Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chile Update - Week 1 Done

Corey had a good week and a rough week. Things went well at the schools except for communication with the consejo about expectations. Here are details from Corey's skype conversation with his developer in India, the amazing Kiran (the fact that he's from India plays into the story) :

Corey Wride: I'm a little frustrated. The "take-away" I have is that we simply cannot afford to leave a bad impression with unstable software. I didn't even know those people (the Consejo who showed up during the classes to take notes, video record, and evaluate the software) existed before I got here - and had only agreed to do one class with 8-10 people, so we did very good delivering - but they simply did not view it as a pilot which is strange. This organization has some influence, but its not certain that they'd be helpful. the root problem is that people are very excited about this - and they want it finished sooner than we can finish it. Its a good problem to have - as long as we can manage expectations, its funny - the first day at the University I had a meeting with all the students - inviting them to participate, I told them about the "pilot" and how they would be "testers" and that its not finished, but we want their influence and opinions, then, the woman in charge got up and said "oh, no...Corey is just being modest. Its very great software. We love it, and you're going to love it, its really wonderful" - even though she had never used it, so even when I tried to keep expectations low ...sort of funny. One other thought you might enjoy, they said they want to start using it for all the students at home, so they can use it whenever they want - and I said its not ready yet for that. The woman who is the most critical said "just have people in India finish it for you- they are very smart and they work while you sleep"

Kiran Babu: :D

Corey Wride: I wanted to assure her we have the best India has to offer - but it still takes time

Kiran Babu: That's really funny

Corey Wride: yeah, its weird. I'm told I should l get angry at them and tell them how unorganized they are - but that's not really my style. ok, I'm done venting - anything else you want to talk about in that regard? Monday appears to be the last day of the pilot, and now that all the machines work it should go just fine.

So that's where things were left at after Friday. Sunday he went to church at our old ward in Santiago. Saw old friends, sent me this email: "Funny, I just bumped into her at church and told her that our kids missed the lady with the rabbits - and guess what she had in her purse?"

(On Easter Sunday last year, Corey was out in the lobby with Lily who was being fussy, when the "crazy lady" from the other Las Condes ward (that shared the building with us) told Corey to go get the rest of the kids who were in the meeting with me. Corey waved for them to go to him, a few went out, then came back in, whispered to the other kids, then they all went out again, all while someone is giving a talk from the pulpit, I was starting to steam out of my ears like "You guys are really distracting the meeting, what is going on?!?!" The kids informed me that the 'crazy lady' (which we call her for lack of remembering her real name) had some baby rabbits that were SOOOOO cute, so all the kids were out there, waving for me to come out too, Corey shrugged his shoulders like "Hey, it's Chile. I don't have a say about this..." I sat alone on the bench for the rest of the meeting in defiance. I was like "NO! We don't skip out on sacrament to play with rabbits!!!" So that is funny that my kids miss her and her rabbits, and that Corey ran into her and there was a baby rabbit in her purse AT CHURCH again, funny.)

So, after Church, Corey took a bus to Peralillo to visit an area where he served as a missionary back in the late 90s. He ate breakfast but didn't take any food with him so was pretty hungry all day. He decided to buy some water from the bus personelle, he said as he called me to tell me he was on his way, I said have fun and good bye, then he called back and said "Serves me right for buying something on the Sabbath - the water is carbonated." I laughed. Yuck! Something particular to Latin America - have you ever had water "with gas"? It is nasty. Ugh. Don't think they even sell carbonated water here in the US, do they? But in Chile you have to specifically ask for "Agua sin gas" - water without gas - or they will bring you carbonated water, and the first time I ever tried that, I just can't explain it. You'd have to experience it, but it was nasty. Doesn't seem like it should be incredibly horrid, but it is.

After he arrived in Peralillo, he went to go buy his return bus ticket for that evening and they were all sold out, so he was stuck there for the night until the 5:30 a.m. bus to Santiago. I was sorry for him (glad the kids and I weren't there with him). Corey did find a few of the members that he went there to find. Carlos in particular. Carlos didn't remember Corey at first. He isn't active in the church, it was a little bit of a depressing experience but gave Corey some good insights. Corey ran into the missionaries and went with them for a while on their visits members and teach people, he enjoyed that. They offered for Corey to stay with them at their apartment, he asked "Is that allowed?" They called the Mission Pres. for permission, it's not allowed. Poor Corey, abandoned and alone in Chile. I told him he needs to write down these experiences in his journal (as he was talking to me that night from his alcohol smelling hotel) and he said "No. I just want this experience to be over..." and entrusted me to try and document it. It's hard being the historian for our whole family. Especially since I don't really know half the stuff that's going on at Corey's end with MovieMouth. But anyway, so Sunday night the kids and I here in our comfortable home with soft beds said a prayer for Corey to fall into a deep sleep and that the night would pass by quickly. He was at some run down house turned into a hotel, where the owner was drunk from celebrating his first customer and Corey's arrival as his second customer. I was a little worried for him that night, I woke up and called him at 6 a.m., he was already back in Santiago and plugging away so that was good.

As for me here at our house, things are going well... 1)I gave myself a haircut - feel free to fix it for me if you see me and can tell that I did it myself. 2) I bought "the genie bra" at Walmart on Saturday night. Love it! Saw their infomercial some time ago and so it was on my list to check it out - happy I saw it, and I give it 4 stars, go buy one!! (there were two in the package). 3) I learned that Oxyclean is also a great wedding ring cleaner. My ring hasn't been cleaned for 3 years, looks so nice now! And 4) yesterday at 5:00 I noticed my cell phone had a voicemail message - it was from the principal at the kids school. She didn't say what she was calling about, I just figured I'd call back tomorrow to see. Then during the evening it came up in a conversation with Joseph that he was called to the principal's office where he met Wesley, my 1st grader, who told the principal that Joseph had given him his Scouting pocket knife. So Wes took a pocket knife to school, showed it for show and tell to his teacher, his teacher had to (district policy) send him to the principal's office with it. Then Wes passed the blame onto his older brother. Pretty funny. The knife is still at the school, I have to go pick it up. I think Wesley found it under the boys' bunk bed when they were cleaning their room on Saturday, and Wes snatched it then. He won't fess up that he put it in his back pack. I'm not mad that he took it, but do want him to tell the truth and not be scared to tell the truth. We'll probably revisit the incident again when Corey gets home Saturday and see if we can get Wesley to feel safe enough to admit it, or see if we can figure out if someone else did put it in his backpack. Anyway, that's the Chile and At Home update. How's it going at your headquarteres?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Reviews

Thought I'd do a quick book review of these two books, both by Suzanne Freeman (as told to Shirley Bahlmann (Hmm?))- Led by the Hand of Christ and Through the Window of Life

I read this first one in 4 hours over the weekend. I liked it at first, then around page 84 I was like "What?! That's not right..." I was already starting to wonder how she remembered all the details about everything, started to think some of it was maybe made up or borrowed from other sources? (not sure how much the "as told to Shirley Bahlmann" added to the content...) Then on page 84 she writes about meeting Nephi: "He lives in the heavenly version of a city that the Nephites built after they left an area in the eastern United States." That's where I was like "Mmm, I'm not buying this story..." - I don't think it's impossible that she met Nephi, my doubts come cause I think the Nephites lived in Peru - (that's the current theory I'm leaning toward) so that added detail derailed my waning confidence in this book.

I haven't read anything very convincing about it being in the eastern US. (If you have anything compelling about New York feel free to share, cause so far I don't think that New York or Mesoamerica are the right locations. I read this book by George Potter and it was very compelling and lots of it rang true. I have it if you want to borrow it. Now I'm reading the Book of Mormon again with Peru as the setting in mind and so far it fits well)

...Anyway, then in Suzanne's book on page 130 she says that she chose to not remember her near death experience, but then after she's been back on earth she's been able to remember parts of it and then prays and remembers more. So to myself that validated my skepticism about all the details in her story. Just my opinion. I'd be interested to see how/if my opinion would change by seeing her in person and or hearing her speak. But as for now, meh -

So then I thought I'd read her other book (didn't know why she's have two books talking about the same experience, felt like I had fallen ploy to marketing techniques - 2 for 1 the other way around - 1 for 2 - one experience, sell two books about it) - to see what this one was about and about page 4 I was like, ohh, I'm not going to like this, and I was right, I didn't enjoy this one at all. It was a chore to read it but I felt like I had to, sort of like when I forced myself to read Twilight, just felt like I should know what everyone was talking about, like some obligation.

Twilight tangent: I did think the first book was fun, and since I started it I felt like I had to read all of them. But I didn't do the 4th book Breaking Dawn, but I remember totally just trying to get book 2 and 3 "over with", no offense to Twilight fans, I just don't have time in my life for fiction right now. And this book "Through the Window of Life" fell into my "fiction" category, cause after book 1, I started this one pretty skeptical, and as I read I just didn't like it at all. It's a short book but it took me a week to finally force myself to finish it, and I was forcing my eyes to keep looking at each word so I could turn the page and finish it - it just read like a lot of made up ideas and stories, so I didn't like it, sorry. I don't think that we'll all be crawling out of caves when the Lord comes again. He's not building his kingdom on earth (which I believe is what the restoration of the gospel is) just to destroy everything and start over again when he comes for the Millenium. The world's not ending yet, look to the living prophet and apostles for guidance. Keep setting goals and pursuing your dreams. As President Packer says in the 2nd to last paragraph of this talk:

"Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right—getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren."

When the Lord comes, I don't think it will be how people tend to think it is, which this book is an example of how I think people think it will be like, I don't agree with it. Plus, one of the apostles lives on our street a few houses down, so we'll keep an eye out on him for all of us. ...If we do see the moving van in his driveway, we'll send out the alert to all of you and we'll all pack up and follow him wherever he's driving to. ;)

So these two books are now put on the "Things I don't know what to do with" shelf in my brain. There are lots of other things on this shelf. The other shelves in my head are "things I believe are right" and "things I think are wrong". The reason why this is on my "don't know" shelf rather than the wrong shelf is cause there is a lot I don't know about this lady. I have no reason to believe she is insincere, I think it's possible she did experience many of the things she shares, I just don't believe all of it, thus it's in the "I don't know/don't get it" category.

So there's my opinion. If you want to read them and give me your 2 cents, let me know and you can borrow these copies. :) See ya later!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Motivation to Get Moving

Viva La Vida meets Love Story and Without You

The two links above are to two of my favorite workout songs - both by the Piano Guys - when I'm not motivated to exercise, I play these songs and they give me the energy I need to begin it - starting off slowly and just start moving and stretching, and soon I'm working harder and lost in the song, love!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Triple Whammy

"The Triple Whammy is a devilish interaction among three factors: non-stop stress, low levels of stress-buffering serotonin (a brain chemical that is behind good moods), and imbalances in your female hormones."

I stumbled upon this book at the library a few years ago during an exceptionally stressful time, and have mentally referred to it several times lately when talking with friends, sharing what I could remember... I finally bought it so I could read it again and have the actual quotes on hand for reference since my brain is getting rusty. It is good stuff. You can buy it on Amazon used for like 50 cents.

It talks about stress, serotonin and hormones, and the multitude of afflictions that women in particular suffer from as a result of any one of these being out of balance - and the author gives the biology behind our moods and such aches and pains as:
-anxiety disorders
-chronic fatigue syndrome
-irritable bowel syndrome (diarrhea/constipation)
-memory loss and brain fog
-menopause transition
-sleep problems, etc

Says Dr. Edelberg, in his introduction:

What you're experiencing is not a disease, as doctors think of disease, but rather the consequences of a susceptibility you have as a woman on three separate fronts. Your symptoms are the result of a three-pronged assault - a "triple whammy" so to speak - consisting of:

1 -stress - Women are poorly protected against the ravages of stress on their bodies because they have less available serotonin, which acts as a buffer to damp down the physical effects of chronic stress
2 -a shortage of a chemical in your brain called serotonin - Women are genetically predisposed to low serotonin, one of the feel good neurotransmitters in our brains. Women actually have more serotonin than men, but it doesn't work as efficiently
3 -our ever-shifting female hormones - Women have shifting tides of hormones, which themselves control serotonin levels and function -monthly and through out life.

One last thing about this book - he says his interest in women's health came about when he gained access to the medical records of his grandmother, years after she'd died in a state mental hospital. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness, he'd been told she died as a young women, when in fact she spent virtually her entire adult life institutionalized. He didn't even know she was alive when he was young - years later as he looked through her doctor's notes, he realized sadly that she could have lived a real life if only antidepressants had been invented a few decades earlier. I can relate to this, cause sometimes I can see myself acting crazy and stressed out but I feel like I can't control it (like now since Corey's out of town for two weeks!!! AHH!!) Going to read through this book and breath, go for a walk outside in the sunshine (sunlight produces serotonin) exercise, get a massage (massaging skin stimulates serotonin production), eat my fruits and veggies, call a friend (no need for a therapist, just call your BFF and start talking - it produces serotonin!) etc.

Another quote "The stress response is a two-edged sword, helpful for the soldier if the bombing is actually under way, but definitely the wrong reaction for the student to feel ten minutes or ten hours before the exam even starts, or after it's over. when faced with a stressful situation, whether actual and dangerous or created by unrealistic worry, if you don't have enough serotonin, two things can happen: your mood may plummet and you'll be come apathetic, or you'll become anxious in the extreme, sometimes to the point of panic."

Like I said, lots of great stuff to help us understand stress and how our bodies react to it. Going to go read some more...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Zip Itty Dodah (aka Brian Regan)

Hey Beka, how was Brian Regan? I've tried to remember some of the jokes from our show so we could compare. :)

- Hogle Zoo - "Well, this is what we look like..."
- Doctor Late to appointment - 5 minutes ok if there's blood under the door
- House construction - what is your net worth?
- Water heater installation - "Not over there, over THERE!!"
- 3 a.m. music for free
- One free kill
- shadow boxing, shadow polo, chest bump (he didn't do the lottery ticket at ours)
- Mortgage crisis - magician trick
- Magician doing dog tricks
- Dog doing "illusions"
- Edna, I love what you're done with your hair!
- space tourist, the rocks are hard!
- checking into a hotel - Is it under another name? Yea, check under Zip Itty Dodah or Yip E. I. O. Kaiyay
- ipod is amazing - it's able to turn all the songs we love into the songs we hate "nope, don't want to listen to that, not that... not that, well, guess I'm done!"
- dancing on the dance floor!
- marching bands, that was the flute player's idea "Come on guys, it's easy! Like this! We're spelling Mississippi!"
- There are only two kinds of sprees - shopping spree and killing spree. "I'm going out for a spree honey, see you later." "what kind of spree?" "You said we needed bread and milk... so I'm going to go kill all our neighbors and take theirs."

I've been wasting time on YouTube now... this clip had a few jokes I hadn't heard before, he's so funny

What were some others? Brian Regan is hilarious!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sophia Studies Hyrum

When Sophia was born, she looked exactly like Joe and Hyrum did as newborns. She was taking a good look at Hyrum the other day to check out what many of her facial features may be when she's 8 years old...

She was studying hard...

And her conclusion? Hmm, I think she looks a little concerned...

Don't worry Sophers, you'll have longer hair than that and we'll let you wear pink and dresses.

Yeah, put Hyrum's face with Mel's hair and pink shirt, something like a combination of that. Is that better? It's fun to be a girl! Playing ring a round the rosies, without ringing around. Sit around the rosies.
Love my pretty girls.

Candy Houses

It's a little late to be posting this Christmas activity, but better late than never :)

My mom came over and helped out big time with this activity - spending the better part of her evening the day before making all of these little graham cracker houses. "Oh, it will be easy!" And I guess it is, but it's still time consuming. Want to know the quick way to make candy houses? Sugar melted on a skillet - see pic below. Careful though, it is hot like molten lava, and since it cools quickly, it will promptly singe your skin and stick to it at the same time if it drips on your finger (just got me once but that was enough - my attempt to ease the pain by giving in to my first reaction and sucking on it removed the skin that just got cooked and left the burn exposed. 3 weeks later and my finger finally fully healed.)

Mom helped Hyrum frost his house a little - royal frosting is the other must have when making candy houses.

Hy decorating with nerds and gumdrops (and I like Wes's suckered cheek in the picture below)

The finished product:

I thought I'd let Hyrum be the poster child for this activity - he's such a quiet and non-assuming kid, trying to make sure I post pictures of all the kids now and then, not just the littlest ones.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Corey's Chile Update

On Saturday Corey pulled an almost all-nighter (stayed up 'til 5:30 a.m. then slept 'til 10:30) went to the airport at 12:30, layover in Atlanta, arrived in Chile at 9 a.m. Monday and went straight to the university. He's a really hard worker. If millionaires are created by driving yourself into the ground, I think Corey's definitely earned it. (Don't have a heart attack, sweetie) Here's an email he sent me yesterday of the trip update thus far (on Day 2 of 14):

"Thought I’d take a moment to give you and update of happenings here in Santiago. Last week I was busy with some other non-Media Mouth priorities and so have been playing catch-up with work – so if I don’t sound coherent, it’s due to a couple of all-nighters – interrupted only by flight to South America.

"When I was here last I had agreed with Cristobal who works for the CNIC (Chilean National Innovation council) that we could do something small with them – and get a chance for them to learn more about M o v i e Mouth. I had worried about doing something big because we had just finished a pilot and we knew of many issues to address before presenting again, and I didn’t want to get distracted, and frankly the software is not ready yet. I also worried about not having enough resources to do it “right”. Cristobal assured me it would just be 8-10 students on summer break at a lab at the Catholic University.

"So far, 50-60 people have used the system under the watchful eye of maybe a dozen or more administrator’s and academics at two Universities, one of which is the most prestigious in the country and sets the trends for the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, Gabriel was unable (despite my strong urgings) to get access to the labs before I came, so we’ve wrestled with various installation/technical issues that temporarily shook the confidence of some of the people working with us, but they appear to be mostly behind us. Many of the computers didn’t even have sound cards to work with, and are super slow. But we have gotten through most of those issues (happy to go into details if you’re interested. We have three separate, unfinished projects surrounding auto-installation and testing – we just haven’t been able to get to them yet but they should help identify/solve problems much sooner.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of attention here – my biggest worry is whether we have the resources to execute like we need to – and like everyone is expecting/hoping us to. The entire staff at the CNIC seems involved in the project and anxious for its success – and they even hired an outside firm to monitor/track/study the progress. It was not the low-key pilot I had agreed to by any means, but the enthusiasm seems too great to contain. I know that if we do moderately well with this pilot they will want to talk about expansion. As with the last pilot, the vision/concept transcends the technology issues – but we need to close that gap ASAP."

So with Chile on my mind, I thought I'd share a personal political side note that after watching the State of the Union (as much as I could handle) and after South Carolina, I'm a little worried about the future of America so thought I'd let you all know we're going to self-deport ourselves to Chile if Gingrich gets the nomination. (Come on Romney!!) I'll stick around for Santorum or Paul, but if my choices are between Obama and Gingrich... see ya. Feel free to try and convince me if there are other options, but I'm not alone, I'm going to start recruiting (see 14:12-14:27). Seriously, Herman Cain left the candidate pool because of shadowy accusations, and now we have Newt claiming to be the Republican lifeguard with his substantial record of adultery, divorce and ethics reprimands? Really?? Please, I just hope that we will have someone conservative, decent and honest to vote for. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Mormon on Drugs

My sister sent this to me - we thought it was hilarious so thought I'd share:

Mormon on Drugs
short version above (10 min) long version below (20 minutes) - he talks some politics in that one! Funny!
Long Version

The operating room part is hard to hear, but when he gets in a recovery room (at 2:47) it's better. SO FUNNY! Worth the 10 mins. There's lots of good parts, here are two of them...

"You just knew what Mom? You're always saying you know EVERYTHING!!!"

"I don't want to go to BYU anymore. Those Mormons... some are so nice, but some are soooo ...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parenting Strategies - Fights

What do you do when the kids are fighting?

Corey in the Nacho Libre mask for some friendly family wrestling in March 2010

Well, the fights we have to deal with the most often are between the boys. There are three strategies that we use most often to help them stop fighting.

#1 - Pull out the video camera - Just start recording them explaining their grievances. For my kids this works like a charm everytime. Very effective, cause they immediately see how ridiculous the whole situation is and they also see it from the outside (aka they think of how the "themselves" in the future will be rolling their eyes and laughing when they see the video). Try it!

#2 - Corey's strategy: Radio Programs on Relationships - Corey usually doesn't want to listen to who did what and why I'm right and he's wrong yada yada. He's usually busy working in his office and is often listening to talk radio online as he works, so he makes them sit down, shut up, and listen with him to Dennis Prager and "The Male/Female Hour" which is pretty funny cause it's usually about relationships and putting aside your petty grievances - hopefully they learn something. He makes them sit for a long time or until I come rescue them after a half hour.

#3 - Tiff's Strategy: Drop and give me 50 on your knuckles! I've just tried this once with the kids, but I've done it several times on myself, and it works great - Joe, Eth, and Hyrum had been in a bedtime fight, they were sitting in Corey's office listening, it was getting late and they had school in the morning, so I said they were free to go back to bed if they did 20 high knee get ups with me (I had already done 40 and was finishing up my exercise for the night when I decided to rescue them from the Male Female hour) They were all laughing as they did it cause it was hard, so it worked cause they had to change their focus from their argument to getting their knees up. They were pretty sloppy in their form and thus all beat me for time, but it was fun. When I feel myself getting stressed and like I need to vent, it helps if I do some quick exercise routine (like 500 mountain climbers or 200 pushups w/plank jacks (alt every 10 reps = 100 each) - always makes me feel 100% better.

solving fighting between children sibling rivalry arguments kids fight how to stop ways to stop sibling fighting sibling struggles

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Banned from the Bathroom

... and here is why.

So help me Lily, I shall try my best to keep my bathroom locked at all times. She's taking the advanced toddler destroyer class and as homework now skips the drawn out "unrolling" part of ruining tp, much more time efficient to just throw the whole thing in. Although, as you can see from the pic above, there were three rolls of tp that were spared, so I did count my blessings as I cursed while reaching my hand into the toilet to fetch these loaded rolls out. But it did teach me that White Cloud tp really is as advertised - they almost had that whole toilet bowl of water absorbed - impressive!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"Bring me the head of a pig!"

Corey and little Abi at Brian Regan's show at Thanksgiving Point in August 2008

Ok, I'm so excited for Saturday!!! Just read these two articles (1 and 2) and I'm just so stinkin' excited! Our tickets were for next Thursday but now I get to go earlier! Corey has to go to Chile on our original date, and I knew that was a possibility he was going to have to leave for several weeks before he booked his flight so I've been on the hunt for tickets for his first week here - 10 SHOWS!!! Can you believe it? Next time he comes around I'm sure it will be 20 since word of mouth I'm sure will double his fan population. It was hard finding tickets, and even with 10 shows they are all sold out so I've been watching the classifieds - finally found some for this Saturday and picked them up yesterday and sold our tickets for the same overpriced price, sweet! This will be our third time going to see him, so excited! We don't do music concerts or go to the movies (well, sometimes we go to the dollar, but Redbox is just easier), so this is our one splurge and it will be worth it for us to be able to go together - last time just 5 minutes into the routine and Corey was laughing so hard he was crying (body crumbling and hearing, so funny!) and I just loved it and knew we'd have to come next time he's touring, Brian Regan is HILARIOUS and I also love his his jokes about family, being a parent, and getting older, totally hits the spot - it's hilarious.

My kids love him too - I remember growing up and listening to 8-tracks and records of Bill Cosby and it was so fun and funny, so glad that my kids have a comedian that they will grow up with too, so kids love it, Corey and I love it, just tons of fun for the whole family, yay!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1 a.m. Ramblings

Corey's in St. George for a few days, the kids are in bed, I just did 20 minutes of gymboss running and exercising outside - that was me out in the dark doing plank jacks in case any of you were in the cars that drove by. So, since I exercised now I'm here at the computer winding down, my brother commented on my facebook share of the video of Colum I posted yesterday, so of course I watched it again and started to cry again. So sad!!! Driving home from a Christmas party, and in an instant everything changes...

Who knows what trials we all will face in life? I re-read a few chapters in the above book today, (I have a slight fascination with NDE books... and remember, Corey's going to Chile again, so of course I'm thinking of him dying and me becoming a widow again...) so I've been thinking of losing a child or Corey to death, I know in such a trial the Spirit of God would be there to sustain me, but wow, definitely not a trial I'd pick off of the shelf if I had a choice. In that book above, here's what the back cover says:

Chris Monsen's husband was drowning in the freezing waters of Yuba Lake. Terrified, she left her children on the shore and braved the icy waters in an effort to save him. Then a voice sounded in her mind: "Chris, go back!" She turned and saw her young children struggling towards her, neck-deep in the deadly waters. Already numb with cold, she faced a dire decision: try to save her husband or turn back to save her children. Crying out in despair (now I'm tearing up again) she left her dying husband, all the while praying for a miracle-but it was not not be. Moments later Chris watched in disbelief as her husband sank out of sight.

Doesn't that just sound like an uplifting read? Not really huh, but you know most stories need to have a tragedy and trials to make them wonderful. Thus, this is a wonderful book, I give it two thumbs up.

So, like Valley Forge and "Life is Beautiful" (The Book of Mormon is also mostly about wars and family feuds) here's one more depressing story to give us perspective, here's a talk called "Be of Good Cheer" that shares this story (I remember totally crying through this one too... why do they teach us to be cheerful by depressing us? (...atleast temporary depression) I guess to make us grateful for the blessings in our lives, right?):
In about March 1946, less than a year after the end of the war, Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, accompanied by Frederick W. Babbel, was assigned a special postwar tour of Europe for the express purpose of meeting with the Saints, assessing their needs, and providing assistance to them. Elder Benson and Brother Babbel later recounted, from a testimony they heard, the experience of a Church member who found herself in an area no longer controlled by the government under which she had resided.
She and her husband had lived an idyllic life in East Prussia. Then had come the second great world war within their lifetimes. Her beloved young husband was killed during the final days of the frightful battles in their homeland, leaving her alone to care for their four children.
The occupying forces determined that the Germans in East Prussia must go to Western Germany to seek a new home. The woman was German, and so it was necessary for her to go. The journey was over a thousand miles (1,600 km), and she had no way to accomplish it but on foot. She was allowed to take only such bare necessities as she could load into her small wooden-wheeled wagon. Besides her children and these meager possessions, she took with her a strong faith in God and in the gospel as revealed to the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith.
She and the children began the journey in late summer. Having neither food nor money among her few possessions, she was forced to gather a daily subsistence from the fields and forests along the way. She was constantly faced with dangers from panic-stricken refugees and plundering troops.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks to months, the temperatures dropped below freezing. Each day, she stumbled over the frozen ground, her smallest child—a baby—in her arms. Her three other children struggled along behind her, with the oldest—seven years old—pulling the tiny wooden wagon containing their belongings. Ragged and torn burlap was wrapped around their feet, providing the only protection for them, since their shoes had long since disintegrated. Their thin, tattered jackets covered their thin, tattered clothing, providing their only protection against the cold.
Soon the snows came, and the days and nights became a nightmare. In the evenings she and the children would try to find some kind of shelter—a barn or a shed—and would huddle together for warmth, with a few thin blankets from the wagon on top of them.
She constantly struggled to force from her mind overwhelming fears that they would perish before reaching their destination.
And then one morning the unthinkable happened. As she awakened, she felt a chill in her heart. The tiny form of her three-year-old daughter was cold and still, and she realized that death had claimed the child. Though overwhelmed with grief, she knew that she must take the other children and travel on. First, however, she used the only implement she had—a tablespoon—to dig a grave in the frozen ground for her tiny, precious child.
Death, however, was to be her companion again and again on the journey. Her seven-year-old son died, either from starvation or from freezing or both. Again her only shovel was the tablespoon, and again she dug hour after hour to lay his mortal remains gently into the earth. Next, her five-year-old son died, and again she used her tablespoon as a shovel.
Her despair was all consuming. She had only her tiny baby daughter left, and the poor thing was failing. Finally, as she was reaching the end of her journey, the baby died in her arms. The spoon was gone now, so hour after hour she dug a grave in the frozen earth with her bare fingers. Her grief became unbearable. How could she possibly be kneeling in the snow at the graveside of her last child? She had lost her husband and all her children. She had given up her earthly goods, her home, and even her homeland.
In this moment of overwhelming sorrow and complete bewilderment, she felt her heart would literally break. In despair she contemplated how she might end her own life, as so many of her fellow countrymen were doing. How easy it would be to jump off a nearby bridge, she thought, or to throw herself in front of an oncoming train.
And then, as these thoughts assailed her, something within her said, “Get down on your knees and pray.” She ignored the prompting until she could resist it no longer. She knelt and prayed more fervently than she had in her entire life:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I do not know how I can go on. I have nothing left—except my faith in Thee. I feel, Father, amidst the desolation of my soul, an overwhelming gratitude for the atoning sacrifice of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot express adequately my love for Him. I know that because He suffered and died, I shall live again with my family; that because He broke the chains of death, I shall see my children again and will have the joy of raising them. Though I do not at this moment wish to live, I will do so, that we may be reunited as a family and return—together—to Thee.”
When she finally reached her destination of Karlsruhe, Germany, she was emaciated. Brother Babbel said that her face was a purple-gray, her eyes red and swollen, her joints protruding. She was literally in the advanced stages of starvation. In a Church meeting shortly thereafter, she bore a glorious testimony, stating that of all the ailing people in her saddened land, she was one of the happiest because she knew that God lived, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He died and was resurrected so that we might live again. She testified that she knew if she continued faithful and true to the end, she would be reunited with those she had lost and would be saved in the celestial kingdom of God. 8
From the holy scriptures we read, “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, … they shall inherit the kingdom of God, … and their joy shall be full forever.” 9
I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.
I declare that God lives and that He hears and answers our prayers. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and our Redeemer. Heaven’s blessings await us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
So if you've made it this far, one last thought - I believe President Monson is a prophet of God - a Moses or Peter sent by the Lord to guide us in our day, the latter days, the perilous times before Christ returns to earth. So the world is wicked, lots of bad things happening, lots of work to do, and what is the message of the prophet? It's not hellfire and damnation - it's Be of Good Cheer, be Grateful, Be happy! Of course that happiness only comes from keeping the commandments, but people need to choose it, you can't force it upon them. It's not a doom and gloom work we are doing here, it is the kingdom of God on the earth, we know how the story ends, the good guys win, it's our job to keep out chins up, keep working hard serving and blessing others, that's how we can lift and bless and help others come to Christ. Life is good, "the future is as bright as our faith!!!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Pack Family

A friend posted this on facebook ~ I started to cry at :28...

As I saw this little angel boy's face in the video and his little sweet tiny hands holding the flower, oh my heart would just break to bury one of my children. My love and prayers go out to this family. I know their knowledge that families are eternal will give them peace during this great trial ~ Families are forever, our loved ones are not lost to us because of our Savior Jesus Christ who overcame death, and through him we will all be resurrected and live again, I know it is true. May the Lord bless this family!

Also, Joseph Smith Jr, who I revere as a prophet of God, had 11 children (2 adopted) 6 of which died in infancy. When I think of him and Emma burying all those precious babies, oh my heart breaks. I know that Joseph Smith was a good man who loved his children and all children. I think trials like that make the plan of salvation REAL, it's not just a matter of faith cause in those extreme trials like this come to KNOW and learn to live life with the big picture of eternity and forever on their minds every day.

Imagination and the Batmobile

Wes is always in character - I love his imagination.
Here he is as Ben 10, pushing the Omnitrix, and then transforming into ...
XLR8!!!! (I know he still looks like Wes dressed up at Ben 10, but trust me, this is now Wes dressed up as the alien XLR8!)
Here he is as Jock from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Jock is the guy who flies the plane when they get away from all the indians trying to kill them - and Jock has a snake that Indiana hates "Aw, that's just my pet snake Richie - show a little back bone!"
And Wes as Avatar the Last Airbender, doing a little bit of water-bending with his water - aka a little ball of paper that he colored blue. He also had a brown one for earth, white for air, and red/orange for fire. - you can tell he's a serious waterbending student

And you've already seen him riding on the rodeo horse, but I love it so we'll repost this one

And life just got more fun for this little boy, cause we got a car -
...and not just any car, this is a black car that's shiny and looks cool, so that means it's gotta be the Batmobile. I know it's the Batmobile, cause Wes told me.
I call it Corey's Car or Dad's Care, but the kids call it the Batmobile, and there have already been fights over whose turn it is to ride in the Batmobile. "But so-n-so rode in the Batmobile to church! Now it's my turn!!" Lucky kid, Wes was the first one to ride in the Batmobile, maybe that means Corey's Batman? That might mean that Wes is now Robin... time to go create a Robin costume, Wes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Boys Love Babies

These pictures are from New Year's Eve - Here's a pretty little lady ~

Go grab the girl you love and kiss in the new year!

With a smooch like that, I know 2012 is going to be great.

Assigned Reading

Mel was laughing at the school books that he had to read today:

"Mom! Look at this book! How BORING!!!" she laughs

And Wesley sat at the table resigned to his assignment and dutifully read it. I admit, I'd be pretty bored with school if I had to read books like this. Just doesn't ignite the fire for reading. It's painful for me too.

(Since I know you're dying to know, the shoes were: flip-flops for the beach, sneaker for the park, cleats for soccer, hiking boots for the woods, work boots for work, winter boots for snow, wingtips for dancing, slippers for rest)

I Heart Curry

I love curry. If you have a good curry recipe, do share ~ Here's a recipe I use a lot - it's my own version that is my ol' stand by on "Curry Night" (Abi thinks it's "Corey Night" and that he just always chooses curry cause Corey likes curry)... My recipe goes as follows:

basic curry sauce:
1 T. olive oil
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
3 T. curry powder
1 t. coriander
1/2 t. ground cumin
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
2 T. honey
juice from 1/2 lemon

garnish with cilantro and/or scallions

serve over jasmine rice

Each week the flavor varies just a little bit depending on the brand of coconut milk, the fat content of the yogurt, sometimes I don't add yogurt, etc - there's a lot a flexibility with it, so kinda play with it and see what you like!

But for my usual curry, here's the directions:
heat oil, put diced onions and garlic and saute til brown, then stir in the spices. Next, add the coconut milk, can of tomatoes, and yogurt

then stir in honey, lemon juice, and add salt to taste

Now, you can add the other stuff that you're in the mood for - chicken or shrimp? Or just plain curry tonight? Serve it over rice or vegetables, and there's usually plenty left over that I'm quick to hide and save for myself - it lasts me a few meals :)

For chicken curry this past week, I added 4 slightly-cooked-in-the-microwave-and-then-cut potatoes, and 4 breasts of chicken cut into pieces. Feeling like extra veggies? Add some yellow squash.
Then just let it cook and simmer til it's done and the table is set

Another time I made shrimp curry with no potatoes and served it to myself over green beans

Hope you like it!

C is for Courage

Yesterday Corey booked a flight to Chile. This will be his 4th trip down since we got home from spending 5 months there. This time he's doing a pilot at the Catholic University of Santiago (I think - don't really know that much about what's going on... usually if we do have a chance to talk, he doesn't really want to talk about work...) Corey usually works at home, and I admit I do seem to function better when he doesn't work at home cause the kids knock on his office door and he "can't say no to Lily" and so he gets interrupted and frustrated then I'm frustrated - so it's usually better if he's gone during the work day, but I don't like him being gone for the whole day or for whole weeks. But it'll be okay, I will survive! Easier to stay here and wait while he takes a trip than for us to all pack up and move there together, right? ...Although that is fun to go and experience all the fun with him. He said when he goes to Santiago it doesn't seem as foreign or as far away since we all lived there together.

So Corey is pressing onward with Media Mouth, but this just might be his big break! ...then again, we've both thought that before, so it's probably best to just keep expectations low. We are learning to enjoy the journey and trust that he will arrive at the destination he seeks. Like President Monson said in his ABCs,

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!

"Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.

"Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required."

Corey is well beyond his second effort, probably in his 94th effort. (This is where Corey would say "Can we not talk about how long this has taken? It gets me depressed...") This next trip of 2 weeks will probably get him up and over his 100th effort. But Media Mouth is a great idea, and I love Corey's heart, his desires are in the right place. I listened to this talk this morning as I folded laundry, it made me think of him. Good stuff.

Jon M. Huntsman Sr.
"God Did Not Put Us Here To Fail"
Read it at the link above, watch it here

Some of my favorite parts:

“Faith keeps one true in the dark and humble in the spotlight.”
- Alfred C. Lane

“There is no education like adversity.”
- Benjamin Disraeli, a former prime minister of England

“We receive our inspiration from the mountaintops but receive our maturity from the valleys of life." & "Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them."
- Sir Winston Churchill

So go Corey! Go Media Mouth! You'll make it sweetheart, you're doing great! Knock 'em dead!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Queeny with a Binky

Lily didn't use a binky as a baby. I don't know that she'd ever seen one before Sophia came around and started to always want it. I guess it piqued Lily's interest so she's trying it out for herself... The older kids were watching tv with the younger siblings, and when I came in I see Sophia in her swing with her binky gone, not crying though, and Lily helped herself to it and to my bed for a little afternoon nap.

Totally made me laugh!

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