Getting through church has been a challenge lately.
With four kids under the age of eight who all have a mind of their own, I'm lucky if I get to hear even five cumulative minutes of the Sacrament Meeting talks.
Each week we bring coloring books and other appropriate distractions to keep the kids occupied, in hopes that we can make it through the first hour without some sort of meltdown that causes everyone to question our parenting skills. This is not always successful.
In addition, when one kid "has" to go potty, suddenly all the kids "have" to go potty. Getting them to come back in is tough; trying to get them all to remain quietly seated for an hour is an exercise in futility. Living in a ward with your boss' boss and his boss really makes you wish for their best behavior.
Even though neither we nor they seem to get much out of Sacrament Meeting, I know that we need to be consistent and set a good example. My mom never faltered in taking us to church, even though all five of us caused plenty of ruckus on our own. Her example was critical when I encountered a crisis of faith as a young man. Our kids need to be at church and need to see us at church.
Still, it's nice when we're actually able to pay attention.
Recently, as a stroke of genius, Stef had the idea to give Kelsey some responsibility and have her take Kaya on walks through the halls during Sacrament Meeting. Though we still have to deal with two kids who might try to get up and bolt at any given moment, it's easier than getting pulled in four different directions.
Today, thanks to Kelsey, we actually got to half-listen to one of the talks, as well as a surprisingly-not-horrible rendition of O Holy Night. It was great; with O Holy Night, if it's not just about perfect, it's usually terrible.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the woman offering the benediction thanked her Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son. Upon hearing her plead that we would all remember the true spirit of Christmas, I could swear that Christmas bells were ringing faintly in the distance. As the prayer grew longer, the ringing grew stronger. Soon, the ringing was so loud that nobody in the congregation could ignore it.
At the very moment that the prayer ended, the Christmas bells arrived at the open door to the chapel. "Amen," we all repeated, whipping our heads around to see what was causing all the commotion.
In came Kaya with a huge smile on her face and a bell in her hand. I shook my head and chuckled, burying my head in my hands. Seeing the others' laughs and understanding smiles through my fingers dissolved all worry.
I sure love these kids.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Getting through church has been a challenge lately.
Friday, July 27, 2012
The One Where I Make Fun of Canadians, Canadians Make Fun of Me, and an American Makes Fun of Me for Being a Canadian
As a pseudo-linguist, I have a deep appreciation for the
differences in accents and vocabulary between people from different regions.
No, I’m not here to write about how people in Utah “used to could” do things. And you won’t be getting a diatribe about how “fustrated”
I get when people “could care less” about something, “irregardless” of whether
we asked for their opinions. I’m not referring to things that would be
considered by many bitter prescriptive grammarians (myself often included) to
be just plain misuse of the good ol’ English language. I might could write
about that stuff some other time.
Posted by Jesse Stout at 12:52 PM
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Posted by Jesse Stout at 9:25 AM
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Posted by Jesse Stout at 10:47 AM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Who am I? My name is Ned.I do not like my little bed.This is no good.This is not right.My feet stick out of bed all night.And when I pull them in, Oh, dear!My head sticks out of bed up here!
Who am I? My name is Paul.
I do not like my little stall.
This is no good.
This is not right,
It's really hard to pee at night.
And when I sit, it's knees-on-wall.
I do not like my stall at all.
A train! A train!
A train! A train!
Could you, would you on a train?
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Mia's surgery was scheduled for the morning of April 21st. Stef got a ride to the hospital from Kris that morning, then came to Mia's room to hang out before the surgery. The doctors came soon after she got there, then ushered us to a room which acted like a hub between the surgery rooms and the main hall. We took a picture with Mia, then sent her off with the surgical team, telling her that we'd see her in a while. She showed no signs of being upset, though she surely had no idea what was going to happen, except that the doctors were going to "fix her heart".
We made our way back to Mia's room, where a pregnant Stef decided to pass the time resting. With Mia out of sight and in the doctors' hands, there was no way that I would get any rest, regardless of how tired I was from not sleeping at all the night before. Wanting to find some way to pass the time, I opened my computer and called family on Skype. It was nice to distract myself with uplifting conversation with people I love.
Even when you're able to distract yourself, you can never fully get an in-progress surgery out of your mind. I tried to stay positive, but even then, I still envisioned each gut-wrenching step of the process. About 45 minutes to an hour into the procedure, I thought, "Right now, she is probably fully prepped for the start of the procedure." I prayed that everything would go smoothly in each particular step of the surgery. That the surgeons' hands would be precise. That the heart bypass machine would work properly. That she wouldn't bleed too much and need a transfusion. 5 hours of doing that can seem like an eternity.
Before the surgery, Mia and I repeatedly watched a couple movies--Mary Poppins, and My Neighbor Totoro. Both movies focus on the innocence of children and their relationship with their father. In Totoro, two young girls who live with their dad while their mom is hospitalized run around and explore their new surroundings in rural Japan, letting their imaginations run wild. Before the surgery, Mia and Kelsey would run around and play together, much like Satsuki and Mei from Totoro, albeit a bit younger. Totoro became a big part of my life while in the hospital with Mia, as she would ask to watch it multiple times each day.
"What do you want to do?" I'd ask.
"I wanna watch... I wanna wanna watch.. Totoro!" she'd reply, likely looking for some sense of familiarity while stuck in such a strange setting.
It was either that or, "I wanna wanna watch... Mary Poppins!"
"Oh, you want to watch Mary Poppins again?"
"Yeah! Mary Poppins!"
I probably watched Mary Poppins thirty times while Mia was in the hospital, and I never got tired of it. The timeless music, performances, and themes of childhood, parenthood, compassion, and responsibility resonate with me. I can relate to the banker father who needs to be more loving and compassionate with his children. Causing me to reflect on the times when I've been less patient or understanding with my kids than I should be, watching Mary Poppins gave me ample time to consider how I can be a better dad.
Both movies provided me with plenty of chances to stave off thoughts of how I would deal with the loss of a child. While waiting for her surgery to end, I couldn't help but hope and pray for a time when Mia and I could do simple things together, like watch a movie. I will never be able to watch either movie, or hear a single song from them without being reminded of the profound love I feel toward my children. I hope they do and always will know that I love them.
The doctor contacted us about an hour and a half before I had expected. Mia's surgery had finished without any complications, and she was recovering in the ICU. He invited us to take a look at her. They said she'd likely spend a couple days in the ICU before being transferred back to the PHCU room where she had been before the operation.
In the ICU, Mia was sedated on a hospital bed with various tubes going into her chest, throat, and inner thigh. They left the breathing machine on for the first while so that she could ease back into using her lungs. The doctor showed us the incision on her chest, which he had intentionally made smaller than usual, and was quite a bit smaller than I had anticipated. She hadn't lost much blood during the operation, and so they hadn't needed to perform a blood transfusion (and wouldn't need to, provided that she didn't develop dangerous levels of anemia).
Stef and I asked permission to take a picture of her, then left so that they could keep administering her post-surgery treatment.
The day before Mia's surgery, I had made arrangements to stay at a special housing place for family members of patients. We expected her to be in the ICU for two nights, the second of which I would spend at the family housing place. Making arrangements was actually quite the ordeal. They sent a representative to the PHCU before the surgery to meet with me and verify with the hospital staff that my child was actually hospitalized. After filling out multiple forms (seriously, how involved does it have to be?), the housing rep explained that I'd need to contact them again during business hours the day I was going to stay. They wanted to show me exactly how to get to the building, and weren't content with drawing a map.
The next day, I had an appointment at the insurance center in Imabari, so Stef and I planned to go back home after the surgery. The hospital staff had given me information about supplemental aid from the city for children who have surgery or disabilities, and I had to go back to fill out paperwork. My appointment was set for 1 in the afternoon, so it was doubtful that I'd be back in time to meet up with the housing people. Given that I would need a place to sleep the next night, I was pretty stressed about making it back in time.
On the way out to the train station, Dr. Fumiaki Shikata, one of the members of the surgical team, accompanied us. He wanted to point us in the direction of the family housing complex, but actually ended up taking me directly to it. I called the housing rep and explained that I knew exactly where it was, and asked them to leave the key at the front desk of the PHCU.
In the end, it was all moot. The next morning, the doctor called to tell me that Mia was recovering quickly and was ready to be transferred back to the PHCU after just one night in the ICU. Also, I don't know how necessary it was to get that aid, since Mia's hospital bills are fully covered until age 6 by our Japanese health insurance. Even though I may have wasted a few hundred yen and some time, it was certainly nice to sleep in my own bed that night.