23 April 2013

My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee

My brother and his wife are about to go through the worst thing I can imagine.  They are about to lose their baby.  About a month ago, they went in for their routine ultrasound - the one where you usually get to find out the gender of the baby.  The technicians measure a lot of other things, but usually I don't care about them.  This is when my brother and his wife found out their baby was very sick and would not be able to survive outside her womb - and maybe not even until full term.  

I've been trying to wrap my head around this for a month and I can't.  I can't comprehend how this knowing their baby must die weighs on their every moment.  I can't tell how much it must hurt to feel this little living kicking moving darling Tiny Baby and know how fleeting this baby's life will be. I can't imagine the long drawn out pain of  knowing that your baby will not survive and knowing there isn't anything you can do to change it.  I can't stop crying whenever I dwell on it.  It seems like every discussion and lesson at church this past month has been related to this somehow (and it means that I've spent a good portion of church crying).

This past Sunday the Relief Society lesson was on learning through our trials.  I always struggle with these lessons because I feel like I live a charmed life - I worry that I'm either too fragile to get any huge trials or that there is a real doozy waiting for me just up the road around the bend.  Right now I'm leaning towards too fragile to handle anything at all because I'm in pieces over someone else's trial.  Yes, it is happening to people close to me that I love but it is not ME.  They are handling it as well as anyone can in these circumstances with a mix of love and grief and hurt and bewilderment and grace and pain and faith.

But I had two things I want to cling to and share.

One - We talked about shrinking from our trials.  I think this is our natural response - we all withdraw from the things that hurt us.  It is instinct, reflex.  We don't think about it.  Shrinking from the trial is not a sin.  Even Jesus wished, "that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink"  It is when we push through and past that initial response and embrace or overcome that instinct to shrink away that we can grow.  Every trial is a chance to choose to grow or shrink.  The trial is still miserable.  The pain will be there no matter what.  But the choice is ours to whether our cup of joy gets bigger or smaller.  It is perfectly ok to feel desperately sad and that life will never be the same again.  It won't.  But I have to believe that we decide how the experience transforms us.  I know what I hope I would choose.

Two - We listened to a song based on Jesus' response to Joseph in Liberty Jail when he complains about the trials he is going through. (which were more than I ever want to experience).  Here are the lyrics:

For a little while
Have I forsaken thee; 
But with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee
For a moment.
But with everlasting kindness will I gather thee,
And with mercy will I take thee 'neath my wings,
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

Though thine afflictions seem
At times too great to bear,
I know thine every thought and every care.
And though the very jaws
Of hell gape after thee I am with thee.
And with everlasting mercy will I succor thee,
And with healing will I take thee 'neath my wings.
Though the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
Know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

How long can rolling water
Remain impure?
What pow'r shall stay the hand of God?
The Son of Man hath descended below all things.
Art thou greater than He?

So hold on thy way,
For I shall be with thee.
And mine angels shall encircle thee.
Doubt not what thou knowest,
Fear not man, for he
Cannot hurt thee.
And with everlasting kindness will I succor thee,
And with mercy will I take thee 'neath my wings
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

(Youtube link here - just listen)

So, if you have a spare moment to send up an extra prayer for my brother and his family today, please do.  I will be praying that the angels will encircle them and that they will feel of His love over these next difficult days and months to come.

Their blog is here:  www.hilleries.com

10 December 2012

Oh the Catching Up-ed-ness!

I figure since I put this blog on our Christmas Card, I should actually put a current post up.  And hey, I actually DID Christmas Cards!!!!  We have NEVER done Christmas Cards before!  We did a Christmas letter a couple times, but never a CARD.

The Dude is now in 4th grade.  He has already completely his California Mission Project (with distinction).  He is still playing the violin and is getting really good and a joy to listen to.  His little quartet from Violin Camp this summer has had a couple other chances to perform because they were just so good.  :) Having recently acquired dragon-wings has made him very happy and he loves swooping around the house.

Sita is in 1st grade.  Apparently she's quite the popular little person on the playground but has a lot of the accompanying drama that goes with it.  She is also plucking away at the violin and is starting to actually read the music.  We are still trying to stay ahead of her reading, but that is fairly impossible.  She is such a good storyteller that sometimes it is hard to winnow fact from fiction and she has such a good imagination that sometimes it is hard for HER to tell fact from fiction.

Boo's favorite things to do are to have books read to her, play dress up with Sita or play dragons with the Dude.  She loves going to her preschool once a week and especially enjoying the company of another little girl that has ALMOST the same name as her.  It can get rather confusing when they're hanging out together (which they do a lot!)  She is also my great helper around the house and likes kneading bread with her Daddy.

The Spozo Maravilloso is doing Very Important Things at work.  He is filing for a patent (again)!  He'll have to tell you what it is actually about.  He is also in demand at conferences and has gone to several this year (although none outside of the U.S. - which is sad because I got my passport renewed just so I could come with him if he got to go to a foreign one!)  He loves teaching the Elder's Quorum (men's group) lessons at church and is getting attention for his wonderful singing and oboe-ing.  The children are caught up in watching him defeat the Evil Demons on Zelda Skyward Sword.

I got to go to Girls' Camp again this year (thanks to Nonna and GrandMary!).  I went with one of the groups that go on an overnight hike, which was my first time ever.  It was a great experience and I had a great time with the girls.  I have been teaching art lessons for the Dude's and Sita's classes (because the parents teach the art here - they give you all the lesson plans and supplies).  Getting to know the kids in their classes and their teachers has been great - and I just love teaching art!  :)  I just got released from working with the Young Women and am now the Thing Formerly Called Enrichment Coordinator.  Being in Relief Society again is nice, but I still miss working with the youth.

That is us in a very nutshell!

I will try to post more often!


24 April 2011

Yes, she gets it

Most of the time when I mention that the Sita is reading the Little House on the Prairie books or now the Chronicles of Narnia, the first question they ask is, "Yes, but is she understanding it?"

Now, she probably isn't understanding all the symbolic or allegorical aspects of the Chronicles of Narnia, but is she understanding the basic stories?  Yes, definitely!  Since she is almost always making up some story out loud, it is easy to listen to her stories to see what she's been reading lately because she pulls from those to make up her own.  For a while, she named one of her dolls Charlotte and they had a lot of fever and ague and eating of cornmeal mush.  Now she's into talking animals and alternate realities although we've also had a lot of Fairies (the Rainbow Fairy books), Dragons (How to Train Your Dragon), and Owls (the Legend of Ga'Hoole).  =)

As another proof of her reading comprehension, the Dude has been taking pretests in prep for the STAR testing next week and bringing them home to show how well he's doing on them.  There are a lot of stories on them for the reading comprehension bits and I saw Sita reading one of them this morning.  So I asked her all the questions that were connected with that story and she verbally answered them correctly and only needed the "multiple choice" options to guess it right a couple of times.  Once she realized she got all of them right, she wanted to try the rest of the practice tests.  And she totally passed.  Only on one story did she get any wrong at all.

The Dude was a little jealous of her doing as well as HE did on the tests, so we got to have a nice chat about how someone doing as well as you at something does not take away from you doing well and you don't need to feel threatened by it.  I'm sure we'll have this chat at least a few more times.  It is something I have to remind myself of every once in a while.

21 March 2011

Addicted to Movies

Yes, I am sorry to say Boo at the tender age of 2 is completely addicted to watching movies.  At first it was just Green Eggs and Ham and Cat in the Hat.  Then we discovered the Eyewitness DVDs at our local library!!!  Now she asks for "uhSHEEN" (Human Machine) "i-a-uhs"(Natural Disasters) and "orssy" (Horses).  She didn't like Skeleton as much.  Birds and Butterfly and Moth were also good ones.  And although I love Dr. Seuss and the slightly crazy songs on the DVDs, I was getting very tired of listening to them.

One thing that I am sure she will NOT be watching is "educational" shows (NOT the Eyewitness DVDs - the ones on PBS, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel).  After reading Nurture Shock, which I liked a LOT of (such as the sections on Praise and Self Control and Race and Sleep Deprivation) but Strongly Disagreed with some other points in it (especially the section on Education), I feel really good about not allowing "educational" programming in our home.  I will admit that I was surprised that the researchers "found that Arthur is more dangerous for children than Power Rangers" (p.181) and "The more educational media the children watched, the more relationally aggressive they were."  (p.180) The researchers theorize that this might be because the majority of children's shows are negative most of the time with just a small part (the resolution at the very end) being "positive."  To quote again:

We can imagine educational television might use an initial insult to then teach a lesson about how insults are hurtful, but that never was the case, Schiebe [one of the researchers] found.  Of the 2,628 put-downs the team identified, in only 50 instances was the insulter reprimanded or corrected - and not once in an educational show.  Fully 84% of the time, there was either only laughter or no response at all." (p.182)

That said, I think that Charlie and Lola (at least the first few seasons) is fairly good at modeling positive sibling/child relationships because Charlie and Lola have their differences, but they don't resort to calling each other names over them.

As for what I am watching, right now I am addicted to Pushing Daisies!!!!  The episodes with Wilford Woodruff and Lemuel made me laugh with special glee.  =)  Thanks, Lady Steed!

10 March 2011

the Dude loves Math

The Dude gets up at Insanely Early Hours every morning but he is expert at finding something fun to do while he's waiting for us to wake up.  (See Treasure Hunt)  Today he brought in a piece of paper that he had been expanding a fraction out on (I don't know the correct terminology here!)  - whatever the opposite of reducing fractions is.  He had started with the fraction 2/5 and had multiplied by 2 out to 4/10, and kept multiplying it by 2.  He got it Perfectly Right to 1,024/2,560 and then did a slight carrying error in the bottom.

BUT he did Perfectly Right on the top all the way until he stopped (at 65,536!)  AND he multiplied his incorrect answer correctly until the end (to 160,640).

I love how we talk about a concept (like reducing fractions) and he takes it in a slightly different direction to the Extreme.  (I like less that he chided me for doing it the Easy Way as I wrote out the multiplication to check his answer).

One thing is certain - the Dude Loves Math!


07 March 2011

Waking up to a Treasure Hunt

When I got up this morning, the Dude was already deep at work on some project.  I was warned several times to look away at certain times (which I dutifully did) and asked where my treats were because he needed some... for me.  I directed him to his father, who said Mommy could get her Own Treats.

The Dude very proudly hands me a small piece of paper that reads,

I look there (the very chair I'm sitting on now!) and find another:

This might've posed a bigger problem if I hadn't heard the front door open a couple times this morning and gotten an Evasive Answer about what was going on.

So I go around collecting my notes from their hiding places.  Some of my favorites:

Clue three: Youve done the hard one that is true, but now check under the table.
Clue four: to get to the prize, go and ask a old clumsy chair.
Clue nine: inside a thin drawer is next.
Clue eleven: next to the piano is next.

Until I get to "Clue eghteen: in dads box is the prize."

Of course the Dude is following me around and giggling delightedly every time I find a clue or Especially when I look in Not the Right Place immediately.  He is on hand to explain to me that he could not put my prize there, but that I had Certainly earned it, so I should go get it.  Since I hadn't had breakfast yet, I deferred collection of my Prize until later.

I wondered what had inspired him to this project and I found it was from his new book:

Cost of the book?
Cost of this Treasure Hunt?

06 March 2011

The Cake that wanted to Be a Disaster but I Wouldn't let it Be one

Behold the Cake
(with a slight amount of photo editing to remove incriminating names)

From the time I started gathering ingredients on Tuesday night, I had a feeling this cake might be a challenge.  I didn't have enough butter in the fridge to make it.  I had some in the freezer, but getting butter to thaw in a short amount of time without melting it is not a skill I claim to have.  So I could not make the cake that night.  I left the butter out overnight and planned for a crazy Birthday morning.

I woke up early-ish and mixed the cake before making the Birthday Scrambled Eggs.  When I went to put the cake in the oven, the rack was really close to the bottom, so I had to move it up.  It took me a couple tries before I fit it in right.  I put the cakes in, put on the timer and got back to making Birthday Eggs.  About 10 minutes from being done, Boo wants to see her cakes.  I turn on the oven light and gasp.

I had put the oven rack in slanted!  The cakes were Very Slanted!  I wanted to throw up my hands and scream AAARRRRRGGHHHH!  I think I said OHNO OHNO OhNo! and then Very Gently took the cakes out, righted the rack and put the cakes back on (while yelling for various children to Stay Back so they Wouldn't get Burned!)  The cakes ended up being Less Slanted than I had feared, but still Very Slanted.  I had no time/ingredients to do another batch.  This would have to do.

Before I knew the cakes would be slanted, I was still choosing between doing Traditional Buttercream or Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the cake.  Because of the slantedness, the Swiss Meringue won because of it's awesome sculpting power, cover-it-up-ed-ness, and not-so-sweetness (because this cake would need a LOT of frosting).

Now I had NO butter, so I had to go spend 10 dollars (!!!!) on 2 pounds of unsalted butter at Safeway (another reason to shop at Trader Joe's for basics!) on the way to picking up the Dude from school.

I whip up the egg whites and sugar over the double boiler, cool it, whip in the butter and start adding the gel color.  And add more.  And More!  It is not doing anything except being tiny little blobs of concentrated color in (still) mostly white frosting.  I go to the drip red coloring which does this funny beading up at first, but gets mixed in eventually.  I scrap the "red frosting" idea and decide Pink is Good Enough - if I use Red Sparkle Sugar to make the heart red instead.

I trim the cakes a bit so they will fit a bit better together, but the frosting does its magic and fills the gaps and I can pile it on thick to cover up the imperfections.

No one cares about the inches of frosting!  No one notices the Very Slantedness of the Actual Cake!  We all delight in getting sugar highs from its beautiful deliciousness.


Highlights from Boo turning 2!

Boo has been looking forward to her birthday since the Dude's birthday a couple months ago.  She wanted Happy Birthday sung to her at all times of day.  She practiced her blowing each time we finished the song because she knew that after the song came the blowing of the candles. At first it was the "ffffff" blow that is quite ineffectual but she gradually got the very effective "oooo" blow in good form before the Big Day.

We did not do a Big Party since she was just turning two, but happily her birthday coincided with Piano Lessons Day and so the students stayed a bit later and a couple other friends came over and we a fairly full house when the cake was ready to be blown out.  She wanted to blow the candle out as soon as the cake was finished, so I had to put the cake somewhere untouchable so that she wouldn't be tempted until it was Time.  We got her candle in her Pink Heart Cake, sang her Happy Birthday and she blew out her candle on the first attempt!  (Our first child to do that on his/her second birthday!)

We all had Cake (which was very delicious from all accounts - the frosting was especially popular - being eaten by the spoonful before the cake was served!) and then some friends had to go home, but some stayed for the Present Opening.  One of her presents got delivered to the wrong apartment, but since the family that got it sent out an email asking about a Miss {her name here} and a friend forwarded the email to us, we were able to go pick it up and get it in time.  Ah, the miracles of modern technology!  =)  She loved her new pink pajamas with hearts and her baby "purse."  As I was explaining that her package was addressed to Miss {her name here}, she emphatically said, "{her name}BOO!"  Yes folks, she thinks her name has a BOO attached to the end of it.  I love this.  You can't imagine how much.

She is very happy to be TWO now and is also loving all her beautiful new clothes and putting her baby to bed in its very own bed.

(Expect a post soon on how the cake was a near disaster, but turned out fine after all).