October 31, 2011

Take A Couple

It used to be one of my favorite holidays because of the candy. My siblings and friends and I would seriously walk around the entire town and collect candy in our pillow cases for three or four hours. We stopped about 10pm since most porch lights were dark about then. Our stashes of candy lasted for weeks. Ahh. Those were the days. Free candy.

But now, I realize that it's much cheaper for me to just go and buy whatever I want. And not be left with loads of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties. I did like the Double Bubble, though. Even though I would never actually buy it.

What really surprised me this year was this convo:

Me: Take a couple.
Costumed kid: Wait, what do you mean?
Me: Take two.
Costumed kid: Oh.

The surprise is that I had it several times. From kids of all ages. That was so wild. I'm making sure my kids know what "a couple" means. Some trick-or-treaters thought it meant "a few". Others thought it meant "several". One cute toddler thought it just meant one. I liked her best.

October 29, 2011

Being Eight Is Great!

My baby boy is eight. This morning we decorated the house. Made popcorn balls and pizza sauce. This afternoon we celebrated with a few of his friends. Performed puppet shows. Ran around the house. Jumped on packing bubbles. Made individual pizzas. Ran around around the house. Ate pizza. Opened presents. What a claustrophobic experience! He wanted pumpkin pie instead of cake. That's cool. And amazingly enough everyone finished theirs. Graeden's upstairs now. Putting together his new Lego pirate ship. Maybe I should make dinner. Nah. Would rather be blogging. And eating popcorn balls.

October 24, 2011

Brotherly Love

On afternoons like today, I smile and feel warm even though the cool autumn weather has arrived. I was on my computer when I looked over to see Elliott teaching Kira how to play Pokemon. The best part is that she seemed to be enjoying it.

That or she was filling her pants. And Elliott changed it. Without being asked.

This boy is seriously so sweet. Don't think he's like this all the time. He's not. In fact, he instigates trouble (like in this post) more so than any other child of mine. But where Kira is concerned, he is the best big brother in the world. It's days like these that give me hope for my boys' future. They do a lot of things right.

October 12, 2011

Amox Rash

Sweet little Kira's ears are infected...since last week. We got her on amoxicillin and she felt better for a time. She's also one of the lucky few who get to experience an amox rash. The rash doesn't necessarily mean that Kira's allergic to the drug. Apparently, it's more about the bacteria that's causing the infection and how it doesn't like the amoxicillin getting up in its face so they fight it out.

We got a new antibiotic today. I hope she likes it better. And sleeps through the night. She's been up the past two nights. I don't like that very much. Last night we lost her binkie. Of course it was after the other kids were in bed so I didn't want to wake them up to make a store run. So I was her binkie all night long. Ugh.

The exciting news is that Kira is gaining weight. Not a lot mind you, but at least she's not stagnant anymore. I bought a kitchen scale so I could keep track of it at home. She started eating better last Friday. The same day we got the "unfounded" CPS allegations letter. Makes me think s few of Kira's problems are stress-induced. And now that I'm breathing easier I'm making creamier milk. Yes!

October 11, 2011

Life After Death: The Impact of Encouragement

Check me out on Impact Week at the House of Sarager:

The first time I heard about Jovana I was reading an ad in our town's weekly newspaper. The writer was looking for host families for a few exchange students for the school year. Not planning on hosting, I read on. When it mentioned a girl from Serbia needed a home, I knew we were that family. I talked to my husband who was open to having an exchange student and within a half an hour I had emailed the coordinator to find out more.

I thought I wanted Jovana in our home because she comes from a culture that is similar to the one I experienced as a missionary in my younger years. Slovenia will always hold a special place in my heart. It used to be a part of Serbia back when the country was called Yugoslavia. Having a Serbian exchange student seemed to be just about as close as I could get to having a Slovene in my home.

I was wrong, though. Looking back, I don't think culture mattered. I believe God gave Jovana and I an opportunity to share a part of our lives together because He knew, as individuals, we would both need it. Especially, me.

A few weeks after Jovana arrived, our 15 month old son passed away. It was unexpected, sudden, and devastating. It didn't seem real to me. I couldn't believe I was living in this nightmare. Things like this don't happen. Not to me. Or my family. We're good people. No, this was not happening.

Except it did happen. And in these moments when I wanted to hide under a rock and never see the light of day, God had something different planned for me. My Evan died on a Tuesday. His funeral was on Saturday. What you may not know is that I was very pregnant at the time. My prayers pleading to hurry up and have this baby turned into prayers to not go into labor in the middle of the funeral. Baby Jocelyn was born Monday evening.

I needed help. With everything. My husband was amazing. He was able to take a couple weeks off of work and we grew stronger as we faced Grief together. When he went back to work, I should have felt alone. Just me, Grief and the children. But I didn't. Jovana came home every afternoon and we talked together. Sometimes, I'd help her with her homework. Other times, we sat together and remembered Evan. We laughed and cried at the memories. She loved and missed him, too. Her love for my boy touched my soul.

It didn't just stop there, though. Jovana saw what needed to be done around the house and took the initiative to fulfill the duties that I was seriously slacking on. Come hell or high water, she'd always have the dishes done before she went to bed. Even if she'd stayed after school for a debate practice or spent hours writing a paper.

Jovana is like a sponge. She wants to learn everything she can. We went shopping for groceries and I taught her about foods and nutrition. She wanted to know how to make American food and we cooked dinner together. When driving around I taught her the names of Magnolia tress and Rhododendron bushes. She wanted to understand my obsession with the Twilight series and I gave her the first novel to read. With each question or experience I helped Jovana understand, she gave me an added measure of appreciation, self worth and confidence in return.

Jovana strongly believes that everything happens for a reason. And I agree with her. Heavenly Father meant for her to live with our family. He knew the impact she would have on my life. I would not only need the love and support of my friends and family to face Grief, but I'd also need someone by my side, every day, gently encouraging me to pick up my life and live.

October 10, 2011

Uncomfortable Questions

I logged into Netflix the other day and found this "Recently Watched" screen. Since Tymon is out of town and I didn't watch this show, I was pretty confused. Especially, with the "Scary Suspenseful Psychological Movies" listed right next to it. If you look at Udaan closer you can read the words XXX, Lingerie, Power, Love, Sexy on the cover. It's also unrated. Oh boy! Apparently, I'm a little on edge. I asked Tymon about it. He didn't remember it. I sent him the screen shot. Nope, he didn't watch it. And apparently, Netflix isn't available in Europe.

That means our children, who access our Netflix account for all of their Scooby Doo needs, watched it. What kind of garbage have I allowed into my home?! They only watched it for 4 minutes, but Tymon and I both wanted to know why they turned it off. Did they just realize it wasn't a cartoon? Did they see something inappropriate? Since Tymon can't investigate, it fell to me to find out.

Turns out Udaan is not a cartoon, but rather a Hindi film...with English subtitles. Ha ha. They turned it off because they didn't want to read. Phew! What a relief! I decided to watch it, though. It's a coming of age story that's actually pretty good.

I'm still a little nervous about our computers remembering passwords to Netflix and other media at home. Especially, when my boys and I had a conversation last night about what sex means. I guess I handled that one okay because then they asked me if douche was a bad word. Because Alex and Devan said that it was. How many 6 and 7 year olds know that douche in French means shower? Ha ha. Mine do. I hope I did okay on that one, too. I would prefer they come to me with their questions rather than get questionable information from their friends.

It reminds me of the time when I was 12 and reading a book from the young adult section of the library. I asked my mom what oral sex meant. First, she asked me what I was reading. I think she wanted to know the name of the book. Instead, I read her the passage I didn't understand. Then, she told me what it meant. I don't remember if she took the book away or not.

I do remember a conversation about oral sex, though. She told me that when she went to BYU in the mid-1960s there was a popular saying on the dating scene, "if it's oral, it's moral." That shocked me. Now, after having been a young adult, I understand the use of justifications much better. I'm so glad that part of my life is behind me.

I'm grateful for my mom's example and talking with me about any topic I chose. I always knew I could come to her with my questions.

Impact Week

As far as I can tell (searching our email correspondence), I "met" Jackie Sarager about a year and a half ago blog surfing. Either she or I saw the other's comment on a third blog and then sought the other out. Funny how that works. I've actually never met her in person, but she has more power over my purchasing habits than any other blogger I read. Ha ha. I think I've only bought 2 or 3 things after seeing her post about it, but that's more than anyone else.

It's IMPACT WEEK at House of Sarager with daily guest posts on how God makes an impact on our lives. My post: Life After Death, The Impact of Encouragement will be featured on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Go see it. Especially you, Jovana. I know you'll like it.

October 8, 2011

CPS Investigation: Unfounded

I couldn't scan the letters fast enough. And oddly enough, my anxiety didn't decrease after reading that "the allegations of abuse and neglect against you are unfounded." For both Kira and Evan. I should be happy. And I am. But the feeling of uneasiness is still with me.

I guess I also wanted an apology note attached to it. Something like this...

Dear Mrs. Johns, 
We apologize for trying to rip apart your family and for the undue stress our false accusations inflicted upon you these past couple months. We understand that you had to force feed yourself, had difficulty nursing Kira and ended up losing ten pounds. While this is regrettable, there is a bright side! At least you lost some of the baby weight. 
Because we don't have children and are consequently perfect parents, we felt it our duty to inform you of child-rearing best practices. We're sorry that we misinterpreted what you said about allowing Graeden and Elliott to pick up Kira. You are correct, that is actually not the same as allowing them to "rough house" with her. Thank you for your diligent research and the time and effort you spent collecting your family's records. If it weren't for that we never would have known how much certain doctors twisted the facts into their own false accusations.
Please be on your best behavior for the next 6 years. If you are, we will destroy these records. If someone else falsely accuses you, we'll have to keep them around for a while.
Kindest Regards,
Your Big-Hearted Social Workers

A letter like this wouldn't be too much to ask for would it? We've now gotten records from Children's Hospital. They kept them until after the investigation was finished...like keeping the payer of the bills in the dark is a great idea. That's not right. In them I found that my description of the our kids' interactions with Kira (Elliott carrying her) was translated as "rough housing". Really? That really irks me. Rough housing with an infant would cause serious injury and likely death. Kira has never been rough housed. 

Part of me just wants to be done with this whole ordeal. Another part, larger than the first, wants the record corrected. I don't want to meet these falsehoods down the road and have them bite us in the butt. I also wonder what the CPS and Sheriff's office reports say. Don't worry, I've requested those, too. 

The next line of our letter after the statement that the allegations were unfounded says that they either didn't happen or there was insufficient evidence to make that determination. I thought that CPS had a guilty until proven innocent mentality. I was wrong. I'm uneasy about our results because it's tainted with the attitude: if you're accused you're guilty. CPS has too much money to terrorize so many families. They shouldn't be allowed to do any investigations of child abuse or neglect unless law enforcement has investigated wrong doing and charged the parents with a crime. 

October 4, 2011

Plump Up

I think it's been about 2.5 years since I resolved to only buy candy for Halloween and Easter. It's been very positive for me. Less positive for my brothers since I eat all of their treats. But overall, I've drastically reduced my consumption and consequently my addiction to candy has just about disappeared.

I think it's safe to say that this week, I've fallen off the not-buying-candy bandwagon. You might even say I jumped off.

It all started innocently enough. With fetal-Kira, I was going in for weekly and then twice weekly non-stress tests. To "pass" a NST, the baby needs to have two accelerated heart rates. Those come from movement or in response to contractions. Well Miss Kira was always asleep during the tests. And I'd have to sit there with the monitor on for a long time. At least 45 minutes and once about an hour and a half. It was ridiculous. So I got the bright idea that if I ate some candy right before the test then she would wake up, move and I'd be out of there faster.

I bought some candy. It wasn't Easter. It wasn't Halloween. I justified it plenty. And the justification worked. It's too bad that the candy didn't work on Kira. They used a little buzzer on my belly to wake her up most times.

I don't go to Trader Joe's very often. Just a handful of times per year because there isn't one near my house. But a couple of weeks ago, I was there and remembered that they sell candy without food dye. That's so much better for you than the regular candy with Red #40 and other artificial colors. They also sell Panda licorice (ingredients: molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract, aniseed oil). This is almost "healthy" enough to serve for dinner. Ha ha. So, I bought a bunch of candy. And since it was dye-free, I justified it.

Tymon is in London right now on a business trip. The day before he left was Jocelyn's birthday. When Jocelyn and I were at the store, I picked him up some cinnamon bears (one of his faves) for the trip. And while in the candy aisle, the birthday girl wanted a treat, too. I obliged. And I got me some licorice and sour patch watermelon candy.

Somewhere deep inside of me, 
I had to rebel against my own rule.
It was time. 
I created it. 
I will destroy it. 

Yesterday I was at the store and decided that I needed more licorice. And since the box of mini-Charleston Chews looked good, I picked up some of those, too. In fact, I ate the entire box while writing this post. It's like my "I've had enough" filter is broken. I must consume everything.

Today I saw that Hot Tamales cinnamon candy was on sale for $1 a box. And yes, you guessed it. I bought some and ate them all afternoon while the kids were at school.

I even stay up later than the kids so I can be on the computer and eat candy to my heart's content. It's a travesty. The candy addiction has returned in full force.

I should be disappointed in myself. Except that candy gives me instant satisfaction. I've turned into a sugar monster. Ahhh! This can't be good! Then again, maybe Kira will want to nurse more and plump up with all of my sweet sweet milk.

October 2, 2011

Project Runway Conference Style

I bought a skirt a few days ago that I really liked and would have liked it more if it were a touch longer. Usually, I don't buy things that I have to alter. But it was on sale and just this once, I decided to do it anyway. Mainly it was because if I spent $50 in one transaction then I could get $10 off my next purchase. Since I didn't have $50 in purchases without the skirt, I had to buy it. I wanted to make sure I actually did alter it, so yesterday, I went to the fabric store and found some ribbon that I could sew along the hemline. So far so good. I have a plan and everything I need to finish it.

This weekend was to the worldwide conference for my church. A few years ago, going to the church to watch conference with all of my children would have been fairly stressful. Imagine my kids running around like crazies and me either trying to calm them or just sitting there trying to pretend that they don't belong to me. These days, I'm loving the technology that allows me to stream each session via the internet at home. What a blessing!

It's not all effective listening at home, though. Sometimes, I get my blanket and lay down on the couch. Occasionally my eyes close so I can really internalize the message. I tell myself I'm still listening. It's just so warm and cozy on the couch that sometimes my mind starts to wander. Once or twice I've even been known to start dreaming. It's really the most peaceful drifting off into sleep that I've ever experienced.

I've found that for me, the most effective way to hear each speaker is if I'm actively engaged in doing something. Yesterday it was organizing my room. Today it was making pancakes in the morning. And this afternoon, the Project Runway in me crawled out and wanted to express itself. And really, if I don't alter the skirt now, I probably never will.

It took me way too long to do this. I'm sad to admit that the tension on my sewing machine was whacked out and so my whole skirt was being gathered when I sewed the ribbon to it. My parents stopped by for a few minutes this afternoon, though and my mom un-bunched it. I'm grateful for my mom's help. She's quite the seamstress. I'm not so much. But I have been watching Project Runway this season and so in my mind my skills are greater than they really are. Ha ha. Here is my finished project:

Now what would be really cool is if I could tell you what any of the speakers said today...I can't. But I do remember one from last week in the women's session of conference. I was having a very hard time listening to the speakers. My mind was everywhere besides in the present. Then Elder Dieter Uchtdorf spoke about the forget-me-not flowers and it was like a fog was clearing from my mind. If you didn't get a chance to hear him, do it now. You won't regret it.

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