A short conversation at bedtime

Allison familyphotos 0614 065

R: Why is it called a dresser?

Me: I don’t know.

R: If it is called a dresser, it should have dresses. *starts laughing*

Me. Yup.

R: And if it has shirts it should be a shirter, and if it has pants it should be a panter, and if it has socks it should be a socker…

Me: *changing diaper* Mm-hmm.

R: …and if it has shoes it should be a shoer, and if it has sweaters it should be a sweaterer, and if it has swimsuits it should be a swimsuiter…

Children are nothing if not creative.

O were my love yon Lilac fair…

Bonnie and Me Lilacs

Bonnie and me looking younger and thinner…

By now I assume that anyone reading this already knows that Bonnie passed away ten days ago. We had the funeral Wednesday, and I still feel like I’m trying to process everything. I expect that feeling will persist for months or even years. I had a long time to plan and prepare for this, but it’s still totally devastating and life-altering.

It’s what I imagine losing a limb would be like. You keep expecting it to be there. If you’re not thinking about it you sometimes forget that it’s gone. I’ve heard of people having a phantom pain in a missing limb, and I think they might have some idea what it’s like to wake up and look over to Bonnie’s side of the bed and remember that she’s not there anymore–that she won’t be there ever again. A part of me is gone, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel completely whole again.

I do believe in the resurrection. Life would be too pointless and cruel without it. However, that belief doesn’t seem to mean that I’m spared from the pain of loss. As with most things in my life, art and music seem to be the most readily available sources of comfort. I’ve been thinking a lot about this poem by Robert Burns, so I thought I’d share it:

O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.

That’s only the first stanza, but it’s the one I like the best. I don’t actually know if Robert Burns was religious or not, but if my excessive time in academia has taught me anything, it’s that any one thing can mean any other thing if you want it to. So for me this makes me think of the resurrection. I love the imagery of separation and reunion in the poem. I can identify with the bird being cut off from its shelter through the rude winter, and, like the bird, singing will be high up on my list when I see my fair lilac once again.

Update on Bonnie

george-michael gif

I feel you, George Michael.

It’s been a long, stressful day. Bonnie wasn’t feeling very good last night, so she was up a lot. That translated into oversleeping for her doctor’s appointment. It’s always nice to start the day out right.

More importantly, it’s looking like her current course of treatment just isn’t managing the symptoms the way that we would like. Bonnie has been falling down a lot and her balance is really impaired, so we’re going to be switching to something more aggressive. At this point, Bonnie’s condition makes her such an outlier that there’s not really a proscribed course of treatment, so it feels a little bit like both we and our doctor are shooting in the dark.

We’re going to try a really high dose of the medicine that she’s on, which will involve some pretty serious time in the hospital. So that’s not going to be fun for anyone.

We also had a visit to the physical therapist, who basically said that there’s not much that he can do to fix things (not really surprising), but he gave us some strengthening exercises for Bonnie to do.

When I write it all down, it doesn’t sound like that much, but I just feel totally mentally spent. It’s the cancer anxiety. You just sit around waiting constantly for something to go wrong. It’s like your brain is stretched out too thin, or you’ve got this constant feeling of falling but you never hit the ground. Then when you get more bad news you just don’t have the energy to process it because of all the energy you spend keeping it together on a normal day.

That’s probably enough whining from me. I still have a great little family, and I’m sitting here watching a little show with L and R while I type this, so the day is not all bad. Even when things go poorly, it’s always nice to get a chance to sit around with the kids at the end of the day. But if you see my lying on the floor, you’ll know why.

“‘Give,’ Said the Little Stream” and chores

“‘Give,’ Said the Little Stream” is one of my favorite primary songs. In the back of my mind I have this thought that my mom doesn’t like it, but I don’t remember why. Regardless, I love the simple way that it teaches important principles, in particular the idea that you should make your surroundings better.

I’ve been thinking about it because it connects to a conversation I had with Bonnie a few days ago about chores. Philosophically I’m having some issues with chores the way I usually see them implemented. Frequently people give their child a responsibility which they have to take care of at a specified time (i.e. clean the kitchen on Saturdays).

Here’s my issue: I worry that it might encourage a sense that once you’ve done your chores then you’re done with helping out around the house. Or more broadly, once you take care of yourself then your job is done. I can remember lots of times as a kid when one sibling or another was still working on their Saturday job while the others were already done. There was never any inclination (at least on my part) to help that person out with their job. I’m admittedly not the most compassionate person, but even my siblings who are nicer than me (all of them) didn’t usually help that I can remember.

I’d rather that my kids develop a habit of always helping out with everything. If there are dirty dishes, then we all do them, since we’re all part of the family and we all try to contribute. When we’re cleaning the house, I rather that we all just clean until it’s done. Like in the song, I think the kids should adopt an attitude of “wherever I go the grass grows greener still.”

On the other hand, I also want them to learn to take care of their own responsibilities and not be a burden on others. I think traditional chores actually do a decent job of giving kids a sense of responsibility and a sense of taking care of a job. The two ideas compete with each other a little bit. Is it better to teach a kid about their independence or their interdependence? I’m leaning toward the latter, but most people I know seem to (most likely unconsciously) choose the former.

Bonnie suggested that instead of specific responsibilities we just have everyone work for a certain amount of time. I think that’s moving in the right direction, but I worry that it just substitutes one problem for another. Instead of feeling “done” when you finish your room, you’ll just feel “done” when the timer runs out.

Clearly I don’t have any right answers, but I’m really interested in developing this habit in my kids (and myself to be honest–I could probably walk into the house and step over a dead body and not notice or think twice if I didn’t put it there). How do you teach someone to just be aware of their surroundings and to act to improve them without being asked? That habit has a much broader application than just simple chores, and I’d really love for my kids to learn it. Any suggestions, O wise internet people?

Utah is really, really, ridiculously good looking

So I’ve picked up a couple of pictures from recent activities, and seriously, Utah is just a gorgeous place. The first one is from a hike that I went on with my dad a week or two ago. It was a little less than three miles in, so not super long or anything, but you are rewarded with some beautiful vistas. There are drinking fountains along the way, so you know it’s a serious hike…

Hike

The view climbing up rock canyon. Sorry for the weird lighting. You take what you can get when you’re hiking.

The other picture is one that I took at my nephew’s soccer game. You can see him just behind the kid with the red shirt. More importantly, look at the mountains. This was the view on a soccer field in a public park where elementary school kids play. The sun was starting to  go down and it turned the mountains this bright gold color. Even after growing up here, I’m still amazed that you have these amazing views just right outside.

zach soccer

I don’t think there are too many places in the world where you can play soccer with a view like that.

Fun at the Museum

IMG_20140908_163541256

This is the picture you get when you tell your kids to say “dinosaurs!”

We’ve taken our little family to a couple of museums lately. The first one was actually a backup plan. Since it was a sunny, beautiful day, we decided to go to the park. Of course, by the time we shaved the yak and were ready to get out the door it had started raining. Time for a visit to the BYU Earth Science museum.

IMG_20140908_163638950

I was always scared to put my head in that thing as a kid. My kids take after me.

Photo Strip

Photo booths are totally fun, and totally overpriced.

There are tons of fossils in Utah. Because of that, even a small museum can have some really cool stuff. Bonnie and I have been to the museum of natural history in New York and it’s one of the only museums out East that I’ve seen with a good fossil collection. The BYU museum, on the other hand, lacks the massive budget and resources of a New York museum, but it still has some great fossils, and was the perfect size for the two kids. There are tons of things to look at and touch, so it’s really fun.

The other museum that we went to last week was the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. We have a family pass that lets us get into a bunch of children’s museums all over the country, so we didn’t have to pay when we went. It’s basically a huge activity center. We didn’t see the whole thing, but we spend a lot of time in a room with a bunch of science demonstrations on movement and mechanics (or something like that). It was super cool.

We also had a great time in the section with a lot of wind and water things. There’s even this huge area where kids (and adults) can build structures that can spray water, or direct the flow different ways. You don’t even have to worry about getting the floor all wet. It’s really well done that way. Anyway, we all had a great time taking a few field trips, especially since we were able to go during non-peak hours. Hooray for having cool stuff (almost) completely to ourselves!

So, does anyone else know any really fun and free museums or activities in the Orem/Provo area (or thereabouts)? We’re always looking for fun stuff that we can take the kids to.

image

R is really good at smiling naturally.

Thankful Thursday 2

washing-feet-JesusThis also a Friday edition of Thankful Thursday, but that’s because I spent much of Thursday at the hospital with Bonnie, and then our internet went out in the evening when I was going to write this. Faced with such a daunting obstacle, I gave up and watched “Jeeves and Wooster” with Bonnie. Intent counts for something, right?

This week I am thankful to all of the kind people who have helped us in the last while. On Wednesday a bunch of ladies from the ward showed up and packed up our living room and our whole kitchen. They were amazing and cheerful as they packed up  all our junk (As a side note, if our house burns down while we’re in Utah, it totally wasn’t me).

There has practically been a parade of cheerful and helpful nurses and hospital staff. I don’t even remember all their names, but they’ve all been kind, helpful, and accommodating.

Various family members have sent money or offered to fly out to help us as we drive cross country.

Our contact at the Olcott Cancer Center was originally going to get us some free flights to Utah from Angel Flight, but when she found out that we wanted to drive she contacted a different group (who do not appear to have a website) and got us some gas cards.

Everyone wants to help, and even though things can suck, a little lift is sometimes all you need.