Wednesday, September 23, 2015

From a cousin...

The older I get, the more I see there are only two churches. One following good, one following evil. All the other names and labels-- races, religions, non-religions, don't really matter. There are members of both churches under every label. There are parts of both churches in every person. If we look for the good and follow it wherever we find it, we will be given more.   -Angela Rockwood

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Homeschool update

Charles kept telling me he had two mommies.  Two ed-a-ma-mes!  We love edamame.

Charles was absolutely crazy today at church.  He is becoming sillier and sillier.  He looks at me with one eye crossed a lot because he knows it bugs me and he thinks he's funny.  When he calls me, I say, "What darlin'?", and then he tells me he's not "Darlin'".  Playing Duck, Duck, Goose yesterday with him and Leia was hilarious.  He gets up for everything and runs around.  Leia accidentally said Quack instead of Duck, and we all laughed so hard she wet her pants.  This is still a regular occurrence :)  In our new van the kids all have hooks or handles above their heads, and Charles will yell, "Pull the lever!", to which they all pull their handles and pretend this makes the car go faster.  Charles is sure it's working.  He's always saying things like, "This fun!", "Oh, bother", or "That's weird!" which sounds weird itself coming from a two year old.  He talks a TON but says "Loo" for "You" and "Lovel", for his shovel and still makes spitty sounds for anything resembling an "s".

School is in full swing here.  They've got a lot to read and are really doing great in piano again which makes my heart happy.  Here's Dallas trying to be left alone.

For over a month now, I've been visiting friends who homeschool and reading books about different homeschool theories.  I've homeschooled for years, but one can always be learning and improving.  "What little the teacher does must be done extremely well."- Charlotte Mason

My friend, Kathleen, who has homeschooled all her children successfully says her goal was for them to be average people.  "Average people are the happiest", she said.  I thought that was interesting.  I guess her point was when you're very poor or suffering greatly, life is intolerable, but on the flip side, if you are famous or wealthy (or just have high power/high stress jobs) the world chews up your soul.  It was an interesting thought.   She also said, if she could go back in time, she would unschool more.  I've read a lot of John Holt books trying get a grasp of that.  But my favorite thing she shared is the calling she felt it was to homeschool her kids.  She shared three verses in Genesis 18:  

 17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

These three verses were a confirmation of her desire to homeschool many years ago, and as she shared them with me, it was still very emotional for her remembering that confirmation.  She read the highlighted part as, "For I know her, that she will command her children and her household after her, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; the the Lord may bring upon her family that which he hath spoken..." (meaning the blessings of the Fathers).

Evan's always making things like these beaks for Charles and Leia.

Our goal this year is to read and write a lot, keep up with math like always, and work on family history.  They each have a long list of age appropriate books that they can choose from; one a week.  They write a paper weekly, but more importantly, we are having them talk to us about it so they can learn to TALK!  Seriously though, people like being around people who are good story tellers.  Being able to explain something and keep your audiences attention is vital. 

The character goal we hope to improve on is to have a servant's heart; to reach out in love toward those around us.  "The finest of all the fine arts is the art of doing good and yet it is the least cultivated."- T. DeWitt Talmage.  We've been trying to have people over weekly to get to know them.  I thought of trying to have a missionary experience each day, or to serve somewhere regularly, or just make treats and give them away for free in town, kind of like a lemonade stand, so they can get a feel for business.  I'd love to sell stuff, but I think everyone requires restaurant grade kitchens and permits and such.

Train tracks
I am giving the kids a lot of free time to choose what they are interested in working on as long as they don't abuse it.  Evan is building a chicken coop since he wants to be a builder.  D and S are working on electricity.  We have a timeline for history and they can pick out their own history book each week at the library and plot it on the timeline after telling us about it.

Charles and Leia are enjoying storytime at the library each week and a picnic in the park.  Leia really struggles with reading, but we just do 10 minutes a day, and she'll get it when she's ready.  She has other fun school books to do with lots of cutting and pasting.  Other than that we just read, read, read.  She also has many friends at her weekly dance class and she wants to move to China for the panda bears.  (Although she plans on speaking Spanish there).

 (Fun puzzles at the library, and this book had us busting up.)

There is a smattering of games, vocabulary, grammar, geography, art, and poetry etc. on the side.  The only thing that's killing us right now is soccer 5 days a week.  But it will be over in a few more weeks and it is that wonderful time of year where the weather starts turning to Fall and the chilis are roasting at all the grocery stores and it fills the air with the best smell so it's not bad to be forced to be outside.  And it's almost balloon fiesta time!

I am also working out with friends 3+ mornings each week.  I hate taking this time out of homeschool because the morning is the most productive, but it is good.  Exercise and friendship make a healthier mom, and I felt it was important for them to see it.  I usually bring them all to the church with me so they can spread out into the different rooms and all practice piano at the same time.

Praying mantis.  The only reason he was caught was because he was in our house!
My school is starting this week, and I hope to be able to keep up with everything.  It was actually great timing since I had surgery this last week, so it let me do that and get our homeschool running before kicking in.  I'll just be taking classes slow and steady for years...

Flowers from my presidency: Eileen, Sharon, and Cathy
A quick note about my surgery:  I've had three miscarriages since December, and I knew something was wrong, so I pushed my doctor to do tests.  He saw in an ultrasound that my uterus was twice as thick as it should be so he said we needed to do a d&c to scrape it out and test it.  I am okay being done having kids, but my doctor wanted to check for cancer and other things so I did the surgery.  As always the IV was the hardest part.  (Only because I was knocked out for the rest).  They tell you to fast before, and for people like me with tiny veins already, it's bad.  Only three people and three sticks though which is not too bad for me.  I breathed hard for the first one, cried silently for the second, and cried out loud for the third.  Now I just have the bruises all over.  (With one of my babies it took 15 sticks to get that IV in and I could barely hold my baby afterwards).  It's weird waking up from surgery.  I was gasping for air for a long time.  I felt desperate for air.

Pillow Evan made for Charles.
 After the surgery, I had a sore throat and roof of my mouth from being intubated (sp?),  so I asked Pat to stop at a frozen yogurt place and get me a small chocolate fro-yo.  He comes back with a huge cup full of raspberry, peach, cheesecake, pineapple, etc.  I said, "What is this?  I asked for chocolate."
He said, "I thought you asked for vanilla!"
I said, "When do I ever ask for vanilla?  There's not even any vanilla in here anyway!"
He stopped fighting after that.  Now I'm wondering, was I out of it from the anesthesia?  Or is he really such a weirdo?  I choose to believe the latter.

 (Summer hail storm.)

Although, after my last surgery many months ago, I apparently cussed out everyone at the hospital and said they were all trying to kill me and stuff.  It broke my heart when I heard this a couple days later, and I cried for a long time.  All I remembered was waking up and everyone was being really mean to me and I didn't know why.  They were so mean.  I was in so much pain, and they kept telling me it was all in my head and to just calm down.  My doctor even came and told me to cut it out.  But it hurt so much!  I'm someone who does NOT like to draw attention to myself and I avoid medicine like the plague, so the fact that they were treating me like I was such a nuisance was really hurtful.  My Relief Society President who was at the hospital with me and drove me home told Pat I was acting crazy, so I guess I have to believe it.  I do remember talking faster than regular people talk but Pat said I was leering at him in this crooked psycho way.  It was all so comforting to hear.

Anyway, I feel very blessed with kind friends and family who have been concerned for me, and it's not so bad having to rest and watch Longmire (filmed here in NM!) or Lark Rise to Candelford or Bleakhouse.  I have felt pretty okay since the surgery, but don't know much until I see the doctor on October 1st for the report and test results. 

Flower made for me by Evan

Mama's Helper

When I asked Charles to get me a piece of toilet paper so I could wipe my nose, he technically came through.

True story:
After being kicked out of my own bed in the middle of the night by two little visitors, I switched to the bottom bunk of one of their beds. A few hours later, I heard Pat's carpool knocking on the door, meaning he'd overslept. I started yelling across the house for him to wake up. When he didn't, I got up to run to him only to trip over a big mess of train tracks and go down. Later, my oldest, who was on the top bunk and was awakened by all the chaos, reenacted the whole thing. I had to admit, it was pretty funny.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Went to church last Sunday, as I do every Sunday, though I didn't want to.  5th Sundays usually end up with all of us crammed into a room that's too small and I feel claustrophobic... plus sometimes the lessons are lacking, to say the least.  The gospel is perfect, but the church/people aren't so perfect.  Heavenly Father must get so frustrated with us.  So I went, but I had a back up plan.  Pat could take me home after Sacrament Meeting.

Whenever I'm having a bad Sunday, it usually is solved by just getting to church.  It's Satan after all who doesn't want me there and will do everything possible to make getting there a bad experience.  But once I'm there I see people who lift me up, as well as others who need mePeople don't say when they need help or a listening ear, but you can tell.  This is one important reason we meet together oft.  The sacrament is the most important reason.  The talks and lessons may work out, but sometimes not.  Sometimes they are life-changing. Sometimes you're there for those other reasons; to encourage and support.

A friend, Roger, in my pathway class shared his story of reactivation in the church and it was really emotional to hear.  He is a really handsome middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair, the best smile, and cutest dimples. His mother had been through something like 13 marriages/divorces and he lost his father at a young age and a brother.  Now, as a grown (middle-aged) man, he was doing some shopping in Costco, when across the store he saw an old friend.  The store and everyone in it seemed to be dull and hazy, except for this friend who was bright and clear to him, though across the store.  The friend saw him, and they came together and began catching up on the recent years and he said he didn't know why, but he began telling this guy about his pain, his trials, and his worries; not a thing he would normally do.

The guy he saw in Costco is someone who I have the privilege of working with in the Stake Presidency (President Tom).  At the time he was a bishop, and after they had talked a while in Costco, he asked Roger to come visit him in his office on a certain day.  Thankful, Roger agreed to continue the discussion then.

Then the day came for them to meet and as Roger parked his car outside the church building, he had a horrible feeling come over him.  He sat there a while wanting to leave but eventually forced himself to get out of the car.  As he approached the door, he felt worse and worse and heard a voice say, "Don't go in." 

He opened the door.  As he pushed through the entrance, the spirit covered him from head to foot and he knew he was home.  He had never had such an experience like that in his life.  He was overcome with emotion.  He was clearly supposed to be there and Satan was trying to prevent his returning.

He began learning the gospel again, though he was a member, because he hadn't been since he was about 11 years old.  He worked through the hard things life had dealt him and now he is so happy.  He never stops smiling and his presence is a gift to everyone around him.  He makes everyone feel loved and shares his testimony every chance he gets.  President Tom was in our pathway class with us, and in this random group of adults from all over Albuquerque who decided to do pathway, Roger wasn't the only one who at some point during the year shared a story of how President Tom helped them come to the gospel (or come back to the gospel) and become reborn and whole again. It was pretty neat.

Last week, Pat ran into a friend who was a recent convert and then left the church abruptly.  He wanted nothing to do with any of us suddenly, so we gave him his space.  But when Pat ran into him last week, the friend said he's drinking a lot now and is having a lot of hard times at work and in life.  He said, when I look back to the happiest time in my life it was when I was always at church with you guys serving and such.  Pat really loves him, and we hope he finds his way back.  We all love him and miss him.

So, back to my story, I ended up staying the whole three hours at church just like any normal Sunday, and can't say how thankful I am that I did.  In the third hour we watched some videos of the apostles training church leaders from all over the world.  I loved seeing the diverse audience. Having taken the pathway class, I have studied each apostle and their remarkable lives and I just cry for joy when I hear them speak.  They are amazing.  They all happened to be talking about how important the Sabbath is and giving back Sacrament Meeting to the Savior.

Elder cook mentioned the Savior's final days and how profoundly significant the last supper was where he taught them of the sacrament and it's meaning.  How he taught the sacrament as one of the first things after appearing to the people in the Book of Mormon, and the significance of taking His name upon us.  Everyone who takes the sacrament is covenanting to take upon ourselves His name, saying, "I will handle my share of what I am called to do."

Elder Holland said our preparation for the Sabbath and the sacrament should start long before we enter the doors of the church.  The sacrament, he said, is a very personal ordinance, and it is the only one we do over and over again for ourselves.  

As I listened to these talks and felt the spirit so strongly, a prayer that I had been asking for so long, was finally answered.  I always knew it would be, but it's interesting how it seems to happen when I'm in the right place doing the right thing.  I had such a deep appreciation for the pathway program settle in on me also, and what it taught me, and for all the people I got to meet with for this last year, and I felt finally the clear direction I need to go from here.  Praise the Lord almighty.

Added bonus: a great cookie recipe I invented all on my own.  These are amazing!  Also, don't eat cookies.  They're really bad for you.

Karisa's Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Cream together:
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. sugar

Add and mix:
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs

Add and mix halfway:
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add last and mix in:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. white chocolate chips

Bake 350 degrees until lightly browned.  May need a little more flour if dough is too stick.  Remember, I make these at almost 7000 feet altitude!