Friday, August 31, 2018

Pondering Body and Spirit

How are the spirit and the body connected?

I'm trying to ponder this, but I'm afraid the anti-seizure medication I'm on has fried my brain and it is making it very hard to think. I'm hoping writing out what I know here will help...

I know that death is the separation of body and spirit. (See Eccl 12:7)
I know that body and spirit together make a soul. (See D&C 88:15)
I know that God created man's spirits. (See Moses 6:36)

Doctrine and Covenants 93:29-36 says:
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple. The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
While I find this incredibly confusing at the moment, I understand it to mean that man's spirit is made from "intelligence", something that has always existed (This is supported in Abraham 3:22, which suggests that the intelligences were organized). The body is made up of elements (i.e. oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, etc.) and when spirit and element are inseparably connected - as will happen in the resurrection - they will receive a fullness of joy.

President Russell M Nelson gave a great talk years ago, when he was just Elder Nelson, in which he said:
The Lord said that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15). Each one of us therefore is a dual being—a biological (physical) entity, and an intellectual (spiritual) entity. The combination of both is intimate throughout mortality. 
In the beginning, man, as that intellectual entity, was with God. Our intelligence was not created or made, nor can it be (see D&C 93:29). 
That spirit, joined with a physical body of such remarkable qualities, becomes a living soul of supernal worth. (Body and Spirit: The Magnificence of Man, 1987)
Here, he defines the body as the biological and the spirit as the intellectual components.

I always imagined my spirit as the part of me that thinks, the part that sits up in my head and looks out through my eyes and processes the information coming in. Like in that movie, "Inside Out", I imagined my spirit as the little dudes in command central, only there's only one of them, and they are less emotional. Usually.

But how much of what comes out of command central is the intellectual "spirit" and how much is the effects of the biological?

I've always understood the warnings about avoiding addictions because they can affect the spirit. In President Nelson's talk he said, "Substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and harmful drugs are forbidden by the Lord. We have similarly been warned about the evils of pornography and unclean thoughts. Appetites for these degrading forces can become addictive. Physical or mental addictions become doubly serious because, in time, they enslave both the body and the spirit. Full repentance from these shackles, or any other yokes to sin, must be accomplished in this life while we still have the aid of a mortal body to help us develop self-mastery."

What happens to the soul who is addicted to drugs when they die? A spirit without a body can't satisfy the cravings, couldn't experience the highs even if they could take the drug. Do they go through the entire process of withdrawal, cold turkey? Are the effects greater or less because they are psychological without the biological support? Will those who rely on coffee and stimulants to stay awake in this life suffer from drowsiness or brain stupors in the spirit world? Will we need sleep in the spirit world, or is that just a biological thing?

Some time ago I had the thought that there is a good reason that we won't be judged until after the resurrection. We need to have our memories in tact - so we can remember all things we have done on this earth, when we are judged, and that can't happen with our imperfect memories now. When our bodies are perfected, and combined with our spirits permanently, then I imagine we will remember everything we have ever experienced, which might be a bit uncomfortable, come to think of it... Which makes me wonder, how well does our spirit remember by itself, without a body? Is the Spirit like the processor, and the body the hard drive?

If I take a pill and it messes with my intellect, making my thought process slow and cumbersome, or a little bit random, is that affecting just my biology, or is it affecting my spirit, too? Would another medicine work better? Or would it be better to just take nothing at all and deal with the occasional seizure when it comes?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Years ago, I learned a song at church. It went:
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I know who I am.
I know God's plan.
I'll follow him in faith.
I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
I'll honor his name.
I'll do what is right;
I'll follow his light.
His truth I will proclaim.
(Words by Janice Kapp Perry C. 1989)
In a recent statement, President Russell M. Nelson emphasized the importance of using the full name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are not the LDS church. We are not the Mormon church. This church was given its name by revelation 180 or so years ago, and that is the name that we should be using. 

I was walking several days ago and pondering about the name of the Church and what it means to me.

  • I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ... This is the same church that Jesus Christ established when he lived on the earth. He is the central figure, with a complement of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc. (see 6th Article of Faith). This is the same church that Jesus organized on the American continent after his resurrection. (See 3 Nephi 27:2-8) Jesus Christ has been involved in this Church from years before it was organized when he and his Father visited Joseph Smith in the sacred grove, to today as he guides  our prophet President Nelson. This is his church. We are Christians in that we believe in Jesus Christ and we strive to follow his example and his teachings. We believe in his atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane and Golgotha. He paid for our sins so that we can be forgiven if we repent and strive to obey his commandments. We also believe that he was resurrected on the third day - that he lives! And because he lives, we all will one day also be resurrected. The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of hope and promise and peace.
  • ...of Latter-day...  Why latter-day? It is to separate us from the former days, when Christ walked the earth. It is the same church now as it was then. The gospel taught by Christ is the same gospel we believe today.
  •  Saints This refers to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are people who have dedicated their lives to trying to follow the teachings of Christ. They are people who believe in God and are striving to do good. No, we are not perfect yet, but that is our goal, and the name of the church is a reminder of that goal. 
I'll admit that sometimes the full name of the church feels long and cumbersome, especially when trying to write it in a blank that is only an inch long, but it is important. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am striving to follow Jesus Christ and his teachings in these latter days before his second coming. The least I can do is use the name for the Church that he gave it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On Doctors and Rashes

When I go to a doctor, in my head, the scenario goes something like this:

Me: Doctor, I have this problem.
Doctor: Oh? Tell me about it. What are you experiencing?
Me: Well, I have this symptom, and I feel this way and then this happens.
Doctor: Hmmm. Well that sounds like _____________. It is caused by ________________. All you need to do is ________________________ and you will be healed.
Me: Thanks!
Doctor: You're welcome. You don't have to see me again until you have another problem.

In reality, doctor appointments go rather differently. As a missionary, I once saw a doctor. That discussion went more like this:

Me: Doctor, I have this weird itchy rash on my hands.
Doctor: Oh? (Looking at it) Hmmm. That's weird. Tell me about it.
Me: It showed up a few weeks ago and won't go away. It itches like crazy. Hot water seems to make it itch worse. It is spreading from my pointer fingers to the rest of my fingers and hands. It seems centered around my knuckles.
Doctor (taking notes): Interesting. Tell me more. Have you ever had this before?
Me: Maybe a little bit when I was in college, but it has never been nearly this bad before!
Doctor: Hmmmm.
Me: ???
Me: Is there anything I can do about it?
Doctor: Well, you have eczema (meaning an itchy rash... He just gave an official name to what I told him I had...). It is probably an allergic reaction to something that is aggravated by stress and exacerbated by heat.
Me: So what could be causing it?
Doctor: It could be anything, and it would be too difficult to figure out all the things you might be allergic to. Here are some free samples of a steroid cream that might help. Or it might not. Try it and if it doesn't work after six weeks or so come back and we'll try something else. (My interpretation: I have no idea what is causing it. Hopefully it will go away on its own, but this cream stuff probably won't hurt anything. If I'm lucky she'll transfer to a different area in the next six weeks and I won't have to see her again.)

The rash on my hands still comes and goes and I still have no idea what causes it.

Now I have seizures that come and go.

Yesterday I saw my neurologist again now that she had the results from the EEG and the MRI that I took. I was hoping that the results would be more conclusive. Something like, "Your seizures are being caused by _________________, and so we will do __________________ and they will go away and you won't have to worry about them again."

When I went to the cardiologist and did a bunch of tests, they found stuff, but nothing that he could say was the cause of my passing out. Now with the neurologist, again they did a bunch of tests, and again they found some stuff, but again, nothing that she could pinpoint as the cause of the seizures. There is a small scab on my brain, as though I had experienced head trauma at some time or had a history of migraines, but it is small and isn't likely to be causing the seizures. The EEG was interesting, showing that one side of my brain wasn't working the same as the other half of my brain, and the neurologist would like to do another EEG in a few months to see if that was an anomaly, (it wasn't evident in the EEG I did last year) but that isn't causing me to have seizures either.

After explaining the test results, the doctor began explaining the many different types of seizure medications with their strengths and weaknesses - the side effects. In the end, she told me she would send a prescription to the pharmacy, and we would try it. I'm to let her know if I have issues with the side effects, or if I have another seizure (meaning it isn't effective) and she'll gradually increase the dose as necessary.

Last night after I picked up the prescription, I was reading the warnings and information that came with it. The most important information I should know about this medication are the potential side effects including (but not limited to) problems with concentration, attention, memory, thinking, speech, or language; increased level of acid in the blood (which means an increased chance of kidney stones); suicidal thoughts or actions; and serious skin rash that can cause death. Yay.

So once again, I have an annoying symptom without an obvious cause. Once again I've been given a medication that may or may not help, only this time the side effects are a bit scary. I took a pill last night, and so far there is no sign of the deadly rash... I guess that's good.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Some Thoughts on Blogging

At the very beginning of the first episode of BBC's television series, Sherlock, John Watson's therapist tells him, "You're a soldier and it's going to take you a while to adjust to civilian life and writing a blog about everything that happens to you will honestly help you."

John's miserable answer is, "Nothing happens to me."

I enjoy watching Sherlock. I love the plot twists and the irony, the puzzles and the British humour. I love that there are different ways to understand so many things.

In the scene I just described, does the therapist believe that he was traumatized by his time in the war, and that writing about what happens to him as a civilian will help him put the war behind him and focus on better things in the present? Or does she understand that John misses the war, that he is bored with civilian life, and that writing a blog about every little event will help him appreciate that things do actually happen to him? The irony, of course, is that his life is about to get very interesting because he is about to meet Sherlock Holmes.

I was watching the episode earlier this week, and this scene stuck with me. It made me ask, "How does writing a blog help me?" Here are some of the answers I came up with:

  1. My blog is essentially my journal. I write it for myself to help me remember the things that happen to me - the good as well as the bad. I don't write about everything that happens to me obviously. (Does anyone really want to know that I pricked my finger while I was sewing today? It bled for a minute or two. I stuck a band-aid on it for a few hours, and that was that. Maybe in one of these posts I'll reveal what I was sewing and why, but that's a tale for another day - It isn't finished yet.)
  2. When I write about things that have happened to me, sometimes that helps shape my feelings about those events. Sometimes I sit down to write feeling offended or upset, and as I write about what happened, as I'm thinking about the events from different angles, it helps me to have a better understanding, and to feel more at peace with those events. It can help me to feel more forgiving towards others as I try to figure out what might have motivated them to do what they did. And sometimes just writing about something upsetting helps me get it out of my system so I don't need to feel upset about it anymore.
  3. Sometimes writing a blog about a more abstract idea helps me to work out ideas and impressions that have been banging around in my head that I haven't understood thoroughly. It's a way of pondering or meditating.
  4. Blogging is a way of sharing with others things that I think they may appreciate. My parents, for example, don't live close enough to see my children on a regular basis, so I think they may appreciate the occasional update on what they are doing, their interests, and the like. Or maybe I just want to boast.
  5. When I accomplish something, sometimes I like to show it off, to share it with others. I was once told to "find ways of pleasing others with [my] skills." By sharing what I can do on my blog, I am allowing others to see what I can do, and occasionally that enables me to serve someone, to share my gifts and talents in a way that benefits someone else. I hope that sharing my thoughts with others will help others to maybe look at things in a different way.
  6. My blog is an exercise in honesty. As I said, my blog is my journal and I write it to remember the good and the bad. I want to remember things as they really are, or at least how they really appear to me as I'm living it. I've noticed that sometimes as I read through old posts I see things from a different perspective, but I still appreciate that when I wrote it, I believed it to be true. The perspective is part of the history.
So yes, I feel like writing a blog does help me. And I am reminded again that I should be doing it more consistently. Now that the kids are all back in school, this is my aim.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hiatt Family Vacation 2018

Our vacation started on Wednesday, August 8th, when we attended a Rockies game compliments of Steven's work. The Colorado Rockies played the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates won. The food was good.

After the game we headed out of town for the real adventure. We went to YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch. Awesome place, lots of fun. You should go there sometime.

The YMCA has lodging for every type of outdoor enthusiast. They have a lodge (think motel) for those who need room service. They have cabins. They have yurts. They even have campsites for those who don't mind dirt under our feet. We set up our tent in the HOPI campground. That first evening we explored a bit, played miniature golf and did some stargazing.

Thursday, August 9th, we woke up. Steven cooked breakfast in the dutch oven...
 ....then we set out to find things to do. 

Our first stop was at the program center where we were able to sign up for register for several different activities. Outside the program center were a lot of fun activities, like connect four, 
 Bean bags
 and a moose wearing goggles.

Our first scheduled adventure for the day was tube sledding. We each got a large tube sled, and stood in line at the top of the slope.
 When it was our turn, a worker would make sure we were seated, and then push our tube off the ledge, either straight or spinning, down the steep slope. It was a blast! There was an escalator to help us bring our tubes back to the top for another spin.

After our hour of sledding, we wandered over to the KIVA building, where we had fun playing a version of human chess, ping pong and pool.

Then we drifted over to the craft building. Hannah, Peter and I tie-died T-shirts...
 ...while Josh worked on a leather pouch.
They also had ceramics, mosaics, wood burning, jewelry making and other activities there.

 Later that afternoon, Hannah and John got to go zip lining while Peter dragged me back to the miniature golf course for another quick round.

That evening we had foil dinners and Steven made an apple cobbler for dessert. 

 Early the following morning, Steven and John left camp so John could get to where he was would be running the RAGNAR race over the next two days. He had to be there at some crazy hour like 5am, and it was an hour and a half drive from where we were. Steven left John with his teammates and then returned to our camp to try to get a bit more sleep.

Breakfast the following morning was a bit awkward. We ran out of propane for our stove, and they didn't have propane at the camp store so we had to use the grills at the picnic sites at the campground, and it took a while. Steven, Josh and Peter went to their walking stick class without breakfast, but were able to eat later after they picked up Hannah and me to go to an archery class.

The archery class was held behind the library, so after archery we wandered to the library to see what they had there. They had a lot of books and games and puzzles, including a 3D globe puzzle they were asking for help completing. (Steven and I managed to finish it, in spite of several missing pieces!)

Later that day we got to do some rock climbing with a portable tower thing.
Peter trekking up
Josh, Steven and Hannah resting for a bit
Peter pushes the red button at the top. It didn't do anything, but there was some sense of accomplishment in being able to push it. 
Hannah on her way down again
Steven going up
Peter and Josh

 After rock climbing, I took the kids swimming while Steven explored a bit, and after he returned for us, we all took a beautiful hike to a waterfall. On the way back we encountered some friendly horses.

First thing Saturday morning we took down camp and headed for home, with things to do and places we needed to be. John returned home Saturday evening a bit tired, but having enjoyed his race.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Living Nightmare

I hate going to the dentist. I hate having people's hands in my mouth. I hate the sounds of drills and metal instruments scraping against my teeth. It's like listening to fingernails scraping a chalkboard repeatedly, only worse because it is inside my head. I hate feeling like I'm going to either suffocate or drown because my nose is congested and I can't breathe through my mouth because it's full of water that I either don't want to or can't swallow. I hate the odor like burning dust as they polish and scrape away at the enamel on my teeth.

I have uncomfortable memories of seeing orthodontists, of having to wear metal bars in my mouth, attached by rubber bands to a sort of cap on my head, and I remember being mocked at school when I wore it there because I had to wear it for so many hours a day, and it was uncomfortable to sleep on it. I remember how much my teeth and jaw ached for weeks whenever they changed anything. I remember the braces, the bands on my teeth that scraped the insides of my cheeks raw and the horrid taste of plaster as they made imprints to see how my teeth had moved over time.

I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was twenty in preparation to be a missionary, and that was the last time I let anyone's hands into my mouth for a very, very long time.

I know that people are supposed to go to the dentist regularly, but the very thought of sitting in a dentist's chair, of hearing the drills, of having my mouth numbed and manipulated set me shaking and trembling. I couldn't do it. Five years passed. Then ten years. I had another reason to dread seeing a dentist then - I didn't want to be chastised for not having been to a dentist in so long, and I dreaded the state that I imagined my teeth must be in.

Occasionally I would talk to a dentist. I would ask how difficult it would be for them to remove the permanent retainer on my bottom teeth, a bar connected by bands around my lower canines. "Oh, I couldn't remove it!" They would say. "Your teeth might move again!" But the bands scrape my cheeks and give me canker sores. And then one side got lose and would slide around. That couldn't be good. "I can cement that back down for you." The dentist would say. But I want it out! They wouldn't do it. I wouldn't go see them in their office. 

Steven started going regularly a few years ago. He started making appointments for our poor dentally neglected children. He took them the first time or two. But then he started asking me if I could take them so he wouldn't have to take the time off work. I would have to take deep breaths and brace myself, but I would take them, make sure they were checked in, and then leave, coming back for them when they were done. Being in the office and hearing the drills in the background made me edgy and made my hands shake.

But then one time Peter was having a difficult time and they asked me to come back with him. What could I say? I went back, with heart racing and hands shaking and I held Peter's stuffed animal while the hygienist did her thing. It was a relief to escape from the building. But that was a first. Six months later it happened again, and again six months after that. Finally, earlier this year, I braced myself enough to ask for an appointment for myself.

That first appointment was horrible. Twenty plus years without seeing a dentist are not good for one's teeth. I was shaking and trying desperately not to go into a panic, striving not to show the hygienists how very terrified I was. They took xrays and talked about cleaning and fillings and crowns, although I don't think they actually did anything other than the xrays at that visit. I had to make an appointment to come back, and then another, and another.

Yesterday they were supposed to take care of the last things they discovered on that first visit. They would do some fillings on the second half of my mouth, and they were *finally* going to take off the permanent retainer, and replace it with something removable. I watched "Moana" through the gaps between their hands as they pried and drilled and filled and polished and flossed. I tried desperately to breathe while my nose was stuffy and my mouth was held open in an awkward position by some plastic gadget, and filling with saliva. More than once I wondered if I would suffocate or drown first.

Eventually they were done. My mouth was a bit numb still and feeling gritty and sore, but at least I could breathe again. And they were done! But that's when they gave me the bad news. They removed the retainer only to discover that one of my teeth has been happily rotting away beneath the band that held the retainer down. I'm looking at another crown, possibly even a root canal, and a big expense because I've already maxed out my dental insurance for the year, and it can't wait until next year to be fixed. The dentist seemed surprised that the tooth hasn't been causing me pain. I wanted to cry. Why couldn't I have gotten it taken out years ago?!!!!

Did I mention that I hate going to the dentist?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

More Tests (EEG take 2, and an MRI)

On June 26th, I went to the hospital for an EEG. The process was very similar to the last one I had done (see here) but it was a little different. Once again I was told to only sleep four hours the night before, and once again I was dead tired. This time the test was done by a woman, and she took me to a different room in the same area of the hospital as the last one. She had me lie down on the bed while she put the electrode things on my head. She had me blow on a pinwheel several times, with controlled breaths before she flashed the lights at my closed eyes, and then let me try to rest for a little while. She had soft music playing - which drowned out some of the other hospital noises, but still made it difficult to actually get to sleep. Personally I think a white noise machine might have been more effective. Anyway, when the test was finished, she removed the electrodes and sent me on my way. The results would be sent to my doctor.

The neurologist also ordered an MRI, and I had an appointment set up in mid July, but there was some difficulty getting that approved by the health insurance, and we had to cancel the appointment. I received notice that the insurance had refused to cover it, but the doctor was  going to appeal that decision.

On the night of July 29th, I had another seizure. Steven and I had gone to bed, but I wasn't asleep yet when I felt it coming on. Since I was already lying in bed, I didn't fight it, and next thing I knew, Steven was holding me. He told my I had been shaking. That was new. The following morning I called the neurologist's office. They had an appointment for a peer-to-peer talk with the insurance doctor to get the MRI approved. They also mentioned that they had found something on the EEG, although they didn't specify what it was or what it meant.

Eventually, the MRI was approved, and I was able to get an appointment for last week Tuesday. The MRI was done by another company, and not at the hospital or neurologist's office. I knew going in that an MRI involved being inside a big tube, and I was asked repeatedly if I was claustrophobic. I don't like tight spaces, but I don't think it is a real phobia, and I told them I'd manage.

I arrived at the building, filled out the paperwork, and paid something toward the bill. Then I was called back and brought to a tiny dressing room, where a tiny technician/nurse explained the procedure, asked if I had questions, and told me to remove anything metal I might have had on me (purse, belt, anything in pockets, etc.) and leave it in a locker. Then I was directed to a room with a big machine and a board sticking out of it, like a metal monster sticking out a long tongue. The monster sounded like it was breathing with a soft rhythmic whooshing noise. I laid down on the board, which was actually pretty comfortable. My head was nestled in a frame so it couldn't move too much. An IV was put in my arm, and I was given a blanket and earplugs - "It's noisy in there." I was told. And then I was moving into the mouth of the machine.

It's noisy in there? That was an understatement. It was constant noise. I'd expected whirring of motors maneuvering cameras or whatever is in an MRI machine. I was not expecting the clanks and clangs and whistles and bangs I was subjected to for the next twenty minutes or so. Sometimes it sounded like a hammer banging on wood. *bam* *bam* *bam* *bam* *bam* *bam* *bam* Then it sounded like a truck backing up *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep*. Then back to the hammer, then the truck, then the hammer... Other times it sounded like the noise I used to make as a kid when I pretended to be an Indian, slapping my hand over my mouth repeatedly. Sometimes I counted the clangs. Sometimes I counted patterns, noticing the changes. I wondered if the sounds were just the machine working, or if they were manipulating my brain waves somehow, so the machine could measure my brain when subjected to specific stimulus. Eventually, I was pulled out, and the tech injected a colorant containing gadolinium into the IV line, and I was put in for another five minutes, with another round of knocks and clangs. Finally it was done, and I was taken out, the IV and earplugs were removed, and I was allowed to recover my belongings and go. the results would be sent to the neurologist's office later that day.

I received a call from the neurologist the following morning. They found "spots" on the MRI. They want me to come in to discuss it. The soonest opening they have for an appointment is next week on the 27th.

So.... I know they found something on the EEG. I know they found "spots" on the MRI. Google tells me that spots on a brain MRI mean brain lesions. Whether the seizures are causing the brain lesions, or if both seizures and lesions are caused by something else, I don't know. I'm anxiously awaiting my appointment on the 27th to find out what everything means, and what will happen going forward. Will I have to take medication? Will they have to do surgery? Are the memory lapses I've experienced recently related? (Yes, I know that I've known you for the last ten years, and I totally know who you are, but what's your name again?) Is this ever likely to go away?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Summer 2018 Update

It was a challenge finding time for a family vacation this summer, with everyone running in different directions.

Steven is still working at MDC Holdings as a financial analyst. July is one of his busier months with quarter end reports to complete. He was, however, able to take the last full week of July off for LDS Encampment, a week long scout camp at Peaceful Valley Scout Camp with all the LDS scout troops in the area. Almost immediately following that week at camp he was released from his calling as Scout Master and called to be the ward clerk. While I think he is disappointed not to stay scoutmaster until our boys get their eagles, and until the LDS church discontinues its association with the BSA at the end of next year, he always accepts the calls given to him, and that is one of the things I love about him. Already he has worked to clean up the ward list, standardizing addresses and the like.

Hannah is keeping busy while awaiting November, when she will enter the MTC in Brazil. In the meantime, she has been earning money working for a nanny agency, and more recently she started also working for BASE, a before and after school daycare program at a local school. She took summer classes online, and she has also been involved in the local institute classes. She teaches the Sunbeam class, and enjoys the time that she spends with children. When not working or studying, she spends time with friends, going on "adventures". She must also spend a lot of time browsing Amazon, because she frequently receives packages containing clothing and shoes that she has ordered in preparation for her mission. Hannah was able to go to the temple to receive her endowment on July 21st, and my parents were amazingly able to be with her for that. (They are currently serving a mission at a temple in Guatemala, but that temple was closed for two weeks, and my mother's sister passed away and they were able to come home to Utah for the funeral, and were able to find the time to come out to Colorado that weekend.) Since then she has also been serving in the Fort Collins temple every Saturday afternoon.

John also got a paid internship this summer. He worked for a company called SolderWorks, investigating ways to help a brewery measure the temperature and other information about the vats and report them in an app. (I think... I may have to edit this later 😉) When not at work, he had other projects he was doing on his computer at home. He attended the LDS Encampment, and also somehow found time to train for and run in a Ragnar (a 12 person, 200 mile overnight relay race) this summer. John has been working on getting his drivers license, logging practice hours whenever he gets a chance. I think he still needs about five night hours before he can take the driving test. He turned 17 this summer, and because he didn't respond to Hannah's texts asking what kind of birthday cake he wanted, he ended up with a rainbow unicorn cake.

I didn't get to see much of Josh this summer. He spent the first week of summer at a day camp for school, and then he had one week at home, during which he had doctors and dentists appointments. The next six weeks he spent volunteering as a CIT (Counselor in Training) at Peaceful Valley Scout Camp. We would drive him out Sunday afternoon, and pick him up Saturday morning, let him shower, wash his clothes and sleep, and then send him again off the next day. After those six weeks, he got to go a seventh week as a scout for LDS Encampment. Josh was able to be home for his 15th birthday, and my sister April and her family were able to come visit that day to make it extra special.

Peter has been my buddy at home this summer. As the only kid without a job, and since Hannah had the car for her jobs most of the days this summer, Peter and I spent a lot of time at home. We walked to the pool, or played games, or built things with LEGOs, or watched movies, but he also spent a lot of time on the computer playing Pokemon and minecraft. I think one of the highlights of his summer was getting to go to LDS Encampment because it got him away from the house for a while. Peter turned 13 this summer, and Hannah made him a mudkip cake. As Peter would tell you, "I liek mudkipz"

In June, I flew to Utah to attend my nephew Tom's wedding. It was strange to go by myself, but I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with my sister Lindy.
Jordan River Temple where Tom was married
This is the cool building where they had the wedding luncheon.
Inside the castle
The following week, Steven and I went to Estes Park to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We went hiking and shopping, and enjoyed a couple days together.
On one of our hikes, one chipmunk was very eager to taste Steven's beef jerky.
Other than that, I've stuck pretty close to home. I'm still serving as Relief Society president, and that requires me to attend meetings and visit with the various sisters in my ward. Since I found out Hannah was going to Brazil, I started practicing my Portuguese with Duolingo. I've forgotten a lot since I haven't used it, but it is coming back to me fairly easily.

On July 31st, we took the entire family to see Les Miserables at the Buell theater in Denver. That was a treat, and I think it was good for John and Josh, who performed a student version in March, to see how it was presented by professionals.

August 8th-11th, we were finally able to go on a three day family summer vacation. Well, most of us were there for all three days... John had to go to run the Ragnar... I'll post more about that in another blog.

And now school has started again. Summer break is over and we are back in the swing of school. Seminary started this morning and auditions for the fall play are this afternoon. We're back to normal.