Monday, October 31, 2011

Morgan's Grandmother's Update - Monday

"Morgan had a fairly quiet day. The PEDS had a day of reverse trick or treating today. The hospital volunteers and staff dressed in costumes and brought treats to all of the children. Sponge Bob and friends came by; but the best was the ORANGE, three/ legged, poodle with a GREEN tail, that did cool tricks for BT.

"I am spending the night with Morgan so [Morgan's parents] and BT can spend a night at home. Tomorrow at 11:30 Morgan will be moved to...the hospice facility on the...Medical Center campus. It is a beautiful setting, with medical, emotional, and physical support. Morgan will have access to the same level of care as he is receiving at this point in PICU. (The biggest change will be not having to use a public restroom 40 feet down the hall and past the security doors.)

"We are all grateful for each day with Morgan - he is a strong child. Thank you for your letters of encouragement and Victory Morgan cheers!"

Basic Cream Soup Recipe

We had a special guest for dinner last night.  It was just something I felt I should do knowing that his wife was out of town and he was living the bachelor's life for awhile, Saturday, we invited him to join us for Sunday dinner.  When I invited him, I didn't know what I was going to make for dinner, and I didn't know that Sunday was his BIRTHDAY.  I found that out bright and early Sunday morning on facebook (good ol' facebook).

We started in on the birthday cake.  That was easy.  It was the figuring out what to make for dinner that was a little more tricky.

I decided that I'd make the bread bowls and a soup.  I found a recipe online, but didn't have all that it asked for, so I did my own thing.   As I made it, I realized that the base of this soup can really be used with any ingredients, so here's what I did, but you can throw in anything you want.

Basic Soup
Throw the following into a crockpot:
1 large bag frozen vegetables--I used a Tuscan mix--peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
You can use fresh veggies too, but if you do, saute them in a pan first until they're tender, but not soggy.
cooked meat--I used chicken that I chopped and shredded, but you could use browned ground beef, or probably some chopped up pork (I'm not sure about beef, but what do you have to lose? Give it a shot.)
spices--I used thyme and paprika
salt and pepper to taste
you could probably also throw in some onion or garlic for flavor

Now, for the yummy part:
Make a cream sauce with equal parts butter and flour--I used (for our large group) 1 C. of each, but a more practical amount would be 1/4 C. of each.
Gradually pour in chicken broth.  I used four cans, and I threw in a can of cream of chicken soup to boot, but if you do 1/4 C. of butter and flour, use 1 C. chicken broth.  The cream of chicken is completely optional.
Stir this sauce into the veggies and meat.

If you'd like, grate some cheese into it or do it before you serve it.

You can also throw in some pasta, but cook it slightly before you do, or throw cooked pasta in right before you serve it.  I think the second option is the one I'd choose.  I always seem to end up with soggy, nasty pasta if I cook it in my crockpot.

Let the soup cook on low for about three hours.

I highly recommend this soup served in the bread bowls.  We served this with a Caesar salad.  It seemed to be just right for a Sunday night.  By the way, we have afternoon church, and we get out at 4pm, so I made the bread bowls around 12:30pm and let them rise while we were at church and set the soup to cook at that time too.  It was all ready to go when we got home.

Hope you try it and hope you love it.  If you try some good combinations, let me know.  I'd like to try your creations too.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


This past week was just a bit too insane.

Last night, I fell asleep watching a movie with #5.  This is something I never do.  It's been just one of those one thing after another after another after another kinds of weeks.

I woke at 5am and went upstairs.  I checked the time and decided that while the house was quiet, I'd go through the power point to get things ready for tonight.  It's amazing how quickly this whole exercise grabs my heart every time.

Kids started to wake up.

Next thing I knew, there was a phone call reminding me that I was supposed to be at a meeting.  Ugh!  Where had the time gone?

Well, I had fallen asleep in my jeans and hoodie the night before, so I was already dressed, I guess.  I contemplated changing, but decided I was already late, so what the heck.

Now that #2's party is over and soccer season is done and there is only one more cross country meet and tonight's fireside is over, I think I can breathe again. 

The delightful thing is now that all the Halloween costumes are taken care of, I don't think there's anything out of the ordinary this week.  It'll be nice to have life back to normal.

Morgan's Grandmother's Update - Sunday

"Morgan continues to battle the sympathetic storms, he is receiving medication sometimes on the quarter hours. The Team is trying to keep him as comfortable as possible. [Morgan's parents] were given the option to move Morgan to...a hospice for children. This will give them a more home-like place with support for these difficult days.

"We continue to pray that we can have the courage and strength to face the small challenges of each day. Tomorrow will begin the sixth week Morgan has been in the hospital. We truly appreciate your emotional support!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Morgan's Grandmother's Update - Saturday

"Morgan and I spent Thursday and Friday together. Morgan’s belly had become very swollen and distended; eventually his whole body was very puffy. They gave him a medication to help him move the fluid from his ‘third skin’ (the interstitial spaces or areas not within the cells). He had been storming for about seven hours no matter how they medicated him. His oxygen saturation levels dropped as low 65 several times. The nurse realized that his diapers were getting lighter, so they scanned his bladder, which was full. They called [Morgan's parents] who gave permission to use a catheter. As soon as the catheter was in place he calmed down. He had a few short storms this morning (Sat, 10/29), most of the time he is resting comfortably.

"[Morgan's parents] are taking BT to a Trunk or Treat* party tonight. They are trying to do fun things with BT, to make his life as normal as possible. BT has moved back in with Kate and me, so he can be closer to mom and dad.

"Yesterday was [Morgan's dad's] interview with Intel. He thinks it went well. [Morgan's parents] had a good break from the hospital.

"[Morgan's dad's] brother, flew in to spend a few days. It is good to see them together.

"*Trunk or Treat: neighbors get together in a parking lot, decorate their trunks and children walk from car to car, rather than door to door, more candy less walking dark streets. Arizona has low ambient light laws, so neighborhoods don’t have streetlights. It is VERY dark, but the night sky is beautiful, and there are no clouds."

Party Time

Oh my goodness!  Last night was so much fun!  I just had to share.....

We had 18 teenagers here.  They were SUCH good sports.

If you've never done a murder mystery dinner, I highly recommend it.  I'm convinced that the more you put into something, the more you get out of it, and since everyone who comes has to do something to prepare--get a costume--they have a great time.

If you're curious, we purchased the party here.

This party was even more fun that the one we did for my birthday years ago because it had activities mixed in.  They were all optional, but we did a few of them--create a disguise with a roll of toilet paper, Halloween movie quiz, and (my favorite) the rap contest.

This, being a teen party, didn't have a murder attached to it but a theft.  At the end, the kids had to share who they thought did it, and nearly everyone was accused.

Here's a sample rap for you:


I just found this.  FASCINATING!  To date, there have been 1607 earthquakes in Japan since the biggie on March 11th.

One of the things we were told when we first arrived was that there would be a quake everyday while we were out in the work area.  It wasn't a "might" or a "maybe."  It was, "Plan on it.  It's gonna happen."

Being in the apartment with just #1 and me.  I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by the whole thought.  I didn't know where anyone else was staying.  I was completely responsible for us, and I didn't have means of communication with anyone. 

Thankfully, this situation lasted for only a couple nights before more volunteers arrived and moved in with us.

When I go to the Japan quake website, I see that there were fourteen quakes during the time that we were in Japan (8/2-10; they have the dates set up so they read day/month/year).  We felt none of them.  Those that did happen were either far enough away from where we were located or of such a magnitude that we didn't feel them.

I guess there was a larger one the night after we left.  It woke some of the volunteers up, so it must have been a bit larger and a bit closer.

So relieved and grateful that we were safe.  I wish things would calm for the Japanese people, but that just doesn't look like part of what they can plan on for the time being.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Big Night

#2 turned 16 back on the 4th.  Before we had children, we, the Warden and I, decided that our kids'd only have a big wing-ding party every four years.  Well, 16 is one of those.  On off years, the kids can invite one friend to go with the family and do something fun, but 4, 8, 12, and 16 are the biggies.

We're doing a mystery dinner.  It has a Halloween theme.  Should be really fun.

So, today is full of preparations--cleaning, decorating, baking, dressing up, etc., etc.

My kids are an Indiana Jones type character, a country/western Taylor Swift-esque star, an opera singer, and #4 has opted to be one of Robin Hood's merry men.

Hmm.  I should make more excuses to get Harrison Ford on my blog.
Just be grateful that I passed on the pic of the woman with the shields in strategic places--very tempting.

I'll make sure to get some photos to share in the next couple days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: Conscious Parenting

Here's the third point from James D. MacArthur's The Functional Family speech:

"In the FF (Functional Family) parents CONSCIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY parent....You cannot afford to allow your parenting to become casual. You are very serious about it—not uptight—but serious and focused. If I could convince parents in the Church to do one thing that would make all the difference it would be to set aside a specific time once a week or perhaps every two weeks (but not further apart than that) to sit down together and discuss family matters—or if you are a single parent I would encourage you to set aside a time to think about each of your family members and overall family needs. Some single parents have taken this advice and joined together at a regular time each week to discuss family issues and help each other. I want to be very sensitive to single parents in this talk. The idea here is that you would not miss the time set aside for partaking of the sacrament at 9:00 a.m. Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. Then why would you miss the time set aside for thoughtful consideration of each child's needs, overall family needs, marital needs and the personal needs of you as parents in the family? DO IT!! It will make a big difference if you don't give up on it too easily. Intentional parenting means regularly taking some private time to think about each child and what he/she needs.

"Let me make a big point here. How can setting aside a time once a week regularly to talk together about family needs, goals and plans possibly make that big a difference? It does because parents have no forum for regularly discussing their family needs unless you create one—and this is it! This is the time and place where it can all happen. Please do it!"

I love this idea!

When I think of conscious parenting, I think it's a matter of thinking through every consequence of the actions you take--if I do this, how's it going to effect my family. I love MacArthur's idea. I we take the time to think of each child and his/her needs and do it on a regular basis, we can be more purposeful in our actions as parents.

Strength from Surprising Sources

What first drew my attention to Morgan and his situation was my former sister-in-law.  One day on facebook I received a message from her asking me how I knew them.  I told her about my history with the family and growing up with them in the same ward.  I asked her the same question.  She wasn't raised in the church.  She shared with me the posts I shared with you yesterday.

She told me that her new husband grew up with them and he and Morgan's dad are best friends.  Morgan's dad was in their wedding party.  She said they, as a family, were just in Arizona visiting them in January.

Wow!  What a very small world we live in.

But....Here's where it gets interesting....

My former sister-in-law, had one child in her first marriage.  That child was born with a seizure disorder.  These are the things Morgan is going through right now.  She watched her son leave this life at a very young age.

Isn't it amazing how our Heavenly Father blesses our lives with friends who can truly empathize and support us in our times of greatest trial.

His love for us never ceases to amaze me.

Morgan's Grandmother's Updates

Image credit:
If you read this post yesterday, the last update you saw was from October 5th.  I'm sorry that at the time I posted those links I couldn't share more.  All I stated was that things were not good.  If you haven't yet read that post, please go there first.

I'm afraid it might have been a bit deceiving.  I didn't feel, because of privacy of the family, that I could share more.  I have edited the updates a bit just to protect the family.

I started receiving updates from Victory Morgan's grandmother on the 14th.  That's nine days after the link I shared yesterday.  That's a long time in a situation like this.  Between the 5th and 14th, Morgan starts having what are known as "storms."  The best description of just what a "storm" is is found in the information on 10/16/2011 (below).

The day before was a difficult day. "The neurologist wanted to make sure that Morgan's storms were storms, not seizures; so they removed the ativan, and increased the seizure medications. The neurologist wanted to remove the medication regulating his heart rate....they would allow the trial for 24 hours, but if his heart hate went above 160....Morgan would get morphine....The trial results at the end of the day were that the storms most likely not seizures....

"Morgan cried again yesterday....It is rather heart rending....[One of the doctor's said this was a] time to rejoice."

"It is amazing to be witness to the outpouring of love, prayers, and continuing support.

"They removed Morgan's EEG leads on Friday and see no signs of seizures. Morgan continues to storm through the day with about two hours of storming and one hour of rest. Morgan's Team does not want to stop the storming, just control his heart rate; which was often going over 160 (average for Morgan's age is 80 to 120). They have administered medication to control the heart rate,which the Team is now reducing so they can see if using a using a muscle relaxant will help relieve the stress on Morgan's limbs and muscles. During a storm all the major and strongest muscles contract, contorting his body into a backwards 'C'. The Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists have trained [Morgan's parents] to help Morgan stretch his leg and back muscles.The Speech Therapists have created splints for his hands....

"Friday night to Saturday morning Morgan slept 10 hours with no storms! He went to slept at 8:30 pm to 6:30 am last night without a storm. Today Morgan's Team have decide instead of waiting 15 minutes to see if Morgan self-soothes they will administer morphine after 5 minutes to see if they can give him longer rests between storms. [Morgan's parents] have a deep faith that Morgan will be fine, and everyday Morgan works harder to fight back! Morgan's Team is so pleased with his progress; Morgan continues to surprise them everyday.

"The EEG's continue to show normal patterns in some areas of the brain. We are all so encouraged with blessings and answers to prayers we receive each hour. Morgan's Team appreciates your prayers in their behalf, they really have no data on children and storming. There are very limited documentation on storming in adults."

"This has been another miraculous day for Victory Morgan! Morgan slept for 11 hours last night! We pray this will become a habit, so he can heal. Morgan had one storm today, and spent the rest of the day listening to stories and music. He had one dose of morphine or was more alert. He is relaxing his arms, folding them across his chest. He pulled up his knees and relaxed them down a couple of times (not in a storm).

"Friends are still working on the trust fund. If you would like to make a donation at this point for Morgan's health care please make the checks out to Victory Morgan Eggleston and mail to:
Victory Morgan Eggleston
11487 S Cinega Dam Pl
Vail AZ 85641-9073

"Thank you again for your prayers and support. We know that they make a difference!"

"[Morgan's parents] had another piece added to their burden today. [Morgan's younger brother, BT] was unable to stand up. He came to the hospital for a CT Scan and x-rays to see what was wrong. BT has the current virus, that attack the cerebellum, disrupting your equilibrium. He should be fine in 48 hours.

"Morgan's whole team (case manager, PT, OT, SpT, resident and doctors) to discuss the future....this is the first positive meeting they have had since September 26. They plan to put the G-tube (Gastrostomy Tube) in within the next few days, the surgeons feel confident that Morgan's storms will be controlled by the general anesthesia.

"The next big question is what to do about the storms. He is back to storming for two hours with about an hour's rest between storms. They have tried many combinations of medications and they are not sure what if any of these have had an affect - today they added valium, but it made no difference. They tried morphine, waited 15 minutes, added ativan, waited 15 minutes, then added valium and with no effect on the storms. So [Morgan's mother] gave him a bath and he slept for an hour, and then he had another storm so they tried morphine and valium with no effect, so they added more valium, still no effect. [Morgan's parents] asked if they could see what would happen if they administered no medications. The team agreed to try as long as it does not become life threatening (as in his pulse rate stays below 150 and his oxygen saturation levels stay above 89). Morgan has just started another storm - so you will have to wait until tomorrow for the results :-).

"The next steps will be the G-tube, finding medications that will control or reduce the storms, make sure [Morgan's parents] can administer food and medications, and then they will take him home until the storms cease. Then the team will do an assessment to see what he can do and find a rehab placement for therapies to complete the healing process."

"So much for the suspense... I think this is like the scary guy jumping out at you. I wish we could have the sound track music to know when to cover your face. Today was rather a rough one, Morgan had a 14 hour storm, the medications are no longer having any effect. They tried a bath, a massage, rocking, and leaving him alone, none of those therapies worked. His pulse was often 190. We began a fast for him at 7:00 am this morning; by 11:30 he was calmed down. I truly believe we are receiving blessing sent from heaven! He has continued his "normal" storm pattern the rest of the day. The medications no longer have any effect. [Morgan's parents] are totally exhausted!

"Good news [BT] is a little better, not quite steady on his feet, but able to stand. He is such a good sport about not having a mom and dad most of the time, but hey, with grandparents on call, I think he is coping....

"Thank you for your love and prayer's for our family - they do make a miracle everyday!"

"Thank you for your continued prayers. Victory Morgan continues to give a good fight! What a tough few days. Morgan stormed through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The only rest was an hour on Thursday when he had surgery to insert the G-tube (gastronomy feeding tube). After the surgery he stormed for 40 hours straight, with his pulse rate going to 190. Friday night at 4:00 pm Morgan's Team asked [Morgan's parents] if they were ready to let Morgan go. After mighty prayer, they decided that Morgan and they were not ready to quit. The Team administered small doses of morphine for the pain and Versed (a prescription medication approved for use as a sedative, anxiety, or anesthesia medication used before or during surgeries, medical procedures, or dental procedures). Since then Morgan has been resting comfortably....They are glad that something finally is working. That little man is one tough kid, good thing he has lots of tenacity!

"...BT, the 15 month-old brother of Morgan) is doing much better! He is such an easy going little guy - he has not minded being shuffled around, just as long as he gets some Mom & Dad time.

"Thank you to all of the friends and family who are supporting us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. It is all the little things together that have made for these amazing daily miracles.

"This weekend has been hard, difficult and faith building After 72+ hours of non-stop storming, experimenting with combinations of medications, Morgan is finally resting comfortably. This is an extremely difficult journey for [Morgan's parents]. Morgan’s Team has worked diligently to bring Morgan back to life. Over the weekend Morgan developed pneumonia. [Morgan's parents] were given the option of continuing letting Morgan storm until he had a heart attack or to administer ‘comfort care’. Morgan continues to hold on to this life with great tenacity. Morgan’s Team continues to support Morgan and care for this ‘little man’.

"[Morgan's parents] have faith in our Heavenly Father’s plan for Morgan. While this experience has been discouraging they have counted themselves and their family blessed by the faith, thoughts, and prayers of so many people. To those who have reached out in their thoughts and prayers we are all so grateful for your sustaining faith and will continue to sustain us as we experience the unfolding of this little life.
"I know that families can be together forever. This is one of the sustaining principles that allow me to move forward in letting Morgan go home to a Heavenly Father who knows him and loves him. I know that the family and friends will be blessed and strengthened by walking this path with us. We look forward to the day when we will be united together again. That will be a very happy day giving balance to the sorrow of today.
"In a Facebook post yesterday [Morgan's dad] wrote, 'Thank you all for your prayers and support. Today marks the beginning of our fifth week in the ICU with Morgan. I am certain that we would not have survived the sleepless nights without you. Unfortunately, things continue to worsen but may I please ask this of you. Regardless of the outcome, if this experience has turned you to prayer and brought you closer to God as it has me--Promise me that you will not turn away from God. In his honor and with the knowledge that I will see him again someday--I will stay faithful.'
"A bless (sic) that we count is: [Morgan's mom] took a picture of Morgan and wrote about his life every day for his first year of life, these are entries are captured in a blog; then published a book called ‘Morgan 365’, which I cherish. For the next two years she maintained the blog with at least weekly postings of her family. They will find great comfort in knowing that they put their family first. [Morgan's dad] loves and adores his boys; he loves to play with them and teaches them about this beautiful world.
"Today, as [Morgan's mom] was rocking Morgan, BT came in for a bit and kept giving hugs and kisses to his big brother.
"I will continue to keep you updated as we walk this road with Victory Morgan.
"Again thank you for your unfailing faith, thoughts, and support." 

10/26/2011 Morgan Update
"This is has been another day of joys and sorrows.
"Morgan’s condition has remained the same; they (sic) Team continue comfort care. Thankfully he is resting peacefully most of the time. Today he had two short storms. [Morgan's parents] explored the idea of a hyperbaric chamber, and the specialists studied Morgan’s case and came back with the sad news that it would be ‘fruitless’.
Today [Morgan's parents] were able to ‘detach’ Morgan from all of the tubes and wires and take him outside for a little sunshine. BT ran around the courtyard telling Morgan what he saw and then he would go to Morgan to give him hugs and head-butts (their sign of endearment). It is a bittersweet time. We are grateful for the time to say our goodbyes; yet we continue to hold out hope for some other choice. We feel enveloped in love from angles both Heavenly and Earthly!
"I know many of you are wrapping your arms around our family! There truly are not words that can express the comfort that we feel as you support us during this difficult time."

Today:  A Note from Morgan's Grandfather
"At this point, Morgan is just being kept comfortable, I'm praying for [Morgan's parents] and Morgan's brother [BT]. For Morgan I'm praying he will feel no more pain as he prepares to be with his Father in Heaven. I'm not sure what else to do. I'm thankful for the memories I have from his short life. One just can't or imagine ones grandchild proceeding them from this stage of eternal life."

Again, I'm just begging that you would keep this family in your prayers as they say good-bye to their son.  I have included the address for Morgan's trust fund, so you can donate if you wish to.  I know it would help the family greatly.

Permission Granted

I'm really not sure where to begin, and I have children and a house that need my attention this morning.  I have received permission from Victory Morgan's grandfather to share a bit of his story.

I think, first of all, I want to share the following video.  Just know that as the day goes on, I will post more and get the updates out so you can pray appropriately.  I'm trying to be sensitive to the situation and protect privacy as much as possible.

I found this video on Morgan's grandmother's facebook wall.  So appropriate.  Get some tissues and take a minute to watch it.  The artist is a wonderful LDS musician--Hilary WeeksNieNie (Stephanie Nielson) and Mariama Kallon are featured in this video.  Both have been through things they would NEVER have chosen for themselves, but the things they've done with what life has handed them is truly inspirational.....

Interesting, but the Warden shared with me, last night before we went to bed, that he's been asked to speak in church on Sunday. His topic: Being an example through adversity.

Requested Update

More on yesterday's post....

As I said, I've been keeping tabs on this family via facebook.  The information I shared yesterday was that that I knew was already public.  It was all I felt I was at liberty to share.

I receive updates from Victory Morgan's grandmother, but they are sent via facebook message--not on her wall, so I don't feel comfortable sharing that.  I will just tell you that things are not good right now, and all I can do is ask that we join our prayers together and ask for comfort and blessings for this family.

I have asked if I can share more but that was late last night, so I haven't heard back yet.  As soon as I can, I'll make sure to update here.

So, for now, please keep praying.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great Sadness

First read this.

Then read this.

This little boy is the son of one of my former Primary children--when I taught Primary before my mission.  His grandmother was one of my leaders when I was a youth.  SUCH a WONDERFUL family!

I've been keeping tabs on his progress through facebook.  At this point, things are not looking good.  Please, please, PLEASE keep this sweet family in your prayers.  I just can't imagine the anguish they must be experiencing.

Wordless Wednesday: I Know This Feeling

Cascading Milk and a Lacrosse Stick

#6 had a big disappointment this morning.  He was told something he didn't want to hear from someone outside our family.  He didn't quite know how to handle that one.  What I've learned from past experience with him (see this post) is that I have to stand back and let him process it in his own way, which is usually unpleasant, but if I say anything or try to help, it becomes even more unpleasant.

I couldn't help it this morning.  He shut down, and we had to get going, so I had to say something.  I did, and the rest of the morning, so far has been, we'll just say, less than pleasant.

If only I'd just kept my mouth shut in the first place.  My brain said to just keep quiet, but I couldn't.  The other choice was to leave him behind, and I couldn't do that.  It was a real catch 22.  Actually, now that I think about it, the whole morning has been a catch 22.  I feel like I was set up.  Can we just start all over?  I'd like to climb back into my nice, warm bed.

So, here's how things went down....

We're walking to school.  He's mad, so he runs ahead.  He crosses the street without anyone with him.  I tell him that that's dangerous, and if he can't get it together soon, it'll be his last time walking to school with us (he only gets to do this on Wednesday's when he has no school).  That's totally an option because the two middle school-age kids are home.  It's their time to practice their instruments.  The only reason why #6 likes to walk with us is because our neighbor boy walks with us, and he thinks he's pretty great.

Well, instead of pulling himself together, he gets angrier.  This is our ongoing problem with him.  He does the opposite of the best reaction and makes the situation worse.  He continues to run.

Thankfully, a neighbor who happens to be driving her son to school today pulls over and offers the two boys a ride to school, so I'm left with #6 and #7 to walk home with. I try to get #6 to talk to me.  What am I thinking?!  Again, he gets angrier.

We walk in the door, and I know I don't want this child in the house; he needs some cooling down time, so I ask him to go out back and cool down.  He starts running upstairs.  I catch him and walk him out the back door.  As we head to the door, he grabs his brother's backpack, which is laying the stairs, and hucks it at the kitchen table where someone's cereal--half-eaten--is sitting, waiting to be taken to the sink.  I get him outside and go back to straighten up some of the mess.  As I pick up the backpack, the bowl of cereal continues to fall all over my pant leg and shoe.  It was all a blur, but I believe there was a glass of milk that joined the waterfall that cascaded from the table to the chairs to the floor.

I go upstairs, shed my milky pants and throw them into the laundry room.  In my bedroom, I already know there aren't any more pants to be changed into--darn minimalisim (what was I thinking?!)  Of course I am unsuccessful.  Most of my things are still out in the garage in the crates from that darned experiment.

I come downstairs again to find that while I was upstairs searching, #7 decided to pour some more milk onto her tiny bowl of cereal.  Milk, which I might add, was left at the table by children who are already off at school.  I find her standing on her chair filling her bowl to overflowing and emptying the rest of the gallon milk.  I grab the jug with about 1/4 inch of milk still in it and run it to the sink and start hollering upstairs for towels.

As I appear, #6 is outside tapping lightly on the back door with a lacrosse stick--thank goodness for the VERY expensive sliding door we bought.  I wonder how much more of this it will take.  So thankful it was just a tapping, but there was definitely a threat of it becoming more.  I knew I couldn't even look at him, or it would quickly become banging.

I'd like to add here, that I had absolutely NOTHING to do with the reasons that led to all of this.  Why am I the target?!  Let me off the bus!!!

I go running to the garage to find some pants and can't dig through the crates fast enough.  I'm fearful of what other chaos might be growing in the house.  The garage is cold and dark, but oh so quiet--tempting.  Maybe I could just hang out here for awhile and let whatever else is going to happen happen.  I could go back in when things are quiet, but no, I know I've got to face what lies ahead.

I reenter, carrying crates into the house--the pants were in the bottom crate, of course.  Towels have been strategically placed on the puddles of milk on the floor and table.  #7 continues to stand at the table now crying because milk is flowing onto her shoes and socks.  She's trying to figure out how to get the bowl to the sink and ends up with milk on her pants and sleeves as well.  All while #6 is beating on the door.

Okay, so what do you deal with first and do you not lose it?

After I locate pants, I head upstairs to put them on.  At some point while I was dressing, #6 came back in by himself--I guess he felt he had it together.  Without a word being said, he had started cleaning up the milk and cereal that was all over the floor and table.  I find him quietly sopping up puddles of milk with large towels.  He looks up and quietly says, "Sorry, Mom."

Peace is starting to be restored.  Did we all survive?  Barely.  I feel like I've had my workout for the day, and it all started with one disappointment to a very small boy.

At this point, I have two errands that NEED to be run, and I am the carpool queen today, so we have to leave the house.

Get the errands run, get the kids to school, and get the little kids to their playdate (THANK GOODNESS!  Thank you, Christy!).  I walk in the door and reality hits me.  The house is a complete WRECK, and I have three hours to study, so here I sit whining and blogging.  I have to get a grip on it before I can go deal with it.  Why is it that cleaning from a tsunami is easier than cleaning my own home after an experience like this morning's?

Well, I'm off.  Thank you for letting me vent and whine.  Off to face the aftermath.

I just went downstairs, and I'm not kidding...

one of my mom's chocolate chip cookies sits on the counter waiting for me,
and this song comes on the playlist:

I think I'll eat a cookie and have a good cry before I try to conquer the world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: Give and Let Go

"2. In the Functional Family parents are mostly interested in WHAT THEY CAN OFFER THEIR CHILDREN AND PAY LESS ATTENTION TO WHAT THEIR CHILDREN WILL DO WITH WHAT THEY ARE OFFERED. Surprised to hear me say that? You will be less tense, stressed and troubled when you REALIZE THAT IS ALL YOU CAN DO ANYWAY—OFFER YOUR CHILDREN WHATEVER YOU CAN....BUT THE RESULTS OF WHAT THEY DO WITH YOUR OFFERINGS IS BEYOND YOU. Since that became clear to me—I operate differently in my family. Now, I put my thought and effort into doing my very best to offer as much love, teaching, sharing, concern, help, guidance and attention as I can to my children and grandchildren AND LEAVE WHAT THEY DO WITH IT UP TO THEM. I just offer all I can to uplift and strengthen my children—but the path they travel after that is their path to choose. I see myself as a teacher, coach, consultant, guide—and NOT as a manager who must get results. If you see yourself as the latter, you will likely try to control your children and will get worse results. IF YOU OFFER FROM YOUR HEART AND LET THEM GOVERN THEMSELVES—I think you will like the results you get even better.

"Of course, we all care a lot about what our children do with what we offer them. I care about it a lot in my own family. But I realize I can't control what my children do with what I offer them BUT I can pay a lot of attention to what I consciously try to offer them."

When I first read this, I got the wrong impression.  My first thought was that he was saying give your children everything they want.  Give to them monetarily.  What?!

After getting all the way through it, I realized that's not what he's saying at all.  MacArthur comes out and specifically states that what he gives his family is as much of his "love, teaching, sharing, concern, help, guidance and attention" as he can.  These things I can accept.

So basically, from what I understand, MacArthur is saying that you do what you can do and then allow the child his/her agency.  As parents we need to understand where we end and our children begin.

This is very much a Love & Logic principle as well.  You love the child enough to give him/her choices and you allow him/her to make mistakes so that he/she can learn from them.  The point is to let your children learn while they're young, while the "price tags are low," but you continue to love them no matter what they choose.

Bottom line:  I CANNOT control my children.  The more I try, the more frustrated I become and the more resentment we feel toward each other.  It's just a fact that the freedom to choose is an eternal principle.  It's one of the reasons we exist here.  When and if we try to revoke this privilege from someone else, we are breaking a God-given right.

Yes, life would be so much easier if we could just program everyone else to think and act like we do, but that's just not what it's all about.  When it comes down to it, my accountability ends with me, and theirs does with them.  But, I am still responsible to give the best I have, and when I do, I can be happy knowing that that's what I have done.

HUGE Faux Pas

Kaffrin's here today, so we're making cookies.  Last week, it was ginger snaps.  The week before, it was sugar cookies.  Today, I decided we'd do just plain ol' chocolate chips cookies.  I'm always in search of the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, but to date, nothing matches my mom's.

So, I pulled out my handy dandy all inclusive (or so I thought) cookbook--Madhouse Masterpieces of Mastication.  I searched and found two different chocolate chip cookie recipes, but my mom's WASN'T there.  NOOOOO!!!!

So, for your cookie making pleasure, here it is for you:

Ruth Hamm's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C. shortening
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. water (I left this out today)
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.  Beat the first five ingredients until creamy.  Add the eggs and the dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Bake at 375^ for 10-12 minutes.  (I like mine soft, so I go with 8 minutes).

My mom's recipes says to sift the dry ingredients.  Truth be known, I rebel against sifting (and ironing--just thankful it didn't ask me to iron anything; the guilt of not sifting is enough).  I figure I've got better things to do with my time (and my wrist).  The cookies today turned out a little bit flatter than I remember them, but that might just be a consequence of my rebellion.

The chefs

One other thing I'm trying today for the first time is something a friend shared with me YEARS ago.  I've now baked three dozen cookies.  That's really all we need for today.  I have an empty juice can that I've washed out.  I'm stuffing a bunch of the dough--as much as'll fit--into the can.  I'm going to cover it with foil, tape it down and put it in the freezer.  Oh yah, and if you do this, don't forget to mark what it is in the can, or you might get quite a surprise the next time you're thinking of making apple juice; although, the foil might just give it away that something's amiss.  I'm also jotting down the baking instructions so I don't have to look them up when the time comes.

Next time we want cookies, we pull the can out, use a can opener to open the other end and push the dough out as we cut the cookies onto a cookie sheet.

The leftover dough will take at least two cans, and I only have one, so I may take the rest, put them on some wax paper in little balls and then wrap them in foil, and put them in the freezer to wait until next time.

There you have it.  Enjoy!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: Clearing the Air

For the personal finance class that I'm taking, there are, in some lessons, optional reading selections.  I just ran across a GREAT one.  I thought I'd share it here.

It seems that we, for the last number of years, have been engulfed with the words "dysfunctional family."  This speech that I've linked to, though, talks about the opposite--the "functional family."  Maybe if we took our focus off of the dysfunctionality of everybody else's homes and started to work more on having functional families ourselves, life would be so much easier.  It just seems that taking personal responsibility to be a functional person individually and encouraging others by our examples.  I wonder if this might change our world.

I am not asserting here that my family is completely "functional."  I would also submit that we're not 100% dysfunctional either.  I believe functionality requires that each person who contributes to a home consciously decides and works at being a responsible individual and recognizes the part he/she plays in what makes up the family.

Point #1 from Mr. MacArthur's speech is this:

"THERE IS AN INVITING, COMFORTABLE, LOVING ATMOSPHERE IN THE HOME AND FAMILY. It is somewhat intangible but is at the very center of the family soul. It feels good and it feels good to be together. The atmosphere is 'easy' and 'not tight.' People like to be there. It feels like 'family love is in the air.' When you walk into it—you feel it. It is kind of like ice cream—you can't seem to get enough of it!

"As we talk about the other characteristics of the Functional Family—you will see that it is because the other characteristics are happening in the family that the atmosphere in the home is what it is."

I will be the first to admit that my home is NEVER spotless and rarely, if ever, wonderfully clean, but there have been times when friends have come to our home and have commented that they "like the way it feels."  I would assert that it's the feeling of those that live in the house toward each other that flavors the feeling in the home.

Last night was not one of these "ice cream" type of times at our house....

I took one of my children to a choir practice, and when I returned, there was tension in the air.  It was clear.  It has been here for awhile, but for some reason, last night I decided that life is just much too short to have our home feel like this for even one more minute.

I walked into the front room and found two individuals in the room that have been at odds for a good long while.  I decided I couldn't take it any longer, so I put my nose where it didn't belong and said, "Wow!  I'm surprised to see you both in the same room.  Have you fixed things?"

One of the parties looked at me with complete surprise on his face, and I said, "C'mon.  Don't tell me you didn't know he's been mad at you for weeks.  Have you talked it out?"

I was surprised that neither was mad at me for butting in, but they said they hadn't.  I said a few more things and got the ball rolling.  I knew if I didn't, it would be a cold day in someplace unpleasant before they took that bull by the horns.  I don't know if,  by the time they were finished, things were fixed, but I believe they were well on their way.  At least they understood each other, and it sounded like they were both aware of the things they needed to work on.  Now we'll just wait and see if they both do them.

It surprises me how quickly we can accept disharmony and make it part of our skin.  For them, I guess it was just easier to be unhappy than to talk it out, but once the dialog began, the air started to clear.

I remember hearing, when the Warden and I got married and people were asked to offer us advice, that we were never to go to bed unhappy with each other.  We heard it so often that it became a trite saying.  I still cringe when I hear people say that.  But, more than not going to bed unhappy as husband and wife, I'd say, never go to bed with an unhappy teenager in the house.  A committed husband will still be there in the morning; an angry teenager might not.  They know just enough to be dangerous.

So, there you have it.

The first goal for a functional family is to clear the air.

If there's unhappiness in your home, maybe it's time to swallow some pride and be the first to open your mouth and bring it out.  One thing I saw last night was that you have to be completely honest, but be kind in your honesty.  Be prepared to hear some things that might not be comfortable, but be willing to accept that you're not perfect and everyone needs to change--even you.  I mean, if you're being a jerk and everyone else is aware of it, wouldn't you rather know so you can stop and make a change and become a more functional person?

One final note....You can do NOTHING to change the other person.  You can do all in your power to make them aware of what's bugging you, but it's really up to that individual to take what you've offered and choose to do something with it or not.  The only person you can control is you, and that's okay.

The Week Ahead

When I was a mom of only two small children, I asked a woman who was a teacher what I could do that would best prepare my children for school.  Her response was that I should give them social opportunities as much as was humanly possible.  I was really good at this with my first three kids--playdates, preschool, park & rec classes, etc., but after my mom passed away, I kind of shut down socially.  I've let things slide quite a bit, but as I was driving home from dropping my kids at school this morning, I got to thinking about the week.  Somewhere I must have turned a corner.

We had a friend's three kids this afternoon, so she could go volunteer at the school.  Tomorrow, #7 will be with her good friend "Kaffrin" at our house.  Kaffrin, last week, requested that we make cookies because we'd done it the week before, so I'm thinking every Tuesday with Kaffrin's going to be a cookie day.  Wednesdays, I trade with a good friend, and it's my kids' turn to go to her house to play with her kids.  Thursday, #7 goes to Kaffrin's and Friday afternoon, the friend whose kids I watched today will have mine, so I can go volunteer.  I guess, unknowingly, I'm back in the swing.  I'm loving that my kids have lots of good kids around them.

With all that fun, there are a LOT of projects going on....

I'm working on getting my school stuff all up to speed.  I have essays to write for careers and two more lessons to complete for personal finance.  I have other essays to write, but I don't really want to expose the reason for those yet.  I will eventually....just not yet.  Anyway, I have time in which to finish those, but they are sitting there nagging at me in the back of my mind.

The Primary program was yesterday, so that's a big relief.  To be honest, for that, I'm kind of a support person.  My wonderful counselor really pulled it off.  The kids did great, but I have to admit, it's nice to have that pressure behind us.  Now, to plan for Christmas and the coming year for the Primary kids.

Friday night, we're doing a big birthday celebration for one of our kids with a mystery dinner party, so there'll be decorating to do and food to prepare.

Sunday is the big Japan fireside for the ward.  I need to fine tune the power point I created for it and finish translating Sister Asano's testimony.

I still have a few cookbooks to deliver, so there'll be a trip to the post office.  I think I've come to a point in which I can release the last ten that I'd reserved just in case I'd messed up someone's order.  I've heard from no one, so they are $15 for anyone who wants one--first come, first served.  They're great for Christmas gifts.  If you want one or two, let me know.  When these are gone, they'll ALL be gone.

So, there you have it--the insanity that is my life.  I keep thinking that once school's done I'll have a blank space in my schedule, but we all know that's not going to happen, huh?  I'm sure there'll be something else to fill it up.  I wonder what that something will be....

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