Geography: Heartland States

This year in school we are using Layers of Learning year 4. Week seventeen of school we did unit 10. Our geography topic was the heartland states.

We did mapwork.

We learned about the Great Lakes.

We learned about Chicago’s Great Fire.

We learned some facts about Indiana.

Jamie told the story of how he had to go on a business trip to Indiana four days before Adrian’s due date and I wouldn’t let him stay overnight just in case so he went for about an 18 hour day. It turned out Adrian wasn’t born until 12 days past his due date so Jamie could’ve spent two weeks in Indiana and still made it home before the kid was born.

Adrian identified all of the Great Lakes on a blank map from memory.

We added the flags of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to our passports.

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.

I’ve grown my second complete human

Yesterday Cameron turned 18. We joked about kicking him out now that he’s an adult, but agreed it would be very strange for him to live somewhere else and come home for school every day so I guess we’ll keep him around.

The car, by the way, he saved up and bought with cash a few weeks ago. He loves it. He also loves that it has a manual transmission and he has now successfully learned how to drive a stick. He’s trying to come up with a nickname for his car and I, of course, suggested Sally. He, however, does not like my very excellent idea.

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.

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.

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).

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!

The Smell of My Childhood

Do you ever smell something and it jolts you back to a certain point in time? Not too long ago we were at Home Depot and I realized that home improvement stores reminds me of my childhood. My father was (is) always working on some project or another so we spent a lot of time at Hechinger’s and Home Depot and Lowe’s. Probably less time than my memory tells me we did, but it sure seemed like a lot of time when I was a kid. At any rate, my childhood smells like Home Depot.

An Adrian Funny

A couple weeks ago the boys’ assignment in Writer’s Workshop was to draw a heart and then write things they love around it. A few days ago I noticed Adrian’s heart page in his notebook.

I thought that was really sweet, but then he elaborated on why he only wrote my name. “I couldn’t think of anything else so I decided to just put Mommie.” Kids sure keep you humble and this one keeps us laughing.

(He did say later on that even if he came up with other stuff he still would’ve written Mommie because I am definitely a thing he loves. So at least there’s that.)

Fostering

About six months ago we started working toward becoming licensed foster parents. The amount of paperwork we had to turn in, the amount of questions we had to answer, the amount of training we had to do was so much. But that makes sense because we will be entrusted with the lives of real live children, all of whom have dealt with more trauma than anyone their age should ever be subjected to.

Two weeks ago tomorrow we were licensed. Now we wait for our first child. It’s kind of a weird feeling of limbo really. We know we’ll get a kid, but we don’t know when or how old or their race or gender or even if it will be just one or if we’ll get two at once.

We are often asked why we decided to do this. Basically, to decrease world suck. When Trump shut the government down back in January and Jamie was forced to work but we had no idea when he’d get paid for that work, people were so kind to us. It was quite incredible really. That got us thinking and praying about what we could do to pay it forward and the answer we received was to become foster parents. So here we are.

One really interesting thing happened while we were going through the licensing process. We got invited by Amazon to join the Vine program. This means we get products to review. Stuff in exchange for our words. We’ve reviewed well over 300 items so far as part of that program. Many of the things we have gotten are for babies, toddlers, and children. Toys, clothes, carseats, diapers, even a crib mattress and a twin bed base. Things we would have needed to buy. So that’s been a huge blessing.

We also were given a bunkbed (just needed to get mattresses for it) and a crib by friends who were getting rid of them absolutely free. It’s like the stars totally aligned (or, rather, we were super blessed by God for being willing to do this crazy, hard, incredible thing of caring for and loving His little ones).

We should have our first placement very soon. You never know when a child (or two) that matches what we are approved for (girls 0-3, boys 0-7; that’s all based on the space in our bedrooms and the laws in Texas) will need a home.