Palo and Sis, what we've been up to...

Posted by JT , 11.17.2008 12:03 AM

Okay, my kids have been so funny lately. I need to share some the craziness with all of you.

Sissy: Sis moves about a million miles an hour, as does her tongue (although only about 1/3 of the verbiage coming out of her mouth is real words). Her sentences usually start with a bunch of jibberish with a couple recognizable words thrown in at the end. Here's an example "I (unidentified cadence of syllables that sound like they could be words) Grammy house?" Translation: "Can I go to Grammy's house?" Her most common phrases are "Emma do it." and "Emma's turn." Both of which are often used in the form of a question.

She has figured out how to get out of her crib, which has complicated our morning and evening routines considerably. The other night I went in to check on them before I went to bed and she was asleep on the floor by Brother’s bed. It wasn’t until I felt something warm with beads that I realized it was Sissy’s head I was about to step on.

I am slowly learning how to do her hair, and she loves it. Her favorite dos are “poofs,” or twists with beads. She will sit still for about 45 minutes at a stretch to get it done. It helps that she is vain. As soon as I say she is finished, she runs to the full-length mirrors in my room to check it out. Today I went in to see if she liked it and she said, “Camera. Take a picture.” I guess that means yes.

She is also starting to show signs of learning empathy. The other night we were looking at our Jesus picture before bed and we were talking about the crucifixion (a little advanced and hard to explain to two-year-olds). She was very interested and quite concerned. We were trying to explain that Jesus got owies in his hands because he loves us. She took the picture from me and gave his hands a kiss. It was very sweet. Now she looks for the marks on Jesus’ hands in every picture.

Her sense of humor is also developing nicely. Whenever she farts, she can’t help but giggling. Lately she lets one, giggles and then asks, “I do it again? Okay.” Then she attempts to do it again. We try really hard not to laugh. What a gross child…she definitely gets it from her dad.

Oh, and she is a little obsessed with going potty. I know that if is too quiet, chances are she and Palo are in the bathroom. It’s going to be a long journey to get these two trained. I'm open to suggestions.

Now a little about Brother:
Palo couldn’t be more different than Sis if he tried. He is mellow most of the time. His idea of the perfect day is to have someone read books to him or to have free reign of the TV. He would watch TV all day if we let him. If the TV is on, it is almost impossible to get him to do anything. He won’t even eat. If he gets more than about 45 minutes a day he undergoes severe personality transformation and turns into a monster, so we really try to limit his brain-frying time. Although, there are those bad mom days….

Currently he loves Dora. He can spot products at the grocery store with Dora on them from a mile away. She's on everything. Sis has a Dora jacket I bought at Savers that Palo is obsessed with. He always wants to wear it. The other day I had to chuckle. He had on camo pants, his blue and pink Dora jacket, socks with watershoes, a bead in his hair, and a pink binky. Not nearly as many people came up to talk to me at Costco about my cute kids, because I think they were confused. It was actually kind of nice.

He also loves Elmo. We have an Elmo’s World DVD about the Wild West that shows Mr. Noodle doing a line dance. That is his favorite part. He’s a good little line-dancer. That kid has got rhythm. Unfortunately, both he and Sis are losing some of their natural moves as they try to imitate my dancing. The other day I was watching them dance, thinking, 'Man, those kids look lerpy." Then I realized they were copying me. Dang.

Palo's favorite toy is the Magnadoodle. He loves to sit on your lap and have you draw fishies for him. JT and I have gotten pretty skilled at whipping out sharks, octopuses, whales, guppies, anglerfish, you name it. The cutest thing is to see him draw fishies by himself. He starts out by drawing a circle then adds little flourishes. Very cute.

He is also becoming quite the little talker. Like, Sis, he uses a lot of jibberish. The hard thing is that he decides that the sounds he is using to describe what he wants are the only way to describe it. If it doesn’t make sense, or you don’t understand what he wants, he typically loses it and starts weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth. By the time he calms down, he usually has forgotten whatever it was that he wanted. It can be exhausting if this happens more than a few times a day.

Brothy also loves being involved in food preparation. Whenever I am cooking, he wants me to hold him so that I can explain what I am doing. "I see what doing," he says repeatedly until I pick him up. If he is remembering even a fourth of what I tell him, he’s going to be a fantastic cook by the time he is 5. It is getting harder to hold him, as he weighs a solid 30+ lbs. Opening a can is pretty tricky while lugging him around. It is fun to watch him cook on his own little stove. He has his own pots and utensils. When I ask him what he is doing, his most common responses are “I make noodles. I make eggs.” And of course, MEATBALLS (his favorite food).

Both of the kids have discovered the water dispenser on the fridge. They love to get their own drinks, complete with crushed ice. Unfortunately, they can’t resist the urge to play with the water, dumping it in the sink, on the floor, on the table, in their little play dishes. It’s a constant battle. We have a lot of wet socks around our house.

So, these are the kind of things our days are filled with. What a fun age. In some ways it seems like the best of times and the worst of times. The best because the kids are so funny, sweet, and amazing. The worst, because my patience is constantly being tested, and I fail so often. It’s hard to always remember what a miracle our family is, and how short this time is. Already, my babies won’t hardly let me rock them to sleep anymore. Sniff, sniff. They are just growing up too dang fast.

Here are some recent pics.

Cute as bugs on Halloween!

Checking out a fresh do.

The first snowman of the year

A snack with Coco

Reading our current favorite book: Pinkalicious!

And a little bonus video:


Church Calls for More Diversity

Posted by Heather , 10.29.2008 9:38 AM

I swear this is my last post before the election. I was sent this article this morning, and I feel compelled to share it. It is an article from the Salt Lake Tribune about an interview with Marlin K. Jensen. The interview took place in 1998, but I think it is just as relevant for today.

Here is an excerpt from the interview.

"Jensen said it is time for LDS members to take a broader view of political affiliation.

"We would probably hope that they wouldn't abandon a party necessarily because it has a philosophy or two that may not square with Mormonism. Because, as I say, [parties] in their philosophies ebb and flow," Jensen said.

"You know, the Republicans came very close last time to bringing a pro-abortion plank into their platform. That was maybe the biggest battle of their [1996 national] convention," he said. "Which shows that if you're a pure ideologue, eventually you're going to have trouble in either party."

"Everyone who is a good Latter-day Saint is going to have to pick and choose a little bit regardless of the party that they're in and that may be required a lot more in the future than it has been in the past. But I think there's room for that and the gospel leaves us lots of latitude."

Here is a link to the article: LDS Official Calls for More Political Diversity

I really appreciated his insights. I wanted to share because I have a gut feeling there are a few of you out there who are considering voting for candidates other than those affiliated with the Republican Party. Like me, you may feel hesitant/unsure about the "okayness" of doing so. Here you have it from a church authority. Be bold, be brave. Vote your heart!

Regardless of who you support locally and nationally, get out and vote!!! Early voting in Utah ends on Friday. Let your voice be heard!

And I'm Proud to be an American...

Posted by Heather , 10.22.2008 10:24 PM

So, I did it. I went out and voted today, and it felt great. The past couple weeks I have been reading and thinking about the Constitution, and I have a new found gratitude for that awesome document and the amazing men who sacrificed so much to bring it to us. How blessed we are, and what a huge responsibility we have to uphold it and do our part by being active citizens.

After my initial posts about why I support Barack Obama, I thoughtfully re-read many of the comments you all made, along with many interesting articles and talks from church leaders and decided to vote for__________. Haha, I'm not going to tell you who I voted for.

I am going to tell you a little about what I learned through the process that culminated in casting my vote today.

First, Heavenly Father wired us all differently for a reason. Each of us has a mission we are here to fulfill, and each of those missions is unique. The way we think about issues and the world is important, and it is ok--even desirable to be wired differently from each other. Kind of like the whole Yin/Yang thing.

For a long time I have been fighting against the way my heart and brain think because it didn't fit the mold of what good "dyed in the wool" Mormons are supposed to believe. I secretly was worried that maybe I'm just not Celestial material, because on so many issues I just see things differently than the culture I find myself in. I've come to accept that it's ok to disagree with really good people, even prominent members of the church. It is not okay to sow seeds of contention, but it's great that we see problems and solutions differently.

I have seen that in my own marriage. JT and I have very different ways of thinking about most things, especially household chores. But in the end it works out. There are many "true" ways to load a dishwasher, clean a bathroom, or mow a lawn. In the gospel there are many absolutes, like commandments, ordinances, etc., but there is also a lot of room for interpretation on how to do an awful lot of the execution. You see that in different bishops, apostles, etc. Everyone is unique, and every one has great value.

So, I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Next, I learned that it is more important to fear God than man. I mentioned in one of my posts that I would have a really hard time telling my gay friend that I don't think she should be able to get "married" to her partner because I believe that marriage, by definition is supposed to be only between a husband and wife, and that denying them that right didn't seem very compassionate. My good friend, Meg, said "You mentioned how showing them love and compassion could change them after we allowed them to get married. Rolling over and further blurring any moral boundaries our society has isn't going to change anything. Show them your compassion and love by getting them health insurance. But what of the Proclamation to the World?" This really made me stop and think, thanks Meg. Here's what I decided.

I need to fear God more than man. Period. I also need to strive to see people the way that Christ sees them, and treat them that way. So, while I would feel uncomfortable, I would be willing to explain to my gay friend that I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. However, I don't think we should "throw out the baby with the bath water." I think it is important to recognize and validate the great people that they are. During such a conversation, I would express gratitude for them and the meaningful contributions they make in their spheres of influence. I would validate all the good they do. I would try to do what Elder Eyring talked about in his talk about unity in conference and build on common ground. Tangentially, our family has a lot of common ground with many gay/lesbian families because we have built our family through adoption, and JT carries a purse.

Anyway, it is kind of ironic, but this whole "fearing God more than man thing" is a thought that ultimately brought me back around to some of my more "liberal" ideas. I found myself questioning the way I thought because I was worried about how worried others were for the safety of my soul. I also questioned myself because I felt an intense need to "fit in" in the circles that matter most to me. I found that when I was listening to that voice of fear and doubt that said... you are a freak, how could you even consider thinking about ideas besides what is in the Republican Platform-- I was in inner turmoil. When I finally came to accept that Heavenly Father made me the way I am on purpose, I felt very liberated in my liberalness. Like I said earlier, at the end of the day, I would rather err on the side of compassion and fairness...I mean it. That sentiment is a very important element of who I am. If I stay close to the Spirit, I believe that it can be a tool and strength. Like any strength, if out of balance, it can become a weakness.

The last lesson I have learned that I want to share is this: It is more important to be unified than it is to be "right." I just absolutely love Elder Eyring's talk "Our Hearts Knit as One." Here's an excerpt from the talk that especially pricked my heart.

"In addition to ordinances there are principles we are following as a people which are leading to greater unity.

One of those principles is revelation. Revelation is the only way we can know how to follow the will of the Lord together. It requires light from above. The Holy Ghost will testify to our hearts, and the hearts of those gathered around with us, what He would have us do. And it is by keeping His commandments that we can have our hearts knit together as one.

A second principle to guide our progress to become one is to be humble. Pride is the great enemy of unity. You have seen and felt its terrible effects. Just days ago I watched as two people—good people—began with a mild disagreement. It started as a discussion of what was true but became a contest about who was right. Voices become gradually louder. Faces became a little more flushed. Instead of talking about the issue, people began talking about themselves, giving evidence why their view, given their great ability and background, was more likely to be right.

You would have felt alarm as I did. We have seen the life-destroying effects of such tragic conflict. You and I know people who left the fellowship of the Saints over injured pride.

Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer."

I recognize my need to be more humble, to seek more diligently after revelation, and to strive to be a peacemaker. That's a lot to tackle. I'm a very prideful, lazy, stubborn, contentious kind of girl. I am going to work on it though.

So, there you go. That's my story. Sorry it's so long. NOW GET OUT AND VOTE! It's already started, you know. Click here to find your early voting location.


PS. Meg also mentioned that she wouldn't vote for anyone she wouldn't invite to her birthday party. Great litmus test, Meg. If I could invite anyone, after inviting all of you, I would probably invite Collin Powell, and anyone else he chooses to endorse ;)

A Day at Maple Lake

Posted by Heather , 10.11.2008 11:53 PM

Last week I went with my sisters and Brothy and Sissy to one of our family's favorite spots up Payson Canyon.

Ever since I was very little, we would go to Maple Lake every year, usually for my Grandma Carolyn and Aunt Nadine's birthdays. In the fall it is a magical place. The light is peach colored, and everything seems to glow.

This trip was no different. Many of the leaves had already fallen, so it was very quiet, like the hush after a snowfall. It was a "good medicine day," for sure. Here are a few pics Kristen and Aub took.

For all you Twilight fans...

Posted by Heather , 10.01.2008 9:26 PM

I started a new blog about LDS reflections on the Twilight series.  You are all invited to join the conversation!


Free Kids Audio Book

Posted by JT 12:30 PM

Hey, I know it's just really family and friends reading this blog, but I stumbled on something I thought you all might like. (It isn't more politics. :) ) Audible is giving away free audio books for kids. I just downloaded The Tell-Tale Heart for free in time for Halloween. :)

Anyway, I'm not getting any money for this or anything, but I thought I'd pass it on in case anyone else would like a free audio book. I found out about it from podcasts at my company. You can burn it to CD, or put it on your iPod.

Go here: They don't have a ton for free, but they're free. (Yes, there is a small catch, you have to sign up. I haven't seen any spam from them yet, though).

Here's a list of free ones:

They also have a lot of other ones you can buy, if you like audio books for kids.

If you do get one, lemme know if you like it.

My Brain Hurts...Thank You! Keep it Coming!

Posted by Heather , 9.26.2008 10:35 PM

I am very thoughtfully considering all of the points you have all made here, in private email, and on Facebook. I feel my view expanding and shifting. Mostly I am recognizing what I don't know. Isn't that how it always goes? The more you know the more you don't? I have such great love and respect for all of you that have commented that I am really considering what you are saying. This is exactly kind of dialogue I was hoping for. Phew, I don't think I can keep up this pace for another 30 + days, though.

Besides, I have another exciting blogging project in the works around something potentially even more important than the upcoming election. If you know what movie hits theaters on November 21st, then get excited because I've got a lively discussion brewing.

I didn’t get to listen to the debate tonight…dang kids. I’d love to hear any reactions you might have. Keep the comments coming. I have pretty thick skin, and a pretty open mind.


Why I Support Obama--the Specifics

Posted by Heather , 9.25.2008 1:49 AM

I'm voting for Barry

(Ok,ok,ok.  JT is my voice of reason.  He thinks my whole comments on John McCain's personal life and history are not totally relevant.  I agree, even though it does really bug me that he had an extra marital affair with his first wife.  I have removed the paragraph in question because it is not constructive and feeds into candidate bashing which I generally dislike and disagree with.)

(A quick little disclaimer.  I wrote this post in a big hurry.  I realize that this is not my best persuasive writing.  There are many holes in my arguments.  I invite you to point them out to me, realizing that this is a simplified summary of where I am at with the issues.  Also, I got all done last night and jumped in to bed and then realized I didn't address one of the most crucial issues in my care.  I also didn't say anything about environmental issues, or energy issues.  Dang.  I guess I'll have to post again.  I may move this discussion to a different blog so as to not pollute my cute family ramblings.  Please join the conversation!)

I had many responses to my previous post that I have read and pondered, and realized that if for no one but myself, I need to define WHY I do support Obama. The last post was a little more like: "I’m coming out of the closet that I have been considering supporting Obama and many of his Democratic ideals."  Here is my attempt to explain why.

First of all, I think that a country that has been as richly blessed as America has should do all it can to make sure that every citizen has an equal opportunity to prosper and succeed. I realize that in our current society that translates in to social programs, and I realize that translates into mismanagement. I recognize that the possibility of wasting taxpayer’s dollars is out there, but I don’t think we shouldn’t do anything because there is no guarantee it will be done perfectly.

Here is an example. The other day I was speaking to a fellow mother who I am very close to. She was expressing how she is disgruntled because every morning she has to make her kids sack lunches because school lunches are too expensive. However, a mother down the street sleeps in and sends her kids off to school where they get free lunch and breakfast. This is because the family lives in a low enough economic bracket that they qualify for the program. So, this angry mother not only is paying for her own kid’s lunch, but also the kids’ down the street. She feels like she is being punished for being financially stable. I can see her point.

I can also see the perspective of the kid who lives in poverty. Is it his fault his parents don’t make a lot of money? Would it be better for him to go to school hungry? Studies have shown that kids are physically unable to learn when their basic needs are not being met. Is it Christian to not help those who need it because of any judgment we may feel justified in making? If I remember right the Savior asked us to succor those who stand in need. In my mind, I am willing to pay taxes so that every child can have their basic needs met. I don’t like the cycle of dependence that sometimes arises, but I don’t personally want to stand at the judgment bar and explain that I somehow felt it was my place to judge my fellowmen and decided they didn’t deserve what I could have given them because they weren’t trying hard enough, in my book. I would rather err on the side of compassion, making every effort to treat the taxpayer’s money as sacredly as possible.

I also don’t agree with the Republican Party’s practice of giving tax breaks to the richest. The whole “trickle down economics” doesn’t make sense to me. I am in favor of everyone paying the same percentage, because the more you have, the more you can invest in the common good. Barack Obama’s tax plan would actually lower taxes for everyone making less than $250,000 a year. I easily qualify for that.

I don’t like paying taxes. It is frustrating to see a quarter to a third of every paycheck dissolving out of our account before we ever see it. I don’t love the idea of someone else deciding what to do with my money. BUT- I love having paved roads and streetlights and a library and schools and all those things that combine to create a great quality of life with countless opportunities. I have been to Africa where they don’t have garbage collectors, good schools, libraries, etc., etc. It is worth the price to me. In fact, for some things I would be willing to pay more. I think it would be awesome if teachers in the state of Utah could make enough just teaching to support their families. I think I would be willing to pay a little more each month for that. Of course, I would want to know that that money is being put to good use in ethical, efficient ways. Having worked for the government I realize that is not always the case. That is why it is important for citizens to be active in the political process on national and local levels to elect those who will make sound policies and to demand honesty from those carrying them out. (A side note: Sarah Palin has consistently lied about her “Thanks but no thanks” on the bridge to nowhere. She only opposed the bridge after it came under scrutiny. When the project fell through, she didn’t give the earmark moolah back, she kept it.)

Shifting topics a little, I want to discuss my take on abortion and gay rights. First of all, I oppose the idea that a woman should have the right to “choose” to end a life she took part in creating. I believe she already made her choice when she had sex. However, I do not think that when a child was conceived when a woman did not make the choice to have sex (rape and incest) that the government should prevent her from making the choice not to carry the baby full term. Additionally, when the health of the mother is in jeopardy, or when it is clear that the child would have devastating abnormalities, a mother and father should have the right to make the best choice for their family. I even mention the devastating abnormalities case because I have a sister who is on crazy drugs that if she happened to get pregnant there would absolutely be terrible effects on the baby. I think she should be able to make that choice (not that I think she would, but that she and others in her similar situation would have that option). So, I guess I am pro-choice. However, I agree with Barack Obama that while we (the nation) don’t all agree on what to do with Roe V. Wade, we all agree that every effort should be made to prevent unwanted pregnancies, period. I also would love to see a candidate who actively supports adoption. I actually wrote to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama about that a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure some lowly intern will get to my message in a few months.

What I think about gay marriage… I believe that MARRIAGE is ordained of God, and should be between a man and a woman, and that that relationship is the basis of our society. However, I don’t believe it is right, or very compassionate to prevent our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from basic human rights because they believe differently than I do. I think that they should be allowed to enter into some sort of union that would afford them basic rights as committed partners. I would prefer it not be called marriage. But, push come to shove, I would probably rather err on the side of compassion. Because, in my view, the only way to really influence them to change is through love, compassion, understanding and teaching. How would they ever be open to that if they feel marginalized?

Lastly for tonight, I am completely disillusioned by the Bush Administration. I absolutely abhor "No Child Left Behind" for reasons I could go on and on about. Even more important than that, I do not think that it was right for us to invade Iraq given the intelligence and argument that was used in creating a case for war. Now that we are there, I feel we must proceed responsibly. I feel very saddened and maddened by the way this has all happened. I love our country, I support our troops, but I don’t support stupid wars. I feel like the biggest problem is that President Bush and his cohorts used fear and distortion to scare everyone into a dumb idea. That just really bugs me.

So, when John McCain started using the same tactics to “otherize” Barrack Obama—I was automatically turned off. He is using the same Karl Rove tactics of distorting truth and planting seeds of fear in people’s mind. I could go into detail…here is one link I thought summed it up. .

I also have serious doubts about WHY he chose Sarah Palin. I think it was totally brash and politically driven. She seems sassy enough, but I really don’t think I would like her to be the President if his cancer flares up again. Actually, I don’t even think she seems nice enough. She does seem manipulative and fierce enough. The tone of her speech at the Republican Convention, and many of the points she made seemed rubbed me the wrong way.  

It is depressing because I used to feel pretty ok about McCain being the choice because I respected his “maverick” attitude. I feel like he has completely sold his soul to this election. More than a maverick, I get the impression that he is ambitious and will stop at nothing to win. I especially don’t like the fear-evoking tone his campaign has taken. Also, I found it hilarious that the entire Republican convention seemed to be centered on change…that is just funny because things would not change under McCain. He votes the same as Bush 95% of the time. The whole change rhetoric was a smoke screen to hide behind.

Here’s a good article on that:

Very lastly, I have to admit that on a very personal level, I really like the idea of being able to tell my kids that we really do live in a nation where anyone can succeed, regardless of their race or background. I find a lot of inspiration and hope in Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s life stories because they aren’t so different from my children’s. As far as our nation has come, the playing field is still not level, and undercurrents of racism still exist. I have talked to many white mothers of black children who have described many instances of discrimination against their children—especially their boys as they get older. It would be naïve to think we will never encounter that as Eli and Emma grow up and expand their identities to more fully incorporate the Black culture of our country. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin, and I can’t help but think that being able to point to the Obama family and their time in the White House would hold some significance for them as they search for role models.

I feel hope when I hear Obama speak. I feel fear when I hear John McCain, and I know for myself that good things seldom come from following that voice of fear and doom. The greatest blessings and miracles have come when I trust in that inner voice of hope and faith.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

If any of you are still reading after this MONSTER post, may I suggest a simple activity? Just listen to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. If you have time, watch the bio also. Then listen to John McCain’s. It is a great place to start. (Each of them is about an hour long.)

I like watching them on NY Times website because of the high quality and interactive features. This link will take you to an archive of videos. On the left click on Democratic and Republican Conventions. The acceptance speeches are preceded by the their life sketch videos.

New York Times Video Archive:

Good luck, and good night.

Why I (Heather) support Barack Obama...and some interesting links.

Posted by Heather , 9.22.2008 11:54 PM

I'm voting for Barry

Hi, everyone. Let me start by saying that I'm not trying to start any fights or attack anyone, and I am not trying to tell anyone how to think. I've learned over the past couple of elections that I generally tick people off because I get very excited and I don't communicate very well, especially when talking about politics. Somehow I usually end up making people feel like I think I know so much, etc. etc. I am sorry for any past offenses. I am genuinely trying to be better. I realize I have a long way to go. I honestly just want to start a dialogue about some of the things I have been thinking about. I really want to know what you all think because I value your opinions, insight and experience. :)

I've really struggled with defining my own thoughts and beliefs about who I should vote for in the upcoming election. It's weird because in a lot of ways I feel like my faith/testimony is being challenged by even taking a serious look at Obama and his policies, that somehow by supporting a democrat I am betraying the Church or something. I've lost a lot of sleep over it. For some reason the stakes seem so high to me this year. I am struggling not to become obsessed.

Through my research journey thus far, I personally feel an urgency to support Barrack Obama. And yes, I realize that my vote probably won't go far because of the electoral college and the status of politics here in the Beehave state. I have contributed to his campaign ($15 for a t-shirt) and I am looking for more ways to promote his cause. Although I plan on voting for him, and I feel like he is a very good person and leader, I am still struggling with social issues like abortion and gay marriage (I haven't gone completely apostate). I would love to hear any insights you have on how you feel about specific issues. I think abortion and gay marriage are important issues, but there are a lot of other issues that are important and affect my family's day-to-day living more--like the economy, health care, and education (to name a few).

So, anyway--I found this blogger that I really like. He is a professor at BYU who is active in the Utah Democratic party. I like his gospel-centered view. He has really done his homework and compiled some interesting, balanced links about both sides that have helped me come to grips with what I think. I am still very much trying to figure IT out (IT being, how should our country solve all the problems we are facing and what policies will get us there and what role religion and faith plays in all of this AND whether it really matters because the Second Coming is on its way).

Bruce Young's insights have helped me distill out what I think from a gospel-centered point-of-view. Please don't feel obligated to look at this. I only share it if you are interested because I found it interesting and enlightening. The organization of his blog is a little screwy so take a minute to click on all the links. I especially liked the speech Obama gave on Father's Day at his church. If nothing else, check that out. Sure do love you all! I'd love to start a dialogue (fostering dignity and respect, of course) about the issues and candidates if anyone is interested. Feel free to leave comments here, or email me personally.


Bruce Young's Blog

Barrack Obama's Father's Day Message

Here is a link to a statement issued by the First Presidency this week. I sure wish I knew who each of the 12 were supporting, and why! :)

You have probably already seen this. Just wanted to lighten it up a little. (Warning...this is probably at least PG. I think it swears once.)

One more funny... actually kind of sad-but-true link.

Brother's Second Birthday

Posted by Heather , 9.01.2008 10:16 PM

So, it's official. We have two two-year-olds. Brother celebrated his birthday last Thursday 8/28. The day started early when he woke up at 5 am and came in to bed with us. At first I was annoyed, but he is just so dang cute. I woke to have him curled around my arm asleep. How sweet. I didn't want to move, but I had lots to do to get ready for his birthday party.

We had a great little party with his closest cousins and neighbors. It was complete with a little painting craft, water balloons, pizza, and ice-cream cone cupcakes. Of course, his favorite thing was the mylar Elmo balloon. Elmo is big at our house right now.

One of my favorite little quirks about Brother is the way he "saves" special things. For example, I will give he and Sis the same little treat. She immediately devours hers. He holds his, looks at it, walks around with it, looks at it some more, then maybe takes a bite. The most common occurrence is that he will carry something around half the day, then he sets it down for a minute and Sis. swoops in and eats it in 2 seconds. He carried around his cupcake until after nearly everyone had left.

His party was a lot of fun. The kids played while the moms chatted. After it was all over, I gave Brothy and Sis a bath and they took a nearly 4 hour nap--the little party animals.

We also had a family party on Sunday. It was fun. I made Brothy gourmet chicken nuggets and a "dirt cake." Of course he wouldn't eat any dinner and was scared to death of the candles, but it was still a good time. He loves his new Elmo and Froggy videos, and especially loves the little Elmo iPod toy Grandma & Grandpa gave him. I hit a Saver's Labor Day sale today and bought them both Elmo shirts. Now I've got to wash them so they can wear them. Life is good. We are ready for the fall. My thoughts always turn to my grandmas this time of year.

Dr. Horrible

Posted by JT 1:04 AM

So, Heather and I stumbled on something really funny. I know a lot of you may have already seen this, but we thought we'd pass it on for anyone to enjoy who hasn't seen it yet. What is it?

Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog.

We all need more super villain musicals, that's all I'm saying. This is just act one. Acts two and three are available on It's kinda small on zerendipity, make sure to make it go fullscreen.

Our Trip to the Redwoods

Posted by Heather , 8.26.2008 11:57 PM

Exploring Tidepools 
Observing Wildlife
Tree-hugging (Jack would be proud)
Our Fam

We had an awesome trip.  We stayed in a little studio apartment right on the beach in Crescent City for two nights.  While there we walked along the beach in the dark rain, checked out tidepools, explored the Redwoods, visited a lighthouse, and ate some yummy seafood.  The next two days we stayed in a very interesting Victorian cottage in Ferndale where we hiked up Fern Canyon, watched some Elk by the beach, visited art and historical museums, bought 2 bonsai plants and the most delicious grape tomatoes at a farmer's market, and tried not to break family heirlooms in the house where we stayed.  The ride home was very long, but it was totally worth it.  We love adventuring together.  

All better, we're out of here!

Posted by Heather , 8.15.2008 1:29 PM

Sister is officially 100% recovered.  Maybe that's why I haven't written in so long.  She's much harder to keep up with when she is mobile :).  We still don't know exactly what that was all about, we are just so thankful that she is okay.  A huge thanks to all of you who have been praying for us and worrying about us.  

So, now that life is somewhat returned to normal, we realized that the summer is nearly over and we haven't had a vacation with our little family.  So, we're taking off on a little last minute getaway next week to northern California.  The things we are hoping to do the most are: hike in the Redwoods, explore tide pools, maybe see some whales or sea lions, visit a lighthouse, see some cool art, and eat some yummy food.  We haven't ever done anything with just the four of us, so we are excited to spend some time together in a place we've always wanted to see.  The timing isn't perfect, and funds will be a little tight, but we decided we've got to just go and make it happen or it never will.

Now, we've just got to get everything ready. We can't wait!

ABBAlicious 24th!

Posted by Heather , 7.24.2008 11:45 PM

Tonight we took the kids to their very first concert at the Scera Shell (We wanted to break them in easy).  It was a group called "Arrival" that performs ABBA songs.  We got all gussied up and even put on some glitter (everyone but Daddy-o).  Aub came with us, and it was lovely.  Brothy and Sis LOVED it.  At first the loudness kind of freaked them out, but when they saw everyone singing and cheering and dancing, they decided it was pretty cool.  It is so funny to watch them pick up on social cues.

One thing about Bro. is that he has BEAT.  During "Fernando" everyone was waving their cell phones and he started to wave the chip he had been holding for about a half hour.  He was enthralled.  Sis.  especially loved the songs when everyone stood up and danced like "Take a Chance," and "Dancing Queen." When we got home we told them to tell Aubs thank you for taking us and they repeated "tank you" over and over.  Brother was still mumbling something about "tank you" when we put him in his bed.  Thanks Auntie!

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, but then again...I love ABBA.  We sang. We danced.  We ate treats.  It was great.  And, you should have seen the crazy costumes.  They had exact replicas made of ABBA's original costumes and they were something else.  Basically a whole lot of white spandex with gold embellishments.  The one guy's outfit reminded me of something Scott Hamilton would have worn in the late 70's.  NICE!

All this excitement kind of made me want to go see "Mama Mia."  Although it wasn't nearly at thrilling as the American Idol concert a couple of weeks ago, it was fun to be together, thinking about the pioneers while we rocked out to some wanna-be Swedes.  I'm sure Brigham Young would have approved of such an enriching and uplifting cultural event.  

P.S.  Sis continues to improve slowly.  She still needs help to walk, and she has picked up on this obsessive whining act when she decides she wants something that nearly drives us all crazy.  But, we are thankful for the progress she is making.  Yesterday when she was walking holding my hand I cheered and told her how good she is doing and that she is getting all better.  She got very thoughtful when I talked about how she used to be in the hospital and now she is doing so great and she said, "bana (interpreted:bandaid), hurt."  So, she knows something is up.  And she has NOT forgotten the hospital.  If we could only track down a local physical therapist that works with children recovering from a neurological illness that accepts our insurance and can get her in sooner than 3 weeks.  Uggh.  Let me know if you know anyone.

Fun at Mosida Lodge with the Crazy Lebarons

Posted by Heather , 7.22.2008 12:46 AM

So, we spent the evening at Mosida Lodge with JT's grandma's side of the family.  We don't get to see them too often, so it is always a treat, and you can't beat the location. Honestly, Elberta is pretty happening.  The kids enjoyed covering themselves with watermelon then playing in the sand.  Note: sand in Brother's hair is not so easy to get out. After a couple of washes and comb outs I think we got about 2/3 of it.  

Sis continues to improve.  Today she did quite a bit of assisted walking.  She seems to be getting bored and more motivated.  We are overall doing very well!

Slowly but surely

Posted by Heather , 7.19.2008 11:03 PM

Hi, I just wanted to give a little Sister update for all you family and friend that have been praying for us. She is definitely improving. She is able to sit up pretty much all day and her hand and arm coordination is much improved. Her eyes are also pretty much back to normal, no more staring off into space, going cross-eyed, etc.

The biggest challenge now is that she is convinced that she can't do anything on her own, which is so weird for her. She is usually so independent, and motivated to be involved in everything. Now it is hard to get her to want to do anything more active than coloring or sitting on the floor with toys.

We had a barbeque today with JT's dad's side of the family which was very fun, but super hot. She was just clinging to me the whole day. Finally, she decided she wanted to play on her slide, and I was really surprised at how well she could still climb up the ladder. Her walking is pretty crazy, but it's hard to say whether that is because her brain is weird, or she doesn't have much strength anymore. We hope to start physical therapy this week, which should help us know how to help her.

So, thank you, thank you for all the prayers and love and support.

This weekend and the coming week are full of family parties with JT's side of the family, which we are excited for. It's so good to hang out with his mom & step-dad and dad & step-mom and siblings.

Here are a few recent pics:

Waiting to go home at Primary Children's

Dr. Sis

Coloring with the fishies.

Getting a care package from cousins!! Hurray!

Note: These pictures were taken over 2 days. Sis can actually wear the same outfit twice when she doesn't do anything. I would rather do more laundry, but I'll enjoy any perks that come along with this crazy ride!

A Little Video Introduction

Posted by Heather , 7.18.2008 11:26 PM

I whipped this up one night to use to introduce ourselves to possible caseworkers (foster care) or birthmothers. It has a few issues, but it's pretty dang cute. I can't wait to see Sister running and playing like this again.

We're home..again.

Posted by Heather , 7.16.2008 10:37 PM

Hi, everyone.  This is Heather.  We're home--hurray!  Sis and I decided we don't really like having sleep overs at the hospital.  Next time we're voting for somewhere with a spa or even a tent or cabin.  Just somewhere where they don't wake you up every couple of hours to poke and prod you in the middle of the night.   We did, however, get to watch Barney and Mary Poppins and visit with my Aunt Kate who surprised us with a visit and an awesome care package.

Can I just say that Sissy is a little trooper?!  She did so well.  She was actually laughing and joking with all the nurses and doctors...until she woke up from the spinal tap in pain.  Then she pretty much was ticked at everyone the rest of the time, which I can't blame her for.  She is still pretty sore, but the doctor said it should stop bugging her in the next couple of days.

So, we still don't have a definitive diagnosis.  We know a whole huge list of things it isn't.  Some of them are very tumors, lesions, meningitis, etc., etc.  The list of what they think it might be is pretty short and none of the possibilities come with any way to treat them.  Most likely it is post viral cerebellitis.  The doctor explained to us what that means is you get a plain old virus of some sort, like a cold.  Your body responds by making a whole bunch of antibodies to fight the virus.  Sometimes when the virus is clearing up, but you still have all these antibodies running around looking for trouble, they see something that they mistake for the virus.  In this case, the cerebellum.  They attack the coating around the nerve cells, generally messing up traffic.  The cerebellum is what controls the muscle coordination needed for balancing, walking, using your arms, eye movement, etc.  That is why Sister seems so drunk.  Her brain is being attacked by her own immune system--probably.

There is a very very slight chance that it may be genetic.  Some people are just wired weird and will have bouts of episodic ataxia throughout their lives.  Similar to post viral cerebellitis, there is no treatment.  You just have to wait for your brain and/or immune system to sort things out.

We are hoping that she snaps out of it quickly so that she doesn't lose too much muscle tone and developmental milestones.

The plan is to just try to live as normally as possible, trying to help Sister find her legs and arms and anything else that has come up missing in her little noggin, while not neglecting Brothy too much.  He has been such a sweet big brother.

Today I cut up a bunch of watermelon and Brother kept asking for a piece.  I would give him a piece then give him a little piece to put in Sissy's mouth in the family room.  She was laying on the floor, waiting with her mouth wide open like a little baby robin.  He faithfully would walk in and plop the watermelon in her mouth. Until the end when he started forgetting that he was taking it to her and accidentally shoved it in his own mouth.  He gives her lots of kisses and pats when she seems sad.  

JT bought the kids a little doctor set and they spent about 45 minutes before bed checking each other and Mom and Dad and their baby and frog out with it.  We all appear to be in generally good health.  Brother and Sissy are actually opening their own clinic.  So let us know if you have any dolls or stuffed animals with any ailments.  They charge a very reasonable co-pay and they accept all insurance companies.

So, we're good, a little sleepy and wobbly, but happy and thankful.  As a parent, you go through a weird roller coaster ride when you think your child might be permanently damaged, or in potential danger.  It's like a mini-grieving cycle or something.  I am so impressed with our friends and family members who parent children with significant health concerns.  What faith!  I have a long way to go.  

Thanks again for all the prayers and support.  We are so blessed to have such awesome family and friends.  Love,

Results back.

Posted by JT , 7.15.2008 4:17 PM

So results are in from the protein test of the spinal fluid. They don't think that it is Miller Fisher. They did send a sample off for the antibody to make sure, but that will take a couple of days to a week. The neurologists are back to thinking it is post-viral Cerebellitis.

So... we're going to start physical/occupational therapy sessions tomorrow morning.


Posted by JT 3:59 PM

So, back in the hospital, Sis is sleeping very soundly. She was sedated so she could have a lumbar puncture/spinal tap to do a test on the fluid to test the presence of a protein and possibly an antibody.

We're thinking the results will be back in an hour or so.

We'll keep you posted.

Back in Primary Children's

Posted by JT 2:07 PM

Well, things didn't really progress with Sissy like we thought they should, and between Heather's mother intuition and the neurologist's promptings, we've decided to re-admit Sis so we can get a test done to hopefully figure out what she really has. We all think she has Miller Fisher, but it might not be that after all. Since she's not getting better very quickly, we're hoping that if it is Miller Fisher, that we can get treatments for her to speed her recovery.

It's tough to watch our little girl who so recently was running, laughing, playing and getting into mischief lose a lot of coordination--so much that she can't even crawl, or feed herself very well. We're hopeful that these treatments will help her get quickly back to her normal self.

We're home!

Posted by JT , 7.12.2008 10:43 AM

So, I know I left you all hanging yesterday, but the jist of it is, we all slept in our own beds last night in our house. The kids and I slept for about 12 hours. w00t for catching up!

The little longer version is that about an hour after they told us about the MRI results being clean, another Neurologist came in and said essentially, we don't know exactly what it is, but we know all the bad things that it isn't. They told us they could do a lumbar puncture and drain some fluid to do a test to see if it is a different condition called Miller Fisher Syndrome. This Miller Fisher Syndrome has very similar characteristics, and like Post-Viral Cerebellitis, will go away in time with no medication or treatment, although there is a treatment. But to do the test we'd need to stay another night, because Sister would have to get sedated again. And if we wanted to get treated they have to give it via IV, and she'd have to stay another four days. :(

So since Sister already had shown improvement, we felt like she'd be better in a few days like last time. As I research into Miller Fisher, it may be up to a few weeks, though.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the good news that we're home, and although she is still wobbly, she's gonna be fine.

Thanks for all your collective love and support.

MRI results are back

Posted by JT , 7.11.2008 5:20 PM

So, amidst the best sleep I'd gotten in a few days, one of the Neurologists knocked on the door to tell us that the results from the MRI look completely normal, and there are no tumors, lesions, strokes, clots, monkeys, or bananas on her brain stem, cerebellum or cerebrum.


So they may want to still do a few more tests to see if they can figure out the type of virus that caused the Ataxia, since it's very rare for someone to have post-viral ataxia twice.

So, we might be coming home tonight, or they may hold us over in order to do a lumbar puncture to drain some spinal fluid to do some tests on it.

Anyway... good news. No tumors. :)

We'll keep you posted.

Friday lunchtime update

Posted by JT 2:48 PM

Hi, All.

I just poked in real quick to give a status update. Sissy's doing ok. She just went in for her MRIs about 20 minutes ago. I'm not sure why, but they're giving her two; a lower and a higher resolution image.

So far all the bloodwork they've done has come back normal, so we're waiting on the results from the MRIs and the additional blood tests.

It's kind of just a waiting game at this point. We're still encouraged at every step that it is just post-viral ataxia, in which case, she'll get better on her own in a couple of days. We'll just wait and see if anything else turns up.

Since the MRI's are so late in the day, it looks like due to the pace of the Hospital Machinery, that Sissy and Heather will be here another night. :(

Thanks for all your words & prayers of comfort. We appreciate all the positive vibes being released into the Universe on our behalf.


P.S.: I'll try and include some pics next time.

Sissy's in the hospital.

Posted by JT 12:18 AM

So, don't be too alarmed, but our little Sister has a nasty case of Ataxia (info here and here) which is likely the post-viral kind. Because of her symptoms, and at the prompting of our pediatrician, we took her to Primary Children's Hospital ER so she could get the full work-up.

After getting in there, and talking with a couple of Neurologists, they felt like it was best to admit her to the hospital so they could get an MRI scan and run a bunch of tests.

So Heather is there with Sister, and I'm home with Brother. He and I will likely head up there tomorrow to spend the day with the girls. We think it will do the kids good (as long as we can get them to take naps) to play together and be as normal as possible. I think it will especially help Emma keep her stress levels down. She's not very happy right now. She hates the phlebotomists and cries whenever she sees them.

So, it's likely that all will be ok and she'll get better in a few days, so don't get your undies in a twist quite yet over Sissy's health. :) We're pretty sure everything will work out ok. We're lucky & blessed to have good health care.

We'll keep the blog updated with info, so you can get all the latest right here. We'll likely be tied up most of tomorrow with procedure and minutiae, so we won't have a ton of time to be talking with everyone on the phone. :) You're welcome to subscribe to the blog via email and/or ATOM feed to get updates as soon as they come out. If you don't know what ATOM is, use email instead. :)

Overheard at our house: Who's your daddy?

Posted by JT , 7.06.2008 11:57 PM

Ok, so two-year-old kids aren't supposed to have a developed sense of humor, right? Hmm... I'm not so sure of that one. Consider this exchange between me and my two about-two-year-olds.

Dad to Brother: "Who's yo' daddy?"

Sister responding for Brother: "A booger." <giggles>

<Laughs like he understood the comedic value of Sister calling me a booger>

If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed it myself.

Some people's kids...

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