Friday, April 18, 2014

Family First Friday--#15--Seeking and giving forgiveness

As earth begins to shed the winter here in the Northern hemisphere and spring is blooming all around and we are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior this weekend, I just thought these two videos shared two amazing aspects of Jesus Christ's atonement.  It is through His healing power that we can both be forgiven of the things we have done wrong and receive comfort and healing from the wrongs of others that have affected us deeply.   As I go about my walk in mortality, I pray to be able to continually access both of these parts of the atonement and the blessings such access brings to my life, joy from sorrow and peace.

Enjoy both of these videos.  Have an amazing weekend as you contemplate the blessings of our Savior's atonement in your life!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning to nurture.

Yes, I know!  I missed Family First Friday last week!  Wait until I tell you the story of what happened!  But not today.  I have other thoughts:

So the crazy food allergies and not sleeping continues at our house.  It has been pretty crazy and some nights we have had as little as 3 hours of sleep, which may be expected if you have a newborn, but when the child is 2 and 1/2???!!
check out this awesome photo from Karen Larsen!  See how she did it on her website:

Most nights look like this:  Spike goes to bed sometime between 8 and 8:30.  He sleeps until 11:30-12:00 a.m.  Then he wakes up crying, sometimes screaming because he cannot breath, or his feet itch, or he just cannot sleep.  Because his medication for breathing makes him grouchy, and he is having allergic reactions, and he is tired, he is completely unreasonable and simply screams because we cannot understand what it is that he wants or needs.  It is a guessing game to help him and the more times we guess the wrong thing, the more upset and angry he becomes.  Finally, by some miracle and divine help, we figure out something that will work and he then settles down back to sleep.  This process usually takes about an hour.  Sometimes he sleeps the rest of the night, but usually, he is up again in about 2 hours and we repeat the same cycle.


Usually, as I am holding him and trying to converse with him about what I can do to help him, he is yelling and screaming, "No Mommy!  No!"  My dear husband who is in the room the entire time, (Oh side note, Spike has been sleeping in our room for the past 2 weeks with Sun because we have a house guest.) will finally tell Spike, "Quit yelling at your mother or you are going to have pepper on your tongue."  Sometimes that threat works, other times it doesn't and then my sweetheart gives Spike pepper and the screaming increases.

You see, Spike is ultra-sensitive to other people's emotions.  He can tell if you are angry at him by just a look or the tone in your voice.  If you are frustrated with him for any reason, just or unjust, it hurts his little feelings and he is mortally wounded, until reparations are made to the relationship.  It really is unusual for such a little person to be so aware of relationships.  But it is who my little man is.  Thus you can see how dramatic and exhausting it would be to try and reason with an emotionally aware, sleep deprived, two-year-old having an allergic reaction, night after night, after night (going on 10 nights now but who is counting?).

We have had a little bit of a break through in that my prayers have been "Help me to know what to do to help him (first breath and then) not scratch his feet so bad that they are bleeding."  The first was to increase his breathing medication and to move the air purifier to my bedroom, and quit giving him almond milk, which we did and it has helped.  The second was to use aloe-vera for his little feet and put socks on him in the middle of the night.  His feet are improving, slowly.  But he is still itching and scratching and he is not cooperative when I put that stuff on his feet.

Two nights ago, while I was rubbing the inside of the plant on his feet and he was screaming, my husband instead of threatening to give Spike pepper for screaming, told Spike that if he would quit crying, Drew would let Spike play one round of  'Angry Birds' on the I-pad.  Spike loves 'Angry Birds'!  He asks to play that game every day when Drew gets home.  It is a treat!  Spike immediately perked up and said, 'yes, Dad, I play angry birds.'  And he did, one game, and then he settled down to sleep!

This is so much more in line with the way I think Heavenly Father operates!!!  Yes, there are consequences for bad behavior.  There are consequences for disobedience, but they are not arbitrary consequences.  They are usually very logical---have more than one sexual partner, risk getting sexual diseases.  Smoke?  Have black lungs, risk cancer, and lose your ability to breath.  Simple.  But be obedient and have blessings.  Do something really difficult and make sacrifices?  Serious blessings to follow.  The problem is most of us want to define what those blessings for obedience look like.  I am paying my tithing, so I want to have enough money to do all of the things I want to do.  That is just not how it works.

We do not seem to always understand the scripture, 'My ways are not thy ways, nor my thoughts thy thoughts.'  Heavenly Father gives us amazing blessings but they are things like wisdom, faith, testimony, peace, happiness.  Sometimes they are temporal, especially when we need them.  They are not usually money, new cars, fame, fancy houses, or winning the lottery.

If we are thinking that there are no real blessings for obedience to our Heavenly Father's wishes and commandments, then we probably are just not recognizing them.  We may need to pray for help to see what they are.  Sometimes you can just look around at the people near you and see from their choices some of the blessings you enjoy.  This isn't to compare and contrast, but we are sometimes close enough to others to see some of the obvious, negative consequences for their choices.  And if we are close to them, sometimes they will share the blessings of testimony with us they have received from their obedience.

Back to Spike, Spike.  Like most of us, he responds better to rewards for positive behavior than consequences for not stopping bad behavior.  In disciplining our children, try to offer positive blessings for positive behavior.  If it is a big change and you are asking for big behavior, compensate your child accordingly.  It doesn't have to be with something monetary.  Our children get to stay up late on a particular night or watch a special movie, or spend the entire day driving.  It really just depends upon what your child needs and wants.  Some of them may be perfectly happy spending the day with you and just hanging out doing something fun.

Anyway these are my thoughts today as we try to catch up on sleep and house cleaning :-)  Have a great day!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Figuring out food allergies....

Well.  We have been having just a lovely time here at our house!  My little Spike Spike has horrible food allergies that we have been trying to pin point.  Some of his allergies cause a skin rash, eczema, that is nasty red and puffy and it itches.  He is just two so he scratches it and scratches it until it is cracked and bleeding.  There isn't a lot we can do to keep him from scratching it because he usually does most of the damage at night while he is suppose to be sleeping.  And yes, with all of our experience on the subject we have tried almost every cream, lotion, oil, or prescription known to man.  The tops of his little feet have been horrible and recently his rash has spread to the creases of his knees and elbows.  Poor little guy.

Other allergies cause his nose to be completely stuffy and congested with mucous, including fluid in his ears.  It is really annoying.  Still others cause him not to sleep.  Sheesh!  This week, we have all three: eczema, stuffy nose, and not sleeping!

Drew and I are both allergic to milk.  So far, each of my children have been too.  It is definitely a problem when they are little.  They can tolerate it as they get older, but even the oldest boys have decided they too are really allergic to it and they have started cutting it out of their diets too.  The only milk Spike Spike was getting was butter.  He wasn't eating any other milk products:  No ice cream, sour cream, creamed soups, breads with milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese (Parmesan or other, even in salad dressing--no ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, etc...)  I stuck all of that out there because if you are trying to eliminate milk, it is everywhere and you really have to be careful.  Read every label!!  Anything with whey ---- that's milk!

Drew still drank milk and so did some of the kids once in a while and periodically, I would break down and purchase cheese.  With Spike Spike's allergies just going crazy, about a week ago, I declared our house officially dairy free!  The kids all kind of panicked, but they got over it.  I was hoping that by eliminating all of it, once and for all, Spike's eczema would dissipate.  It hasn't!  Drat!

So on we move to other eliminations!!  I took honey out, thinking that might help.  Nothing so far.

Of course, my best ally is prayer!  I pray to help me see things that will lead me to the offending culprit.  Please help me figure out what this child is allergic to!!!  With Spike, here is our list so far:  all nuts (especially peanuts and walnuts) [the others of our children who are allergic to nuts are not allergic to almonds, interestingly enough----however, I am beginning to suspect that is not the case with Spike], all milk products, any processed meat (I think it is the nitrates, but don't know for sure).  This week, when I changed from cow's milk to almond milk, specifically, Spike's nose has been clogged and his skin is drier and itchier, and he hasn't been sleeping for five nights now.  Exhausting!

Last night, we finally had a break through in that I decided to give him a different nasal decongestant and it worked!  Benadryl was not working.  I think he hasn't been sleeping because even when he is asleep, he insists on trying to breath through his nose.  Then he wakes up because he isn't getting enough oxygen.  Falls back asleep, tries to breath through his nose, tosses and turns because he isn't getting enough oxygen and then wakes up again, repeat 100 times.  (That was last night in between the doses of medication that worked.)  My personal philosophy, however, is to administer as few medications as possible.  But in order to do that, we have to find the offending item, which is a lot more work than just medicating my child.  But then when we do the work, we never have to worry again because we can just eliminate the culprit!

Yesterday, as I realized that most of these issues began when I made the switch to almond milk and then when my brilliant brain put the two together, I decided to eliminate the almond milk and see how things go.  The trick with eliminating things is remembering that once you have been exposed to the allergen, it usually takes a full four days to get it completely out of your system.  So it is best to eliminate it for about a week before you try to add it back.  Yesterday was day one.  Three more to go before I will know if eliminating it makes a difference.  Six more days before Spike goes there again.

Another issue that might get in the way of figuring things out is if you have multiple people feeding your little one or heaven forbid, they are already old enough to make and get their own food.  It is best to figure it out when they are little and you have total control over what they are eating.  If you send them to daycare, even if you give instructions, there is no guarantee they are going to follow your wishes.  They will probably say, ya, sure, and then do what they want and what works best for them.  Because the truth be told, they are not watching your child because they are concerned with what is best for the child.  I have had to let all of my older children know, "These are the no-no foods for Spike this week!" and then remember to tell each of them because they are not usually in the same place at the same time!

Scuff told me a few years ago that every morning of seventh and eighth grade he went into the breakfast room after I dropped him at school and got a pop-tart!  That boy is allergic to corn and pop-tarts are laced with them!  It is no wonder that his middle-school years were so difficult to manage.  (His allergy manifests itself as behavior issues.  He is the most wonderful and happy person unless he has had corn.  Then he is defiant, belligerent, uncooperative, feisty, he hits, throws things, yells, screams----it is really, really ugly!)

Of course, with all of this, it is possible that my little guy just has a cold!  So we have to wait that out too and weigh it into the equation.  Good thing I was an adept student and really understood that whole 'scientific method' thingy.  I never thought I would use it as a mother!  But in my attempt to uncover food allergies, that principle has been one of my best friends!  I could not have had as many children as I do without being able to eliminate so many offending issues!

The first two boys had tons and tons of skin issues as I was learning and figuring things out.  Poor Spanky was a miserable little baby because I think I kept feeding him things he was allergic to.  The colic and screaming and not sleeping----it was just awful!  But by the time Scuff showed up, I had the idea that maybe what I was eating was bothering the baby and we began to try to figure it out.  It was a good thing too because Scuff (at first) just didn't sleep when he was exposed to corn.  It took me six weeks and many, many doctor visits, and a lot of prayer to finally figure it out.  That night where I loaded the entire dinner with corn and the baby didn't sleep all night was pretty helpful too!  It at least gave me a reference point to begin with and I started eliminating corn from my diet.  Whenever the baby wouldn't sleep well, I would go back through the last 24 hours worth of food and read all of the labels and almost always find corn.  It was scary how many things had corn in them, but it was validating when I would find it on the list.  Around three years-old, the allergy changed from not sleeping to behavior.

Well, now that you have read this and it is huge and you may or may not have allergy issues in your house, you know what has been happening here.  Wish me luck and pray for me as we figure the next little bit out.  I just really need to figure it out before May because I'm heading off to Slim's college graduation!!!  Four days!!!  But other people will be feeding my little Spike, so I need to know what to tell them for sure, and make the separation as easy for him as possible!

Thanks for listening!  If you have any allergy questions, feel free to email me.  By no means am I an expert or a trained professional, but I do have plenty, plenty of personal experience.  We know what anaphylaxis is and how to use an epi-pen!  We also have some asthma related issues.  Periodically, that is a problem too.

Allergies are just nasty (my personal opinion!)!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Changing corrupt communication to ministering grace--Elder Zwick

I just wanted to post some of my thoughts about Elder Zwick's talk before I forget what they are.

Elder Zwick told an amazing story of their early married life, where they were driving an 18 wheeler over a steep path.  Their drive took place before infant car seats were required and before seat belts were a regular installation in automobiles and trucks.  His wife, was holding their infant son in her lap as they came over the pass.  Suddenly and without warning, the cab of the truck began to fill with choking smoke.  Elder Zwick was doing the best he could to stop the truck, but brakes alone would not stop a fully loaded 18 wheel truck and the engine was not working.  As the truck was slowing down and he was getting it onto the side of the road, to his horror, his wife flung open the door and jumped out of the moving truck with their infant son.  He panicked, but did his best to get that truck stopped.  When it was stopped, he jumped out of the truck to go and find his wife and child.  Thankfully they were both breathing, but her arms and elbows were scraped up pretty badly.  For a short while, he just held them, thankful they were alive.  When he could speak, he declared, "Why did you do that?!!  Do you not know how dangerous that was?!!"  To which his wife replied, "I was trying to save our son."

He then documents how after several days of the 'silent treatment' (because each was thinking they were in the right), they were able to move past that place in their relationship.  He recognized, as he listened to her that she thought the truck was on fire and was going to explode.  Her actions, in light of her understanding, were the bravest thing any person could do.  He recognized the problem with the truck was simply electrical.  There was no fire and there was no danger.  To him, her reaction was irrational.  Then he discusses the need for each of us to put ourselves in the others' shoes and recognize that their situation was not a matter of 'who was more right'.  Each acted to the best of their knowledge to do what was best in the given circumstance.  But their knowledge and understanding of the situation was different, thus their actions were different.

He goes on to share with us how when we communicate with one another, we need to 'turn our corrupt communication into ministering grace'.

He also uses the example between Sariah and Lehi to illustrate his point.  When Nephi, and his brothers return to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass and they are taking longer than expected, Sariah complains to Lehi that  'her sons are no more' and that 'he is a visionary man who has taken them to perish in the wilderness'.  Given her level of stress, having just traded her comfortable and wealthy home for a tent and left the land where her husband's life was at stake, to then send her children to return to that land, it is no wonder that she was more than a little worried about the welfare of her children.

I noticed as Elder Zwick shared his thoughts and insights about this story, that in effect, Lehi had burst Sariah's emotional bubble by his response.  'I know I am a visionary man, but --'

All of these thoughts, had a greater effect on me because it seems to be the lesson I am currently in the process of learning.  I have long been able to put myself into another person's shoes and see things from their perspective.  But in my incidents with Ms. P, I have had to work at seeing things from her perspective and in many cases, I have had to pray for help.  When I have done so, I have been able to turn my words to her into 'ministering grace' and burst the emotional bubble that seems to be corrupting our communications.  When I have not, the situation simply explodes.  The contrast is striking!

As my recent words have potentially had the ability to heal our interaction and minister to her relief (I will not say that they have, because since she isn't talking to me, I cannot know if they are or not, however, since the interaction ceases, I will assume they are doing the right thing) it completely dissipates the current conflict.  Poof!  Gone!  Just like that.  Where before she was in a fighting posture, ready to defend her territory against the awful, evil enemy (me), she just suddenly walks away from the conflict.  (Which in reality is not a conflict, it is simply a disagreement about how something should be handled.  I am really not that unreasonable of a person.)

I LOVE General Conference!  I love listening to the Brethren and Sisters and understanding how their words can be applied to my life!!  It is amazing the thoughts and impressions I have while they are speaking and as I reread their words over the next six months or so.  Simply amazing!

Currently, you can watch or listen to Elder Zwick's talk over on this page  but the written address is not up yet.  Onto today's teachings from the prophets!!!  Amazing! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family First Friday---#14---turning sadness into power!

I have been pondering my childhood a lot lately.  Things weren't horrible, but things weren't always rosy either.  I always had plenty of food and clothing to wear.  Our house was warm when we wanted it that way and cool when we didn't (usually).  You know, we think of these things as necessities, when in actuality, they are a luxury that many even in today's world do not always have ready access to.  Most of the issues and frustrations we have (at least in the United States) are first world problems, not third world problems (trying to care for the basics).  I mean, I am frustrated that it has taken two weeks to get my lawn mower fixed because by the time I told the boys to pull the dumb thing out of the garage and mow the lawn, it was already becoming a jungle, and I actually have time in my day to read blogs, like this one!

As I have pondered about things, I have realized some things that I have always believed to be true, aren't really true.  My perceptions of my parents, for both good and bad, aren't necessarily accurate.  As I have made these new discoveries and been sad in some cases and happy in others, I have also recognized that I am the kind of mother I am because of the kind of parents I had.  I have made significant and positive changes in the way I treat others, because of the ways I perceive I was treated.  I have turned the negative things that have happened to me, into positive, life changing behaviors that have blessed the lives of others.

There is a woman who lives here in my area.  She is an amazing person.  I truly stand in awe of the difficulties she has overcome and her service to her fellow men and women because of her experiences.  She was born in one of the Asian countries.  Her father was in some sort of political trouble.  I believe her parents were executed and at the tender age of 5, she and her sister (7, I think) were left as orphans.  Because of her parents involvements, no one would take the two girls in.  They were homeless at 5 and 7!!!  They lived at the dump and scavenged what they could from their city's refuse to feed themselves, and to take care of their basic necessities.  Because of her deprivations as a child, she is the greatest advocate of our homeless population I have ever seen!  She drives around town everyday feeding the people.  She gathers clothing for them and helps to figure out shelter for them.  She has built a shower house in our community so they can bathe.  She is tireless and loving and compassionate.  Her poverty and difficulties as a child have made her the advocate she has become.  She did not allow her negative experiences to give her permission to wallow in self pity.  Instead, she has turned her experience into knowledge and used it to bless the lives of others.

Her example is the embodiment of what a transitional character is.

But what I wanted us to think about today is:  How can I use my negative experiences to positively change the lives of others?

When we understand the doctrine, that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God, who cares about and loves each of them, regardless of their life's station, nationality, race, life choices, or morality, and that we are commanded to love God, and love others as ourselves, when we put those two things together, we have a better grasp and understanding as to what our behavior should be toward others, even when they do not behave that way toward us, or those we love.  It takes a ton of self-control, I will give you that.  The natural man or woman is plenty prepared to defend and protect ourselves and those we love against injustice.  But usually we do it without regard for the rights or feelings of the perpetrator of the injustice.  Lucifer would love us to justify our anger, outrage, and wrong behavior toward them because then we misbehave in the name of defense.  Now this is not to say that we allow others to abuse us or others.  Turning the other cheek does not mean lie down and let them walk on you.  But it does require us to look inside of ourselves, to really evaluate our thoughts, motives, and behaviors and to repent when we are out of line in our treatment of others, even when they have mistreated us.

That is hard work!

Thankfully, as we listen to the prophets, pray, and read our scriptures, the Holy Ghost will help us to know when our behavior is out of line.  With my last Ms. P incident, I sat down to type a nasty email back and the Spirit said, "Maybe you should write that later."  Ya', in my anger, maybe I should cool off before I respond.  It took more than 12 hours and a good night's sleep with scripture study and prayer for me to put together the proper response.  My Ms. P incidents are training for future use.  I know it.  I have been told that is the case.  So instead of perceiving them as serious annoyance and irritation, they need to be viewed in light of emotional training and calisthenic, my spiritual and psychological work out.  (If only I would put that much effort into my physical training.  But I digress.)

Anyway, that is my emotional challenge to you today.  Think about something that is a negative experience for you.  Evaluate what you learned from the experience.  Determine if you have used that information and learning to benefit the lives of those around you.  Have you made positive changes in your life because of that experience?  How can you change it to be a positive thing?  We do not want to invalidate the emotional feelings from the experience, but how can you take it and learn from it and then use it to give you power in your life?

PS  If after thinking about it for a while, you are still drawing a blank, use those thoughts as some of your questions for General Conference.  The Lord will help you to see some of the things He is hoping you have learned from the negative ways you have been treated by others. 

And I'm going to post this without photos or links----because I have that kind of a day. If I get back to it, I'll fix it and if not, well, that's how it goes :-)