Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Harsh Times

Do you remember that movie that came out a few years ago?  Harsh Times?  I didn't watch it, but I thought it was the dumbest title of a movie, like, ever.  It was supposed to be a war movie or something, but what it sounds like is the movie title for Clueless 2.  Alicia Silverstone's character says "harsh" all the time in Clueless:

Ty:  Why am I talking to you about this?  You're a virgin who can't drive.
Cher:  [Tears pooling in her eyes]  Ohhh, that was harsh, Ty.


Picture it on the marquee:  Clueless 2 - Harsh Times.

Maybe Cher and her ex-step-brother realize that their relationship is really weird, and they break up, thereby having the harsh times.  Maybe Cher's dad gets thrown in jail and Cher has to pay off all his debts and then be poor.  That would give her the harsh times.  The possibilities are endless, really.

Anywho, I'm so sorry I haven't updated in awhile.  The  main reason I haven't is that I've felt truly horrible.  It's been three weeks since my last chemo (I go in tomorrow - blahhhhh), and I've had really awful side effects clear until, like, yesterday.  A LOT of them I can't talk about on here.  I do have some sense of appropriateness.

Mainly.

I did confide some of the grossness to a journalist the other day...

It's a long story.  In a nutshell, she's doing a story on this camp that my kids went to last summer - Camp Kesem - and she wanted to interview me.  She asked me lots of stuff, on and off the record (she would turn on and off her cell phone recording device accordingly), and one of the off-the-record things she asked about was what my side effects are.  I mentioned things that are okay to mention in public and then vaguely told her that there were some other, really gross, really scary side effects, as well - things that made me so scared that I cried and cried.  For realsies.  She really, really wanted to know the nitty-gritty.  So, off the record, I told her.  She handled it well.  She actually started crying... and then I started crying...  Haha!  I appreciated her sympathy tears.  I did.

I've told you about my bronchitis (I'm still coughing, but not as badly.  I think the worst of it has passed).  I can tell you about my low blood pressure.  It's crayyyyy not to be able to function at normal capacity.  Going up the stairs winds me for a few minutes.  Every time I stand up from sitting down or lying down, I have to grab some furniture and wait for the dizziness to pass.  I taught ballet last Wednesday, and it just about killed me.  I really wanted to finish up a grand allegro (big leaps) combination we'd been working on a couple of weeks before.  I had to show them a few different jumps in this combo, and dude, I couldn't jump.  I tried so hard.  I'd plie and squeeze my butt cheeks and try so hard, and...nada.  So I had to show them the moves by lifting myself onto the barre and showing them what their feet do in the air.  So sad.  A few of them were having trouble remembering the combination, so I'd do it with them.  I'd say "do it with them" is a bit of an overstatement.  More like stumbling around and trying not to fall.

Chemo also affects your balance - I've read that in pamphlets.  And I can feel that when I'm trying to teach slow, sustained, balanced movements.  My balance is just SHOT.  We were doing a simple reverance on Wednesday and I almost fell right on my butt.

I overdid it so much last Wednesday that I couldn't teach Thursday.  And that's another thing - you have to really conserve your energy.  For instance, I went to spinning with my dad Monday (don't worry - I kept my heart rate below 150), and then I did the stationary bike and weights with my mom yesterday (I couldn't lift as much weight as her, and she's 60 years old).  Neither workout really even induced any sweat.  They were very low-key.  And yet last night, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I think it was from the exercise.  It's weird, going from being such an active person to having to be a couch potato.  It's really frustrating.  I just have to keep telling myself, "But you're going to live.  That's all that matters.  You're going to emerge from this."

Oh, and a dude did a hit-and-run on my SUV.  Luckily, I wasn't in my car when it was hit.  I was inside, at my friend's house.  On a residential street.  But this guy must have been booking it, and I think he had a really big, jacked-up truck. Because when he ran into my car, he pushed the right rear bumper clear up onto the sidewalk (flattening my tire) and the left driver's side clear out into the road.  The left back is crunched pretty hard.  We have a $500 deductible.  Boo-yah.  Spending money on fixing cars is fun.  We called the police and he did some investigative work - he thinks it's a big truck, blue (his truck left blue marks amidst the crunchiness that is the back of my car right now).  From the tracks in the snow, the officer deduced that the truck hit the breaks to stop for a stop sign a couple of car lengths in front of my car, and he slid into my car.  And then backed up and drove off.

So yeah, kind of a bummer of a week.  But it's okay.  Here's a silver lining - when we first got our SUV four or five years ago, I immediately (and accidentally) backed up into a light post at the end of my parents' driveway.  That light post is a serious hazard.  I remain resolute on my opinion of that.  At any rate, it left this...well, incision.  I can't think of a better word for it.  Because I can't think of words.  It seriously looks like someone got an exacto blade and sliced it up and down.  We haven't ever had money to fix it, so there it's been for all of these years.  Well, the silver lining is that we are getting a whole new bumper.  Incision gone.  That's nice. Now if we could just get the driver's side heatie seatie button fixed...wish we could claim that as part of the accident:  "But officer, the impact of the hit-and-run must have jiggled my heatie seatie button loose, thus tragically taking away my ability to warm my tooshie in these frigid temperatures!"

The real reason that button is loose somewhere in the ether of behind-the-dashboard is because my oldest children were fighting over who could sit in the front seat one day.  I was grabbing Gage and Micah and my purse and all that crap while they ran out into the car.  Things got physical (My kids?  Naw...) and they somehow, someway, hit that button, and it fell backwards behind the dashboard.  End of warm tooshie for me.

For the record, they were both grounded.  Tooshie warmth is of utmost importance to me.

So, to offset the bummerishness of this post, let me show you what I saw at Sam's Club with my mom yesterday.  While we were there for like three hours.  I'll let you in on a little secret:  my mom is the slowest shopper I have ever met.  Even slower than Ben.  And that's saying something.  My motto with any kind of shopping is "Get in, get done, get out."  So it's hard for me to walk around with meandering shoppers.  I love her to death.  I love Ben to death.  It's just a fact that they're slow shoppers.  It's a quirk.  And we all know how many hundreds of quirks I have.

Anywho, we saw this toy:


Who on God's green earth wants a doll that magically poops charms???  It ain't right, you guys.  It just ain't right.  Notice that you can collect the charms once they've been defacated from the doll's bottom.  And apparently make a bracelet out of said defacated charms.  Normally I'm a La-La-Loopsy fan, but this is really pushing the envelope for me.

Kay, so...chemo is tomorrow.  Wish me luck.  I keep having these daydreams that the doc will say, "You know what?  You've done enough.  You're finished.  Congratulations."  OR that he'll say, "You know, your blood pressure is too low.  We need to put your chemo off for another week."  But that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing, because then it would put off my ability to get up to Bend after Christmas.  Still, another week of recovery would do me a lot of good, dude.  Usually, at this time, I'm fully recovered and ready to take on another round.  This one - this one is different.  I haven't climbed out of the hole from the last one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Chemo Brain!

Have I told you guys about Chemo Brain yet?  Probably.  I first heard of it when someone was telling me I should call her friend who had just finished chemo.  She said that she'd tell her friend that I was calling, but because of her friend's Chemo Brain, she might not remember who I was when I called her.

And let me just apologize really quickly about this - in the past few months, I've probably had...maybe 20 people offer this to me - they give me their friend's/aunt's/grandma's/cousin's number, saying, "Hey, my ____________ has gone through this; they can offer you some good advice."  And I've meant to call them; I really have.  It's just that...I get soooo overwhelmed.  I'm on the phone sooooooooo much with friends and family and insurance and doctor's offices already.  I think I'm kind of tapped out on phone usage.  So I just want to apologize to you if you've offered me the help of a friend and if I haven't called them yet.  I had this cute lady in my parents' ward who gave me the number of one of her co-workers who's just starting on chemo; she wants me to call this lady and give her encouragement/advice, and I'm really hesitant to do so.  If this lady is anything like me, she wants the phone to just freaking stop ringing.  You know what I mean?  I don't know.  Maybe I'll just text her and say, "Hey, I'm your coworker's acquaintance.  I'm almost done with chemo [which is a huge overstatement, probably.  Two chemos left does not an "almost done" make...], and if you need any advice or insight into the process, just call me."  I just really don't want to annoy the poor gal.

Kay.  So.  Back to what I was talking about.  When I read that this girl had this Chemo Brain thing and forgot stuff all the time, I was, of course, alarmed.  I thought, Not only is this stuff going to poison my body and make me feel really sick and horrible, but it will affect my BRAIN FUNCTION??

  
Unfortunately, Chemo Brain is very, very real.  I mean, I don't know if you'll read about it in scientific journals or whatever.  But in my experience, and in many chemo patients' experiences, yep, it's real.  And yep, it's sad.  I mean, it's not horrible, but mainly, your short-term memory is just shot. I can't remember the names of my ballet students.  I try so hard, but it's just taking longer than it would ordinarily have taken to remember.  When I show them an exercise we're going to do, I often forget it, so I have to keep a little notebook with me to glance at.  I have to write every single solitary thing I want to do on my calendar, or I'm so screwed.  I've missed two wedding receptions and a funeral because of my stupid Chemo Brain.

The nurses who work with me refer to it all the time.  I'll say, "Oh, I meant to get you this or that information, but I forgot," and they'll shrug and cheerfully say, "Chemo Brain!"

I also forget words.  Nouns, mainly.  Simple words.  Like the other night, I was FaceTiming with Ben.  BT Dubs, I'm starting to kind of hate FaceTime, because the screen shows me in up the corner, and I hate that I have to look at myself, because I look like a hard-boiled egg.  Also, for several days after chemo, my neck and face are poofy.  It's sooo butt ugly.  My eyebrows are quickly thinning. My eyelashes are also thinning rapidly.  I just look...not so great.  And I know that beauty is inside and all that crap.  I do.  And I believe it.  But I also know that if you don't feel decent on the outside, you feel a little bummed out.  Like when you see a picture of yourself, and you're like, "Wait, I look like that???"  Man, that sucks.  You think, "Well, I have a little spare tire, but I look alright!"  And then you see pictures.  And then you get depressed.  And then you ask your friend to photoshop those pictures for you.

Sorry, tangent.  So anyways, when Ben and I were FaceTiming the other night, here was our conversation:

Me:  Dude, I look so gross.  I'm so sick of looking like an egg.

Ben:  We should call you cue ball!  You just need a little black dot on your forehead.

Me:  A black dot?  What are you talking about?

Ben:  Cue balls have a black dot on them.  Like a target.

Me:  No, they don't.

Ben:  Yes, they do.

Me:  I mean, sometimes they have little blue smudges on them from the chalk you use...

Ben:  No, they're manufactured with a black dot.

Me:  I think you're thinking of the black dot on the table.

Ben:  No, I'm thinking the white cue ball.  With a black dot on it.

Me:  Dude, trust me.  My grandma and grandpa had a....a....  Um, okay, one of those tables.  That's covered in green felt.  You know, it has holes in the corners and sides?  And you use those.....sticks? You know, the long sticks that you kind of....aim at the cue ball?  And you hit the cue ball, and it hits another ball, and that ball goes into one of the holes?

Ben:  ...A pool table?

Me:  Yes!  Yes!  A pool table!  So I should know.  Cue balls don't have black dots on them.

Ben:  [Doubtful silence.  I'm sure he was thinking to himself, She does not know what she's talking about with the cue ball, since she can't even remember that a pool table is called a pool table...]

We agreed to disagree.  Which, by the way, is one of our Marriage Strengths.  We're lovers, not fighters.


Addendum:  Um, okay, so after having googled images for "cue ball," I found that we're both right. Some are plain.  Some have little red dots on them, some have little black stars on them...  So that settles that.

Oooh, oooh, two pieces of information that you may or may not care about:  

1)  I got bronchitis.  From a cold my mom had.  We were so careful, you guys.  The poor woman wore a mask for like four days.  We sanitized everything.  We stayed away from each other.  But I got it.  And it very quickly turned into bronchitis.  I felt really, really awful.  I couldn't even sit up.  It required so much energy.  I just lay around for like 5 days.  But then I went to the doctor yesterday and got the official diagnosis of bronchitis, and they gave me an antibiotic, and BOY HOWDY.  I feel like a million bucks.  I felt this when I got an antibiotic after I got thrush, way back after my first chemo.  As soon as that antibiotic did its thing, I could feel an enormous difference.  And I was so peppy and energetic!  It makes such a huge difference for those of us with low white blood cell counts.  So I feel really good today!!  So grateful for the good days.

2)  My left boob has finally "dropped."  That there is pregnancy-talk, isn't it?  If you recall, Leftie was too high and wouln't soften and drop.  It finally did.  So now my boobs are even.  Do you know how awesome it is to have two boobs that are even???  So grateful for even boobs.

Monday, November 10, 2014

First Love Letter

My ornery dear son has an admirer.  She gave him a love letter the other day:

Very passionate stuff.  I love it.  I also love that she says he is her friend "four ever."

He had ZERO idea that this was a love letter.  Um, because he doesn't read very well.  Actually it's been a couple of weeks since he got the letter, and I see daily improvements.  So I think he could read it now if he wanted to.  He's started picking out words when we're out and about - "Mom, this button for the seatbelt says 'Press!'"  And sometimes, if I'm reading the newspaper, he'll try to read some of the words in the headlines.  I'm glad.  We've worked our tooshies off trying to help him.

Anyways, the girl's name is Harleigh - interesting, right? - and she gave him her phone number on the back of this paper.  I was impressed.  I don't think Micah knows my cell number (which functions as our home number).  Oh, I have failed him in so many ways...

I'll have to call Miss Harleigh's mom and arrange a playdate sometime soon.

I was planning to ignore the lovey parts of the message.  I told him how cool it was that he had a good friend and how glad I was that I had her number so we could arrange playdates.  My mom was the one who clued him in on the contents.  She asked if Harleigh was his girlfriend, etc.

I thought he would get really embarrassed (which is why I had skirted around the issue), but he was cool as a cucumber.  "No, Gwamma, we're just fwiends.  She's not my girlfwiend."  And that was it. No blushing, no stammering, no embarrassment.  I was impressed with his panache in the situation.  I would have done all of the above - the blushing, the stammering, the embarrassment, the hot denial... It's fun (and sometimes excruciating) to see the differences between my children and me.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's mainly teenagers that get my lame-o jokes. Mainly.


I felt good enough to teach ballet on Thursday evening, which was a minor miracle, since I have felt horrid before and since that class.  This has been a rough chemo round, you guys.  A rough one.  At least I'm not "in hospital," as they would say on Call the Midwife (my new TV show obsession).

I was teaching 7-9 year olds that night; I really do love them.  They are (with a few exceptions) willing to try stuff, and they really love pleasing their teachers.  They also give me huge spontaneous hugs, which I love.  

I work at a studio that mainly focuses on jazz, so these little teeny girls can do double jazz pirouettes, chinese split leaps, and aeriels - seriously impressive stuff - but they haven't focused so much on ballet.  Ballet in this studio functions as mainly a training place.  A place to get them strong and make them get into the habit of pointing their toes and sucking in their guts.  I love being their "trainer."  I love showing them the beauty of ballet.  I've had just a blast at this job, truly.

So on Thursday, I thought it might be fun to teach them adagio at the barre (slow, sustained movements, bringing the leg way up high and holding it, moving it into a new position while still in the air, etc.) - something they haven't learned yet.  It's difficult, but it's really great for creating the long, lean muscles in your arms and legs.  And it's great for balance.  

One of the movements I had them do is called attitude.  Your leg is high in the air, but bent at the knee.  It's a really beautiful position.  Here's me showing attitude devant last summer:
And here's me, demonstrating attitude arabesque:
Yep, that's me.  Did you know that I lost about 40 pounds, magically regained my center pointe skills, and regrew back my hair?  Crazy things happen.

So when I was teaching them about attitude, I showed them the move, told them that it was called attitude, and then cracked the following joke:  "It's the only time when attitude is good to have in ballet class!"

Badda-BUM!

Crickets, you guys.  Crickets.  They didn't get my joke.  Even when I said, "Get it?  Attitude??  Get it?"  So sad.

Please tell me that you get it.

I'm saving up this joke, friends.  I will be using it with my teenager class on Wednesday.  I'm hoping for a good response. :)  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A special discovery.

So...I changed my sheets before I went in for chemo last Thursday.  Brand new white pillowcases, etc.  I went in for my treatment, which, if you remember, involves a chemo drug called The Red Dragon.  You pee red for about 24 hours.  Ain't no thang...

The  morning after chemo, when I woke up, I found these pinkish areas on my pillowcase:
It's kind of hard to see; I should have used my good camera to show you.  The pink marks hadn't been there before.  As I studied them, I realized that they were right where my head and neck hit the pillow when I sleep.

It was then that I realized that The Red Dragon seeps out of your pores when you sweat.  My mom concurs with my extremely scientific assessment.

It's really creepy.

The other night, I was lying on my side, in bed, of course, because that is all I do the week after chemo, and I had some weird nerve twitches there, on the side of my rib cage.  I hate twitches that aren't caused by my own movement - they freak me out.  Especially since my mom and I (against our better judgment) watched that show called Monsters Inside of Me.  Have you SEEN that show??? Eeeeek!  I think it's fascinating.  I think it seriously frightened my mom.

Anyways, the one we saw was on this gal who got Ratworm while she was in Fiji.  She ate a slug because she was hungry.  Yuck.  And that's how she got ratworm.  So of course, the show has these animated renderings of ratworms swimming around in her body, wreaking all kinds of havoc (that's the part my mom really freaked out about).  And the gal was saying that she could see them kind of crawling around under her skin.

So when I got my weird twinges by my ribcage, I thought to myself, "I wonder if that's what it feels like to have ratworm.  Or ringworm."  I wasn't worried about it - I knew that it was just nerve stuff. My nerves have been freaking out ever since I started this chemo - it's just...par for the course for me.

But I did tell Mom when I woke up the next morning - about how I felt these weird twinges and how I wondered if that's what ratworm or ringworm feels like.  And she said, "Well, one thing we know for sure.  If you had it, chemo would have kicked the worms' BUTTS.  They couldn't live through it."

It's true.  They would be DEAD.  Chemo is a butt-kicker.  To anything alive.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Lesson - How can I find answers to my own gospel questions? - What I Would Do

Alright, so...a couple of years ago, when I first got this calling, I got a hysterectomy in November. Which really doesn't explain why I only have one week's lesson plan for November in my archives... Ah well.  It is what it is.  I used to be really busy with kids and being a mom and being...normal.  (I kind of miss that.)  So I guess I just never got the chance to put the lesson plan up here.  Plus, Ben had just gotten home from China!  Obvi, I just wanted to spend time with him - not as much time to update the ole' blog when he got home.

And then last year, we started going to our new ward (which we would only be a part of for 8 whole months before Mr. Cancer reared his ugly head) at the beginning of November.  So this explains why November has only one measly lesson plan.  However, in my quest to do something besides watch the dumb TV, I'm going to try to work on this lesson on finding answers to our own gospel questions. My quest is two-fold, as you know.  My hubby is in the Sunday School presidency and may need to sub at the last minute every now and then.  So this is for him, too.

Why is it that he and I seem to always be separated?  Blech to that.  That's what I say.

Introduction

When I was thinking of questions we have and why it's important to find those answers for ourselves, I was thinking about how dumb it is to let gospel questions we have just...hang there.  What is the point of questions if we can't answer them?  So I thought of this game we used to play in college, in my FHE group.  I thought it would be a fun intro to the lesson.

So in the Question Game, you sit in a circle.  Someone starts by asking a question to someone else in the circle.  You indicate to whom you're talking by making eye contact with them.  That person cannot answer the question.  He has to turn to someone else in the circle and ask a question of them. And on and on.  If someone answers the question instead of turning and asking another question, they're out of the circle.  If they can't think of a question in enough time, they're out of the circle.  It's a funny game.  It's soooo hard not to answer some of the questions; to instead turn to someone else and ask a question.  We're so used to answering questions that it seems strange not to do so. Eventually, it will get down to two people, asking each other rapid-fire questions, and one is bound to become the winner.  (Hint:  I always thought of questions before each round would start, so that I wouldn't just sit there with my mouth wide open, with no question to ask, when it was my turn to ask one.  It helped.)

So after you play it, just point out that questions are made to be answered!  And that our lesson today is on finding answers to our gospel questions.

The Scriptures Teach Us about Questions and Answers

I was thinking of dividing the class into groups for this one, but there are only a few scriptures.  I think you could do this part as a group.  Have all of the kids turn to each scripture, and before they read it, remind them that they're looking for principles about asking questions and getting answers.  In fact, write that at the top of the board:  "Principles about asking questions and getting answers."

Sometimes, I pick one kid to write on the board.  For some reason, they pay better attention when one of their own is up there, writing, than if you are up there writing.  So, you can direct the reading of the verse, guide them to come up with what they want to write on the board, and tell the kid at the board what to write.  Here's what I came up with from each verse:

Matthew 7:7 - Heavenly Father will answer our questions.
D&C 6:14-15 - Heavenly Father wants us to ask questions of Him.
                       - Questions are often answered by the Spirit.
                       - Heavenly Father answers our questions.
                       - Heavenly Father answers our questions by enlightening our minds.
D&C 9:7-9 - Come to a decision first, and then come to Heavenly Father and make sure that your decision is right.
                   - If it's right, you'll feel your bosom burning.
                   - If it's wrong, you'll feel a stupor of thought.

Getting Answers to Questions

In this same paragraph of the lesson, it asks why sometimes we don't get answers to our questions immediately or completely.  There's this article in the Friend Magazine from ages ago that I think I might have used before in this class.  If you've seen it before, I apologize, but it's such a good way to teach this principle - that sometimes the answer is quick to come, and sometimes the answer is "wait".  Here's the link.  If you don't want to head over there, here's the story:

Fasting and Prayer

It was still early on Sunday morning as Dad called the family together.
“Where’s Mom?” six-year-old Katie asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“That’s what I need to talk to all of you about,” Dad answered. “I took Mom to the airport this morning. Grandpa called late last night to tell us that Grandma is very sick. Mom has gone to help them.”
“Is Grandma going to die?” Melanie asked, her eyes filling with tears.
“I don’t know, sweetheart.” Dad put his arm around her. “Grandpa doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong. Mom will call us after she arrives and has a chance to talk to the doctor. Meanwhile, there is something we can do to help.”
“We can pray for Grandma,” Katie said, kneeling and folding her arms.
“Exactly right, honey,” Dad said. “And we can fast for Grandma today, too. Let’s begin our fast with a prayer. Would you offer it for us, Katie?”
The little family knelt together, and Katie prayed, “Heavenly Father, please bless Grandma. Bless Grandpa, too, so he won’t worry too much. And help Mama so she can come home soon. We are fasting for them today.”
Everyone felt peaceful as Katie finished the prayer and they prepared to go to church.
At home after church, Dad pulled two big photo albums from the shelf and told the children about some of the pictures. They talked all afternoon about their many happy memories of Grandma. Then, when it was time to end their fast and have supper, they knelt to give thanks for the day and to once again ask for a special blessing for Grandma.
Mom telephoned just as the children were getting ready for bed. “Grandma is going to be just fine,” she said. “I’ll stay to help Grandpa for a few days while Grandma rests. I’ll be home by Friday.”
After everyone had told Mom about their day and their fast for Grandma, they gathered again for family prayer. “Before we pray,” Dad said, “tell me what you learned today about fasting and prayer.”
“Heavenly Father answered our prayers,” Rachel responded.
“That’s true,” Dad said. “We know that He always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, as it was today.”
“Sometimes it’s no, “ Melanie put in, “like when I prayed for my team to win the tournament and we lost.”
“That’s right, Melanie,” Dad said. “Sometimes the answer is ‘no.’ And sometimes the answer is ‘not yet—just wait and be patient.’ But Heavenly Father always answers our prayers in the way that is best for us. Did you learn anything else?”
Katie said, “Fasting helped me feel close to Heavenly Father.”
Natalie added, “Fasting today wasn’t as hard as it usually is. I didn’t even feel hungry! Is that because we were fasting for Grandma, not just going without food?”
Dad nodded. “Fasting helps us learn to control our bodies and it helps us develop faith. When we are baptized, we make a sacred promise to Heavenly Father that we will bear one another’s burdens and comfort those who need comfort. We have surely kept that covenant today as we fasted and prayed for Grandma.”
That night, family prayer was a prayer of gratitude—for Grandma feeling better, that Mom was coming home soon, and for keeping their baptismal covenant through fasting and prayer.
You could easily change parts of the story - take parts out about fasting, for example.  Whatever you need.  My teenagers LOVED the puppets.  I kid you not.  Teenagers love anything that entertains them.  They didn't even make fun of me.  They were like, "I want to be Rachel!!!"  Here's the JPEG for the puppet thingeys - you use popsicle sticks:
These puppets have come in handy for those Sunday mornings when one of my kids is like, "Oh no!  I have to give a talk in primary today!"  Bam.  We got the popsicle puppets.

Is It True?

I think at this point I would want to work on the section of the lesson from Elder Uchtdorf's talk.  It would definitely be time for a sheetie.  Now here's the deal - you can show the actual part of the talk by going to this link and then fast-fowarding to 35 minutes into it.  That is the section the lesson is talking about.  Then hand out the worksheets below.  Have the kids watch the portion and answer the questions, and then discuss what they came up with when they're done.  OR, you can have them read the portion of the talk (a dear reader found a link for me) and then do the worksheet.  Here's a hard copy of the "Is It True?" portion of President Uchtdorf's talk:

Is It True?
Now the next issue: What about doubts and questions? How do you find out that the gospel is true? Is it all right to have questions about the Church or its doctrine? My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people because we know that inquiry leads to truth. That is the way the Church got its start — from a young man who had questions. In fact, I'm not sure how one can discover truth without asking questions. In the scriptures you will rarely discover a revelation that didn't come in response to a question. Whenever a question arose and Joseph Smith wasn't sure of the answer, he approached the Lord, and the results are the wonderful revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often the knowledge Joseph received extended far beyond the original question. That is because not only can the Lord answer the questions we ask but, even more importantly, He can give us answers to questions we should have asked. Let us listen to those answers.

The missionary effort of the Church is founded upon honest investigators asking heartfelt questions. Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn't feel that way. Asking questions isn't a sign of weakness; it's a precursor of growth.

God commands us to seek answers to our questions and asks only that we seek "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifested to us "by the power of the Holy Ghost."

Fear not; ask questions. Be curious, but doubt not! Always hold fast to faith and to the light you have already received. Because we see imperfectly in mortality, not everything is going to make sense right now. In fact, I should think that if everything did make sense to us, it would be evidence that it had all been made up by a mortal mind. Remember that God has said:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . . .

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Nevertheless, you know that one of the purposes of mortality is to become more like your Heavenly Father in your thoughts and in your ways. Viewed from this perspective, searching for answers to your questions can bring you closer to God, strengthening your testimony instead of shaking it. It's true that "faith is not . . . a perfect knowledge," but as you exercise your faith, applying gospel principles every day under any circumstances, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel, and by this fruit you will know of its truth.


Reflection on the Water - Is it True?

Watch the portion of Elder Uchtdorf's 2009 CES fireside and see if you can answer these questions.  If you find it hard to do that, in the space provided, jot down notes about this topic, and we'll discuss them when the talk is finished.

1.  Why does the Lord want us to be a question-asking people? 

2.  What is the difference between asking questions about the gospel and doubting its truthfulness?

My answer key:  
1.  Inquiry leads to truth.  That’s how the church got its start!  Revelations come in response to questions.  The knowledge we receive extends even beyond the original question.  He can even give us answers to questions we should have asked.  Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony.  Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness.  It’s a precursor of growth. 
2.  The difference is this - when we ask questions, we seek with a sincere heart, with real intent.  When we do that, the truth can be made manifest by the Holy Ghost.  We are curious, but we don't doubt.  When we ask questions, we need to hold fast to faith and light we’ve already received.  We need to realize that we see imperfectly in mortality.  Not everything makes sense right now.  If it made sense, it would have been made up by a mortal mind.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.  His ways are higher than our ways.   If we sincerely ask questions, these questions will bring you closer to God.  As you exercise faith, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel.  You’ll know the Gospel's truth by its fruit.

Answers to the Questions of the Soul

Okay, I think I'd have the kiddos work in pairs for this one.  I made a sheetie to make the assignment a little more clear - kiddos need directions in writing.  Or you will end up telling them what to do approximately 10,000 times.  That's just the way it is.  That's why I do sheeties.  Each of these sheeties is different, so you'll see a few with the same picture, same directions, but different questions and scriptures on them.



The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


  • Is there a God? (Alma 22)
  • What does Jesus Christ expect of me? (2 Nephi 9)
  • How can a belief in Jesus Christ help me? (Alma 36)

The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!

  •  
    How can I find peace and joy? (Mosiah 2, 4)
  •  
    How can my family be happier and more united? (Mosiah 2)
  •  
    How can I balance my family and career? (3 Nephi 13)

The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!

  •  
    How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse? (3 Nephi 14)
  •  
    How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? (Alma 39)
  •  
    How can I avoid sin? (Helaman 5)
After the kids have shared their answers, make sure to point out that, in answering their own questions by using the scriptures, the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide are invaluable.  Also, doing searches of general conference talks on lds.org is a great way to go.  Let them know that it's important to find answers to gospel questions from the gospel itself - through the scriptures, through our latter-day prophets, and through prayer.

And that's it!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Four Down, Two to Go.


Went to my fourth of six chemos yesterday.  I came home and crashed on the couch the rest of the night.  I've felt a little bit woozy yesterday and today, but I'm doing well enough to sit at a computer, and that is seriously saying something.

Here I am, cozying up in a blanket that my friend, Margo's, daughter, Hayley (sp?) made for me:

She's maybe a year younger than Dylan?  Maybe Sadie's age?  And this dear little girl made me a blanket.  What a sweetheart.  Just like her mama.

I'm so used to seeing these people at the clinic.  When I walked in, I was like, "'Sup, homies?'"  I stopped and chatted with an older couple inside the chemo area.  Three weeks ago, the man receiving treatment was dithering on whether to get his own Precious Portia.  I told him how great it's been for me.  I'm not sure what his cancer is, but he has to get like half an hour of treatment once a week for the rest of his LIFE.  And I was like, "Brother, if they have to poke you that many times, you have GOTS to get a Portia."  And he went and did it!  I asked how it was going for him, and he was like, "I'm not sure yet."  I assured him that he would grow very attached to his and maybe name it Porter Rockwell or something.  The nurse and I talked about the best places to buy clogging shoes.  We talked about how both of us hate Halloween.  When I left the clinic 5 hours later, I was like, "See ya on the flip side, girls!"

I lost 13 pounds this last spring, which I had worked really hard for, and I've been watching the poundage go up and up to where I've gained 8 since my diagnosis, which makes me so dang MAD. I'm supposed to maintain my body weight, so, in the rebellious phase I'm in lately, I've taken that to mean I can make my body weight go back down to what it was when I was diagnosed.  I won't go under that.  But there is no way in hell I'm going to let it slip back up.  I worked too hard for those pounds!  So I've been pretty good for the past week or so - no Cokes, unless I'm nauseated.  No midnight snacks.  Substituting healthy foods for what I really crave all the time - carbs and sweets. And the scale showed me three pounds lower this time.  I was so excited that I did a little moonwalk there in the room at the doctor's office.

I found out my BRCA results - negative for both BRCA tests.  I sent out the good news to my sisters. But I'm still making Sadie do self-exams starting when she's 12, and I'm still going to encourage her to start getting mammos when she's 30.  Apparently there are a couple of other gene tests that can be indicators of inherited breast cancer.  I need to find out more about those.  I just don't want to take any chances for my little doo.

The bad news:  I'm not allowed to get surgery on my foot until four weeks after my last chemo treatment.  Which will put me into January.  Which means I'll actually have to pay for it.  But the doc pointed out that I'll blast through my deductible and out-of-pocket within the first two months I'm there because of radiation (ticket price $5,000), so then I could just wait until then to get my foot surgery.  Either way, I'm getting it, dudes.  Oh, and did you know that the herceptin treatment I have to get every three weeks for a year is $10,000 per IV?  No, that's not a typo.  

Cancer is expensive.  And it's a jerk.

There's a small chance that I'll be eligible for Medicaid in Oregon, so we'll check it out.  We can't sign me up until Nov. 15th.  If I get on for Medicaid, I just hope they don't put me on a ridiculous waiting list to get in for services.  If that happens, I'm going to have to whip out Old 8th Grade Teacher Kar and kick some butt and take names.  It's not a persona that comes naturally to me, but I can do it if necessary to get stuff done.  Ben and the kids are on Medicaid right now.  He has to go into the doc so he can get a refill on some really important medication he has to take, and he can't get in to see the doctor that he was assigned - no, we weren't even given a list; he was assigned a doctor, and that's it - until, like, January 4th!!!  

This brings back memories of being on Medicaid in California.  What a pain in the BUTT.  I appreciated that it was free, but dang, we had to jump through a lot of hoops.  I spent hours and hours getting signed up, waiting in waiting areas for hours with my two teeny kids driving me nuts just to make sure we were all covered...  And our assigned doctor was a piece of crap.  When I told her I had all of these symptoms indicative of thyroid disease, her response to me was, "No, I think you're just getting fat."

Nonplussed, I stammered out, "Um, okay, but nevertheless, I'd like to take the blood test, please.  My best friend has had this her whole life, and I'm very aware of the symptoms."

And guess who was right?  Me, that's 'oo.

Back to my chemo story from yesterday.  My darling friend, Megs, came with me.  We had so much fun chit-chatting that we didn't do ANY of the projects we brought for ourselves to do.  We literally talked for six hours.  That's cray.  And AWESOME!  I love that about us.

So, um, gosh, I'm feeling well enough to sit at a computer this time, which is really good!!!  But we'll see how it goes from here on out.  I was really feeling the exhaustion and other side effects for longer than usual after my 3rd.  I'm going to try to use the Power of Postive Thinking to make this one different.  I'm going to try to power my way through it.  I mean, obvi, I'll honor my body and do a ton of resting.  But I'm going to try not to let my physical limitations get me so down emotionally.  But I give myself free reign to cry myself to sleep from time to time on my huuuge pilla.  (What movie?)

Peace out, homies.
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