Saturday, August 23, 2014

There's a Right Way to Live and Be Happy

Gary's job hunting again.  He still has a job but he's hoping to find one with better hours.  He doesn't like to work on Sundays.  For the last year he has been weighing the pros and cons of one of the free word processing programs on the internet versus just biting the bullet and paying for Microsoft Word so that he could update his resume.  We like to call him "Speedy Decision Maker" for his obviously prompt and thorough research of the perfect resume maker. 

He finally decided on Microsoft, got his resume updated, and started applying for jobs on the internet.  One company asked him to fill out a profile survey.  They told him there were no right or wrong answers, he just needed to fill it out as honestly as possible.  There were over 200 questions which is pretty daunting and he did it late at night so he may or may not have snoozed a bit in between questions but he answered honestly.  Gary is nothing if not honest.

The company replied with the following email:

Thank you for filling out the analysis.

The answers to the analysis indicated that you probably answered several questions considering "the idea you have of how you should behave" rather than "how you actually behave".

EG (not a question of the test):
Do you blame others for your failures?
I know I shouldn't blame others. So I answer "no". Yet, if I actually look in real life, from time to time I do blame them, so the correct answer should be: "maybe".
If too many questions are answered in this theoretical manner, the final score is invalid and we cannot relay the answer to the company you have took the test for.
Therefore I have to kindly ask you to re-take the analysis looking more at how you do actually behave rather than at what you actually know.
Sorry for the inconvenience. This is not a negative fact in the selection process. It occurs 10 to 15% of the times.

Please feel free to retake it again at this address.

Keep this email with the new test address if you do not wish to fill it in now but rather intend to do so later.

Let me know if you have any additional question.

(By-the-way, I copied and pasted this, so the grammar errors are from the company making all the decisions.)

Hmmm....I guess he answered the questions on the "there-are-no-right-or-wrong-answers-survey" the wrong way which kind of irritated him a bit.  He said "I don't blame others for my failures!  What am I going to do?  Say (insert whiny voice) "Oh....that person did such and such so I'm going to blame him for all of my failures in life.  Whine, whine, whine..."  

Gary is quite mature when you accuse him of answering questions falsely when he answered them the way he really is.  

He answered too many questions the way good, honest, hard-working people actually live and act so they can't submit his results to the company he is looking to apply to.  Does that even make any sense?  Maybe he needs to watch the news for a few days so he can learn how he "SHOULD" behave instead of the way he ACTUALLY behaves so he can get good results on that survey.

The world is a messed up place!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Know What I Saw!

This morning I was driving to an appointment and I saw a lady wearing something like this:

Dancing like this:

While standing on this:

And NO...I was not drinking any of this:

I promise....I was completely sober!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'm Not Laughing AT Him, I'm Laughing WITH Him

A computer genius AND a country music star!!
Last week, Gary was trying to do something with our finances that required him to type in a password to sign into his online account.  He kept typing in the password but the computer kept saying that it didn't recognize him.  He was getting more and more frustrated as the time for him to leave for work got closer so in desperation, he called the bank....for the second or third time that see if they could help him figure out why he couldn't sign in with the password that they had just given him and told him would work.  After spending a few minutes on the phone, he hung up.  I glanced over and asked him if he had gotten the problem figured out and he looked at me sheepishly and said "It was a user error.  I forgot a letter."

User errors happen a lot around here.  Gary and I are not computer geniuses.

Another thing Gary is not is a singer.  The first time we went to sacrament meeting together a long time ago in a land far, far away, I burst out laughing the minute he started singing the hymn....yet he still married me!  He sings with a country twang, always 1/2 a beat slower than everyone else, makes up words if he doesn't know how the song goes, and sings louder than everyone else around him.

So today in church the hymn we were singing had 5 verses.  When we finished with verse 4, he went back and started singing verse 4 again.  I started out singing verse 5 but like I said, he sings out with gusto so when he started singing verse 4, I got a little confused.  I leaned over to Emily (who I later found out was also confused when he started in on verse 4) and asked her what verse we were supposed to be on and she said 5, so I leaned over to Gary and pointed out what verse he was supposed to be singing.  He stopped, paused for a minute to change course and then started singing the right verse.  At the end, he said "Well...that was sneaky!" because he thought that the organist had made a mistake and skipped verse 4.  I said "You sang verse 4 twice, instead of going to verse 5 like you were supposed to.  It wasn't sneaky, it was you."

Then, because I am so clever, I wrote him a little note..."User error!"  He wrote back "Agreed!!"  Then we laughed as the bishop called out the sacrament hymn and I leaned over and said "You sing verse 1, then verse 2, then verse 3."  He assured me that he could sing a song with only 3 verses the right's when a song has 5 verses that he gets messed up.

If you've never heard "Upon The Cross of Calvary" with a country twang, you should ask him to sing it for you.  It's a classic!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Real Men Kiss Their Mom

Carson's off to Panther Camp today.  It's a special day for the incoming 6th graders.  I'm not sure what's special about it or what they actually do because moms are NOT INVITED but Carson was excited to go.  Mainly because he's hoping to see his favorite girl (besides his mom, of course) Ari.  She's an older woman...13...who is a year ahead of him in school.  They were parted for the last school year but ever since he toured the middle school back in May and saw her again, she is all we have heard about.

Next time you see him, ask him who is best friend is.  He will dreamily say "ARI..."  {when he says her name, butterflies and fairies fly around and sparkles glitter the air}  Sorry...I'm a girl so I only know how girls dream about their love and it's always with sparkles, butterflies and fairies.  If you are a boy reading this, feel free to set me straight.

Where were we?  Oh...Panther Camp!!  I was given instructions to drop him off at the front office a little before 8am.  We got to the school at 7:55 and all of my nightmares of school mornings came rushing back to me when I saw the massive amount of cars.  I hate car line!!  Thank goodness for school buses that come to my house.  One of the many perks of having a special needs kiddo in your family.

We parked the car and I went for Carson's hand as we crossed the street.  I felt my hand being pushed away and a "NO MOM!!"  "What?!  You don't want to hold my hand?!"  I told him he didn't have to hold my hand while we were in the grass but once we were crossing the street he had to hold my hand.  I used my firm voice so he wouldn't argue.  He begrudgingly held my hand while we were crossing but as soon as he saw the sidewalk he let go.  Don't worry...I managed to hold back the tears.

We met his teacher in the front office and she said "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!!"  No, I'm kidding...she didn't really say that but her actions and body language were implying that it was time for me to cut the apron strings so I told Carson goodbye and gave him a kiss on the forehead.


The teacher looked at me and said "Mom...he's in middle school now!  We don't kiss our moms in middle school!!"

You who know me well know that I HATE getting in trouble and I'm a little scared of middle school teachers (well, really, anyone who has any sort of authority).

So....being the dork that I am, I apologized to the teacher and Carson for KISSING MY SON(!!) and turned around to leave the office.

Carson, with the sweetest voice a mom could ever hear said "Bye Mom!!!" and walked over and gave me a big sloppy kiss on the lips!


Whoever said that middle school kids don't kiss their mom have never met MY kid.

I am totally going to kiss him every single morning of his middle school career!  Hopefully, the kids on the bus won't tell on me!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's Nice to be Nice

Today I had to go to Walmart to pick up a prescription.  I really and truly dislike shopping there.  It puts me in the grouchiest of grouchy moods especially when the lines are really long.  Today the line was longer than I have ever seen it.

I tried to make the best of things by reading all of the labels on the bottles while standing in line.  Unfortunately, I was in the stomach distress aisle so I learned more than I (hopefully) will ever need to know about lactose intolerance, constipation and hemorrhoids.  Did you know they make suppositories for hemorrhoids? That sounds perfectly awful, don't you think?!

Anyway...see I had lots of time to read labels.

So...the customer finished up and then the cashier did the unthinkable.  She started helping a lady who was standing off to the side instead of the people that were waiting in line!  After stewing for a minute or two, the man in the front of the line stepped up and said something to the poor cashier about helping the lady off to the side.  The customer started apologizing and said that her prescription was supposed to be ready 30 minutes ago and that she just couldn't wait in line.  She needed to get out of there (I know how she feels and I had only been in there a couple of minutes)!  So, the man got back in line complaining to the lady behind him.

Well...that's all she needed was a little encouragement and she started muttering and complaining about people who think they are better than everyone else, who are too good to wait in line like the rest of us...blah, blah, blah.  The customer apologized again but this lady wasn't having any of that and just kept on complaining loudly enough for everyone in the vicinity to hear.

The poor lady finished up, turned around, apologized again, and then made her blessed escape from the jaws of that terrible store with the mean customers.  The man in front went forward, got his stuff, paid and was on his merry way.  Then this lady in front of me stepped up to the cashier, made her dissatisfaction known some more, complained for several minutes (that always helps the line to go faster) and then told the cashier what she wanted.  The cashier was very pleasant to her, rang her up and finished up her stuff but the customer felt the need to complain for a few more minutes until the cashier turned away from her and asked if she could help me.

I had not seen this poor cashier smile once the whole time I was standing in line.  She was very polite but you could tell she'd had a busy day.  She got my information, brought my prescription over, rang everything up and then looked my in the eye and said "I'm so sorry for your long wait."  I looked at her and said "That's okay, don't worry about it."  This lady smiled the biggest, prettiest smile ever and said "Have a great day!!"  I turned to her and said "You have a great day too!"

I'm not perfect (you probably knew that already, right?!), I get cranky, I understand the frustration of long lines but I learned (relearned really) a valuable lesson.  It pays to be nice.  That cashier's smile made the wait totally worth it.  I was once again grateful for what my wonderful mom taught me..."If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Oh...and eat your veggies so you don't have to do hemorrhoid suppositories {shudder}! 

Meanwhile, Miss grumpy pants customer had taken her complaining to the pharmacist in the other line and I made my blessed escape from the jaws of Walmart!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Quiet: God at Work

This was my talk from last Sunday.  It is also Carson's birth story.  It has taken me 12 years to have the courage to write it down.

Last Sunday, I was sitting in Sacrament meeting listening to Brother McCullough's talk and when he mentioned Ethan Benoit helping Carson pass the sacrament, this talk started forming in my head which was kind of weird since I hadn't been asked to give a talk.  I thought that maybe I was being prompted to share my testimony in a few weeks and I was really hoping that that prompting would go away before the first Sunday in August because it takes a lot of courage for me to bear my testimony.  I guess Heavenly Father knew that about me so He had Brother Jacobs call and ask me to give a talk instead.

The topic I was assigned was a talk from Elder Bednar entitled "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease" which you probably remember started out with a story about his friend who took his truck out to gather firewood one evening, got it stuck in the snow, decided that he would just fill the bed of the truck with a load of firewood, which was what eventually allowed him to get his truck unstuck.  I have kind of changed the topic up a bit to... "How I came to be sitting in Sacrament meeting crying because I glanced over and saw my 12 year old son with Down Syndrome sitting on the wrong pew because he didn't want to hold the hymnbook and sing so he moved to the empty pew where no one was offering hymnbooks, with his shoes that were not his church shoes but his old green tennis shoes because we couldn't find his church shoes....while his dad sat beside him trying to convince him to put them back on before the Sacrament hymn ended because he was about to pass the Sacrament for the very first time and my tears weren't about the shoes or the pew but about how far we have come and how blessed I am to be his mom!"  It's a long title, I know, and I pray that the Holy Ghost will guide me as I do my best to share what I felt prompted to share and combine it with Elder Bednar's talk.

Carson was our last baby.  Due to family circumstances at the time, we weren't sure if we would have more children but I had a very strong impression that we should pray about it so we did.  We both got off our knees after finishing our prayer knowing that we would have another baby.  We found out I was pregnant shortly after that.  I had a normal pregnancy and had the regular ultrasounds that showed no signs of anything to worry about.  The first time I ever felt like something might be different with this baby was a whispering or passing thought that I had on the way to the hospital when I was in labor.  I remember asking Gary if he thought everything would be okay. 

The second time that I felt like something wasn't quite right was right after he was born.  His first cry was unlike any baby cry I had ever heard.  It sounded really soft and weak to me.  They told us that everything looked good but they took him over to the exam area and kept him there for a really long time.  The on-call pediatrician came over and told us that he was healthy as far as she could tell but that she was 90something% sure that he had Down Syndrome.

Sometimes, I wonder, if Gary had had a list of all of the trials that we would face in our married life, if I would have had the courage to say "yes" when he asked me to marry him and this challenge just seemed like the one that broke me.  The first words out of my mouth were "I can't do this!!" and my first instinct was to run....luckily an epidural and an IV line made that impossible.  I even asked Gary at one point if he thought we should give him up for adoption.  Gary rarely, if ever, says anything unkind but I can usually tell what he's thinking by the look that crosses his face and the look that crossed his face that time was something like "she's finally lost it!" but the words that came out of his mouth were more like "no...he's our baby and we will be fine!  Everything will work out!"  I will always regret that my first reaction to Carson wasn't one of joy and excitement. 

We called my mom and told her and she reassured me that we would have the support of our family and that he would be loved just like our other children.  Then she called my neighbor who called our bishop.  He must have dropped everything to come to the hospital because he and one of his counselors who happened to be the husband of a good friend of mine were there within an hour of Carson's birth.  A few years ago, I got a letter from my bishop and this is what he said about that visit:  "I will always remember that night and seeing Carson for the first time through a window along with several other babies before we came and saw you. From that moment I knew he would be a blessing to his family and to others as they came into Carson's life."

He came and talked to Gary and I for a few minutes and then he asked me if I had been able to hold Carson yet.  I hadn't so they all walked down to the nursery and brought him back and handed Carson to me.  We asked him if he would give Carson a blessing.  He looked at me and said "Carson is going to be fine...he doesn't need a blessing but I will give you a blessing."  This is another excerpt from his letter:  "Now for the hard part - me being inspired to give you that blessing. I will just say that there are those times when you know that you really don't know (if that makes any sense) and you ask the Lord for his help and guidance  and that's the way it was that night. I listened to the Holy Spirit and  knew that Carson was going to be fine because Heavenly Father had sent him into your family and then the Holy Spirit simply said bless Shanon so that she knows that I want Shanon and Gary to care for and love Carson and in doing so their family will be blessed and have eternal joy and happiness."

For the longest time, I couldn't remember what he said in his blessing but I remember that a huge burden was lifted from me.  I was still worried, I still felt inadequate, I still felt like there were so many others that would be so much more qualified than me but something changed after that blessing. 

Carson and Bishop Norris
It reminds me of my favorite scripture (Mosiah 24:13-17) in the Book of Mormon which is also mentioned in Elder Bednar's talk:

"Consider the example in the Book of Mormon as Amulon persecuted Alma and his people. The voice of the Lord came to these disciples in their afflictions: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage."

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs."

Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased.

“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

The challenges and difficulties were not immediately removed from the people.  But Alma and his followers were strengthened, and their increased capacities made their burdens lighter.  And "in the strength of the Lord", Alma and his people were directed to safety in the land of Zarahemla."

We were also blessed with what I can only call miracles.  My doctor came in the next day and told us that the only health issue Carson had was a possible heart defect that usually corrects itself within the first few years of life.  We had a visit from a geneticist who was on vacation but came to see us.  I have honestly never met anyone more excited that I had a baby with Down Syndrome than her.  She made me feel like I had just won the baby lottery.  She also happened to be a doctor that loved people with Down Syndrome so much so that she had devoted much of her life to start a clinic for families of children with Down Syndrome so she knew all of the best doctors and what I should do once things had settled down, she even contacted another family that generously visited us in the hospital so that we could see for ourselves that having a baby with Down Syndrome wasn't the end of the world.  I also had friends who called or came to visit.  One of the things I was worried the most about was how Carson would be treated by others and then two of my good friends came and treated him just like any other baby and probably would have tried to snitch him and take him home with them if I hadn't been watching them closely.

We finally left the hospital and when I got home, I ordered or borrowed from the library several books on Down Syndrome.  That was the biggest mistake I made.  I remember one night, sitting on my bed surrounded by all of these books and I had just read about a 21 year boy who was attacked on a city bus and I started worrying about Carson riding a city bus!  He was a week old!  All of a sudden, this thought came to me "Shanon...he's a baby who happens to have Down Syndrome!  You know how to take care of babies!!  Just take care of him the way you took care of all of your other babies!"  So...I put the books away and I took care of my baby.  I just learned to learn as I go. 

Another quote from Elder Bednar states:

Each of us carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”
Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.
In my case, I was being distracted by unnecessary worries that were pulling me away from the joy of having a new baby in the family.

We have been blessed with so many people along the way that have helped us.  When he was learning to walk, he had a tiny walker that our physical therapist gave us to use.  I was worried what people would say when they saw him using it.  We took it to church that first Sunday that he had it and he caused quite the stir!!  Not because anyone was judging us or him but because he was so cute he was a distraction!!  When he was learning how to eat solids and I was overwhelmed trying to get him to eat, I had a friend who went out and bought every kind of baby food you could imagine and she would take him home with her and sit there patiently feeding him and had a blast doing it.  When he was learning how to be potty trained he had an angel of a teacher who told me that she would have him potty-trained before the end of the school year and excitedly took on that challenge and then taught me what I should do at home.  He has had great primary teachers that have gone out of their way to teach him.  He has had great scout leaders that have loved him.  When he turned 8, we wondered if we should baptize him and as we talked to Bishop Parker, he felt like we should wait for a while which was a relief to me.  He told us later on that he had an impression that Carson would ask to be baptized when he was ready.  One night we were sitting on our bed and Carson held his nose, tossed his head back and said "baptize."  When Bishop Parker came over to do his interview, Carson, who was wearing shorts at the time got really upset and ran into our bedroom.  Gary followed him and found Carson pointing to his church clothes.  As soon as he was dressed in his Sunday best, he came out and happily sat down with Bishop Parker which is how Bishop Parker knew that he was ready for baptism because by his actions he showed Bishop Parker that he knew of the sacredness of baptism.

Just recently, I asked Ethan Benoit and Cameron Parker if they would help him learn how to pass the Sacrament and they took time out of their summer to come here during the week to help him learn.  They were so patient with him and did a wonderful job of representing the Savior as they magnified their priesthood calling.

Elder Bednar says:  Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.

Here is one more excerpt from my Bishop's letter:  "I remember when your father stood and bore his testimony in Fast and Testimony meeting after Carson was blessed - I can't remember his exact words but I remember knowing that Carson was sent to your family from Heavenly Father because there would be so much love and caring for him in your family and this would be a bond that would bless you and all your children now and forever."

One of the greatest blessings that I have received from Carson is being able to see and recognize how wonderful and caring my other children are.  They teach me everyday how to love everyone even those that are different.  They truly live the Savior's teaching to "Love One Another".

The Savior said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own”. As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12).

In his book, Why Did This Happen to Me?, Ray Pritchard says: “Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on, child of God. Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles.”

I said in the beginning of my talk that I don't know if I would have had the courage to say "yes" to Gary if I had known what was in store for us.  I guess that is why Heavenly Father placed a veil over our eyes and only gives us what HE knows we can handle at that particular moment.  He knows us, He loves us, He wants more for us than we can comprehend.  If I had known everything, I may have missed out on all of the wonderful blessings that have come to me from what I thought was a burden.  

Heavenly Father will provide for us...maybe not in the way we think He should but always in the way the He knows is best for our individual growth and progression and our Savior will be there right beside us, every step of the way, to provide comfort and reassurance.  It is the reason He came to earth.  All week long, I have wondered and pondered on why I felt prompted to share this particular story.  It is a hard one for me to share.  My answer came as I was reading in Mosiah 24: 14 which says in part "...and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."  I realized that part of my covenant is to stand as a witness for God and testify that He does indeed visit His people in their afflictions.  Of this, I know and testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.