Friday, September 18, 2015

SNAP Activity

We went to our "SNAP" activity last night.  (Special Needs Activity Program)  A visiting congregation planned the activities for the night.  As a thank you to the visiting ward, the special needs friends and youth councillors all sang a song for the visiting ward.  (I am a child of God)  They had prepared four different stations for the evening's activities.

The first station was a dance room.  They had disco lights, and music playing.  The youth from the visiting ward led the special needs friends in several dances like:  the macarena, the hokey pokey, etc.  These special needs people love to dance!

The second station was a puppet show.  This is actually a bummer in a way because I'm in charge of the activity next week, and I have planned for them to do puppet shows.  Oh well, I'm sure they will still enjoy it.  They had children's books and had one person read the story while the others used the puppets to act it out.  Next week I'm going to have them (with the help of the youth councillors) write a script and perform it.

The third station was a human bowling activity.  The youth had set up "lanes" using folding chairs.  They also had two rows of chairs facing each other so they could use it for a "ball return".  Then the visiting youth stood at the end of the lane in bowling pin formation.  The special needs participant would roll a large beach ball.  When it hit one of the human "bowling pins", the pins would fall and topple, much to the delight of the special needs bowler.  :)

The fourth station was a craft.  This was a little messy.  They were to put some rice in a plastic easter egg (rice got everywhere!) and then tape it up.  Then they taped two plastic spoons cupping the egg.  Then they were allowed to use some permanent markers to decorate the "maraca" they had made.  At one point, I asked my husband to turn on some music on his phone so that they could shake the maracas in time with the music.  Then one of the youth councillors said he had some latino music that would be better.  It was a latino sounding arrangement of the "Jungle Book" song, "I Wanna be like you".  The special needs friends LOVED it!  They were moving and grooving to that song!

Lastly the visiting ward had refreshments prepared:  nachos, watermelon, grapes, and cookies.  As my husband always says, "Good food for a good mood."  I sure enjoyed it!

There was one bright spot for the night for me.  There is a young man with Aspergers syndrome who comes every week.  He doesn't know he is special needs.  His parents are some of the adult leaders, so he comes with them, and assumes that he is one of the youth councillors.  His parents have asked us to try to have a conversation with him because he is working on socializing.  He volunteers at the zoo, so I asked him about his job.  I was surprised that he talked with me for as long as he did!  It's really good for him to interact with others.  He is highly intelligent, but just doesn't have social skills.

One other special needs friend is autistic.  He loves Disney princesses and Star Wars, and will talk your ear off about those.  Every week he brings some papers with him that are print outs of star wars pictures.  These papers of his were getting wrinkled and worn over the weeks.  Last night I took him a plastic folder with clear plastic sheet holders inside.  I helped him put his pictures in the sheets.  I couldn't tell how he felt about that.  We will see next week if he brings the folder, or if he brings the sheets alone.  :)


We made a quick trip to St. George, Utah this week.  My cousin was going through the temple there for the first time, and I really wanted to show my support by attending.  He is a wonderful person with a big heart.  It was so great to be there with him.
We went down the night before and stayed at my in-law's house.  It was a little disconcerting for my mother having to sleep in a new bed in a strange house, but she did okay.  My in-laws were away on a camping trip, but my husband's youngest brother was there, so we got to visit him.  He is mentally ill, and has a lot of health problems, so it was good for him to have us come.
We took him out to eat that night at Panda Express.  I don't know if I ate something bad, or if I caught a virus, but I've been struggling with stomach problems ever since.  I was worried that it might keep me from going to the temple with my cousin, but I prayed a lot, and didn't have any problem going.
We needed to come back home for the "SNAP" program in the evening, so we left right after we got out of the temple.  We did stop for lunch at a diner.  After we had driven about 2 1/2 hours, my mother announced that she was sure she had left her wallet at the diner!  I told her I didn't remember her taking it in, but she insisted that it was on her lap, and was sure it had fallen on the floor when she got up.  I thought I knew the name of the diner, but when I tried to search it on Google, I couldn't find it.  I searched the car over and couldn't find the wallet anywhere.  I decided that I would wait until we got home to search the internet for the phone number of the diner, and call and ask them to send it to us if they had it.
We got home a little earlier than I thought we would, so went ahead and unpacked the car.  As I was picking up my mother's temple bag, I decided to open it, and lo and behold, found her wallet there.  That may not sound unusual, but the weird thing is that I don't know how it got there!  I just can't imagine why she would have put it there.  She is starting to misplace things a lot.  We spend a lot of time trying to find things that she has misplaced.  I'm just thankful that this time she had misplaced it in a convenient place!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


I'm not sure if my mother's dementia is progressing very quickly, but we sure have had some odd moments lately.  These kinds of things have been happening all year, so I can't say they are evidence of an increase.
Last night my husband and I went to a church marriage retreat.  I mainly just wanted to get out of the house and soend time with my husband.  The "retreat" aspect of it was less important to me.  But it was a nice evening away.   In preparation, I made some dinner for my mother and boys and put it in the oven.  I made meatloaf and baked potatoes.  I knew it would frazzle my Mom to worry about getting it out of the oven at the right time, so I gave that responsibility to my son.  But I told my Mom what I had planned for dinner, and I also laid out a can of green beans and told her my son would heat them up.
When we got home that night, we discovered that no one had eaten the meal!  My sons weren't thrilled with meatloaf, so ate other things.  My son took it out of the oven at the right time, but my Mom insisted that I had cooked it for some other purpose, and refused to eat it.  She said she ate "other things". I think she ate a piece of bread with peanut butter on it...... I came home to find the meatloaf in the refrigerator on a plate with a dishtowel wrapped around it.
The other day I made tostadas for lunch.  My Mom and husband were still eating when I finished, so I went in to take a shower.  When I came back to the kitchen, this is how I found that my mother had out away the beans and tomatoes: ( I can't get the picture to load from my ipad.  I'll try tomorrow from my laptop.)

Her ability to read is decreasing too.  She has to spell out many of the words and sound them out.  I wonder what the coming year will bring.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

She's Up to Something

It's been a long time since I've blogged on a regular basis.  I'm not sure why, but I do partially blame an uncomfortable computer chair.  But I want to try to blog more often, even if it is just to document my life.
So what have I been up to?
--I have once again started an independent study program to get my bachelor's degree.  I am short 38 credits.  Actually, I have 100 credit hours, but they are so scattered in subject that I need to do more to fulfill the requirements for my major.  I struggled the first time I started this.  I had difficulty with the logistics of test taking, and also with managing my time studying while fulfilling heavy church responsibilities.  My son graduated from BYU in April with a degree in computer engineering.  As I watched him walk across the stage to accept his diploma, it struck me that I am now in a great position to finish my own degree.  I have the time, and I am living close to BYU, so can test there.  I'm taking American Heritage right now.  It's a great class!
--My mother still lives with us.  Her dementia is slowly progressing, but she isn't too bad.  She can still enjoy life.  She would like to live alone, but that just isn't possible for her, and frankly I think she would be unhappy alone.  I keep telling her that you can never go back.  She usually agrees with me on that.
--We planted a vegetable garden abd it is doing very well!  This is my first time to start seeds in the spring.   I over planted cucumbers, but luckily my neighbors are all happy to get them.  I have 7 cucumber plants!  I know, what was I thinking?!  I have 7 beans plants which seems about right.  2 zuchinni, 2 yellow squash, 8 tomato (they aren't doing that well) 6 basil, 6 bell pepper, 4 hot pepper, 1 cantelope, 1 watermelon, and some volunteer tomatillos and cherry tomatoes.  I have also harvested about a gallon of black berries and a bushel of peaches.  Our apricots got frozen, and our apple trees are sickly so didn't produce.  I was out of town and missed the raspberries.
--I currently have 3 church assignments.
     --humanitarian service coordinator. (I organize humanitarian service projects for our Relief society)
     --my husband and I co-teach the high school seniors in Sunday school.  I love this calling and love these great kids!
     --My husband and I have just been called to work with the "SNAP" program in our city.  SNAP stands for "Special needs activities program". We will be working with the special needs members who live in this city.  We have a church activity with them every week.  Some are youths, but some are adult age who are mentally challenged.  I'm looking forward to this calling and I think it will be a great experience.  Our first activity is a kick off dance.  :)
--I have several projects that I am working on at home.  In June we acquired our first grandchild!  I'm working on a quiet book for him, as well as a quilt.  I hope to have them ready by Christmas.
Well, I hope to blog a little more often in the future.  I'll try to get a picture of my garden.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Defending Marriage

I just attended a rally for marriage, and a friend of mine wanted to understand more about why I don't believe in same sex marriage.  I decided to write my explanation here so that I can fully explain.

Before I get to the explanation, I feel the need to talk about some mechanics of debate.  One very common tool of debate is to attack the character of the opposing person.  So there are many who, in an effort to avoid real conversation, call me a hater, or a bigot.  By attacking my character, they think they can easily dismiss my beliefs.  So if you read hateful comments in the comment section of this post, just know that those are people who have no other argument, so are relying on name calling and character assassination instead of actual debate. 

To understand my view of marriage, I must first discuss what marriage is.  Some might say that marriage is the union of two people who love each other.  It is not.  Two people can love each other without getting married.  Some might say it is two loving people who make a commitment to each other.  It is not that either.  Two loving people can be committed to each other without being married.  Some would say that it is a legal institution that allows people to share benefits.  It is not that either.  Many States allow LGBT couples the legal right to the benefits provided by their partner's employment without having to be married.  So what is marriage?  I submit that marriage, at it's very inception, was a religious ceremony, instituted by God.  Marriage is more than just an agreement between two people.  In the beginning, it involved making a sacred covenant between man, woman, and God.  A covenant is a binding agreement between man and God, and in this case, between two people.  It is a sacred, religious ceremony.   The Bible gives instruction about what marriage should be like. " For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." (Eph. 5:31)  "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matt. 19:6)  This union, was the very foundation of the family.   To say that marriage is between two men, or between two women, is to redefine marriage as it was originally instituted.  

What does it mean to "redefine" a word?  It means to disregard the original meaning, and give it a new definition.  Because marriage has been known throughout the world and throughout time as the union, and covenant between a man and a woman, to now change that definition is to change the original meaning of the word.  This is what I'm fighting against.  

When I lived in California, Proposition 8 was developed to formally define marriage as being between one man and one woman.  I campaigned to support proposition 8, and as part of that support I canvassed neighborhoods, and made telephone calls to voters.  In the end, the State of California, by a margin of 52.3 percent, voted against same sex marriage.  The majority spoke, and the definition of marriage was preserved.  But the United States supreme court stepped in and called the vote unconstitutional.  But was it?  Isn't it society that determines these kind of issues?  This is a country "of the people, for the people, and by the people".  Why was our vote stolen away?  Why did our vote have no weight?  

So some would say, "Why do you care?  It doesn't affect your marriage."  It may not affect my own marriage, but redefining marriage does have a trickle down effect on society.  I particularly like this quote I read on the "Mormon Women Stand" Facebook page.  It is by Elder Boyd K. Packer from the quorum of the twelve apostles of our church:  "One cannot degrade marriage without tarnishing other words as well, such words as boy, girl, manhood, womanhood, husband, wife, father, mother, baby children, family, home."  When you blur the lines of marriage, you also blur the lines of gender.  As it is, we see those in the media spotlight who are deciding to surgically change their gender.  There are those who would like to believe that there is no difference in the genders.  From an evolutionary stand point, such a society is doomed for destruction.

And what about the children of same sex marriages?  Yes, they are loved, no doubt about that.  But I believe that children have a right to be raised in a home with a father and a mother.  Children do not have a voice in our society, so they cannot choose to which family they will be adopted.  Shouldn't society preserve their right to be raised in a home with a father and mother?  Love is a wonderful thing in a home, but it is not the only need.  Children need the role model of a father and mother.  There are those who have lost a spouse or divorced, who do not have that option.  God bless them!  The do the best they can.  But even they would tell you that it is difficult to do without a spouse of the opposite gender.  I have read two separate articles recently of people who were children of same sex marriages.  Both people said that they missed having a parent who was the opposite gender from their same sex parents.  Isn't this a God given right?  Shouldn't we protect this right of children?  Some would say, "Isn't it better for a child to be adopted by a same gender couple than remain parentless?"  I can tell you that there are MANY people waiting to adopt who are heterosexual couples.  Perhaps we could address the issue of the difficulty of adoption instead of saying, "Any parent is better than no parent".  Shouldn't we aim for the ideal?

For me, it's not about "hating" people for their sexual orientation, but is about trying to preserve the very foundation of our society; the family.  It's about preserving the meaning of marriage.  It's about preserving what God intended.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fifty Shades of Immorality

Some might ask how I can write about this topic, considering the fact that I haven't seen the movie, haven't read the book, and plan not to ever see them.  Let's just say that I don't need to wallow in the mud to know that doing so will make me dirty.  And I have some thoughts about why you shouldn't either.

I was thinking about the title of the book, "Fifty shades of gray".  We all talk about "gray areas", and most people use this term to refer to things that are difficult to categorize as either good or bad.  I think the gray areas, in the judgment of our society, are growing, and the black and white areas are narrowing.  As our society continues to lose moral judgment, less and less things are deemed right or wrong.  In thinking of the book and movie, it occurred to me that even though they consist of some perversion, society today would hesitate to call it such.  In fact, I think the word perversion is on it's way out of our vocabulary.  Today's culture would say that nothing is perverted if it makes you happy.  There are those who would still say that child molestation is perverted, but that's about the only area I can think of that society would disapprove of, and label as perverted.  But in fact, there are many perversions in our culture today, and this book and movie highlight some of that.

I remember watching an Oprah show once, the topic of which was to do sexy makeovers for women.  Oprah ridiculed the women for wearing normal pajamas and nightgowns to bed at night.  She shamed them for not wearing negligees every  night to bed.  I think this is demeaning on so many levels.  For one, it is demeaning to men, and suggests that they can only get aroused if a woman is wearing a negligee.  Second, it demeans women by telling them that they need to be a constant sex object.

In December I was on a trip to California and was privileged to listen to a radio program of Michael Savage.  I love Michael Savage, he says things directly and doesn't mince words.  This particular program was about pornography.  He opened the microphone to any caller that wanted to talk about the subject.  I've never viewed pornography (outside of the filth we see on public television).  I don't even go to R rated movies.  I don't want to see the violence, nudity, and adult themes, nor do I want to hear the swearing.  So the subject of pornography is kind of foreign to me.  I was very interested to learn about it from a male perspective.  If you really want an education in the subject, download Michael's program from that day.  One of the callers said something that I have thought about so much ever since.  He said that the problem with pornography is that it doesn't show true intimacy.  He said that in pornographic films, you don't see couples kissing, caressing, or even talking.  He said that it sends the wrong message to our youth, that this is how sex is supposed to be.

I do think that our media is flooded with so many perverse ideas of sex that many young women think that in order to be viewed as sexy, they have to look and act like a prostitute.  In the 50 shades movie, it is taken to the level of abuse and bondage.  Is that really the message we want sent to our young women?  I don't approve of the modern feminist movement because some of their values veer drastically from my own, but surely the feminist movement would disapprove of a movie and book that laud bondage sex and physical abuse!    Our media seldom portrays anything but immorality, and it is causing a whole generation to lose sight of the joy of intimacy between couples, that includes, but is not limited to sex.  

I think there are some who would say that sexual purity is prudish.  They would say that everyone should live and let live.  But their moral compass is askew.  There is such a thing as right and wrong. There may be fifty shades of gray, but black is black, and white is white.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Life With Mom

I've been in kind of a funk lately.  I can't quite seem to get my life on track.  I think it's because so much is out of my control.  My mother is living with us, and I'm with her pretty much 24/7.  That goes against my "loner" personality.  I've been realizing lately that I have to make time to be alone so that I don't go crazy.  :)

I'm also having difficulty figuring out what to do with my time.  I know I am the master of my own time, but now I have to think of it as two of us, so it's not really just my time.  I can leave my mother for short periods of time, and she is fine.  But usually I only leave her if someone else is home with her.  I don't think she would be in any real danger if I left her alone, but she starts to get confused and gets a little paranoid.  She has dementia, although it isn't very progressed at present.

There are some sort of amusing sides to the dementia.  Well, maybe it's just amusing to me, but I guess if I don't laugh about it I could get depressed.  But there are things that make me chuckle.  For example, my Mom has gotten kind of suspicious.  She keeps an eagle eye out for everything going on, and then "tattles" if she is suspicious of anything.  When we first moved in, my husband burned out our food processor.  He was going to throw it away, but I thought that we might be able to use the container with a new one.  When I wasn't looking, my husband carted it secretly out to the garbage.  My mother got wind of this and has never forgotten it.  So every time my husband takes something out to the trash, she gets suspicious.  The other day she said, "Your husband was sneaking something out to the trash."  I said, "Um yes Mom, that was the garbage from the house."  Quite often she will come to me and say, "I saw your son sneaking some food downstairs to his room."  I try to explain to her that I don't care if my kids get food when they are hungry, but it goes against her way of thinking.  (Although she didn't control my snacking when I was young.)  Today my oldest son came upstairs and got some food, then went back downstairs.  He happened to look back as he went.  I didn't see him, but my Mom did.  Suddenly I heard her kind of sigh exasperatedly.  I said, "What's the matter?"  She said, "I don't want to tell you."  I said "What's wrong?"  She said, "Someone just came and snuck around the corner, and when they saw you here, they quickly ran back down stairs."  Later I learned that my son came up to get some food.  But in her mind, there was something sinister about it.

Another thing that is happening is that she keeps hearing noises in the night, and imagines all kinds of things.  This kind of thing happened when she lived with my sister last year.  She is always telling me that she is hearing the front door, or back door open.  She often thinks she is hearing voices.  She is convinced that my sons are sneaking out in the night.  What she doesn't realize is that I live here too, and I'm not hearing any of this.  I explained to her that my one son is almost 22 years old, and legally he can do whatever he wants.  But he is also a kind of a couch potato, and I know he isn't sneaking out every night.  Not that he would have to sneak.

We do have one standing argument.  My mother is convinced that she was present when something happened when we lived in China 20 years ago.  My oldest son was about 4 years old at the time, and he kept doing dangerous things.  My Mom is convinced that she was present when these things happened.  I logically showed her how she could not have been present.  She was serving a mission in South Africa when these things happened, and couldn't have been there.  She and my father did come visit me on their way home, but that was long after these things happened.  I explained to her that I did show her the places that they happened, and she did meet the babysitter I had, but that it had happened a full year before she came to our apartment.  .  I explained that sometimes when someone tells you something, you picture it in your mind, and before long, it seems like a memory that really happened.  I proved it again by calling her on several points of dispute in the story that she claims she was witness to.  But you can't deal logically with dementia, so I think she still believes she was present.  And I just have to laugh.

My Mom really wants to go back to her own home to live. I have tried to give her reasons that she shouldn't, but she insists she will be going to live alone.  The other day I told her that she will miss our dog.  I really think she would.  She even hinted that maybe we could give him to her.  But considering the fact that she only weighs about 15 pounds more than him, I don't think that would be a good idea.  :)

The other thing that occupies my mother's mind is that she would like to adopt a baby.  I explained to her that given the fact that she is almost 90 years old, and wouldn't live to raise the baby, they won't let her adopt one.  She said she would just leave it for me to finish raising.......   She is so baby hungry.  Everywhere we go, she is drawn to babies.  And she gets SO upset when she sees kids that aren't dressed properly for the cold weather.  Surprisingly, many parents do not dress their kids very warmly.  We often see babies without jackets or shoes.  The parents are usually dressed in coats and warm clothing.  I don't know what they are thinking.  My Mom about blows a gasket every time she sees it.

The last thing is probably the most embarrassing, but then again, all I can do is laugh about it.  When I was young, whenever we went to play outside, my Mom would come out the door and whistle for us when it was time to go home.  She can whistle VERY loudly.  Now that she is aging, she uses her whistle whenever she needs to get someone's attention.  So, for example, when I call the boys to come upstairs for dinner, if they don't respond quickly, she goes to the top of the stairs and whistles for them.  I tried to explain to her that they don't know what that means, having not grown up with is, but she keeps trying.  That I don't mind so much, but awhile back we were at a store and needed a sales clerk to help us.  We saw a guy not far away, so my Mom proceeded to whistle at him.....  I wanted to crawl in to a hole and pretend I wasn't there!  lol  Sound embarrassing?  Well, the other day in church........I raised my hand to make a comment, but the teacher didn't see me.  You guessed it, my Mom whistled......   Luckily, it was a very short whistle, and strangely, the teacher didn't even hear it.  I told her the other day that it was pretty embarrassing, so I'm hoping she will stop whistling in church.  lol

Well, at least it's good fodder for my autobiography...  ;)

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Family Ties

For the past 20 something years, my husband and I have lived outside of Utah.  In August we moved back.  One of the things that has been the nicest is all of the opportunities we have had to visit with family and friends.  One of my sons is studying at BYU.  Another is studying at UVU and is now living with us.  My husband's sister and her husband live in our city, and many of their children live nearby.  My husband's Uncle and Aunt live in Provo, as do many of their children.  My sister and her family, and my brother and his family all live within a 2 hour drive of here.  My mother is living here with us.  Because of all of the family near us, we have had many visits.  This is something we haven't had for over 20 years!  I think maybe some people take it for granted, but we are really enjoying connecting with family again.

In addition, we have had the opportunity to visit with old friends who have passed through town.  Because we were away from family for so long (except for brief visits in the summer), many of these friends have become sort of replacement family.  One set of friends will be moving in to the area soon.  And because we are in a central location, we have the chance to visit with them all.

Before we went to China, we planned ahead and decided that we wouldn't weigh ourselves down with a lot of expensive furniture, and things that would need to be stored.  So when we moved to China, we just gave away all of the used furniture that we had.  Now that we are back, we are slowly acquiring new/used furniture to take its place.  One of the first purchases that we have made is a guest bed.  I think that was one of our wisest purchases because we have already had several people come stay with us for a short visit.

Living in away from family for so long has really made us appreciate the chances we have to visit with family now.  I think being in China amplified that appreciation even more.  It sure is good to be back.  Here is a picture of a recent family get together at a relative's house.

Here is our dog Bane enjoying the winter weather.  I have to admit that the snow is still a novelty for us.  We think it's beautiful!  :)