Sunday, May 31, 2015

Did I just read that?

Delightfully bad translation of an interesting scientific report:

One of the few somewhat sensical sentences:

"The survey sounds somewhat potentially promising but simply because of straight-laced considerations it doesn’t retail for mankind."

Love that.  Somewhat potentially promising. What a great phrase.

Most of the article is like this: "individuals plagued by rights amnesia – exactly where the man or woman shedding access, actually don’t shed their business’s storage memory but will become not accessibile for ability to remember."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Proof that HMH don't understand their target audience

Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt produce some of the best homeschooling courses out there--like Saxon Math. (Not because they developed them, but because they bought them out).

Here is proof they have no idea what they're talking about, though, when they try to talk to homeschoolers.  This is a paragraph from their homeschooling home page: "Summer is almost here, and as a homeschooler, chances are you’re looking forward to taking a much-deserved break from formal homeschooling. But you may also be worried about summer learning loss if you go long periods of time without a lesson." (

That was obviously written by someone who has worked with traditional education their whole life and has no understanding of how homeschooling works.

We don't worry about Summer Learning Loss. That's a public school problem. Our learning goes on all the time, in a less structured way as well as a more structured way. When the teacher lives with the students, life has a way of organizing itself so that learning is a constant, not an occasional activity. It's not like piano lessons that you stop doing and you forget. A lot of us go long periods of time without what they are thinking of as "a lesson" already! Homeschooling is a solid, good-quality education, but it doesn't look like they think it does for a lot of homeschooling families.

Plus, all the homeschool moms I know have a sense of what to expect, and we don't worry about it if it takes our kids 2 weeks to get into the swing of math again, for example, if we stop using the book all summer. It's not something we sit around and fret about like public school parents do.

Then, if you read the article (, you'll find a bunch of neat suggestions written by someone who sat down and said, "What could possibly be educational that families can do in the summer?"  Not a thing on that list is a new idea to homeschoolers. Those things are totally on our radar and used all the time. It actually comes across as condescending instead of helpful.  They are inventing a problem and then suggesting "new" and "novel" ways you've obviously never thought of to solve them.

I really wish they had "professional teacher" instead of "poor mom who couldn't get a 'real' career so she's homeschooling" in mind.  They would get a lot closer to reality.

They also advertise that their materials are accredited (who cares?! Most of us homeschoolers don't trust the system that accredits things, so having a curriculum "accredited" is actually a potential strike against it). And they carry books titled "Common Core ____{subject matter area}" listed in their curriculum options for homeschoolers. That's going to be a really hard sell for a lot of homeschoolers. A different title might help.

I don't know--should I email them and let them know? Or just let it slide? They dont' really care what homeschoolers think anyway. They're just after the sales.

UPDATE (6/10/15):  I was wrong. They do care about what homeschoolers think. They even contacted me to find out more. So I take that back--I am very impressed.

Random ideas from this week

Someone discovered that a dental appliance used to treat TMJ called an occlusal splint actually can cure Tourette syndrome in a lot of people. Somehow realigning the jaw stops tics. Weird, right?

Interesting especially to me because my kid with the worst tics is also the kid with a malformed jaw that needs surgery (eventually).


We're shifting our sleep schedule forward this week so that we can enjoy the month of June, complete with 4 kids going to three camps in three different weeks.


Baby rarely cries but she sure yells a lot.


Sitting around awake all night, I think of a lot of random things. Today I realized that this fall I will have a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, someone in lower elementary, someone in middle elementary, someone in upper elementary, someone in junior high, and someone in high school. In other words, everything.


And the randomist of all:

I discovered that if you recite the kids' names in alphabetical order, it's a poem!

Anda, Benji, Caleb, Daniel;
Elijah, Emm'line, Jack, Nathanael.

See? Perfect rhymed couplet in trochaic tetrameter (with a grace syllable beginning the second line).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ten words I hate to hear

"There are some things for parents to do at home..."

For most families, doing little activities together is a nice change up.

As homeschoolers, though, I spend all day every day doing little activities together at home.

The last thing I need is more of my limited time taken up by little activities that I have to do with the kids at home.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Did I just read that?

"Teachers generally support the common core but are still opposed to testing, which isn't really a part of Common Core but the standardized testes, which was put in place long before Common Core, have been adapted to take into account the new standards and method of teaching."

I'm not sure exactly what they're teaching, but I'm pretty sure if testes (standardized, adapted, or traditional) being put into place is involved, it's not appropriate in a classroom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Evaluating Benj

Getting Benji evaluated to see if we can make school less torturous for him.

Unfortunately, none of the evaluations asked, "Does your child melt down when he doesn't get a turn?"  or "Does your child run when he gets upset?"

So far we know this:

1.  No autism
2. No speech issues that require speech therapy
3. That stupid psychologist who told me I'm just a bad mom and should change religions has since been fired, along with 3 of her co-workers. As she should have been--least competent professional I've ever worked with. She actively modified her behavior to counter any ADD/ADHD and then said he had no attention problems.

So far so good. We'll see what happens next.

What I think:  Benj has no-tic Tourette Syndrome and SPD and is gifted.

This is a controversial, "not real" diagnosis he can't officially get because SPD is now grouped with autism, and Benj doesn't have autism so he will have a hard time getting a "pure SPD" diagnosis because nobody does that, even though it exists.

And the diagnostic criteria for TS require tics of varying kinds even though the TS community all agree that the "behavioral side" of TS is the harder challenge (these: and very real. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever proposed that there is a non-tic TS except me. I think that they misdiagnose these kids as having ADHD, OCD, Oppositional-Defiant disorder, etc. when in fact it's TS. So it looks like ADHD but has a different timbre to it. Similar, but not quite the same, just like stuttering and palilalia are similar, but not the same. Just like SPD and autism are similar, but not the same. They taste slightly different, just like oranges and tangelos taste slightly different and look slightly different but could easily be mistaken for one another.

And the giftedness is hidden by his challenges, which is officially called 2e (twice exceptional) by parents in the gifted community. (SO so so many gifted kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD or autism/asperger's because gifted looks different than people think it does. See this: and also this:

I know everyone has pushed me (off and on) to put different of my children on ADHD meds for their benefit, and I am certainly in favor ADHD meds for people--I think it breaks shackles. But I have always hesitated to give them to my kids and husband. And I have recently learned that ADHD meds actually make Tourette Syndrome worse. So it was good that we never gave them to my "twitchy" kids (as the TS community calls it) because it would have been a cascade of problems.

So anyway, on we go, waiting to see first what the district concludes and secondly how I feel about that (since their diagnostic criteria includes, I learned today, that the disability, in their eyes, does not exist unless it interferes with how a child functions in a typical classroom. If it doesn't interfere in the classroom, they won't acknowledge it unless you get it diagnosed outside their system and bring the diagnosis to them and force them to recognize it. So that means I'm unlikely to get a good "absolute" diagnosis from them--that's not their goal, no matter how much a child's problems interfere at home or other non-school settings).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Things I want my kids to know: Education

Get as much education as you can.

Also get some job skills.

They are not the same thing, despite what current educational theory says.

Learn how to think (education) and how to type (job skills).  Read the great books and see the great art (education) and learn how to fix a car (job skills).  Analyze political and governmental systems (education) and learn how to budget and do taxes (job skills).  Learn how to write down your ideas (education) and how to copy edit (job skills).

The most important thing that fits in both categories is you must learn how to learn. Also learn how to solve problems. If you can do those two things, the world is wide open to you.

No matter where life takes you, you'll be glad you got as much education as you could (never stop getting it either, even after you go to college. But do go to college.) and you'll be glad if you have some job skills.

Things I want my kids to know: Parenthood

The prophets used to openly teach that people should have a large family (without defining what that meant).  They used to teach that dads should support the family and moms should be stay-at-home, full time parents because raising kids is important enough that someone should be doing it full time.

You don't hear that so much anymore. I'm not sure why. Rumor has it that people stopped listening and rejected that advice, even in the church, so they stopped teaching it. I know it's impossible for families with only one parent, but it was never actually "revoked" for the rest of us.

But the reality is that women don't really want to stay home with their kids. It's too hard and the rewards are highly delayed, to a great extent.

But I want my kids to know that I tried it. And being a parent the way they used to teach you really works and is a good thing. It's not a waste of a woman's time or talents to be a stay at home mother. It's not belittling or degrading or a trap.

It's wonderful. Best thing I could have done with my mind and talents and education and experience and time and money.

And having a lot of kids is hard work, but it's wonderful, too. Well worth it.

I am so glad I followed that "old" advice. It's a good choice I never would have made without the prophets telling me it was a good choice.

The pressure is on, against moms and dads and the old-fashioned way of doing things. It's so strong against stay-at-home parents that many women don't even consider that an option. They don't think they can be "fulfilled".

I still remember the guy who told us, "Well, my wife likes to contribute to our family."  As if creating and raising the family isn't a contribution?

Besides, you can always have a job later. But you can't always have babies later.

So do it the way the prophets say. They know what they're talking about. You'll be glad.

(And no, I'm not going to tell you how many kids you should have either...)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Things I want my kids to know: Tithing. And money. And Blessings

Somehow, a lot of people have got this weird idea that the way God blesses us is with stuff and money.

It's like that weird idea that if it can't go on display in a show or gallery, it's not a talent. Who thought of that?!

There's an oft-quoted scripture that promises if we pay our tithing, God will open the windows of heaven and there will not be room enough to receive the blessings.

And somehow we imagine that all those blessings are little gold coins, like life is some Nintendo game and tithing is an endless coin block we bang with our heads.

The actual scripture is Malachi 3:10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."  It is interesting to note that most of the times opening the windows of heaven is mentioned in the scriptures, the verse is about massive rainstorms.  So thinking of rain would be more useful than thinking of gold coins. Rain makes things grow, after all. It give us water, which is necessary for life. It's free. It's beautiful. It's amazing. It's not money.

The blessings can come in any form--even ones you don't recognize.  You can pay your tithing instead of your mortgage and still lose your house.  We don't get to define the blessings any more than we get to define how God blesses us ever. (But I sure do find myself trying:  if I do my visiting teaching, then you'll give Tim more work, right? If I repent of this one thing, then you'll rescue us, right? It never works.) But even if you lose your house, you can be sure that God will rain blessings on you like a flood.

But they might be other blessings--chances to serve, children, happiness, talents, chances to learn (even though often chances to learn feel like curses not blessings), knowledge, friends, things not breaking, plenty of food, new hobbies, joy, health, etc.  There are a million kinds of blessings--or more--so why would we limit God to giving us money? In fact, God thinks money isn't particularly good for people, as far as I can tell, because He doesn't give most of us as much as we'd like.

So blessings aren't money, and you can't tell how righteous someone is by how rich they are, and poor people are not people who aren't as righteous or forgot to pay their tithing.

But the blessings are real. Just don't think gold coins.

Things I want my kids to know: Commandments

Commandments, as a concept, are pretty unpopular right now.

So of course I have to write about them.

First, though, I have to make it clear that this post might look like I'm saying that commandments are just nice suggestions to make us happy, and I'm not saying that at all. So if I don't make myself clear with the rest of this, know that commandments are not suggestions. They are essential.

Here's the thing about commandments:  When left to our own devices, with perfectly good intentions, we screw things up pretty badly. Add into that the reality that many people do not have perfectly good intentions, and those people seem to have a knack for getting into power...well, let's just say that we can't trust us to run the world and get it right.

We lack the knowledge. We lack the vision.  We lack even the angle needed to get the vision, and the capacity to have the knowledge. We're like 2 year olds trying to design a road system and then use it. Driving, I mean.

But here we are, trying to make a world function. Trying to learn and grow and let other people learn and grow. Trying to be happy.

And just in case our own inadequacy wasn't enough to screw things up royally, we have a little help from Satan.  So of course that makes things even messier.

So God, being a smart and loving father, gave us commandments.

Really, they must be for us. They can't be for Him--He doesn't need them.

So we assume they are for us. And knowing that He has perfect knowledge and that He loves us, we have to assume that the point of commandments is to make us happy, or at least get us on the right path for that.

And He had to make them stronger than suggestions because we aren't so good at following suggestions. What's more, if you look carefully at the commandments, you'll see that they don't just help you, personally, avoid trouble and be happy. They also are the bare minimum requirements necessary to keep us from destabilizing society and making the whole grand experiment implode in just one generation. We are perfectly capable of screwing things up so profoundly that within one generation nobody would have a chance of learning enough to make good choices and get back to Heavenly Father.

Like all children, we are adept at confident chaos and completely inept at humble order.

Even when we try order, we tend to focus it in completely inconsequential places, like toilets and floors, instead of where it matters, like family structure and relieving suffering.

So commandments.

We need them.  Desperately.

We must have commandments in order to not ruin our chances and everyone else's chances of succeeding at what God sent us here to do--learn and grow and come back to Him pure and clean and with the experience we need to have all that God has and use it rightly.

So the commandments are a roadmap to happiness, and they are so important (not just nice suggestions) that God binds us to them with covenants. He is serious when He asks us to promise to follow Jesus, to build righteous families, and to live the gospel. He wants us to be serious about it, too.

But Satan is tricky. So, unable to convince most generations to abandon commandments all together, he has managed to convince many many people that keeping the commandments makes them better than other people. It's like this exclusive club of people who keep the commandments and are therefore "righteous" (which is more like a crown than like a characteristic and a result of continuous humble effort). I used to think that never having had to repent of anything "serious" meant I was better than other people. So stupid.

Really, keeping the commandments doesn't make us better than anyone. And it doesn't make us more important than anyone.

That's not to say don't bother. There are millions of benefits of keeping the commandments:

It spares us pain we might otherwise have.

It guides us to places and experiences that make life fulfilling and enjoyable.

It helps us not destroy society.

It gets us to a place where we can qualify for blessings like eternal marriage and having access to revelation and a constant companionship from a member of the Godhead (seriously--why wouldn't we want that?! If this were a game, it would be the best powerup ever).

It puts us in a position to help other people.

It protects us from dangers and from painful stupidities of so many kinds.

It takes a little off the edge of confusion and darkness life is built to be.

It helps us not hurt other people and destroy their lives. That's important.

It helps us know how to go forward, and helps us know how to counsel other people who want to go forward.

It helps us know what things are good and what things are actually Satan's lies. Remember that Satan is not passively mucking about--he's actively trying to destroy the world and us individually, and he's really smart, and the commandments are like armor, weapons, and road maps to help us  not be destroyed.

Really, the commandments are this wonderful blessing God gave us. We throw them out at our own peril, and society throws them out at society's peril. It is NOT going to lead to happiness, even if it seems like should, for us to ignore or reject God's commandments. That's why he made them commandments and not suggestions. They're really quite vital.

And the reason we want to share the gospel with people? Not to get them into our exclusive "chosen people" club.  We want to share the gospel because we want everyone to have the blessing and guidance and joys that we get from following the commandments. We want them to have the protections. We want them to avoid the pains and sorrows that come from sin. Not that they are horrible, worthless people for sinning, but that Jesus can help them feel better.

Why wouldn't we want to share that? Why would we fight against the commandments? This makes no sense, just like it makes no sense to not repent (as often as you need--I don't know who said you can only repent of something once and then after that if you mess up again ALL your sins come back to you. If that were true, it would be a great way to discourage people from repenting. It's not true anyway. As long as you are sincerely repenting, you can do it over and over, and God forgives over and over. Otherwise if you get an addiction, you're toast, and we know that's not the case. Jesus is big enough for mistakes and sins that are hard to stop doing, too, not just for the easy stuff.)

Things I want my kids to know: Security

When the economy crashed in 2008, we were living in Las Vegas. Vegas was smashed by the downturn and many, many shows closed, including the one Tim was in.

Suddenly, we were without a steady source of income again.

I prayed about that, and told Heavenly Father, "Couldn't we have just a little security? It would be so much easier."

And He said, "Security doesn't come from a job. Security comes from knowing you are on the path that God wants you to be on."

So I was praying about the wrong thing.

Sometimes we're just totally facing the wrong direction, and it's time to turn around and figure out if we're on the path that God wants us to be on. And then, even if it's a really scary path (and they often are scary and dark) you can feel secure because God is in charge. Even if you can't see Him.

Things I want my kids to know: Trusting God; and Things aren't always what we think

In October 2012 I found my dream house. Big place. Totally gutted already so I could make it into whatever I wanted. On 3 1/2 acres but still only 3 miles from the library. Surrounded by open space and farms that, by law, can never be anything but that. Right next to a bald eagle nest. It was everything I'd ever wanted, and it had the bonus of being perfect for furthering Tim's career in the direction we were hoping to take it, including having a second, tiny house on the property that already had the floor plan of a recording studio. It would need minor adjustments to become that.

Last summer, when I was very sick and pregnant with baby 8, the place went on the market, and we were poised to get it--everything we'd ever wanted.

In the midst of that all coming down, I had gotten a blessing that said that God appreciated me asking what our baby's name should be and ceding that bit of my agency to Him, and our baby's name was supposed to be Emmeline.  So then her name was Emmeline. Just like that. I accepted that name and embraced it and moved on. Decision made.

So we had everything turned in about that house, and were already thinking about what it might be like to move. Then at the last minute someone swooped in with a better offer and the house was gone. It changed hands twice since then and is now being remodeled into a barn for ag research and a pig farm.

I was devastated. Completely devastated. I had followed very clear promptings of the Spirit--as clear as they possibly can be--and it was a miracle that there was even a chance we could get the place, and it seemed to right and so sure, and then everything was dashed to pieces.

I admit openly I was mad at God, and I told Him so. I've found that it's always okay to tell God when you are unhappy with Him because, quite frankly, it opens the discussion. Besides, He already knows. It's not like you not praying that is hiding it from him. But turning to Him with your anger--even when it's directed at Him--is better than pretending you're not mad or telling yourself you shouldn't be. Like I said, it's not like He doesn't already know. And, in my experience, God would rather us turn to Him when we're mad so He can help, rather than turning away or pretending we're not mad. He doesn't get mad back (thank goodness--the last thing I need when I'm hurting is the wrath of God. His love is much more helpful).

I told God I was mad at him and so hurt and that it was really, really  mean of Him to lead me to believe I could have something I really, really wanted and then snatch it away like that, and how dare He?!

The answer I got was, "You trusted me with something that didn't matter much to you," (naming the baby) "so can't you trust me with the things that do?"


Another thing that I learned (again) from that house thing:  God gives us instructions, and we obey, and we have this lovely, frustrating need to assume the endpoint of a series of events from the starting points. But God doesn't always have things end the way we think they will based on how He started.  And that doesn't mean we weren't following the Spirit. And it doesn't mean we somehow messed up or missed the mark. And it doesn't mean we were wrong about what we understood we should do. And it doesn't mean God isn't actually in charge or he's gotten a little old and out of touch.

The story we get told is someone felt prompted to call/visit a person and it turned out they needed help. The story we don't tell is that for every time that happens, there were a hundred times someone felt prompted to call/visit someone and it turned out they were just fine and didn't need anything. It doesn't make it wrong that they called, and it doesn't mean they weren't prompted. And it doesn't mean there was no good that came. The only thing that was awry was the expectation.

So we trust God even on the big things that matter, even when He hurts our feelings, and remember that what we think is the purpose of any given prompting might not be. Our job is to obey, not to understand.

Things I want my kids to know: obedience

I'm not really big on obedience. I see no reason to follow rules that are stupid or people who are stupid or systems that are stupid. And I think a lot of rules and systems are stupid, and a lot of people just haven't thought through things very well a lot of the time.

If a doctor wants me to cooperate, they have to explain to me why. And then I'll do it. But if I don't see why, I have to trust a person an awful lot to just obey.

I think God understands that because He has gone to great pains to help me learn to trust him.

So I obey God. Even when what He says doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Even when I don't like to do it.

So I'll tell you: I don't go to church because I like church. And I don't read the scriptures because it's fun, although it has gotten to be more fun as time has gone on.  And I don't pay the tithing because I have extra money and why not?  And I don't tell the truth because it's convenient and natural to me.

Why do those things? Because I need the Spirit in my life, and you can't get the Spirit without doing the things God has asked us to do.

So we obey God, even if we don't obey men, because the results of obedience are so so valuable.

Things I want my kids to know: Hope

Hope is this magical, wonderful thing that makes all trials easier.

A little hope can do wonders.

Every time things got really bad, and a little hint of good that could possibly come would show up, it made everything better.

The trouble is, we often hope for good things that will happen. And then if they don't, we're crushed and sent right back to the depths of despair.

One day, I was feeling down and turned to Jesus instead. Instead of hoping that things would get better, I discovered I had hope in Jesus. This is hard to verbalize because it's not the same as having hope that Jesus loves me. Or hope that I'll get a promotion. Or hope that things will go my way.  It's just this undefined hope...centered on Jesus.

And that has been an enduring light in my life instead of one that goes off when the thing I hoped for didn't happen. I still hope that people will buy Tim's songs. And I still hope that the latest round of advertising will get him gigs in schools. And I still hope that people start hiring him regularly. And those hopes are still dashed more often than not. But the hope in Jesus (not hope that He cares, and not hope that He's going to fix things)...that has given me all the benefits of hope, but without the crash at the end.

It's not something I can explain because it is something I experience that is beyond words. It is just there.

So: hope in Jesus. Find that. I wish I could tell you how to get it. I'm not sure how I did--I just turned to Jesus and asked for it, I think. You could try it.

Things I want my kids to know: Not dying

There have been times in my life when I wasn't sure how I would go on. Things were just too hard.

Then I remember that on my mission I had the realization:  Either we live or we die. And since dying isn't really our choice, we live.

So I'll live through this, too.

Things I want my kids to know: Patience

I can't remember ever having God take away my trials simply because I asked.

But if I pray for patience, those prayers are always answered instantly and positively, letting me get through another day.

One day at a time. One prayer for patience at a time.

Things I want my kids to know: That's what Jesus is for

There was a time in the last few years when I had read enough about people abusing and torturing children (all over the world) that I got really sad about that. How could it possibly be that a God who loves us would send us to a world where people could choose to hurt each other so deeply, and in ways that destroy entire generations of people.

Perplexed and sad, I turned to prayer and complained to God that He let all the babies suffer so much, when it destroyed their entire lives.

The answer I got was, "That's what Jesus is for."

We focus on Jesus being for when we personally sin. And that's important.

But Jesus is also for all the suffering. Not just the little suffering of someone hurt my feelings by accident--even for the big suffering of rape and murder and torture. I had never thought of the atonement that way. Jesus is big enough even for the big hurts. Even for the pain and destruction we do to each other that lasts generations.

God doesn't interfere with our agency and stop us from destroying other people. But He also doesn't leave us alone to be destroyed.

And, granted, He often doesn't "fix" the bad effects, the life-long challenges that come from abuse. But He doesn't leave us to suffer them without comfort.

The atonement is big enough and strong enough even for those horrible, worst-of-the-worst pains.

That's what Jesus is for.

That said, there have been times when I was really suffering from unhappy circumstances beyond my control, and I really wanted to access to atonement for help, but I had no idea how to go about that.

We're always taught that we should use the atonement, but nobody talks about HOW to do that. We get told how to repent, but what if we've nothing to repent of, are hurting and pleading for help and patience and faith and we just need help?

I don't know the right answer to that question. It's not like you can just log in with a free account and put in your password and magically have relief.

But I do know a woman who is new to the gospel who told me that one day she was suffering from numerous mental illnesses and also an injury that wasn't healing, and her therapist suggested she turn to Jesus. So she just talked right to Jesus, as if he were there in the room, and her injury was healed and her mental illnesses helped (not eliminated--that's one of her burdens in life--but better than they had been). She didn't even "say a prayer" the "right" way; she just talked to Jesus and it worked.

I marveled at her simple and pure faith and floundered in my "advanced" knowledge that didn't help me get what she got--relief.

I got a blessing sometime in there that said I needed to lay my burdens at Jesus's feet. I was perplexed--I wanted to. But how do we do that? They were burdens that I couldn't see getting better without going away. And certainly I hadn't picked them up, so how could I set them down? And besides, wasn't the only way to get relief to have God take the burdens away--meaning, in my mind, that God fix the circumstances that have caused the burdens?

A few weeks later, I was in as much anguish emotionally and spiritually as I ever have been, and I saw a little video the church put out of Jesus reaching out to someone and healing them, and as I watched, my own heart cried out "Jesus, that's what I need, too!"

And immediately I felt calmer, happier, lighter. My burden was not gone, but I felt better about things.  It wasn't a permanent lovely never-feel-pain again feeling, but it certainly was a burden lifted, and a new ability to see and wait and learn.

Of course, life never stays the same, and it seems to me that Jesus and the atonement are things we have to access over and over, not just once.  Recently I had a really, really bad day where it felt like my whole life was falling apart and things I thought I understood weren't really the way I thought, and I opened the Book of Mormon and it fell open to my favorite chapter.  I found myself reading Mosiah 14:4-5, Abinadi quoting from Isaiah: "Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

I had grief. Deep grief. Intense sorrows. But through Jesus's suffering, we can be healed, and he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. So I prayed to Heavenly Father and told him that I needed Jesus to bear this grief for me and carry my sorrows.

And that worked, too.

I still don't know if either of those is the right way to access the atonement, but I do know that it works. And not just for sin. Jesus isn't just for sin. He's for all the sorrows and burdens and griefs and hurt us. And it does work. We really can set our burdens at His feet.  I still don't know how exactly that works, but talk to Jesus. He makes it work somehow.

Things I want my kids to know: God doesn't rescue us, but He doesn't abandon us either

When Anda was a baby, she got sick a lot. One time she got a blessing that said God knew it was a bother to be sick a lot, but He wanted her to have a strong immune system.

Over the next ten years, Anda rarely got sick. And when she did, it was milder than the other kids, even when we all got taken out by a particularly nasty strain of RSV.

Fast forward 11 years to Christmas 2014. The day before Christmas Eve, Anda noticed a swelling in her neck. As I always do, I said let's watch and see. It got worse. It turned out she had a strep infection in the tissue around her tonsils (also known as quinsy--it's the thing that killed George Washington). Soon she couldn't open her mouth, or eat, or drink. Quinsy is one of those sicknesses that you can't fight off yourself. The only treatment is to go to the hospital and get IV antibiotics overnight. But it was Christmas and then the weekend...she got a blessing that said she would live through this and feel well enough to enjoy Christmas. And she was, barely. But she spent five days on the couch, insisting she was getting better. Finally I gave up listening to her and we took her to the doctor. By then, the swelling was going down, she could open her mouth again, and she could eat and drink. Her body was fighting it off, but slowly. We got her  course of oral antibiotics and she got better, a few pounds lighter but none the worse for the wear.

The point here is that her killer immune system worked. It saved her life and was actually fighting off a sickness that you aren't supposed to be able to fight off.

What does this have to do with God?  Well, he let Anda suffer as a baby--and she hated it and so did I--so that years later she would be strong enough to live through something much, much worse.

So when I say that God doesn't rescue us, really He does. He just doesn't rescue us by taking away the bad things. He uses the bad things to make us stronger--and that IS rescuing us.

There comes a time in every person's life when things are miserable and it feels like God must either not care or outright hates us because He won't help by getting us out of here. The worst is knowing that He does rescue some people, so you know He can. Sometimes people get a blessing and then get pregnant. Sometimes a prompting keeps them out of a car accident. Sometimes He miraculously saves your baby from drowning. And, maddeningly, sometimes he doesn't.  Even when you know He can and has for other people.

Really, though, God loves us. He just does things differently than we do.

We, for example, expend enormous amounts of energy trying to eradicate disease, poverty, and pain in order to help people suffer less. (And I really believe that we should).  God, on the other hand, strengthens us so we can get through it. He gives us patience. He gives us comfort. And he sends someone to sit and hold our hand while we suffer.  He helps us through and makes us stronger rather than eliminating the suffering.

We, in our eagerness to help people not suffer, would actually eliminate the whole point of life: we would make it easy and pleasant, without pain or effort, but the point of life is growth and strengthening, and you don't get that without pain, suffering, and experience. That's why difficulty, pain, and true suffering are common experiences for every single person in life. EVERYONE gets to suffer. (If you haven't yet, know that you will.)

Even Jesus, suffering the worst pain that anyone on earth has ever suffered, so that He, even, wanted to give up and felt abandoned by God (see, even He had to experience that)--even He was not rescued by His Father (and we have no doubt that God loves Jesus).  But God sent him an angel to hold him while He cried, and to be there with him. And he sends angels to us to hold us while we cry. We can't see most of them, and the ones we can see usually can't fix anything (being other living people), but they can sit and hold us while we cry. And they can use what skills they have to relieve the suffering somewhat, even though it doesn't go away.

Be someone's angel.

Things I want my kids to know:

I noticed that some of my kids read my blog. I think they're scared I'm going to write about them...?

I also noticed they come back to it occasionally to get the family stories again, and to know what I think.

So I'm going to write  few posts of things I want my kids to know. The really important stuff, not just how to cook or fold laundry.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Did I just read that?

This headline has exactly two meanings that are quite different from each other:

"PD: Phone man denies stealing rings in his pocket"

I expecting to read an article about jewelry stolen by a phone repair man.  I read an article about a stolen, ringing phone. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Funny kids

Benj, sniffling and snuffling:  "Mom, my nose is cold."
Me: "Do you mean you have a cold? Or that your nose feels cold?"
Benj: "I have a cold. My nose is stuffy.  When will it get warm?"

I love that the opposite of cold is warm, so the opposite of a cold is warm.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day....thinking about mothers again

I was thinking all day about mothers and how the world is against them and sure they're all doing it wrong. How much bad advice we get from people who should know better (like doctors) and worse advice we get from anyone selling anything (like parenting magazines and formula companies) and how much worst of all we're condemned by ourselves for not being someone else.  Or, rather, for not having everyone else's talents and none of their weaknesses.

But here's the thing: God gave people moms. He could have set it up so people had babies like frogs--lay 'em and leave 'em--but He didn't.

And scientists even agree now that just hearing your mom's voice can calm you down when you're unhappy or stressed. Moms are there for the same reason Jesus is (only on a smaller scale because we are not Him): They give us an anchor and peace and direction. The sound of their voice makes us calmer and help us get through.

I've noticed over and over that people who have abusive moms lack this calming, anchoring influence in their lives and they suffer for it. They're more prone to depression and anxiety. They lack a secure space that moms give us.

And here's the amazing thing--it works for all loving moms. It has nothing to do with the condition of the floors, or how you decorate, or if you can't figure how the heck little girls hair is supposed to look.  It works if you went to every baseball game and if you went to none of them. It works if you baked cookies or if you couldn't even figure out frozen pizza.  It works if you actually make stuff that looks like pinterest or if, like most of us, you "nailed it." It works if your hair looks pretty or you can't remember if you brushed it today or if you let your kids fix it and went to the store that way because you forgot. It works if you let them watch movies or use computers, and if you let them eat white bread, and if you can't figure out bedtime despite working on it for 13 years (and counting).  It works if you know everything about parenting or if you managed to have a few more kids and realized that you don't actually know anything.

If you did your best to be a real mother, you are a gift to your children forever. And to their children. It's this amazing thing.

Sometimes we can't find Jesus. Sometimes we can't hear Him, or figure out how to access the atonement. But God didn't leave us alone--He gave us moms, in all their variety.

It's a huge responsibility. It's a huge privilege. Some women screw it up. But most of us do our best and that is enough.