Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

This story is more of an biographical thesis in which Mitch Albom captures the last months of a dear professor's life. It encompasses memories of who Mitch had once been and thoughts on who he had become. It captures the best and worst moments of a man who knows he is dying and is at peace with that.

Overall I am ambiguous about the book. There are bits of wisdom for us all, but I found, for me, that these great life lessons that the author was receiving are common sense ideas taught by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a religious book and though the dying professor has gleaned insight from a number of religions and religious leaders, he also has borrowed from poets, musicians, and authors. The number one lesson is to love others. This isn't any big newsflash. In fact, in the September Visiting Teaching message, Elder M. Russell Ballard is quoted as saying, "The plan of happiness is available to all of his children. If the world would embrace and live it, peace, joy, and plenty would abound on the earth. Much of the suffering we know today would be eliminated if people throughout the world would understand and live the gospel." He said that back in 1995. It is still true today and probably even more relevant as the world we live in becomes more and more greedy and concerned about the individual rather than the common welfare of all.

I actually had picked up the movie as well by mistake. Well, I had reserved what I thought was the book, only to find out I had reserved the movie. So I watched the movie after reading half of the book. The life lessons were similar but I was very disappointed that they decided to put a different spin on Mitch's relationship with Janine. In the book, they are married and she gets him. They have put off having children, and who knows why though there are probably many factors involved. In the movie, they are not married, only dating, and it is supposedly through Mitch's weekly visits with Morrie that he decides to propose and this is after she has already ended the relationship. Yes, Tuesdays with Morrie changed Mitch and his outlook on life. But isn't it much better to portray reality - that so often our insights affect us in the little ways but deeply, rather than having this great outward appearance of change, but leaves you wondering what will be the fate in five or ten years when Morrie's presence has dissipated and his influence has lessened.

What I did like from the book was Morrie's take on death. He didn't just give in to the disease and wait for his life to waste away. He continued to live and to do so with all the energy he could muster. He probably lived more in those last months than many people truly live in their entire lives. It is an inspiring message for all readers to not wait until death is knocking at your door to embrace the idea of living, instead, to start living now. Living happily and doing those things which are fulfilling. Giving to your community, supporting your family, not putting off out of fear or apathy those things which will enrich your life.

Week Ending 10/18/09

This past week was Fall Break for the younger kids. Aaron got Monday off for Columbus Day but had school the rest of the week. I started working in the office so I got a full day on Monday, then worked part time on Tuesday and Thursday. I took Wednesday off to stay home and monitor Nick after his incident with the steak knife on Tuesday afternoon, but brought home some work so still stayed busy with that. Wednesday was also Cierra's birthday but with Neil working the late shift, we kind of put off celebrating until sometime in the future. She really wants to have a birthday party with friends, and I really want that to happen. But October is half over and so busy with other things. Her primary teacher took her out and bought her a book and an ice cream cake which the family helped her eat this afternoon.

I skipped book club Wednesday night because of wanting to spend more time with the kids and knowing I had another meeting Thursday night that I needed to go to. I did read the book and will post a review on it after I finish this post. Neil had Friday off from work so we took care of those errands that need attending to that you never seem to have time to do. Saturday he had to work in the morning then we attended the temple wedding of a boy from our last ward. We've had the opportunity to be at a number of that family's functions and enjoy the opportunity to visit with old friends. We ran into a couple who we had known in the Granite Reef Ward and he is now the bishop in another ward in our stake. She is pregnant with their 7th child - another girl due in February. How exciting. I love the idea of being pregnant, but recognizing that it ends with a child, I'm going to pass. I guess if the Lord felt we needed and could handle another child, I'd have no qualms, but I'm quite certain our family is complete and I am enjoying the years of raising the ones we have and knowing that having grandchildren isn't really that far off.

I am back in school so I worked on my assignments yesterday as well and also had some work stuff to complete. We also went grocery shopping and Aaron went to the youth dance. So it was a late night for us all and I really didn't want to get up this morning. We finally got everyone moving and though we were a bit late for church, the boys still were in time to help with the sacrament ordinance. I took a short nap this afternoon then decided to finish up some work. I need to go find the birth certificates so I can finish the enrollment process for Rachel to be in preschool.

I'd best get going. 5:30 comes early in the morning and I still have some stuff to take care of.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Cierra

My girl turned 5 yesterday. I was going to post, but the trauma of Nick left me otherwise occupied yesterday. Cierra's original due date was October 13th. Since none of my previous children had bothered waiting to come that late, I assumed Cierra would be the same. I never thought that her being a girl would change the whole delivery schedule. When I met with my doctor that Monday, he informed me that I was 1 cm dilated and felt we could induce any time. I thought "why bother, she'll come anytime now." But to appease the doctor, we set up an induction for the 14th with my assumption that she would show up before then. She didn't so we met the doctor at 7 am at the hospital and I got all hooked up to whatever monitors they had going and they started me on the pitocin. The doctor left and I more or less got bored with the occassional contractions. The doctor came back at 11 and decided to break my water to get things moving. He left and Cierra decided it was time to make her entrance. The nurse had to page the doctor to get back to the room and by the time he showed up, Cierra was halfway out. The poor doctor didn't even have time to throw on a gown and I'm pretty sure his watch is ruined.

She was my biggest child at 8 pounds 13 ounces. She was also "my girl." While Neil and I were dating, I had told him that I knew I still had a girl that needed to come to my family. My desire to have more children was something he shared and we had both found difficult to find in potential mates. Nicholas wasn't a disappointment coming first; in fact, I had pretty much told Heavenly Father that if I was to have more than one more child, then he would have to send me all the boys first. So I got Nick and then I got my girl. Cierra's name comes with a few explanations. Neil had always wanted a girl named Sierra - he had seen it on a truck and thought it would make a cool girl's name. We changed it to a C because we already had Aaron and Alyx, Derek and Daniel, Neil and Nick, so this would give us Caran and Cierra. Neil also liked the original style jeeps with the title CJ (civilian jeep) and thought it would be cool to have a daughter with the initials CJ so he could do a personalized license plate of "CJ 4 CJ." And though I am referred to as CJ by a childhood friend, it wasn't a nickname that had ever stuck with anyone else. So we gave Cierra the middle name of Julene so that she can be CJ and also I like sharing my middle name with my daughter. CJ hasn't really stuck with her either though. CJ is a tomboy's name and Cierra is all princess. Her favorite color is pink. She loves all the Disney princesses, though Ariel is her favorite. She loves my fingernail polish, makeup, and bubble bath.

So my dear, Cierra, sorry this is a day late, but Happy Birthday Princess!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Amazing Human Body

As a mother of boys, I have had my fair share of visits to the doctor, Urgent Care, and ER. Usually stitches or staples are required though the wound isn't life threatening. And while my mind convinces me to suck it up and take care of the needful, my body doesn't always cooperate. I have come to rely on Neil to take care of ER visits for me because inevitably I pass out once my brain has been given the information that my child is no longer in immediate danger and no longer requires my conscious presence.

Today I asked Nick to empty the dishwasher. This is a chore he has been doing fairly often and does a good job. He had pulled the lower rack out with the silverware then turned to do something with some other dishes. He somehow tripped or slipped, but the end result was a cartwheel over the dishrack and landing on the floor screaming in pain. As I turned to see what was going on, the first thing I noticed was a large knife pointing upwards in the silverware holder. Hoping and praying that this was not a major catastrophe, I scooped Nick up and began to inspect him for injuries. I spotted the slice in his shorts, which didn't seem too bad, but recognized the signs of blood. I plopped him face down across the kitchen sink and yanked his pants down. Sure enough, he had sliced a gash about three inches across his left butt cheek. I yelled at Daniel to bring me butterfly bandaids from the first aid kit, which is luckily in the kitchen and he helped me strip them down to the adhesive and watched me apply them. He admits to almost getting sick. Luckily for me, my brain is in the "You can do this" phase of emergency protocol and so I am both disgusted and enthralled by the blood and meaty stuff (I later learn is fat) that is oozing out of the wound.

After applying four butterfly bandaids and a large gauze pad, I swoop Nick into my arms and we dash through the garage and head for the hospital. I actually had the presence of mind to call my doctor to see if we should bring him there ($20 vs. $100 ER co-pay) but am told that they have no more appointments for the day. I get a call from a good friend with whom I had been expecting to enjoy a long chat, but explain the situation and tell her I'll call her later. We get to the ER and of course can't find a decent parking spot. But we didn't have to do any major hiking and there is nobody in line at the triage desk. I am asked what the emergency is and I briefly explain that my son has sliced his butt open and needs stitches. I'm not sure if the nurse was hard of hearing, or just didn't want to accept what she had heard, but she asked if it was his foot. No, it's his BUTT. Meanwhile a few other people have come in behind me and I can tell they are trying not to snicker. I understand, it is kind of funny. The wording of it anyway, not the pain I am sure my howling son is enduring.

As I am sitting and waiting for him to be called back, my friend shows up. What a lifesaver. She was able to do all those things that I had neglected to take care of. She ran out and got a new outfit and underwear for Nick. She became my calming influence when I started getting the shakes as the shock began to wear off. She carried my stuff so I could carry Nick. She kept me sane by talking to me of things other than Nick's butt wound.

Three hours later, Nick has been stuck, restuck, and stapled. He's been a trooper. Oh, there were tears, but also a morbid desire to see what they were doing - not an easy task given the location of the wound and the fact that the neck only turns so far. He's now a bit loopy but hating that I'm keeping an eagle eye on his every move. I tried to make it fun by letting him choose a movie and ordered out pizza. I probably won't sleep well tonight as I will worry about him sleeping well. I am glad that he is on fall break this week so will have the rest of the week to recuperate. What a story he'll have to tell.

Just in case you are wondering, I did refrain from taking pictures until the doctor was ready to fix him up. The body really is an amazing thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week Ending October 11, 2009

Last week was a busy one for me and the kids. Monday I met Neil after work at the mechanics to drop off the red truck. It needed a seatbelt replacement. Who knew safety could be so expensive? Nick and Cierra wanted to go so I piled them in the green truck and off we went. They have such interesting conversations. I wish I could remember now what it was they were going on about this time. After getting Neil and Derek, we stopped at the QT for gas and the kids were allowed to go in and pick out a drink and a treat. Of course, Rachel was upset that she didn't get a treat and Cierra's drink was absconded by another child so Neil had to make a pitstop on the way home after taking Derek back to his mom's house to please the princesses.

Tuesday we went and picked the red truck up. Neil has obviously been working too long of hours. He called me from work and asked me to meet him at the mechanic's. I asked him how that would work since we would then have three vehicles and only two drivers. He met me at home and we headed up together. He lingered a bit too long after I dropped him off, but luckily, nobody showed up for scouts so he wasn't actually late for anything. Aaron had his combined activity at 6:30 - water balloon fights and treats. Neil took him over and then he got a ride home with one of his leaders.

Wednesday Neil had the late shift. Aaron asked to go to a church youth group with one of his school friends and Nick had a pack meeting. I took Daniel, Nick, and the two girls to the pack meeting, which luckily was fairly short. After the meeting I took the kids for ice cream. Baskin Robbins has a buy one get one free sundaes on Wednesday nights so the three little guys got a single scoop of chocolate and Daniel and I each got a sundae. We got home before Aaron made it back and so I got all the kids bathed and into bed, then crashed myself.

Thursday, the kids had a half-day so we had our cub scout den meeting right after school at which time I realized that I had failed to bring all the needed materials for our activity. So we learned the Cub Scout promise, motto, and sign. My goal is to have all the boys earn their Bobcat by Christmas. We scheduled a get-together for Saturday so the boys could work on their spaceships since we wouldn't be having a den meeting the following week due to fall break.

Friday was another half-day and I had parent-teacher conferences for all the kids. Cierra has Exceeds in the majority of the areas and Meets in everything else. I always wonder how the kids can be such geniuses at school when they seem to struggle so much at home. Nicholas is in the mostly meets area with a few spots where he is just a bit behind. But his teacher says that is typical for all the students because the concepts are ones that will be hit on throughout the year and complete meeting of the standard won't be accomplished until the third or fourth quarter. He does have some speech issues which translates into his writing. His "l"s are often heard as "w"s and his "th" sounds are expressed as "d"s. While this isn't completely unusual, the teacher is having a speech therapist come in to observe him to make a better determination and intervene if necessary. Meanwhile I am working with him and making him pronounce his words correctly and he loves to write words so I am able to use that desire to help him hear and write the words more phonetically. Daniel is doing great academically, but he still struggles socially with his anger management. He is very helpful when he wants to be, but can lash out quickly when he is upset or feels under attack. We haven't had any serious incidents this year so far, so I see improvement.

Friday night Neil and I went out to dinner. We went to the Sugar Bowl in downtown Scottsdale. After eating, we wandered the streets a bit and went into a shop that specialized in Native American goods. I was reminded of home looking at the kachinas and jewelry. I asked Neil what the date was and realized it was my dad's birthday. So I gave him a call and we talked for a little bit. I had talked to my mom earlier in the week so was pretty much up on all the latest news, but it's always good talking to dad.

Saturday was busy. I worked on cleaning the house in the morning while Neil went out to Ben Avery with Nick and Aaron. He needed to sight the gun he's taking next week when he goes on his elk hunt and thought he'd spend some time shooting with the boys. The sighting took a while and so they skipped the shooting part so they could get home. Cierra had a birthday party to attend at noon so I took her to that after leaving Neil and the older boys cleaning instructions. After the party, we stopped by the library to pick up some materials I had put on hold, then went to the grocery store to pick up some last minute necessities for the party. Everyone showed up around 5:00 and we got the boys busy gluing and sanding their spaceships. Only one boy got his done well enough to actually decorate, but he was the one I was most worried about because his mom is a single mom and doesn't have a lot of extra time. The other two moms are stay-at-home moms like me and the dads are pretty involved in the boys' lives. It was fun having new people over and getting more acquainted with the families. The boys had a blast playing out in the backyard and were quite disappointed when it was time to say good-bye.

Sunday was church. We got up at 7 and made it to church on time. I was subbing in primary and I think the lesson went pretty well. We talked about how serving others shows our love for Jesus. The kids wrote some thank you notes on flowers for the Bishop and then couldn't decide on who should get to take them, so we all went down to the Bishop's office to deliver them then headed back for sharing and singing time. The kids are practicing songs for the Primary Program coming up next month. They sure are getting really good. We were low on numbers due to fall break, but the kids who were there definitely made up in volume.

This week is fall break for the younger kids but Aaron only got today off for Columbus Day. So it's back to getting up at 5:30 in the morning for him and me. I'd better get to bed.

She's Too Young to Drink

I wish I'd had my camera handy. Neil had picked up a few of those Pucker Up kids drinks and Rachel brought one to me to open. I did so and a couple of minutes later she brought another one. Assuming she was being nice to one of her siblings, I opened it as well. I got busy with various things and as we gathered together for family prayer, Rachel came into the room with a bottle in each hand. She took a swig from one, grinned at us all, and let out a beautiful belch. Lovely - I have a two-fisted drinker.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things That Make You Go ... HMMMMM

Nicholas: Mom, can we go on a trip for Christmas?
Mom: Where do you want to go?
Nicholas: Antarctica
Mom: Why Antarctica?
Cierra: Because they have snow.
Nicholas: And penguins.

Cierra: Maybe we could pray for snow.
Mom: And penguins?
Nicholas: Yeah
Cierra (simultaneous with Nick): Whaaat?

Week Ending October 4, 2009

This past week was absolutely crazy busy. As popcorn kernel for the district, this is my busy month. Also, the work I do is sporatic, so of course, this was the week where we had a big load come in that needed to be processed. Thursday was probably the busiest day for me. I had to get the roundtable newsletter sent off, pick up the Show & Deliver popcorn, do the normal kid runs, code, verbatim, and QC a number of surveys for work, and attend Roundtable.

The other days weren't quite as busy, but I did receive a call from a temp agency who had found my resume online and had a position they were trying to fill at SRP - a place I have previously worked. So along with normal mommy duties, I had to fit in an interview, and time to take the various tests to show how well I know Microsoft Office. Which I found out was not so easy because I don't like having to pay for change so I have been working off of Office 2003 while the professional world has moved to 2007. When I had the computer revamped, I did get 2007 put on, but I am still getting used to the layout of the toolbar. All in all, I didn't do too badly and scored in the high 80s for each of the tests. The only one that I did much better in was the typing test - for which I typed 78 words per minute with zero mistakes. I was rather impressed with myself and even had to brag to Neil.

The one highlight of the week was the General Conference sessions. Since we don't have television service, we went to the chapel on Sunday to listen to the two sessions. We also spent the between-session time at the Rivera's with our ward enjoying crepes, pastries, and other brunch items. This was fun because it allowed the kids to see their friends and I got the opportunity to visit with people I don't normally get to see because of church callings.

Although the addresses are all really good, I was particularly struck by Elder Holland's strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. I hope that the older kids who are in seminary took note of his testimony as they are studying this book this year.

We did get to see Alyx on Wednesday. She indicated that she is going to seminary, YW, and church and is wanting to go. That is such a difference from those who go because parents force them, or don't go because parents don't want the fight. She also had homecoming this weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing pictures. The guy she went with is a "kinda" boyfriend as best I can tell. He is in her ward and they are both juniors at Shadow Mountain High. They read scriptures together over the phone and I am pleased that she has chosen to look to young men in the church for her dating choices rather than the crowd she has previously been with.

This week is already off to another busy start and there is much to do. So until next week, have a good one!