Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Return and Report

WARNING: This is not an entertaining post. Feel free to skip it!

In case any of you are wondering how our Rallying Cry (refer to the Frantic Family posts last Fall) went over the winter, I'm happy to report we finished all our objectives by the final deadline. Some of those didn't happen until the very day we had set to be done, and I'm still not perfect with filing and managing mail, but we're done and the progress feels good.

I forgot to mention that we use our white board each Monday for a family council after home evening. (Usually it's just a discussion for me and Kent, but sometimes children are still hanging around, hoping that we won't notice they didn't stay in bed.) At this council, we have three dry erase markers: green, blue, and red. Next to each item, we color a dot. For example, if we both feel good about our individual and family discipleship, we draw a green dot. If we missed a date night but we spent time talking most evenings, the marriage relationship gets a blue dot. If our next objective towards completing the rallying cry is off track, that gets a red dot. Then we focus on those red dots, and maybe the blue dots, and come up with specific actions to address the shortfalls. The system keeps our councils to about five minutes, and it works well overall to keep us focused on those things that are most important for our family.

You may be wondering--but probably not--what our new Rallying Cry is. (Drum roll...) Organize Our Living Space!

We added a new member to the household this month. Kent's former mission companion from Mexico, Edwin, is living with us for a few months while he gains fluency in English. (And yes, he is here legally with real documents and everything.) The only option for his bedroom was the playroom, so our rallying cry began with that. We then set a deadline for de-junking and organizing each of the seven rooms that have experienced some degree of neglect. Guess what? We're on schedule so far.

Those of you who ever saw our disastrous playroom will appreciate the transformation pictured below. (Sorry I didn't think to take a "before" picture.) The rest of you will just have to imagine the biggest mess of a room you've ever seen children make, because it looked like that with five years of dust and cobwebs on the walls.

Looks good huh? Here is a shot of the bed. It's practically brand new, but technically a hand-me-down from some African refugees. (Seriously, I love that the Africans are helping the Americans to help a Mexican. Let's all sing Kum-Ba-Yah.) My parents called on the Saturday that we were moving furniture--the deadline day, the day Kent and Edwin were traveling home--for the new room and asked if we could use a twin bed. Impeccable timing!

I was happy that our children got in on the Rallying Cry. They were excited to de-junk old toys and to then scrub walls and move furniture over spring break. We had a nice time working together. Now on to the next Defining Objective:

The master bedroom!

(Well where did you think all the stuff from the playroom ended up?)

P.S. Nate, feel free to use this last picture in another presentation for your office. I haven't had vanity over owning a clean house in at least six years.

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's that time of year again. The time when our school's PTO asks for money. I don't mind supporting the PTO because they do some great events and give good teacher support. What I've disliked in the past were the various fundraisers that involved selling overpriced cookie dough and gift wrap. I've always preferred to just give some cash instead of giving more cash than I normally would and ending up with products I don't really want.

Last year, the PTO got on the same page as me and held it's first walk-a-thon. It was such a success that they've discontinued all other fundraising efforts to focus on this one event. The kids get exercise and have to work for the funds a little, which I think is an important part of school fundraisers. With four children at the school, I thought this year I'd make their efforts a little easier and less in-your-face than knocking on doors and making neighbors feel like they need to sponsor all my kids.

If any of you would like to donate through one (or more) of my girls, you can post a comment saying so, or just email me ( I'll let the girls know and whichever of them is most motivated will contact you to talk about whether you want to sponsor for a set dollar amount, or an amount per mile they walk. (I've got some good little runners, so be careful on those per-mile donations! This photo is #1 after running a 5K last fall with the school's cross-country team.)


If you want to know more about the school you're helping out, click here for Freedom Academy's website. On the website, you might see news about a boutique the school is hosting this weekend. The boutique is raising funds toward hiring more teachers in the arts and languages, as well as supporting the individual artisans at the boutique. The walk-a-thon funds go toward the PTO, which gives its money to teacher support and family activities. If you want to donate directly to the school instead of the PTO, there is a link for online donations on the website.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Source of Stress

See that blemish? That painful pimple? The big red zit?!

That's a result of stress that built up from October through March. And it was worth it.

I decided a school named Freedom Academy would do well to add a little learning about the legal system that seeks to protect our American freedoms. So I started a competitive Mock Trial team for the 7th and 8th graders.

Not a lot of people have heard of mock trial. Basically, the students prepare to present a court case. We had a bailiff, witnesses and attorneys. They learn court procedures and the application of law in a courtroom setting. Then they compete against other teams from schools around the state who have prepared the opposing side of the same court case. Each team competes at least twice: once as prosecution and once as defense. While in the trial, the students don't get any help from their coaches. Though they've practiced their questions and answers, it always comes down to thinking on their feet, raising and answering objections, and interacting with the judges (who are real-life attorneys and judges).

When I took on this project, I figured I'd get a teacher and an attorney or two in place as coaches. Then all I'd have to do is decorate the team members' lockers and drive them to competitions. Not so! It turns out that attorneys are busy people and our teacher coach had other obligations during the first half of each after-school practice as well. So I helped the kids outline their side of the case, edited the attorneys' questions, coached the witnesses in acting, and drilled the opening and closing statements. It was a lot of fun, a lot of time, and a lot of stress.

But like I said, it was worth it! I spent most of those hours with my own #1 (On the far right in the picture above.) In the end, our students won both their first two competitions and went on to narrowly lose at the state quarter-final round. They did great for their first year. And #1 was named the best attorney on our team at each competition, which was no surprise to me considering her proclivity for arguing!

This was the first time I've ever coached any competitive group. Last week when I was returning books at the library, one of the team members saw me and hurried over to say hi. We talked about her plans for spring break, and then she left with her family. It was weird and fun to feel her gratitude and camaraderie disguised in her thinly veiled excitement at seeing me outside the school setting. Next year will be good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Attending to My Spine

Chiropractors have always been a somewhat uninteresting puzzle to me. Are they really doctors? I've never been injured and so never needed to see one, but friends and acquaintances swear by their back adjustments. But I also always had a nagging at the back of my mind about why chiropractic patients seemed to never be weaned away from their chiropractor.

Having never needed a chiropractor, I gave little heed to their advertisements...or to the growing pain in my lower lumbar.

I know, back (ha ha) around Christmastime when I couldn't lie flat or stand up straight in the morning, I maybe should have given it a little thought. I picked up yoga, which helped the pain dissipate, and figured if I didn't complain about it, the pain wouldn't be so noticeable. And it did subside with long as I didn't lie flat on my back...or skip and jump...or make any sudden movement of any sort.

Then a few weeks ago, a representative from Alpine Spinal Rehab in Provo gave lunch and a short presentation at Kent's work. He told of a chiropractor who believed in healing spines rather than adjusting them chronically. My curiosity was hooked.

At my first visit, following a good (and price friendly) massage, a tech took x-rays and the doctor used some sort of sonar device to detect misaligned vertebrae and then adjust them. He showed me some exercises to do at home to stretch and work the imbalanced muscles around my spine. I was happy that he recommended two of my favorite yoga poses: the cat and the camel.

At the next visit, we looked at the x-rays of my spine. It's more of a mess than I ever would have guessed! Straight where it should be curved and curved in the wrong directions. (Kent also got x-rays, and his spine is a mess in completely different ways than mine.) He invited me and the other new and prospective patients to a dinner at Sizzler where he taught about the make up of the spine, it's curves, and how not to mess it up. He explained that all sorts of physiological problems can be caused by the spine pinching any of the multiple nerves that branch from it: headaches, tingling limbs, over-active bladder, etc. His approach to healing the spine is to identify the problem areas, adjust the bones back into place a little at a time, and then build balanced muscles on either side of the spine to keep everything in place. Basically, I get to have a focused workout on different sets of back and neck muscles using some fancy weight-lifting machines. Theoretically, I should be done in ten weeks with a healed spine to last the rest of my life as long as I continue the at-home exercises.

After the first two or three visits, my lower back pain was--and is--gone. Now my back muscles are sore from the workouts, but I'm optimistic that I'll gain good posture and lose my occasional numb fingers and toes. That is, lose the tingling, not the digits.

I consider myself an experiment for the rest of you. If this experience goes well, I will recommend Dr. Clark myself. If it doesn't, I'll tell you that, too. He says he has my back. We'll see!