14 Course Meal

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The youth in our ward were given a quarantine challenge to help keep them busy this spring/summer. One of the things on there was an n course meal where n is the number of people in your family. We added in Cameron and ended up with 14 courses. We had our meal yesterday afternoon. It was both fun and delicious!

(carrots and dip by Adrian, cheese cubes by A, Grapes by E, New England Clam Chowder by Baby B)

(bread and butter by Fritz, applesauce by Baby A, sherbet by N, salad by Jamie)

(buffalo cream cheese celery by my dad, lemon friend chicken and broccoli by my mom and mac and cheese by Adrian, brie and crackers by Ani)

(crepes and nutella by Cameron, Milky Ways by me, and sparkling cider by M)

 

Because my kids are awesome…

They gave my some awesome Mother’s Day presents yesterday.

This week was Adrian’s turn to give the talk/lesson/spiritual thought during our home Sacrament Meeting. He wrote his talk himself and it was all about how important I am and how much I do. He did a great job and will always get to be one of the few kids who gave their very first Sacrament Meeting talk at home.

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(In our home church, dress clothes are required for 10 and up, but shoes are optional.)

Ani, Fritz, and Adrian got together and ordered a personalized message for me from Corbin Bernsen. He played Henry Spencer on Psych. I LOVE Psych. It ended up being really long and was totally awesome. Like the awesomest thing ever, really.

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And Cameron, my wonderful second born Cameron, gave me this most fabulous mug and filled it with Milk Way bars (my current favorite candy bar). I got a big laugh out of what the mug says.

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Home Church

For over a month now we’ve had church at home. All of our churches worldwide are shut down until further notice. I’m really not sure when we’ll go back to regular meetings. Sometimes I wonder if it won’t be until there’s a vaccine or reliable treatment.

Anyway, I rather like having church at home. We have our little Sacrament service. My father and Jamie bless the bread and water and Fritz and Adrian pass it. We sing the First Article of Faith song a lot. We’ll go on to the second one once the toddlers know the first one. We take turns giving a little talk/spiritual message. Now our ward has Sunday School via Zoom twice a month as well. And then we have our Come, Follow Me lesson that we’ve been doing weekly for over a year.

It’s really interesting, though, that we’ve pretty much been training for this home church thing. We were already totally used to doing Come, Follow Me at home as a family. Now we just have a little more church at home, but we already had a good groove going. There’s no need to actually go into a church building to maintain religious studies.

But I suspect our first week back meeting all together will be pretty noisy as we greet old friends and get caught up post-social distancing.

Bread and a Pineapple

In our church we are assigned people to minister to us one-on-one. Our ministering brother texted the other night and said he was at Walmart and did we need anything. In fact, we did. There was no gluten free bread at HEB when I went there Friday and we were down to our last loaf at home.

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A little while later he dropped off FOUR loaves of bread and a pineapple. He often gives us a pineapple because he knows we like it and it is safe for everyone in the house. No more worrying about going back to the grocery store searching for bread!

Goals

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Luke 2:52

Starting, well, today, the Church’s program for kids 8-18 is totally changing. It doesn’t even remotely resemble how it was when I was that age. And that’s really cool.

The new program seems really open ended and involves coming up with personal goals to achieve. No more “this is what you must do.” It’s all designed to help kids improve themselves. What amazing training for success in life in general this program will be!

There are four areas based on the scripture above for kids to make goals in: Spiritual, Social, Physical, and Intellectual. So we’ve been talking a bit with the boys about setting goals in those areas. They’ve come up with a few ideas so far.

Cameron
Intellectual: Figure out plan for continuing education (and possibly graduate from high school a semester early)
Not sure where this fits: Make twice as much as parents did at same age this year
Not sure where this fits either: Buy house?

Fritz
Intellectual: Finish purple belt at Code Ninjas
Physical: Take Lola for a walk twice a week
Social: Start D&D sessions with friends (he already did one with two boys from church yesterday)
Spiritual: Read the Book of Mormon again

Adrian
Intellectual: Learn how to shuffle cards
Physical: Go on a a walk twice a week with Fritz and Lola
Social: Play Yu-Gi-Oh with friends (one of the boys who came to play D&D also played Yu-Gi-Oh with Adrian while he was here)

The best calling in the church

It seems that every calling I have is, to me, the best. Right now I am a Sunday School teacher. I team teach with my mom so that makes it extra fun. I love our class members (we have two Sunday School classes in our ward and people are free to go to whichever they want). I love how the lessons go including when they go in a way I didn’t expected they would. Come, Follow Me is the most fabulous program ever. I just really love being a Sunday School teacher.

It’s been a rough summer for Ani…

When Ani applied for her mission, she was in a great place health-wise. Her medications were stable, she was totally functional, and everything seemed to be going well for her. That was in February.

In March, things started going downhill. Several of us got sick and Ani never bounced back. By the end of April she was barely able to eat. She was having abdominal pain pretty much no matter what she ate.

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I took her to the doctor the beginning of May and she was sent for several tests. They didn’t show anything wrong. She had an ER visit in there, too. The end of May she saw her rheumatologist and he put her on an anti-spasmodic which did help some.

But her pain kept getting worse. It started up between her shoulder blades as well as the upper right quadrant of her abdomen. We went back to the doctor. He sent her for yet another test (which came back fine) and a medication to try (didn’t work; actually made it worse).

She started her mission the end of July. She tried really hard to complete all her duties, but more and more by the end of August she was having to back out of her commitments or leave early. She was just in way too much pain, could barely eat and not at all without pain, she was losing weight. It was bad.

Back to the doctor we went for the third time of the summer (not counting the rheumatologist or ER). This time the doctor said even though all the tests did not indicate gallbladder, her wanted to send her to a surgeon to be evaluated for gallbladder removal. Her symptoms and how she reacted to various medications really pointed to gallbladder in his opinion.

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Ani comes from a long line of women who have had their gallbladders out. Me, my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. Before her I guess they just suffered because gallbladder surgery wasn’t a thing yet. My grandmother in particular had a rough time. Her local doctor though it was gallbladder, but the big time doctor in DC said the tests did not show it to be gallbladder. Twelve years passed and she eventually formed stones and had her gallbladder out which fixed all the symptoms she’d been dealing with for over a decade.

Two weeks ago tomorrow Ani saw the surgeon. He agreed that it sounded like her gallbladder needed to come out. He said he takes out 30-40 a year that don’t have the “right” test results and in over 90% of the cases, the issues are resolved through removal. For the rest, and for Ani if it didn’t work, he then refers to a GI doctor (he gave us the option of going to a GI doctor before surgery, but we opted for surgery first).

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And so, a week ago Friday, Ani had her gallbladder taken out. She’s had surgical pain of course, but she felt better within hours of surgery than she had in months. She can eat anything without pain. It was clearly her gallbladder that was the culprit over this long and painful summer.

So now she’s almost all the way healed and ready to resume her missionary duties and able to do so in a way she just hasn’t been able to do since the beginning. She’s smiling and talkative again. We had forgotten just how much she usually talks. She was so quiet and miserable all summer. It’s amazing what problems a little organ like the gallbladder can cause!

Ani’s a Missionary

Ani finally received her missionary name tag and official start date and assignments a couple weeks ago. She will be serving her service mission from July 26, 2019 until January 26, 2021. She is currently doing a shift in the temple, a day at the distribution center, and a day at Catholic Charities each week. Over the course of the next year and a half she may be reassigned or have things added as needed. So far 2 1/2 days is about all she can handle health-wise.

She loves what she is doing so much. When she got her patriarchal blessing when she was 16, the stake patriarch, who was in our ward and aware of her health issues, began to sob and collapsed against her chair as he said she was invited to serve a mission. We knew it would take a miracle in order for her to be able to do so. We assumed that miracle would be that her health would get better, but of course the Lord knows better than we do. Instead, the miracle was that, just prior to her turning 19 and old enough to serve, they announced that those who could not serve a traditional teaching mission would be able to serve service missions right from the start. They would be able to live at home, see their own doctors as needed, and have their mission duties and work time customized to their needs and abilities.

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So here she is, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She’s not serving the mission she envisioned when the patriarch said she was invited to serve. But she is serving the mission that is perfect for her.

Service Missionary Conference in Houston

A few weeks ago Jamie, Ani, and I went to the first gathering of service missionaries in Texas. Just a couple days before that, Ani had been set apart as a full time service missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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There are currently only a handful of service missionaries spread across Texas. Only something like 16 in the entire San Antonio Mission (which stretches to the border and includes Austin).

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Going to this conference gave me the chance to see Houston for the first time. Now the only major city in Texas I have never been to is El Paso.

Keeping the House Clean

As I mentioned in my post about my morning routine, I really like to have the house clean all the time in order to make my days go smoother and for me to be a better mother. I also mentioned that keeping the house clean and organized does not come naturally to me. It is something I have worked on for years, tweaking what I do and incorporating new routines as needed.

For the last few years, I’ve used my bullet journal to help keep me on track and reach my goals for cleaning. Each month I make a page for my daily/weekly/monthly to do’s with squares for the dates to complete each task. As I complete each thing, I color it in. I love coloring in those squares. Having all the day’s boxes colored in is such a great feeling, almost better than the feeling of having a clean house.

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I of course have all the things in my morning routine on that page. Then I have some things on the computer that I do every day (daily thread on a Facebook group, adding to my letter to my aunt, updating our finances, a batch of indexing, taking a picture each day, and scrapbooking that picture for Project 365). Fritz does the 7 Minute Workout each day as well.

Once a month, on the first, I clean the dishwasher, the garbage disposal, and the washing machine. I deep clean the stove using the special cleaner and razor blade. I change my sponge and switch the little picture on the welcome sign my sister made me years ago. I rearrange our Lego calendar for the new month. I rub the vinyl letters on the living room wall to make sure they don’t fall off (vinyl letters and super textured walls don’t mix super well). And I clean the couch using leather wipes. Also once a month, on the 11th, Lola gets her heartworm preventative medication. Once a month, on the third Saturday I wash our sheets (twice a year I also wash the mattress covers and twice a year I wash the blankets and quilts).

I have several things I do once a week. Sundays I send an email to my oldest niece who is serving a mission for the Church in St. George Utah, Fritz cleans Rae’s cage, and we put the Sacrament in a baggie to take to church (those of us with Celiac eat Nut Thins instead of bread; for some reason when church switched from 9 to 10:30 we kept forgetting to take our special sacrament so I added it to my to do page). Mondays and Thursday I have a box for bringing in the trash cans (we can get fined by the HOA if they are still out the next morning). On Mondays, I clean the filter in our dishwasher with a toothbrush. Wednesdays I print the letter to my aunt and also send a copy of it by email to my mother-in-law in Ireland. Thursdays I mail the letter to my aunt. Also on Thursdays I make menus for the next week, order groceries (which we usually pick up Friday evening or Saturday morning), and make a list of what I’ll need to do to prep our food for the week once the groceries have been picked up. Saturdays I refill Ani’s pill containers for the week.

Not something I put on my to do page, but that helps with keeping the house nice, I often walk around the house while I read. It kind of kills two birds with one stone. I get exercise and I get some reading done, too. Sometimes I’ll grab one thing that is out of place as I make my circuit (which goes around most of the bottom floor). I put it where it belongs (or on the stairs to go up) as I continue around the circle. It’s a really painless way of straightening up.

It’s amazing how much these things, none of which take very long, contributes to the beauty and mood of our house. I encourage everyone to come up with simple things you can do each day in your home. I guarantee you will not be sorry!