every day since I got here. Her grandson, Elder Everette, is serving in this mission right now, though he’s in a different area. I’m not sure why, but she hasn’t seen him since he was little and his mom saw him recently and he got to baptize her. His dad is also somewhere in this mission. Anyway, we met with her and just talked a lot about God’s love and she seemed really open and her beliefs are already very similar to ours. We went back on Friday and taught her the Restoration and she was totally open to our message and we talked a lot. She is so, so sweet and grandmotherly and she even called us later that day to see if we were doing alright. She’s very centered on family and we are so excited to teach her the Plan of Salvation this week, either Wednesday or Thursday.

We got a referral for the first time which is a miracle because they’re hard to get and street contacting is sometimes not very effective – I’ll tell you why. In the whole time I been here we have hardly seen anyone walking the street. On Saturday we spent six or more hours walking and went through most of our available contacting area. We saw about ten people in all and only got eight contacts. People don’t come outside, not even in the parks. I am firmly convinced that the sidewalks here are purely for decoration because no one uses them. I’m not sure why they’re so proud of their California weather if they don’t go outside. Also on Saturday it was 100 something degrees outside. This is completely unusual. (Quick side note: It had rained twice since my trainer got here. It has rained twice since I got here. Normally the weather is really consistent.) It had been even hotter on Friday. with not a breath of air, so we had prayed that it wouldn’t be as bad, and that we could bear it walking for so long in the heat. That day was really hot and really tiring and the sun was merciless, but there was just enough of a semi-cool breeze that would come up every little while so we had some relief. The breeze isn’t even supposed to be cool at all. Apparently the winds blow off the desert toward the coast and it’s supposed to be hot wind. So I think that was a direct answer to prayer. Also, I was wrong about there being two gated communities in our area. There’s actually three. There are no major gathering places for people to walk around. It’s kind of like walking through a very well manicured, extra large ghost town. Even in the gated communities there are very few people outside. Our goal for contacts last week was 56. We got 20 and that was significantly better than the week before and we try to talk to almost everyone. We are seeing miracles, though not connecting directly to that. I know that God is rewarding our righteous efforts. The referral we received was after a long hard day and was totally out of the blue. We’ve been trying to get a referral for two weeks.

We are also trying to teach the Collins family. The mom, Leslie, has cancer. They want to be baptized, but we have to wait for her to feel good. There’s this awesome girl named Charlotte who had told a member that she wished she could go to church and the member was like “Well, you could come with me.” She wanted so badly to learn about the gospel, but her parents won’t let us teach her or let her get baptized, but they let her come to church and we do lessons for the young women on Preach My Gospel that she gets to come to. She read all of PMG and the Book of Mormon and is awesome. They’ve had her as an investigator for a while. We have to wait till she’s 18 and she’s only 16, but she is doing all she can.

Also, I forgot to tell you, but I saw Nick Huston and Marcus Perrenoud in the MTC.

Since I’m not learning a language, I got myself a Tongan Book of Mormon just for fun at the MTC. Then I got here and there is this awesome Elder from Tonga who I’ll have to tell you about sometime. I’m already understanding some of the words. But don’t worry, it’s not distracting me from the work. AND YES I TOTALLY WANT A UKULELE!!!!!!! Almost forgot that.

Oh, Thanks for the letter Annes! That’s super exciting about your math book! Love you.

Fisher, that’s so crazy about Sister Flora! My mission is going good. Sorry about the kittens.

Love you all!
Sister Blythe W.

squares and mazes, wahoo!

Oct 12, 2015 in children, homeschooling, math & science | 2 comments

If you are anything like me, you pin things and then never do anything about them or flat out forget about them. Recipes, learning ideas, and home cutification ideas get pinned and forgotten on a fairly regular basis.

BUT, there is hope! I printed out two of my pins and introduced them to my children last Monday and they were both a huge hit! Then I took them to my Math ALIVE! class on Wednesday and my students gobbled them up and begged me to let them take the games home with them. So, now that I have tested them with nearly 20 children, I can say with absolute confidence that your children will love them as well…at least I am pretty darn sure they will! With the goal of creating more math lovers out in the world, I must share these winners!

The first is a spin-off of the dots/complete-the-squares game with multiplication problems added in. My dear boy did about 400 multiplication problems CHEERFULLY while we played the game. And his speed increased dramatically. The totally awesome Mathified Squares Game can be found here. My math students would have happily played it all hour if I would have let them. Instead, I taught them about Eratosthenes and blew their minds with how he measured the circumference of the earth within 200 miles of the measurement we have today.

We printed out lots of copies, grabbed a pair of dice, a cookie sheet, and two different colored pens, and dove right in. Now that I know my kids love it bunches and bunches, I might laminate them and use wipe-off markers, but I am a bit worried we would accidently erase some of our lines with our wrists as we move across the page. The same woman has several other different versions – addition, subtraction, factors, and more, but I am pretty sure those games need to be paid for. If she has a multiplication sheet for 12 sided dice, I will buy it, if not, I am going to make my own, so we can practice up to 12 x 12. (Fisher just told me he wants me to make one up to 20 x 20!)

The second is a large set of Skip-Counting Mazes. Annesley worked through about twenty of them in one sitting and pulled them back out today to do even more. Fisher discovered an error on one of the counting by 5 mazes, but even that error added to his learning as he triple checked all the numbers and possibilities before declaring with confidence that there was a mistake and the number 245 was missing.

Both of these activities are wonderful for cementing in those basic math skills we all need while not making it seem like the drill-n-kill approaches that so often shut little ones brains down.

We are on a math roll around here lately. Annesley finished her math book last week and started a new one today. She decided she wants to do 11 pages a day! And today she did it! I decided to introduce a new game to them today and it was a huge hit as well. Corners is from the RightStart Card Games Kit and is a fabulous game for working on multiples of 5 and addition. I wasn’t sure if Annes could handle it, but with a little bit of help once her score got into the 200s she did just fine.

d&c 76:24

Oct 12, 2015 in ponderizing | 1 comment

Last week at the General Conference of our church we were issued the invitation to ponder and memorize a verse of scripture every week. Elder Durrant that issued the challenge, called this ponderizing. I used to do this when my children were younger, but we have gotten out of the habit the last several years and this was a great reminder to me to get back in the habit.

My scripture for this past week has been Doctrine and Covenants 76:24.

That by Him, and through Him, and of Him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters of God.

I am so grateful to live in a world created for me by my Savior, the person whose sole mission it is to redeem me, bring me happiness deep in my soul, and teach me to love as He loves. I am so grateful to know I am a child of God. It makes all the difference in my life to know I am His. Back in July, I wrote a post about the things I know, the things that have transformed my life and given me peace. I reread that post this morning and nothing I say today will say it better than what I said then, so I will let those thoughts be my message for today.