protecting our children

Dear friends

This morning I read the headline that Brady was dead and my mind went back to many years ago.

In 1994 I was serving as a full time missionary for the Lord, assigned to the England Manchester Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of my first areas was at the edge of the Pennines, a town named Oldham.

As we met people on the streets, a question was often raised concerning the nature of God and:

Why did He let that happen to those children?

I didn’t understand at first and then someone mentioned the names – Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.  I understood; I explained to my American companion.  This is where it happened, this was the town, our view to the hills was a view to the moors, Saddleworth Moor.  Five children, tortured and killed in the 1960s, buried on the moors.  I was not born but the murders were notorious and 30 years later, even with the guilty ones in jail the community still felt the pain and anger; no remorse was ever shown.

I have not come close to feeling what those parents and the community felt.  But there will be some people who sadly have.

Summer is approaching and growing up it seemed this was the time when children tragically featured in the news – Sara Payne, Milly Dowler, the Soham girls, Jamie Bulger.  This has made me cautious as a parent; I think it’s made many parents cautious and changed the way children play outside the home.  

Today the world has predators, games, social media and wrong influences in the form of images, music, films that can reach right into our homes, through modern technologies.  We can not let down our guard or let anyone else raise our children.  Our children are still vulnerable; they are our treasure – they need teaching, they need our protection.  Its difficult but not impossible.  As parents, I believe, that we must trust God, stay close to Him and His counsel, and everything will be alright.  

The world is incessantly pulled by a flood of enticing and seductive voices.  Overcoming the world is trusting in the one voice that warns, comforts, enlightens, and brings peace “not as the world giveth.” 

Elder Neil L Anderson, April 2017

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it’s the day after yesterday…

Dear friends

So yesterday was the long awaited diagnostic day surgery – hysteroscopy and laparoscopy and polypectomy and… 

attractive and comfortable flight socks, pyjamas and boot slippers

It was an early start – I, unintentionally, woke at 0329h! I lay in bed listening to Mormon Channel Talk trying to go back to sleep – sounds bad but owing to Daur1 breaking my headphones and I can’t receive FM radio without them the BBC World Service was not an option and the talk helps me stay sleepy!!  I, intentionally, got up at 0605h, forgot to fill urine sample, eeekk – drank loads of water before 0630h, showered again with the anti-microbacterial soap – paying special attention to nose, underarms and groin – prepared five packed lunches, scraped the car (frosty) and my dear husband and I set off. Admission time 0745h – toilet trip, urine sample! – strip off to underwear, don designer gown (nurse C tells me as I say it feels a bit breezy on the back!), and wait.

First the consultant who will be doing the procedure.  Young Dr D (does everyone look young to me!?) accompanied by a fourth year student F (are you even my son’s age!!).  Dr D explains they feel it can be resolved by a hormone system being inserted – which will last for 5 years and by then you’ll be 52 so should be into the menopause – and that’s what they plan to do, taking biopsy samples of the womb lining, remove the polyp, take cervix sample, remove any endometriosis found, take sample.  Some discussion about possibly removing the right ovary if it’s stuck to the pelvis. I explain our travel plans for next week, Dr D doesn’t think it would be a problem, it’s not a long haul flight. Student F returns to ask if he can feel me while I’m unconscious.  Mmmmm… no!!  I know students have to gain experience but I’m in no mood for additional feeling! 
Bloods taken again (I’d already been to my surgery earlier in the week but apparently they labeled the sample wrong so it wasn’t acceptable).  So that ruled out left arm which still has bruising. Nurse C tried right arm – no luck and doesn’t want to make me a human pin cushion so calls a doctor, he tries twice in wrists! Seriously, make sure this is their last option – so painful!  Right wrist unsuccessful.  Left wrist he use a syringe to draw blood out!!  Not pleasant.  I’m convinced it’s because I’ve not eaten since the night before and it’s my body’s natural way of protecting itself – I’m not able to give blood either, after a few minutes my veins seem to shrink up.  I tried several times when I was younger and the last time they told me not to bother volunteering again!! 

Anyway,a young Dr A female anaesthetist entered during this painful process.  (Female important because Daur1 wants to be one).  Dr A goes through everything and I explained that my only other experience of general anaesthetic left me vomiting until night. That noted I mentioned my dear daughter and Dr A was very encouraging, she can make it, hardest part is getting into medical school. 

I’m measured for and fitted with flight socks -to help prevent clotting – I need to wear them for two days. I’m third in line and I hear patient 1 and 2 go in – both laparoscopic hysterectomy – I can’t help hearing, the curtains aren’t acoustic buffers!  I should’ve taken a book but I read some scriptures and a LDS conference talk on my phone. Daur1 messages me and suggests an eBook – even if I knew how to download one, I’m sure I don’t have enough phone memory!  I asked the nurse for the literature about the Miruna IUS (intra uterine system) of which I will be a recipient.

Around 1155h, wrapped in my dressing gown, in my new boot slippers, now naked under the blue designer gown, I’m walked down to the pre-op theatre room. By 12h two cannulas are in the back of my left hand and another nurse, while sticking on little paddles to my chest and back to set up the heart monitor, begins asking me about work.  Ooooh, long study, my son studied architecture and went to Japan on an exchange as a student, he practices in London as part of his training, when you’re young London is great, my daughter recently moved out of London.  Are you distracting me?  Dr A does another check of the consent paperwork and that I am me.  I can hear the beep machine – is that what my heart is doing?…  my left arm starts feeling cold, or is it warm?…  the beeps are going faster… 

It’s 1505h.  That must be a big clock, I think, I can see it with no glasses on.  And is that my heart beat beeping away… And…. no pain in my pelvis but… tummy pains…. and, oh, I am so cold, I need blankets, I need to sleep….  I’m wheeled back to the ward.

It’s about 1630h when I wake properly.  Dr D comes over and explains it all went well.  Ovaries were very mobile; small area of endometriosis on left ovary, nothing on right; biopsies taken; IUS fitted; abnormal cells to cervix weren’t very much but biopsy taken; some bleeding when polyp removed; no polyp to womb but adenomyosis confirmed so protestogen hormone should help with that.  Biopsy results will take a few weeks.  Dr D was happy with procedure and will sign fit note for 7 days, that is, I should be fit for work in 7 days.

Then came the awkward process of moving.  Once I was awake they gave me a jug of water.  My throat was, and still is, hoarse and they offered toast or biscuits. I opted for biscuits – on the advice of a friend who suggested you could soften them in a warm drink – but I could only face water.  I was very dizzy, but they wheeled me to toilet and back.  Then I dressed, my dear husband arrived and they let him bring the car round to the front, wheel chair to the door and my hospital day was done.

Back home I had omelette, with cheese and mushrooms, and toast, half a slice.  I was not tempted by the chicken and rice that everyone else was eating – I think my dear husband was disappointed by my choice.  I was not feeling very mobile and was still very dizzy.  I’m grateful for balustrading and walls!! 

So today is the day after.  I feel a lot better – there are four incisions and I recall the nurse saying two of them have stitches which will need removing in a few days.  This morning, Daur1 popped her head round the door and said in a serious tone:

I don’t think we were prepared for this!

😦 I don’t think they were prepared for their mother being out of action for a bit. I heard my dear husband preparing five packed lunches this morning with a warning – nobody should waste this food!!  

So, I was very anxious about it all; I won’t feel completely comfortable until the biopsy results are back and hopefully clear.  I still don’t understand the right ovary situation, maybe it was lodged somewhere but no lesions holding it in place.  But it is a relief to no longer have that pain and to feel I’ll be able to get back exercising.  I’m not sure what affect the hormone will have – but it seems to be very low dose, in the right place, so we’ll see. Dr D suggested I’ll need to give it 3 to 6 months.  

I’m sure I’m going to feel better everyday – I’m feeling better already 🙂  I needed to write this quickly before I forget the sentiment. Thanks for reading and hopefully my experience can help someone else – sharing is caring! 🙂  

small things…

Dear friends

Sometimes the smallest of things can make the biggest difference in our lives.  This last week has been full of that for me and our family.

Before that, after one of the big winter storms in the last few years, we noticed a leak on our bedroom ceiling, right in the corner above the bay window.  It really didn’t disrupt our daily lives and it was several months before we got a roofer out.  However the following winter, another big storm, same leaking, another small damp patch appears closer in, remote from the first leak.  After several attempts with the insurance company, they finally agreed to mend and repair, but not replace the valley flashing gutter (above bay window). 

Then several weeks back a roofer came out – did something from a ladder and despite rain we’ve had no further leaks. Yeah! – you may think.  So then the company turn to our bedroom interior.  The artex ceiling is tested for asbestos. It’s a positive result so they arrange for a specialist contractor to remove the ceiling.  This was scheduled for Monday morning.

Before that, a couple of weeks back, a friend spotted a piano being offered for free.  Dear husband and Daur2 looked it over – needs tuning and a couple of hammers fixing but would be good for practice – and we paid a man with a van to help bring it to our house.  It’s been left in the dining room, having come in through the garden, until we clear the front room (another one of those ongoing tasks!)

So, last Monday morning I wake early to start my usual routine of preparing packed lunches for the family – six of us.  As I start with mini baguettes in the oven I see a mouse come out and head back behind the fridge/freezer.  I shriek fairly quietly and gingerly continue, my feet shuffling on the kitchen floor – my theory was to make enough noise so it didn’t come out again.  That didn’t work and so when I saw it again I let out a mighty shriek.  Son1 was the first to reach me and as I stammer there’s a mouse behind the fridge, he says I thought you were being attacked by someone! And promptly turns and heads back to bed.  Daur1 reaches me and stays with me while we finish the lunches but then time has gone and she’s in danger of missing her train.  She begs me to drop her at the station.  

However, before that, over the weekend, my car had been very rumbly.  I knew my dear husband had put oil in (I had moaned to him the Sunday evening since the oil was in his car, rather than in the porch so I couldn’t add some earlier), so despite the strange burning rubber smell, I thought maybe I could make it to the station and back.  

As we sat in the car – me in my pyjamas and fleece – I mentioned maybe I should give you bus fare to get the fast bus to the station and not risk it.  But Daur1 gave her pleading eyes, I gave in and we headed out.  We reached station safely and Daur1 skipped to platforms!  I headed out the station and immediately the clutch pedal stuck – I was crossing the carriageway so was waiting.  I managed to kick it up, back in gear when I saw the traffic clear then as it stuck again at my gear change, I pulled the car over onto the pavement, so as not to block traffic, and stopped.  With the hazard lights on, I call the RAC (car recovery) – we’ll try and get someone out to you in the hour.  An hour! It’s 0730h, I’m in my pyjamas and fleece.  I call my dear husband but no answer… he’s clearly having to pick things up where I left things off… 

Two hours later, somewhat chilled on my part, my dear husband and I arrive back home, children all at school & college and I think, great, I’ll quickly shower, dress and get bus to work.  Don’t forget the asbestos guys are here, they arrived at 8h, when you were out; they’ve started taping things up.  Eeeeekk…. I head to our room to find our wardrobes fully taped up and plastic sheeting across the bedroom door.  All that was missing were the guys in white suits – I knew that was coming, they were in their van on break.  So, all I could do was work from home; take calls, write emails, give a truncated version of the morning’s events explaining my absence – clutch, pyjamas and asbestos.  I did feel quite ridiculous and humbled – if I had listened to the small voice and not taken our daughter to the station, the day would have been largely uneventful, except the mouse and the asbestos removal team.

Ohhhh, and the mouse.  In the 12 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen any mice – ants, mosquitoes and slugs but no mice (apart from a small family discovered in the lawn mower box in the garage one spring a long time ago).  So we were a little concerned – are there more?  Son1 admitted to seeing a ball of fluff scurry behind the piano late one night after it’s arrival but failed to mention it to anyone.  Dear husband bought fast action mouse killer traps – one went by the fridge and one in the kitchen.  We put a more traditional trap behind the piano, with peanut butter on cheese for bait!  We had no idea where mouse was.  We were on lockdown – all doors to be closed behind us on entering or exiting a room.  A few days later there was still no sign of mouse.  By now the family began teasing that maybe I imagined the whole thing!  But today, I entered the kitchen and there it was, lying, dead, between the washing machine and a cupboard.  All observed it – except Son1 who was out – before dear husband and Daur1 disposed of it.  Daur2 (& Daur1) seemed rather sad about the whole affair commenting it’s so small… It’s in heaven now… And similar as if I was being completely irrational about wanting to get rid of it!

Ohhhh and the leak. Once the ceiling came down, we spied up into the loft and the underside of the rafters and the water damage was apparent.  And above the valley rafter, in the flashing we could spy a pinpoint of daylight in the lead valley flashing gutter.  The insurance company weren’t interested – it looked to me as if a slate had punctured the lead.  So we’ll have to get some flexible roof sealant and apply from within the loft to make sure we don’t get a random drip onto the new ceiling, which is now in place.  

And the moral of this tale… deal immediately with a problem and listen to the small voice… or squeak…. or leak!

piano, mouse killer, my sock
Part stripped ceiling
Rafters in our loft, above the ceiling
The pinpoint of light!!

spring is back!

Dear friends
This weekend is Easter #Hallelujah and the clocks spring forward so we are heading into long, long evenings.  We have virtually 7 months of British Summer Time… it’s almost ridiculous to me that Greenwich Meridian is based in the UK, given most of the year we spend in BST!  Anyway, spring it is – grog spawn has been seen in ponds, daffodils are blooming everywhere, pumps are replacing boots, and Son2 left (abandoned!) his jumper at school!  We’ve had the school Easter concert – a great, stirring rendition of Bring him home from Les Miserables by the school concert band (not featuring Daur1 on flute who has been committed to revision sessions) and the Glee (interesting!) version of Homeward bound by the student led A Capella choir, featuring Daur2 singing alto. 
And today is my last full day in the office until early April – I have to go in next week to get a new, long awaited, laptop, but that will be the morning only.  And I think tomorrow we have a cinema trip planned – Batman vs Superman and Kung Fu Panda 3!  And I really must do some Christmas preparations!!  🙂

time for posts

Dear friends

This is a little unusual.  The house, apart from me, is empty.  My dear husband and dear children all have some activity at church this evening and since our small car broke down today (I’ll explain in another post but I don’t want to complain… let’s simply say, I’m glad it didn’t happen on my shift!), they’ve all headed out in the big 7-seater – and I’m home alone!  This is a rare thing.  I also, do not have any paid work to do – I worked a full day in the office (being dropped off by dear husband with our dear daughters at about 0815h – Son1 did the school run for Son2 today) and I finished assessing last Saturday all the log books which I’ve received to date (that’s my second home work job for a local university).

So, I can indulge myself in Wordpress, blogging, reading posts, you and me, at least for another hour or so until Son2 is dropped back home.  Rice is steaming, ready to accompany wonderful African sauces, including egusi prepared by my dear husband yesterday evening – yummy!  This moment is bliss.  I’m even on the laptop which means I can type faster than when I post from my tablet.  🙂  I’ve prepared a quick list of topics in my hard journal which have been mulling around my head the last few days – storm naming (Storm Imogen reached us Sunday night – what a noise!!), US presidential election (I’m fascinated with watching this from over here but I’m guessing for my US readers it’s either starting to get tiresome or interesting?), LDS women (there’s a few conferences and things that we’ve been invited to, I won’t go to all of them but I’ve some thoughts about being a (?an) LDS woman, a 2.3 mile run yesterday morning (yes, 2.3 miles, rather than 2.3km!), but I’m going to start with a work related topic, a design team meeting…

feeling better

Dear friends
I drafted a post to you last week about the frustrations of having to customise five (excluding my own) packed lunches to ensure everyone was happy and received sufficient nourishment while at school or college or work.  As a taster here’s what I have to deal with: no crusts, no baguette, no wheat, no fruit, no butter, no tomatoes, no salad, no ham, no crisps,… you get the picture!
But then, my dear husband shared his ‘man flu’ with me;  our daughters warned me “why are you sleeping in the same bed as Daddy?”  I wondered where else they expected me to sleep,  maybe on the floor!  So the last few days I’ve had a cold.  As soon as the itchy throat began, I bought some cold relief max capsules, which meant I survived at work – going off sick is more hassle than its worth and we’re in the middle of a planning application.  I do believe in using medications,  not excessively,  but certainly when we need to – medecines are there to help us.  I am also grateful for the prayers of our children who always remember our family when someone needs help. 
So today, I didn’t teach my youth Sunday school class (my voice is still hoarse) – which includes our two eldest children – and the other teacher taught a combined class – the older and younger youth.  I asked her how it went – fearing that Son1 and Daur1 would have spent the lesson sounding off each other,  as in my lessons.  But no!!  Sister N spoke of how they had such sweet spirits and she could see what we had taught them at home.  An incredulous “Really!?” was my first reaction.  But as she mentioned it again – nothing specific – I could sense her sincerity and I realised that maybe I was missing something special in my own children. 
After that I watched as Son1 went to the church kitchen after the munch ‘n’ mingle to wash up dishes (accompanied by his sisters who dried and put away) even though the other youth had gone home.  And I think on how Daur1 played flute last week, with no accompaniment, a young women evening, though she has an exam this week, but did not let down her leaders. 
So, having bought 5 new containers for packed lunches, and feeling better, I will face the lunches in the morning and know that something good is coming from all this unique behaviour! After all we are each unique songs and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven. 🙂

minority families…

Dear friends

Last week there was a policy announcement from church leadership. I wasn’t aware of it until Sunday, when after church meetings, Daur1 said it was mentioned in young women’s lesson and there is loads of comments on the Internet about it.  So, back home I looked up lds.org to see what it was about, for myself.

In my words, it’s that children of / within a same sex marriage couple can not be baptised until they are 18 years old. 

This seems perfectly reasonable to me – no point having a child baptised (we don’t believe in infant baptism, a child must be at least 8 years old) when their parents are in a situation which opposes those beliefs.  Regardless of how stable and how supportive those parents  may be of the child’s decision, at some point there will be conflict.  Either for the child or for one or both of the parents. And, I’m certain, for the child, it will be confusing at some point, even if eventually that child manages to mentally resolve it. I can refer to my own situation, which some of you may feel is not the same, but for me, it feels relevant.

My dear parents were never married, and, as far as I can tell, never lived together. I don’t know why – I’ve never asked, and I probably never will.  My Dad has a wife and children and a home.  He visited my Mum and us once a week.  For the bulk of my childhood I said nothing more than “Hello Daddy” and “Goodbye Daddy” at the start and end of an uncomfortable 20 minute visit where he money to my Mum and pocket money to us.  I am the oldest of his children.  My younger brother is younger than my oldest half sister, so you can work that out!  My relationship with my dear Father deserves a post of it’s own, so back to the point of this post.

I was in the clear minority at school, not only for my skin colour, for growing up in a single parent family, for “having no Dad” as my peers described, and I felt that as a ‘stigma’.  I knew I was loved and was very matter of fact with friends that asked, “do you have a Dad?” Response “yes!! Everyone does. He just doesn’t live with us.”

By the time I reached my teens, although I knew what was right in terms of civic society – not hurting, stealing, killing, lying – when it came to what was right in terms of my own personal welfare, well, I was in a state of confusion, particularly in terms of relationships, questions like what is the real, true position, God’s point of view, on premarital sex?  I was in search of personal peace, personal answers, as I was becoming an adult. I never felt able to ask my mother since I was fully aware that she had all of us out of wedlock.  And although my mother was firm, provided a Christian upbringing (Mum not affiliated with any particular church though I went to a pentecostal Sunday school) and and told us not to ‘drink from the governor’s cup’ (or some strange phrase where the governor and his cup was an innuendo for sexual activities), it was a struggle, at least for me to reconcile this with her own actions.  (You may judge me as weak because of that).  Once I had the opportunity to learn more, I made a choice, to make and keep covenants with God, and I found peace. 

So, what am I saying? I’m saying when it comes to eternal matters, our choice matters.  And most of us, when we reach adulthood, will have the ability to choose things in this life.  And quite simply I believe that our Father is fair and that 18 years in any loving home where respect is taught for parents, with one, two, male, female, black, white, parents, is beneficial for our eternal welfare – family love can be learned and that is fundamental.  There will be time, and I feel, time to make and keep sacred covenants once we individually make that choice…

I’m probably not explaining this very well.  It may be difficult enough to grow up in a minority-type family, so why would our Father want to make it worse for his children in such a situation.  So I totally accept this policy statement as Father’s will.  And I fail to understand why others feel this shows intolerance or a degree of being unfair.  I expect the reason it wasn’t explicit before is because same sex marriage is a new situation.  Thankfully, revelation is always relevant and for the times in which we live.

miracles

Dear friends

“Why don’t we see things like that now?  Why is it always a long time ago?”  These were questions our youngest, Son2, asked me a few evenings ago, as we were reading about Jesus visiting the people after his resurrection  (3 Nephi chapter 11) and how they heard the voice of heavenly Father introduce Jesus – ‘Behold, my Beloved Son…’ 

I think many of us have asked that question – do miracles still happen today?  I explained a couple of things to him. 

First, that miracles do happen today, in our family lives, everything is not coincidence. 

I reminded him of the door key incident.  We – the children and I – had all gone out one Saturday afternoon to the library and the market – this was when my dear husband was away studying.  As we headed back down the road towards the house I became aware that I did not have the house keys.  We checked all bags, pockets, hands. Nothing. I am not prone to forgetting things and our door is such that it won’t close properly without using the key.  So I was worried.  No neighbour has a spare key and no back door left open.  So I encouraged the children to pray as we approached the house.  I think Son1 and Daur2 ran on ahead and then quickly one of them ran back – a look of joyful shock on their face.  “They were in the door!!” they exclaimed.  The keys were in the lock.  The house was locked,  nothing disturbed outside or inside, after a quick check.  I offered thanks to Father and we discussed the many possibilities of the keys miracle – had I actually lost them outside but an angel put them in the door? were they made invisible so no passersby took them out the door?  I don’t know. But, for the older children and me, it’s a miracle.  Son2 would have been under 5 years so probably doesn’t remember everything about it. I reminded Son2 of other more personal miracles to him, such as when he has been healed.

Second, I reminded him that we live before the time that Jesus will come back, and that maybe we would be alive when He comes back.  If so, I’m fairly certain Heavenly Father will introduce Jesus and all the world will experience His return to Earth. 

Third and finally, I shared that first we need to trust Father and Jesus (have faith in Them) and then miracles and signs will follow, not the other way round. 

I was reminded of the verses in Moroni 7 where he quotes words from his father, Mormon, saying:

it is by faith that miracles are wrought… if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief,  and all is vain.

I hope I never stop believing. The truth is very simple to understand, and beautifully simple to live.  It does take effort, especially since we are not wrapped in cotton wool, but that is why Father does give us help and miracles.  He loves and will always love you, me, them, us.

missing them…

Dear friends
Our two eldest children are spending the week at FSY – For the Strength of Youth. It’s like a 5 day youth convention for LDS youth, 14-18 years, from half the country, held every two years. They come back on Saturday.
The house seems so quiet and spacious.  As my dear husband noted:

Four less feet…

It’s been a chance for Daur2 to shine and do the washing up every day. For Son2 to shine by emptying the bins. And for us all to reflect on how much we miss the teenage banter 🙂

back home

Dear friends
Arrived back from holiday in France, yes, we were affected by the trouble in Calais but not so much to spoil holidays away.  However, we were all glad to be back in our little home. And this quote from Thomas S Monson, #LDSconf, #LDSprophet, which I saw on Facebook was a reminder of what it should all be about.  And why we can’t be on holiday every day! 🙂

A home is much more than a house built of lumber, brick, or stone.  A home is made of love,  sacrifice and respect.

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