Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One I forgot to put on here...

This is the card we made in our card group last time we got together.  Soooo adorable:


The Lesson - How can I use questions effectively as I teach? - What I would do.

Kay, so, the first year I taught Sunday School to the youth with the new curriculum was 2011.  For some reason, in my archives, I only have two weeks worth of lesson plans for October, when I should have three or four.  As I've read through each lesson, nothing is striking a bell at all!

I don't have this calling anymore, however, Ben is in the Sunday School presidency and will occasionally be asked to substitute for a youth class.  He let me know he'd be looking at my blog for lesson plans (no pressure!).  I felt that I can help him, and you (the ones that visit my blog by way of Sugar Doodle or Pinterest), by prepping some more lessons from time to time and putting them on my Teaching Sunday School to the Youth page.

So here goes.

Introduction

I thought it would be a good attention-grabber to demonstrate bad use of questions by having a little reader's theater.  I would ask three volunteers to come to the front.  I'd have two chairs set up for the kids pretending to be members of a class, and then I'd have the "teacher" stand in front of them.  I'd give them each a copy of this little play and have them read it aloud.  It's important in these Reader's Theater types of things that you highlight each kid's part so that he doesn't mess up.  It helps them.

Teacher:  We just read in Isaiah 1:3-5.  Do the conditions in those verses apply to today?

Student One:  Yes.

Teacher:  Good, good.  Moving on.  We just read Isaiah 1: 11-15.  What is a bullock?

[The students look blankly at each other.]

Teacher:  It's a bull!  Bam!  I am soooo smart!  Moving on.  Take a second look at Isaiah 2:7-8.  What in these verses can be applied to today?

[Student Two raises hand.]

Teacher:  Yes?

Student Two:  Well, you know, chariots are a really big deal nowadays.  People are starting to turn back to the use of chariots instead of cars.  I see that happening today.

Teacher:  What on this earth are you talking about?  That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard!  Moving on.  What problem in the world today is Isaiah 2: 11-12 talking about?  Pride, that's what.  Pride.  We see that in today's world.  Moving on.  In Isaiah 3:5, he talks about the oppression of older people.  Do you know of an example of that happening in today's world?  [Pauses for one second.] No?  Okay.  Moving on.  We read in Isaiah 3:9.  The lesson says that this verse describes no shame for sin, but I personally think it talks about gay marriage.  What do you think about gay marriage?  Let's have a really heated discussion about gay marriage!!

[The students look at each other in fear.]

And...scene!

After the kids hand their papers to you and you move the chairs back to their original places and everybody has sat down, ask them what they thought of the teacher in this example.  Ask them if he was a very good teacher.  If not, why?  If none of the kids talks about the kinds of questions the teacher asks, point out that the teacher is really bad at asking questions.  Today, we're going to learn about the role of questions in teaching and what are good questions to ask and what kinds of questions don't really do much to facilitate learning.  We'll come back to this and analyze the questions the teacher asked.  Why on earth would the Church have me teach you about teaching? (Because that's what you'll be doing soon!  On your missions!  In your callings in college!  In your home and visiting teaching!)

The Savior's Teaching Questions

At this point, I'd hand out the following sheeties.  Depending on how many kids you have, you may be able to give one sheet per student (each one is different) or you might need to put the kids into pairs.  I split up the Alma chapter 5 section into three parts, since it's lengthier than the other sections of scripture.

The Savior's Teaching Questions

Directions:  Read Matthew 7:7-11.  

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 







(Answer key:  1.  If your son asked you for bread, would you give him a stone instead?  If your son asked you for some fish, would you give him a snake instead?  If you're not a perfect person, but still would give nice things to your kids, don't you think that Father, who is perfect, will give nice blessings to us if we pray and ask for them?  2.  It's an effective way to get a point across.  It makes us think more than a simple statement of "Heavenly Father blesses us when we ask for his help in prayer" would.    3. If Christ had just made a simple statement of, "Heavenly Father blesses us if we pray and ask for help," and moved on, it wouldn't have touched our hearts as deeply.  It wouldn't have put us in the place of a parent giving a child things he needs.  When we put ourselves in that place, we understand a little bit of the love He has for us.)

The Savior's Teaching Questions

Directions:  Read Matthew 16:13-17.

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 





(Answer key:  1.  Who do people say I am?  Who do you say I am?  2.  I think he wanted to teach them that testimony comes from the Spirit and not from man. I think he wanted them to have a chance to realize that they had a testimonies and to bear them. 3.  Again, I think it's more effective than him saying a simple factual sentence:  "Testimony comes from the Spirit and not from man."  I think Christ was able to give them more of an "aha" moment through the asking of questions.)

The Savior's Teaching Questions

Directions:  Read Matthew 16:24-26.

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 





(Answer key:  1.  Is it worth it to get worldly gain if you have gotten it through doing bad things?  What would you give to save your soul?  2.  I think Christ wanted to show them that worldly comforts are secondary to our spirituality.  That our priorities should be set with the Gospel as #1 and worldly comforts farther down on our lists.  I think he wanted to explain to them that saving your own soul is priceless.  3.  I think these are like those rhetorical questions that teachers sometimes use - where they give you a question and let you ponder them.  I think those rhetorical questions, when used sparingly, can be very powerful.  Again, more powerful than stating, "You need to put your priorities in order."

The Savior's (or his Prophets') Teaching Questions

Directions:  Read Alma 5:14-19.

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 





Answer key:  1.  Do you act like sons or daughters of God?  Does his Spirit show in your faces and in your actions?  Have you changed from the perspective of being a natural man to the perspective that you are God's child - have you realized that?  Do you believe in the Atonement?  Are you prepared to be judged when you pass from this mortal life?  Can you imagine how amazing it would be for Heavenly Father to tell you that you have passed the test and done a good job?  Do you think you'll be able to lie to him and tell him you've done a good job, when you haven't?  Can you imagine how guilty you would feel if you hadn't repented or lived in a clean and serviceable way?  Will you have repented and been clean when you meet Him?  Will the light of the Spirit shine from you as you look at Him?  2.  Again, this is so effective.  Way better than threatening the people he was preaching to with fire and brimstone, he had them imagine themselves in that situation - being judged at the end of this mortal life.  This is like with the rhetorical questions - they weren't meant to be answered.  They were meant to be thought about.  3.  I don't think that threatening people with fire and brimstone and damnation is very effective.  I think that having a person evaluate himself silently while you ask thought-provoking questions is way more effective.

The Savior's (or his Prophets') Teaching Questions

 Directions:  Read Alma 5:20-25.

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 





Answer key:  1.  When you are at the judgement seat of Heavenly Father, do you think He will allow you into Spirit Paradise if you've sinned and not repented?  How will you feel if you're standing there in front of Heavenly Father, and you haven't repented of your sins?  Won't your sins show in some way?  Won't your sins show what kind of a person you were?  Do you really think you'll feel comfortable entering into Spirit Paradise with the holy prophets, when you are so unclean?  2.  Again, these are rhetorical questions - made to be pondered.  I love how they have you imagine yourself there, unclean, in front of Heavenly Father.  That is powerful imagery.  Way better than simply saying, "You can't live with Heavenly Father if you aren't clean."  These questions really help us evaluate ourselves.  They motivate us to want to be clean when we stand before Heavenly Father.  3.  I don't think that the people Alma was teaching would have had as an effective learning experience if he had formed his sermon with only statements and not these deeper-thinking questions.

The Savior's (or his Prophets') Teaching Questions

Directions:  Read Alma 5:26-30.

1.  What questions did the Savior ask in these verses?  Write them in your own words.






2. Why did He ask these questions?




 3.  How would the teaching experiences have been different if the Savior had not asked questions in these situations? 




Answer key:  1.  If you've experienced that change of heart, are you continuing to have those same feelings now - the feelings of wanting to do good and shunning evil?  Have you made good choices?  If you died right now, would you be known for your humility?  Have you been repenting of your sins?  Is pride not any part of you?  Is envy not any part of you?  Have you made fun of others or bullied them?  2.  I think these questions were meant for self-evaluation.  Again, they're rhetorical questions - meant to be asked and then for the listener to close their eyes and honestly evaluate their behavior.  These kinds of questions can be so powerful.  3.  The sermon wouldn't have been as powerful if Alma had said, "Make sure you've been humble, repentant, and kind."  

Okay, phew!  That part took forever.  So.  Okay.  After each kid, or pair of kids, has finished his sheetie, have them share their answers with the rest of the class.  I don't think they necessarily need to read the original verses to everybody and then the questions in their own words.  I think they could probably just share the questions in their own words, their answers to #2, and their answers to #3.  I provided an "answer key" for each worksheet just to have on hand.  If the student is like, "I don't know why he asked these questions," this answer key is there for you to reference so that you don't have to try to hurry and look up the scripture and help them.

Okay, so I'm going to keep coming back and whittling away at this lesson, but I want to put what I have up on here so that you can at least have part of what I'm preparing.  By my estimation, what I have up here will account for about the first 30 minutes of your classroom time.  I'll be back and add on, I promise.

Monday, October 20, 2014

In the grand Ugly Selfie tradition...

Last spring, I started taking ugly selfies and sending them to my BFF, Pooh, with the accompanying text saying, "Hiiiiiii!!!"  I wish I had some to show you, but they're stored in my computer in Oregon. I'd like to see what I used to look like when I had hair.

I really miss having hair.

I thought I wouldn't mind it, and for awhile, I really didn't, but... I don't know.  Looking like a hard-boiled egg gets old after awhile.  I feel really unfeminine.  The last few days have had me feeling low, emotionally.  I guess I'm just...so OVER chemo.  I'm grateful for it; really, I am.  Because in the grand scheme of things, would I rather be bald for awhile, or would I rather have the cancer come back and come back and come back??  Bald.  Obvi.  But the hair thing, and the eyelids wiggling nonstop thing, and my itchy and possibly infected darling, Portia, and the crazy GI tract stuff, and the back spasms, and the burnt tongue syndrome, and the thing I really can't talk about on here.... plus a million other weird symptoms...  I'm just sick of it.

And I'm sick of being away from my kids and hubby.

But it's okay.  Let's put things into perspective.  I'm sealed to my family.  I'll have them forever.  No matter what.  Nothing will separate us again.  I'll be reunited with them in just two months and one week.  Three more chemo treatments, and I'm done.  I feel good today.  Good enough to maybe even go to a spinning class!  I get to teach ballet this week!  Three classes!  I went on a bike ride at sunset yesterday with my mom!  We have to think positively.  But I also want to be real with you - chemo ain't no picnic.  I'm just sayin'.

Kay, so back to my original line of thinking.  I'm so sorry.  My tendency to deviate from plot line in my writing is almost Dickensian in caliber.  And that is sad.  (I hate Dickens.)

So I told my sis, Lex, about my Ugly Selfie hobby, and she was delighted.  She started sending me Ugly Selfies.  Then we told Nat and Beads and Mom.  And Ugly Selfies have become our passion. Our life's work.  I'm quite proud of our self-portraits.  I know the womenfolk in my family are proud of them, too, because they gave me permission to put them on my blog.  Without further ado, I give you the H women:
















Some notes:

1.  Lex shaved her head in support of me (I told her not to do it), and she's really hating the growing out process.  But it makes for some truly delicious Ugly Selfies.
2.  Beads works like 24 hours a day, and she can't take off her mask stuff, so all we get is pictures of her eyes.  But I'd like to think she's doing something weird with her mouth under that mask.
3.  Lex has to take a medication that gives her dry mouth, so she's able to tuck her lips under and they stay that way foreeever.  I was so jealous of this ability.  But now that I have dry mouth all the time, I can do it too!!  It's freakin' awesome.
4.  I need to learn some new faces to add to my arsenal.
5.  If you start this tradition, remember:  You always have to have an accompanying text that says, "Hiiiii!"
6.  Mom said she would let me put her picture on here, but I'll bet you $50 she'll make me take it off.  Just watch.  She has sent me this horrible notice on facebook once.  I guess you can send this official notice that says, "Hi, I would like you to take this picture of me off your facebook page.  Thank you for your attention to this matter."  Something really cold and clinical like that.  And she sent me one!  I see her like 16 hours a day!  She could have just turned to me and asked me!  Haha!  So yeah.  You just watch.  She'll ask me to take her Ugly Selfie down.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My kids and schoolwork are enemies.

It's hard trying to parent from afar.  Ben went to parent/teacher conferences this week, and it turns out that Sadie has only turned in 14% of her homework.  (I know, random weird percentage given to him by the teacher.  Whatevs.)  She's just...really, really forgetful.  She has forgotten her lunch bag basically every single day since the first day of first grade.  It stays there, in the lunch bag bin at school, every day.  So I would have to send her lunches in paper bags until I got the keep-it-cold bag back.

And also almost every day since the first day of first grade, she forgets to bring homework home. And then when she does it, she forgets to turn it in to the teacher.  Her saving grace is that she is such a good, obedient child in class.  Which I really do appreciate.  Contrast that to my little ADHD boy, Dyl.  Yikes.  That's been super fun to deal with.  His 4th grade teacher unabashedly HATED him. She was like, "I think he needs a higher dosage of his medication."  But dude, he was on the maximum dosage of medication that he was allowed by his pediatrician!  I just tactfully told her that I couldn't and that I was so sorry.  I still get mad when I think about her.  Maybe I should have transferred him.  I just didn't want him to get the idea into his head that his mommy can swoop in and save him, you know?  I had so many students who transferred into my class from another English teacher's class, and then end up switching back to him when they realized that they actually had to work in my class, too.  Sigh.

Or Micah.  He mainly does okay at school.  Um, with a few notable exceptions.  He got "put on yellow" like the second week of school (Not going to even go into this.  Most of you know what this means...), and his response was to run outside of the classroom, sinking to his knees in the atrium of the school, and screaming, "I HATE THIS WORLD!!!  I HATE THIS LIFE!!!"  And a couple of weeks ago, he tickled some kid at recess, the kid didn't like it and held Micah's arms against his sides in a big bear hug, and Micah BIT the kid.

Nice.

Sigh.  My kids are so intense.

But not Sadie.  She is, with the exception of when she's asked to clean her room, a ray of sunshine. She gets along well with others, is cooperative, stays quiet in class, etc.

But the girl is ditzy.

And I'm not the pot calling the kettle black here.  I'm extremely ditzy.  Ben is extremely ditzy.  The poor girl never had a chance with those genes.

One of our favorite phrases now, when she has a ditzy moment, is, "She's just happy to be here." When I did Activity Days, one of ladies I worked with had a daughter in Activity Days.  And sometimes her daughter would forget to do something or not really hear the instructions or whatever. And when her daughter had one of those ditzy moments once, she said, "Um, she's just happy to be here."  I laughed and laughed.  So now we use that term all the time.  When we refer to ourselves doing something ditzy, each other doing something ditzy, Sadie doing something ditzy...  She's just happy to be here.

So back to Sadie's 14% problem.  It makes me just...gnash my teeth that I'm not there.  If I was there, I'd be like, "Where's your homework?  Let's get it out."  I'd know what was due when.  I'd follow up with her:  "Did you turn that work in?  You need to get credit for the work you did."  When I did things like that last year and in years before, at least she got better grades.  And turned in, like, maybe 94% of her homework.  If we're going to be specific, then let's be specific.  But what can I do from here?  Encourage her?  Encourage Ben?  He's so overwhelmed with basically being a single working parent right now.  And I get that.

And we do need to do the Love and Logic thing here, which is to say, "Okay, you are getting a bad grade.  Why is that?  What can you do to raise the grade?  Such-and-such privilege is taken away from you until you can show that you have raised your grade."  We shouldn't be such helicopter parents.  And usually I'm not.  But when it comes to schoolwork and grades...ack.  I have a hard time doing Love and Logic with schoolwork stuff.

Dylan's parent/teacher conference went a little bit better.  He also suffers from extreme disorganization.  I even sent him a care package with a little notebook to write down his homework from each class (the kid is in middle school and I'm freaking out) and seven folders, one for each subject.  I told him to write the name of each subject at the top of the folder.  I told him to put stuff he needs to do on one side of the folder.  I told him to put in things he did and got back from the teacher on the other side of the folder.  The Folder Method is a tried-and-true Kar Method for school.  I did it clear through college.  It was fail-proof.

I'm pretty sure he hasn't done one thing with those folders and that cute little notebook, the little punk.

So he has like a couple of A's and a couple of B's and a few C's.  Which just really bugs me.  He's brilliant.  Brilliant!  But his ADHD works against him.  It's tough.

I'm just sitting here, watching this all play out, helpless.

I mean, all of their teachers know our situation.  And I know that when I get up there, I can be more hands-on than Ben has been able to be.  I'll resume my stay-at-home mom status and have to be Mean Mom Who Rides Their Butts About Their Grades, Because Really, You Guys.

And Micah.  Oh Micah.  Talk about a reluctant reader.  How did all of my children (so far - jury's out on Gage.  I'm just excited that he's using 4- to 5-word sentences right now...) become reluctant readers?  How did a voracious reader get these kids who hate reading, hate writing?????  It makes me sad.  But I have to let that go.  My kids are not me.  They are not self-starters.  They are not perfectionists.  And it's okay.  But I do want them to try their best.  That's all I ask.

So Micah.  I worked really hard in June and July on retaining those skills he had acquired in kindergarten last year.  Letter recognition.  Number recognition.  Sounds of letters.  Sounding things out.  Sight words.  We read like crazy.  We did flash cards.  We did so good.  So good.

And then crap hit the fan, as you know.  No, I didn't continue on that road.  Because my husband lost his job, I was diagnosed with cancer, and my other son was identified as autistic.  My world crumbled.  And in the midst of all of that total cacophony, Micah lost everything he learned. Everything.

So I wasn't surprised when I was told he qualified for Title 1 help for reading and math.  And I was all for it.  We've been working sooooo hard with him at home, as well.  Working extra-hard on those skills that he needs.  Having him read tons and tons.  Flash cards.  Fixing assignments he didn't understand, even though he won't get credit for them.  Just so that he can understand stuff.

I can see a small improvement as he gets extra help at school and at home, but then on Friday, I got an assignment back from him.  It was sooooo bad that it was really, really funny.  They made a little notebook with four pages.  On each page, he would draw a picture and then write a sentence describing the picture.  What he wrote was soooo...unintelligible, so ludicrous, that I took pictures of them and sent them to Ben, along with the single word, "Um..."

If you don't feel like squinting at these and trying to make out what Micah wrote (and I don't blame you), I'll write what Micah wrote under each picture and what he tells me the words say.

Mi canpA u u if mi tog.
Translation:  My mom dropped me off at the bus.

Slide u if mi fet.
Translation:  Slide with my friend.
imhiMetfed.
Translation:  I'm his friend.

Miutoggca nyGnf At.
Translation:  My dog can run fast.
lurcnnetitanoMPG
Translation:  Dad and me fish.
Ben's response to the pictures:

WtHeck.
Dude.
Holy crap.

The man has a way with words.  So yeah, we've got our work cut out for us.  I made Mike do this assignment over again, today, because I'm a Mean Mom.  I had him say what sentence he wanted to write, and then I helped him go through each sound of each word, and what letter makes that sound...he was a total punk about it.  He was kicking up such a fuss that my mom almost lost it with him.  And she never loses it.  Ever.

I gotta be honest - it's crossed my mind more than once that I'd like to slip him like 1/4 of one of my anti-depressants and just see what happens... I won't, but I really, really want to...

Aaaand we're back.

Sorry, sorry, sorry.  Three reasons I've been absent:

1.  I've been making my sister's birthday present.  Wanna see???  It's a perpetual birthday calendar. She specifically asked for one.  What takes so long is designing each one.  Once I get it figured out and the materials gathered, it goes quickly from there.  But the whole process took me about a month and a half:














2.  Chemo kicks my butt.  Plain and simple.  I spent most of the last week on the couch watching sports (something I'm strangely really loving lately) and documentaries about World War II on the History Channel.  I feel so idle.  But I just...feel too gross to do anything else most of the time.

3.  I STARTED READING AGAIN!  I haven't told you this yet, I don't think:  Since I got diagnosed, I have had ZERO desire to read.  Anything.  And I'm usually a voracious reader, you guys.  Growing up, I used to read and re-read shampoo bottles when I was in the tub.  I read the labels on the cereal boxes when I had gotten sick of the backsides.  And obvi, I read tons and tons of books. Always. Well, except for in college.  Wait.  I read more in college.  It just wasn't recreational reading.  It was required reading.  It was hard reading.

So I've received so many awesome books as gifts and as lenders from my friends and family, and I haven't been able to touch one of them.  It's been really weird.  Really dismaying.  But not dismaying enough for me to want to pick anything up.

Somehow, someway, yesterday, I was like, "Okay, enough Nazi Hunters.  I have GOT to start reading recreationally again."  So I picked up a book that is being loaned to me by one of my mom's friends.  It's called The Magic of Ordinary Days.  I was noooot looking forward to reading this book. The cover bored me.  Yeah, yeah, I know...the whole "by its cover" thing.  But I'm an artistic person, and if the front of the book is boring to me, I'm like, "Meh."  And the title.  I'm not digging the title. I'm not sure what I would have titled it instead.  Farmers are Nice?  In-Laws Can Be Cool? Some Men are Jerks??  Internment Camps Suck?  Anyways, I could. not. put. it. down.  I'm almost done.  I read like 250 pages in maybe 5 hours or so.  It's been so long since I've just curled into a chair and had a marathon read like that.  Maybe since I was a tween.  It was awesome.  I finally had to force myself to go to bed at one last night.  I cannot wait to go pick it up again.

Um, so yeah, the reading thing - that only accounts for one of the days that I've been absent from here.  Not a very good excuse.

4.  Designing my mom's Christmas cards.  I made a model based on the stamps and colors she wanted to use:

We're taking away the blue sponging around the images and just keeping the sponging to the edges. And my mom and I disagree on a lot of what's going on with the coloring in this card.  We're using colored pencils.  I go for a more light-handed, blended, with-shading kind of coloring.  Mom colors really HARD.  She pushes down really hard on the pencil.  Which makes the colors really really bright.  Which is fine.  I mean, they're her cards.  I'm just not in favor of it.  Mom also wanted to make the tennis balls multi-colored, which I'm squarely against.  Make them gold.  Tennis balls are yellow.  They aren't blue and orange.  Or green and orange.  But again, I have to step back and let her run with these.  Except she made me cut all the pieces.  And stamp all the images.  (She also stamps really hard and rocks the stamp back and forth and makes the images kind of smudgey.)  So I did all that.  But I'm making her butcher color them all.  Overall, I'm happy with the design concept.  Just know that I would have had yellow tennis balls.  And I wouldn't have colored so brightly.  More soft and subtle.

I love my mom.  She's so funny whenever we do cards together.  If I put her in charge of sponging, the sponging is really, really dark and intense.  I stick to a simple saying on the front and maybe one image or saying inside of my cards.  Mom is going to do a whole "Oh by jowley, have a howley, growley Christmas this year" thing inside.  Or something about having a Howl of a Christmas.  I'm not sure yet which direction she's going with it.  She's hilarious. Go big or go home.  That's her motto. I love it.  I love that energy.

5.  Oh, and we've been working with Micah a LOT on his letters, sight words, sounding things out, reading, writing, math....he's struggling.  And he really, really hates that we're putting in extra time with him at home.  But he can just bite me hate it.  Because I was an English teacher.  We're gonna work this. I don't want my degree to have gone to waste.  I have a whole other blog post on his writing.  It's really funny/horrifying.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Not my favorite way to spend the day after chemo...

We've been trying to talk Micah into letting us get his hair cut for a couple of months now, really.  He's very adverse to cutting hair and nails.  Every time we cut his nails, he acts like we're cutting off his fingers.  He cries and cries and says he can't feel things on his fingertips.  It's weird.  He's got some sensory perception stuff going on, for sure.

Dad took him to the pumpkin patch while Mom and I were at chemo a couple of days ago, which was seriously so cool of him:

Mikey picked out one white pumpkin and one orange one.  He wanted to carve them the second we returned from chemo.  I was like, "Uh, no.  I'm going to bed." Plus, if you carve pumpkins now, then they'll be shriveled and long gone by the time Halloween rolls around!  He was undeterred.

But then yesterday, Mom had an inspiration and said, "You know, if you let us get your hair cut today, then we will carve your pumpkins tonight."

And by darn, he agreed.

And I got to gut and carve the stupid things.  He drew designs on them, and that is all.  I mean, I'm nauseated enough after chemo, but having to gut pumpkins amid the nausea?  That's love, dude.  Pure love.  And a little bit of spoiling.  And a whole lot of bribery.  I'm basically the best parent EVER.

As far as chemo recovery is concerned, I'm doing surprisingly well.  I've had a little bit of nausea, but not much.  Things taste weird - that's normal.  But I have ZERO bone pain and ZERO stomach pain.  Very different this time around than last time around.  I'm really grateful.  My body is very tired, though.  My brain is very much awake, but my body doesn't want to do anything.  And that's obnoxious.  But I'm just glad to be feeling alright.

We are currently undergoing Operation Boob Adjustment.  Lefty is still higher than Righty, so my plastic surgeon is having me wrap this special thing - okay, really, it's like an ace bandage and not so special at all - around my back, on top of lefty, underneath righty, and back to my back.  I have enough bandage to wrap it twice.  I actually see it making a difference!  Lefty is dropping ever so slightly! We have to take a little break for a couple of days in between, because it makes lefty very, very sore. But we're getting there.  How weird, to be literally molding one's body...  Lefty is also larger than righty, because we were trying to make gravity bring Lefty down, but it wasn't working, so that's when we commenced Operation BA.  In a couple of weeks, we'll fill up Righty to match Lefty, and this part of my boob journey will be over until after radiation.  After radiation is when I get my real, permanent inserts.

Oh, and here are some pics of me from chemo a couple of days ago - my friend, Megs's, mom, Lynn, made the purple quilt for me.  I looove purple.  Thank you, Lynn!!

 I used a bag my friend Mary made for me.  The fabric is so cute, and perfect for bringing projects to work on during chemo:
 Three down, three to go!
Can I tell you how cool people with cancer are?  There was this elderly lady there doing her chemo, and she had made three quilts and like 5 hats to donate.  And she has cancer!!  One of the nurses told me that another lady, who is a grandma with cancer, makes pillowcases to put on the pillows of the kiddos' section of the chemo area.  How cool is that??

I saw a lady who finished her last Herceptin treatment (I have to do Herceptin once every three months for a year after radiation is over), and she wept and wept.  Her journey is over!  It was really emotional and really amazing.  That will be me in...wow.  March of...2016.  Mama.  I don't know if I want to wait to have my Cancer Free party until then... :)  We'll see, eh?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We missed it. Three times.

Mom and I had a wild hair and decided to have Micah play hookie so that all three of us could go up to Yellowstone Park.  It promised to be a warm, beautiful day, and we just didn't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy nature while it's still decent outside.  I don't usually make it a habit of taking kids out of school, but I just really want to take advantage of doing something fun while I still can - chemo is tomorrow.  Vomit.

On our way up, we stopped at a dance shop in Rigby and I got a new leo, a wrap, and some tights.  I'll post photos of them soon.  My friend Megs is going to take pics of bald me teaching ballet tonight. We are making a photographic journey, the two of us. :)  I'm excited for you to see the pictures.

While we were in Rigby, we stopped at my grandparents' grave.  My grandma had this thing with pennies.  If she saw them on the sidewalk or whatever, she would say, "Someone in heaven is thinking about me!" and pick them up.  When she died, and we were all at the funeral home, my grandpa was just devastated.  He said his last goodbyes at her casket before they closed it, and as he was walking away, there was a penny, right there on the carpet in front of him.  He felt like it was grandma, thinking of him.  Whenever we visited grandma's grave, we put pennies on it.  And now that grandpa has passed on, we continue the tradition.  The grave is scattered with pennies.  So Mom, Micah, and I each put a penny on their grave marker:


We also stopped in Ashton to see this cool plane we saw lying in a field:
We ate pulled pork sandwiches in West Yellowstone and then headed into the park.  We saw some elk and bison on the way in.




 This guy was so massive:
So we got to Old Faithful, and it had just gone off.  We had just missed it, dang it!  So we decided to see some of the other geysers and pools.  My mom wanted so badly to see Morning Glory Pool.  She talked about how blue it was and how pretty it was...Micah was so excited.  He wanted to see that pool.  We had an hour.  We hoped to get to the pool and back in time to see Old Faithful erupt.  We started speedwalking:

We were lucky enough, on the way to Morning Glory, to see Castle Geyser...erupt?  Spew?  I have no idea what the proper term is there.  Sorry about that.  Squirt?  Anyways, that sucker...sprayed?...for like half an hour!  

Micah loved the "rainbow" from the steam:

We only stayed for about five minutes, but that was way too long to linger, because it set us back on our goal of getting to Morning Glory and back to Old Faithful.  So we set off at an even faster walking pace, which my foot was really mad about, to try to make it to Morning Glory.

It took forever, but we finally got there.  

I was dumb and forgot to bring my short lens, so I had my long lens and couldn't get a really good shot: 


And guess what?  It's really not blue.  It's green.  I guess it used to be blue, before tourists started chucking things into it.  Pennies, garbage...  So now it's not blue.  It's green.  Sheesh.  

When we were done at Morning Glory, a.k.a. Not Blue at ALL, we set off at a breakneck speed to reach Old Faithful in time.  My mom's knees are shot, so she waved us on and told us there was no way she could make it, so she decided to take the boardwalk and kind of meander back to Old Faithful Lodge and meet us there.  Micah and I took the asphalt road, which was more of a straight shot.

And oh, the WHINING.  His little legs were tired, which I get.  My foot was killing me.  But he's never seen Old Faithful!!  I really wanted him to get a chance to see it!  So we jogged, speedwalked, jogged, speedwalked, the mile and a half back to Old Faithful.  It went off when we were still just not quite there:
I literally took the above picture while I was frantically running.

By the time we got there, it was done.  Sooo disappointing.

So Micah and I headed to the lodge to recover from our basically 3 mile run/jog and wait for my mom.  We explored the old lodge:


Micah fell soooo in love with it and decided that we needed to spend the night there.  I assured him that we couldn't, because they don't allow dogs (Molly was in the car), they were probably completely booked, Grandma had a tee time the next morning, he couldn't skip any more school, and it was expensive.

None of these things deterred him.  He held on to his hope.  He even approached the lady at the desk and asked if there were any rooms available.  She told him there were two cancellations, and she told him the price.

For him, it was like that part on Dumb and Dumber, where the Jim Carrey character says, "So you're saying there's a chance...!"  When the lady tells him that the chances of she and he getting together were one in a million.

So he impatiently waited for grandma.  He wanted to ask her, confident that she'd say yes and that we'd get to stay in the lodge.  He would walk out the front doors and look around for her every now and then. Once, he walked beyond my eyeshot, so I stood up to go and fetch him back, but then I saw him walking back with my mom.

She told me that he had gone out to the trailhead and screamed, hands splayed back behind him, chest forward, "GWAMMA!!!  GWAMMA!  WHERE AWE YOU??"  And when Mom called back, "Micah!  Micah!  I'm right here!"  He stomped up to her, furious.  He was so mad that it took her so long to get back, and he demanded that we stay in the lodge.  Of course, she told him the same reasons I did for not staying, and he cried and wailed and rolled around on the floor...it was lovely.  

So then she told a little...half truth?  She said, "You know, we can't bring Molly into the lodge.  We'd have to chain her up to a pole by her leash, outside, all alone, all night long.  And then a bear would come and eat her."

That put an end to his whining.

We got some ice cream and started to head out of the park.  We had been driving for maybe 5 minutes when I noticed the time and said, "Well, whaddaya know.  Old Faithful is going off right now."  I had noted the time while we were in the lodge, and then forgotten.  If we had stayed five more minutes, we could have seen the dang thing go off.

Three strikes, and we're out.

Funniest quotes of the day:

Micah had to go potty, and he kept saying, "I have to twinkle!" instead of "tinkle."  And he wasn't trying to be funny.  He really thought that's what you say when you have to pee.  You have to twinkle.

While we were driving out of the park and headed back to West Yellowstone for dinner, Mom said, "I feel like eating something light.  Like a salad....or a hamburger."  I laughed and laughed.  Hamburgers certainly fall under the category of light fare.  I love her.
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