Sunday, May 11, 2014

FHE 5-11-14

Here are my notes from a family home evening I gave a few weeks ago.

Ask everyone: Can you think of something you have done wrong recently, that you have needed to apologize to someone for? (Give everyone several minutes, until everybody has something in mind)

Here is an explanation of the next idea I tried to share:
"Although many people use these two words interchangeably, from a psychological perspective, they actually refer to different experiences. Guilt and shame sometimes go hand in hand; the same action may give rise to feelings of both shame and guilt, where the former reflects how we feel aboutourselves and the latter involves an awareness that our actions have injured someone else. In other words, shame relates to self, guilt to others. I think it's useful to preserve this distinction, even though the dictionary definitions often blur it:
a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
According to Dictionary.com, then, guilt involves the awareness of having done something wrong; it arises from our actions (even if it might be one that occurs in fantasy). Shame may result from the awareness of guilt but apparently is not the same thing as guilt. It's a painful feeling about how we appear to others (and to ourselves) and doesn't necessarily depend on our having done anything."

We watched a Brene Brown Video from 13:58 to 14:45 (found at http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame#t-1137957) and discussed the idea of guilt vs. shame. 
Then I asked:
By these definitions, what do you think the purpose of shame is?
What is the purpose of guilt? 

Next we watched the music video found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGnytpiYUpc (and read the lyrics from https://www.lds.org/music/text/other/godly-sorrow?lang=eng). If you have time, though, it makes a lot more sense if you watch the entire story of the music video, found at https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-06-2350-godly-sorrow-leads-to-repentance. (If you want the music without that story line, you can find a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Fu7sgsyFB4 - though it doesn't have any story line, and I think the pictures make limited sense the way they are aligned with the lyrics.)

We concluded that the purpose of guilt is to lead to change within ourselves, so that we will come to Christ and to become more like him.

Next I asked, Does anyone remember what the repentance process is? (Then we asked everyone to list the steps.)

Someone - who I think was guided by the Holy Ghost - turned the repentance process into an apology process for kids to use in classrooms. We have started using it in our family, and we find it very valuable. There are four steps (from http://www.cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry/):

I’m sorry for…
This is wrong because…
In the future, I will…
Will you forgive me?

To practice this, we asked a couple of the adults there to role play, pretending to be their own kids, and make up a situation in which they would need to apologize, and then complete the apology. (This was a lot of fun to watch!)

I also shared a time when I recently used a four step apology. One night I had a plan in mind for the next day but I wanted to get Tux Man's opinion on what the plan should be; so, rather than telling him what I was thinking, I started by asking his opinion. When he didn't come up with my plan, and the plan he did come up with was much more inconvenient and unpleasant for me (involving extra time in a carseat for a baby who hates his carseat), I got upset with him (Tux Man). After thinking through the situation, I offered a four step apology; Tux Man recognized what I was doing half way through, and before I was done we were both smiling about it.

As the cuppacocoa article concluded, when these four step apologies were used, "It was no longer a matter of embarrassment or shame, but simply acknowledging 1) what went wrong, 2) who was affected, 3) how to change, and 4) asking forgiveness."

Finally we discussed the question, How does this correlate to the repentance process?

(We also briefly discussed how there is no obligation for the person who is being apologized to, to forgive.)

I concluded by bearing testimony of repentance and the positive impact that truly apologizing can have on family relationships.

Here are some other notes on apologizing that I found when preparing for this lesson.

From http://www.askmen.com/money/body_and_mind_150/177_better_living.html:

"Take Responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge the repercussions. Ask for forgiveness OR offer redress. 
Shut up and let it end."

When asking for forgiveness, don't say "Maybe someday you can forgive me" because that implies that you 
are already in the right, and it's up to them to come around. Instead say, "I hope that you'll forgive me" or "Will
you forgive me?"

From http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Art-of-an-Apology

The perfect moment to apologize is the moment you realize you've done something wrong.

This seems obvious when we're contemplating somebody else's sins, but in the harsh light of our own guilt, we often try to protect ourselves from shame or censure by waiting for the heat to blow over. We may try to postpone apologizing or avoid it altogether by lying, blaming others, making excuses or justifying our actions. The impulse to go into such a stall is a big ol' signal. When you really don't want to say you're sorry, it's almost certainly time to do so.

On the other hand, you may be one of those people who apologize when they haven't done anything wrong. This is as false as failing to say you're sorry when circumstances warrant it. If you frequently apologize, it's time to stop. This kind of pseudo-apology may ease awkward conversations, but it's a form of crying wolf—it distracts attention from real issues and weakens meaningful apologies when the time for them arrives.

Aaron Lazare, MD, a psychiatrist and dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has spent years studying acts of contrition in every context, from interpersonal to international. 
An effective apology is, as Lazare puts it, "an act of honesty, an act of humility, an act of commitment, an act of generosity, and an act of courage.

An apology is the end of our struggle with history, the act by which we untangle from our past by accepting what it actually was. From this truthful place we are free to move forward, whether or not we are forgiven. Apologizing doesn't make us perfect, but it shows our commitment to be honest about our imperfections and steadfast in our efforts to do better.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


This morning I held out his pacifier in front of him, and instead of opening his mouth, Wiggles held up his hand. I put the pacifier in it, and he held it for a few seconds before dropping it. He has spent lots of time staring at his hands lately, and I see him thinking through how to use them. It's so fun to watch!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tux Man's Tumor

We found out a week ago yesterday that Tux Man has a tumor growing in his spinal canal, in the space where his spinal cord is supposed to be. If you want to read about the medical saga that has led us to this point, check out http://afrenziedmind.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-finding-out-that-i-have-tumor.html.

The current status is that Tux Man will have surgery Tuesday morning to have pieces of two vertebrae removed so that they can access the spinal canal, where the tumor is growing. They will then remove the tumor, which will probably include cutting the nerve where the tumor began growing. This means some permanent numbness, but hopefully it will be less numbness and significantly less pain than Tux Man is currently experiencing. There is great risk of permanent paralysis from the chest down, but that risk is almost certain if he doesn't have the surgery.

Here are the updates I have sent out so far:

SUMMARY 3/14/14:
For the last 15 month, my husband has been struggling with pain and numbness in his lower body. Last Friday (Mar 14) we had (another) MRI, with contrast, of his upper spine and brain. They found a tumor at the T7 vertebra; they think it is a schwannoma (it is large, and probably slow growing and benign). As we looked at the MRI pictures with our un-trained eyes, if we are reading it correctly, the tumor is about as tall as the vertebra itself. They think it started in the sheath of a peripheral nerve and is growing into the spine. The doctor who called with the MRI results Friday afternoon (Dr. Summer Gibson) said that he would probably need to have surgery within two weeks; we will meet with the neurosurgeon up at the University Hospital on Friday morning, so we're guessing that by Friday afternoon we will have a time scheduled for the surgery. The doctor who read the MRI was very positive about the prognosis, however, and all of the research we've done online indicates that the surgery is likely to be very effective at relieving all of the symptoms he has been struggling with.

UPDATE 3/18/14: We have an appointment Friday morning at 8 am with Dr. Erica Bisson http://healthcare.utah.edu/fad/mddetail.php?physicianID=u0577670. At that appointment we will "discuss options" and presumably set a date and time for the surgery. Dr. Bisson operates at the University Hospital.

UPDATE 3/19/14: They called this morning and moved his consultation appointment to 11 am tomorrow (Thursday) instead of Friday. We are grateful, because the numbness and stiffness/difficulty moving seems to be continuing to spread up his body, and is beginning to effect his torso and arms.
We are praying for Dr. Bisson, that she will have clear vision and steady hands and thus be able to remove the entire tumor without complications. We are also praying that it will not grow any more before the surgery, and that there is not any permanent nerve damage once the tumor is out. 
I am worried about what to do with our baby during surgery and while Tux Man is in the recovery room. Also, when surgery happens, I am hoping someone in our extended family can come stay with our older kids. (Any volunteers?)

UPDATE 3/20/14:
I hope it is better to send you a really long update, instead of spamming you with lots of little ones, because this is definitely a looooonnnnnngggg update! Below are a Summary, More Details, and How to Help.

Tux Man's surgery will be on Tuesday, March 25, probably in the morning, up at the University Hospital. He will probably spend 3-4 days in the hospital.
We were going to bless Wiggles on Sunday, March 30. THE BLESSING DATE HAS MOVED TO MARCH 23. The time is still 11 am, and there is still lunch at 2 pm at our house. We are planning a family fast for that weekend to end with the lunch; you are welcome to join us in fasting as well, if you wish.

More Details
The tumor is smaller than we imagined - it's probably the size of a large marble. It is in the spinal column, and in one place, it takes up about 90% of the space in there (space that is supposed to be reserved for the spinal cord), so it's obvious why Tux Man has had such trouble from it. Because it has been getting progressively worse, they are doing surgery to keep it from getting any worse yet. In order to reach the tumor, they need to do a Laminectomy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Laminectomy.jpg for a picture of a vertebra) on two vertebrae. They will not replace the removed part of the vertebra with anything. Apparently the muscle and ligaments covering the spine are sufficient to compensate for the bones they will remove.
Tux Man's symptoms will likely get at least a little better, but they may not get a lot better, and it's possible they won't get better at all. They specified that they can't tell us if it will get better, or how much, or how quickly. Most people get “better” - meaning, better than they were before, but maybe not completely well again. The spinal nerve is very good at compensating for pressure on it - it's very resilient - but by the same token, it takes time to go back to normal when pressure is taken off of it like that. He should expect roughly a year's recovery to get back whatever he's going to get back (i.e. having the pain and numbness disappear from his legs). The doctor will most likely have to cut the nerve where the tumor was growing, and remove the section of it where that was happening, so she told Tux Man to expect a permanent band of numbness around his chest.
After the surgery, he will need a couple of weeks off of work, and he needs to not push, pull, or lift anything over 5 lbs for a month. (Wiggles is a little over 13 lbs.)
We were given LOTS more information at the appointment, so if you think of questions, please feel free to ask! You may think of things we forgot to ask, so we appreciate your input.

Many of you have asked HOW TO HELP, and this is my brain splurt on the subject:
I expect to basically go to the hospital twice a day - once during the school day, with taking Wiggles with me, and again in the evening with all three. They (Turtle and Snuggle Puppy) probably need to spend no more than an hour or two a day at the hospital, but I would like to be with Tux Man longer than that after 3 pm if I can be. Thus, if someone can pick them up and take them home, I will be able to stay longer. Otherwise I’ll just need to come home with them.
I’m only attempting to plan through Friday at this point, but here is the help I am imagining I can use. (I’ve never done this before! If you think I don’t need something on this list, or you think I do need something else, please tell me! I am seriously making this up as I go along.)
BABYSITTERS: Please back out if you or anyone in your house is sick! We will be more okay healthy and without help than if any of us get sick!
- Tuesday morning, March 25: Someone to get kids to school in the morning and keep Wiggles until Tux Man is into surgery, at which point they can bring Wiggles to me or I can come get him
- Tuesday afternoon, March 25: Someone to pick up Turtle, and maybe hang out with her and Snuggle Puppy throughout the afternoon, dinnertime, and evening (they are old enough to be fine on their own, but I imagine they might be a bit stressed that day
- Tuesday (Time to be guestimated on Monday evening, when we know what time surgery will be for sure), March 25: Someone to be with me near the end of surgery, especially to help with Wiggles when the surgeon comes out to tell me how it went, because I really want to give her 100% of my attention at that moment
- Tuesday afternoon evening - someone to babysit my baby while I stay with Tux Man as he is waking up
- Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday - if it works out, someone to pick up the kids from the University Hospital and take them home, probably at different times each night but usually between 6 and 8 pm
- Someone to babysit Wiggles for 2 hours each night, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (again, if it works out)
- Dinner on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday - The kids can’t see Tux Man until Wednesday afternoon, so I’m hoping to bring them in for a short visit, then take them to dinner in the hospital cafeteria, then take them back for another short visit before they head home
So… Improvements? Suggestions? And please, keep the prayers coming! Thank you!!!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Talking to Littlest One

Of late, I have been really, really tired. Tux Man has been having some health problems - nerve problems in his legs - for nearly a year now, which mean that he has to sleep in the basement. (We thought a second bed in our bedroom would solve the problems he has sleeping on our bed, but it did not.) We visit each other often, but when it comes to middle-of-the-night-taking-care-of-a-newborn, it has pretty much been me on my own.

With our first two children, Tux Man was going to school full time and working (once our first child was born, I stopped working away from home until both our older kids were in school). This means that I have done this on my own before. I had expected to do the bulk of this work anyway, because I don't have to be at work the next morning and I'm really good at napping during the day.

So, I have been tired. And, as I think all babies do, our Littlest One sometimes fusses and we don't know why. This morning was one of those times, and I tried everything I knew to do and it didn't seem to help. I talked him through everything I did, and asked his opinions on what he needed, but to no avail. Finally, I told him I was going to wrap him in a blanket and see if he could fall asleep, because I suspected he might be really tired and need to sleep.

I tried it, and it didn't work... at first. Then I spoke softly in his ear and asked him to stop crying for two or three minutes, to see if maybe he really was tired and needed to sleep. I promised him that I would stay by him, so that I would be here when he woke up and he wouldn't have to cry until I came to him at that time.

And he settled down. And he fell asleep. And I fell asleep. And I nursed him in my mostly-asleep state, which meant that I actually got a 2 hour nap myself, and it's been another hour and a half and he is still asleep. So, I am staying here, watching him sleep.

I know there are plenty of times that talking to a baby doesn't work. But in general, I think we give them far too little credit for the intelligence they bring into this life with them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Life as a Stalker (Updated Post on internet privacy)

I updated this post because the original version was far too rambling. I've tried to get to the point much more succinctly now.

About ten years ago, one of my husband's brothers had recently gotten married. He and his wife went on a short vacation to California; while they were there, her parents called my husband's parents because because of some identity theft issues where someone was pretending to be her to access a bank account and such. It took some time and creative thinking, but I was the person able to track them down in California as they stayed with friends of friends (none of whom I knew).

My middle name is very unusual; a little over a year ago, I found out more details about the woman my parents gave me the name from. I was able to use this information to track her down, in spite of her specific efforts to minimize the availability of her information on the internet. Again, patience, time, and creative thinking paid off.

These are just two stories about how I am good at stalking people. 

Internet security scares me. It's hard to keep up; fridges can send spam, and one tab can steal secure information (like usernames, passwords, and credit card info) from another tab you have open ("cross site request forgery"). Unless you are careful, pictures taken with your cell phone may include your location. It's difficult to keep up, and changing policies from companies like Facebook and Apple make it even harder to control the movement of personal information and data.

Frightening though security is, I like the internet! I have only used Facebook for a few months now, but I really enjoy it! And, though someone could definitely stalk our family easily online, I really don't think that anybody is interested enough to bother doing so.

So, I choose to ignore some risks and avoid others. I keep a public blog, while my information on Facebook is only viewable by my "friends" (which does includes a lot of people I haven't seen in a lot of years). However, I actively avoid posting my children's names online. Thus, if you send in a comment with my kid's names, I won't publish it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baby Pictures

Moments after being born

One Day Old

A few days old

Ten Days Old

Family Pictures

We haven't used our non-cell-phone-camera in over a year, so the battery was dead! Thus, these pictures were taken with a cell phone camera. It's a great camera, except that the auto-focus can't keep up well enough. I was disappointed in how many of them were fuzzy, though imho the children are marvelous anyway!