Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Something Fun

I wrote a blog this week for Crittersink, an online critique group I am a part of. I was going to direct you to that page, since writing more than one blog seemed a little over whelming, but I don't know when it's going to be published. So instead, I thought I'd post a music video I found a few days ago. I've always loved "Singing in the Rain," and lately I've become a fan of Michael Bublé, so this seemed like a perfect mesh of things I like. I hope it will get you into the holiday spirit.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel


This is my very first book review and I'm so excited to be doing a book that is literally full of great ideas and helpful suggestions. I picked up my copy of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons at the LDStorymakers conference last April. I know some of you might be thinking "why?" I don't have a child with special needs, and I currently don't work with anyone with special needs.

Well, I had several reasons.

First, I teach sunbeams in my ward. None of them have special needs, but as many of you know, teaching three and four years requires a lot of creative energy. I secretly hoped I'd find good ideas that would help me with my teaching. I was not disappointed.

The book covers stages from primary to adult. The primary chapters contained ideas for leaders, teachers, primary presidencies, and even activity days and cub scouting. One thing that really stood out was how many times adaptions made for children with special needs benefited the whole class or primary. For example, I now would like to create a schedule using visual aids to help my sunbeams understand our routine in our classroom.

The second reason I picked up this book was because I have worked with people with special needs in the past and in the future I plan on completing a degree as a special education teacher.

This book answered so many questions and I plan on keeping it in my library for future reference. The chapters are carefully arranged so that if you have a question, all you have to do is look for the chapter that covers that subject. Within each chapter they refer you back to other helpful chapters if you have more questions. This isn't a book you have to read from start to finish and remember everything. It is designed to be returned to time after time when new struggles or questions arise.

The third reason I picked up this book is because I have family members who struggle with different special needs. I wanted to be more informed and to better understand some of the difficulties that they face.

This book is great at explaining different disabilities and helping people outside of the immediate family to understand and know what they can do to help. I loved how they talked about creating relationships and how rewarding the experience of getting to know these special spirits can be.

The best part of this book was the unexpected things I found. Ideas to be a better parent and spouse, tips on how to help adults struggling with depression and other mental illness, sweet testimonies, and many tender stories of adaptions made, miracles seen, and unexpected successes found.

This book not only fulfilled my expectations, but also gave me insight and inspiration for other aspects of my life. It is carefully and sincerely written. It shows how everyone is important to God. The authors reminded me that no matter how much effort it may take, we will all be uplifted and changed for the better when we focus on our abilities and work together to come to Christ.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Best Part

Yesterday I started about a million things, none of which are finished yet. It was one of those times when you have so much you want to do that you can't stay focused long enough to do any of them. The same frantic feeling followed me into today and I resorted to making a list of things to do, hoping it would help me focus.

I finished my list, but instead of cleaning the bathroom like I planned, I put together a puzzle with my son, drew a picture of a castle and dragon, helped him color it, and dug a crayon out of the pencil sharpener.

Instead of starting dinner in the slower-cooker at lunchtime, I drove to a fast food place, let my little boy take as long as he wanted eating, and made dotted letters and numbers in his notebook with a crayon while I waited. Thrilled, he traced them on our drive to the city center where I did something that was on my list, vote.

My plan included an in-and-out approach to voting, but the line stretched down the hallway, through a set of double doors and almost to the front entrance. I spent my time there explaining to my son why Hawkeye was mad at Black Widow in one of the Avengers cartoons we recently watched, helping him trace more of his letters, distracting him by asking how many times he could hop on one foot, keeping him from hopping into the people next to us, and sending him on a search for letters. (He insisted on finding four of each letter. Thankfully, a man there had a hat with two H's on it or we might have had a problem.)

We finally got through the line. Then instead of working on a project I have going for Christmas, we went to the library. He picked three books about a bear, looked through them, put them back, and found something else. When I went to the front, he didn't follow. I back tracked and found him still sitting in front of the shelves of books. We made it too the check out and by some miracle didn't have a fine.

When we got back, my son had to shovel what remained of the snow, which meant he needed hot chocolate after. At this point my day was more than half gone. I started to get stressed. I turned on my music, and pulled up my "Uplifting" playlist to try and refocus. The first song was one of those songs you can't help singing to. I took one look at my son and the splatter of hot chocolate he'd sprayed across the table and scooped him up. Instead of taking a nap, we danced like a couple of crazy people.

Finally, we made it to the nap. I consented to read three books before I left. THREE!

I sat down to write my blog, which I'm happy to admit is on my list of things to do. I needed something good to write about, something happy and uplifting. Funny how everything we did today was just that. As I thought about it, my stress lifted and I didn't care so much that the bathroom wasn't clean yet, the clothes were still wet in the washing machine and the dishes weren't done. We'll still get to the list, but the best part of my day wasn't on there. The best part has brown eyes, a huge smile, thinks spinning in circles is dancing and gets crayons stuck in the pencil sharpener.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For the Love Which From Our Birth

Last week a sweet little niece was born to our family. A series of unexpected events put me driving to Provo to drop off a change of clothes for my brother. He arrived at the hospital in his hunting gear and worried they wouldn't let him in the room with his wife. As I drove, I could hardly contain my excitement. A new baby was coming to our family. For a moment I wondered why I was getting so excited, but I couldn't help it. I already loved this little girl even though I hadn't seen her. I couldn't wait to be her aunt.

As I drove, I had an impression of another joyful group of people who were also waiting for the moment that this little girl would come into the world. These people, friends and family who have passed on already, were so happy to see her starting her life. They were celebrating too.

Later, as I watched my father and mother take their new granddaughter in their arms, I couldn't help but remember a story they used to tell me.

My grandfather used to work at the temple. The day my brother was born, a note was passed to him announcing the birth. Tears filled his eyes and he joyfully shared the news to the other temple workers. They congratulated him, one of them asking, "Is this your first grandson?"

"No," My grandfather replied. "He's my eighteenth grandson."

My father is the youngest in his family. By the time my siblings and I came into the world, we had about thirty cousins, and that was just on his side of the family. My grandparents rejoiced in every one of our lives.

My grandparents passed away when I was eleven. Today is the anniversary of my grandmother's death. As I was listening to "For the Beauty of the Earth" I couldn't help but think of family and of the love that truly "from our birth, over and around us lies." I have always loved my cousins. I was quite a bit younger than most of them, so when they talked to me and noticed me I was always thrilled. Being with my extended family helped me get to know my grandparents even after they were gone. The stories they told, and the love they showed filled me with memories of my own. They reflected to me the love that my grandparents where no longer there to give.

That love doesn't go away. Even now, I can't really express how much I love my family. The funny thing is that it doesn't matter what happens, or how much time passes. I still look for them at family reunions. I still get excited when see them in an unexpected place. It's like I'm still that little girl who saw them all as heroes. I can't help it. Their love has been over and around me since my birth.

I hope someday, my new little niece will know that she too has been welcomed into this world by many loving faces, all who are joyfully celebrating her life.

"For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friend above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise."