Monday, March 31, 2014

Sight Unseen

I'm a firm believer that one need not see a movie to be able to dismiss said movie, sight unseen.  One does need, in these cases, to depend on the knowledge and judgement of reliable sources with a similar world view.  I've read two full reviews of the movie Noah, both written by Christian reviewers with a similar world view to my own.

Steven Greydanus, is a highly respected Catholic blogger and reviewer.  He gave Noah a rave review for it's artistry and vision and attempted to allay the fears and criticisms of the many Christian voices warning Christians to stay away from this one.  He not only wrote a review of the film, but also a follow-up of sorts detailing and defending the most troubling aspects of the film. You can read his review and follow-up here and here.

Popular Christian blogger, Matt Walsh, had a completely different take on the movie and the questions he raised regarding the film led me to believe I certainly do not want to support the makers of Noah with my money or my time, regardless of the artistry, regardless of the intriguing theological questions it might provoke.  You can read his full review here.

There are many problems with this movie, but I'm only going to expound on three.  First, I found the way in which Russell Crowe and Aronofsky very publicly and bizarrely lobbied the Holy Father and the Vatican to screen the film to be odd and off-putting.  You can read part of Crowe's Twitter campaign and the controversy over the film makers meeting with Pope Francis here.  If you have the time, you can scroll through Crowe's Twitter feed and read the entire self aggrandizing, "Come on Holy Father, it's a wonderful movie" self promotion.  I have read it, and it turned my stomach and unfavorably colored my opinion of Crowe and the movie.

Secondly, the director Aronofsky, is a professed atheist. That being said, I don't believe his being an atheist is necessarily an impediment to his making a faithful Biblical film.  It is his unabashed bragging about being an atheist that calls this ability into question.  His own description of the film makes me question the film's value.  He was extremely proud of the fact that this film is an environmental crusade film, describing the wickedness of men leading to the deluge as being the  wasteful negligent destruction of God's good creation.  Don't get me wrong.  I am a firm believer in good stewardship of the earth, and that we should care for God's creation with prudence.  It's the constant Hollywood barrage of environmentalism that I find really annoying.  We get it already.  For goodness sake, I feel guilty if I throw something in the trash that can either be composted or recycled.  While the finished film is a bit more even handed with regard to environmentalism, it is the director's own promotion of the man Noah as being "the first environmentalist" and his proud declaration that his film is the "least biblical biblical film ever made."  Do we, as Christians, want to support this?

My final issue is the most significant for me, and has to do with the portrayal of Noah, himself.  As a Catholic, I am aware there are aspects of the Bible that should be taken literally, and aspects of the Bible that are more stylized and symbolic and are not to be taken literally.  The Biblical Noah story is one that has both literal and non-literal features.  One detail I believe should be taken absolutely literally is that God spoke directly to Noah and expressed his wishes to Noah for the Ark in a very clear way.  The film depicts God's revelation to Noah as a dream or hallucination left open to interpretation by Noah, leading to conflict and confusion.  The second important detail regarding Noah's character is the Bible clearly describes Noah as a righteous man; as the only righteous man on earth,  otherwise, why save any of humanity?  This does not mean Noah was flawless or unfallen, but that he lived his life according to God's Will to the best of his ability and righteously.  Aronofsky's Noah is a dark, angry, morose man, who at one point threatens to kill his unborn grandchild, if she is a girl. Neither of these aspects of the film reflect the Biblical Noah, and I find the depiction to be very troubling, bordering on sacrilege.

As a review by someone who has not seen the film, my recommendation is to stay away, if only to keep from financially supporting the makers of this film.  If you feel compelled to see Noah based on it's artistic appeal and to form your own opinions on it's merits or flaws, wait to see it on Netflix and please, let me know if I'm far off base.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} March 27

round button chicken


I post photos of the snow capped mountains fairly often.  These are the lovely green hills on the other side of our neighborhood.  They remind me of illustrations from one of Margret Wise Brown's books: The Diggers


Nothing makes me quite as happy as a beautifully brewed espresso for my cappuccino in the morning.


Wingnut Jr. is rarely serious.  What a little crack up.


It's getting time to plan out our garden this year.  I have started seed for pumpkin, zucchini, and butternut squash.  I'm hoping to directly sow spinach, kale, lettuce, and peas this weekend.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Playing the Oppression Card

So, the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case is all over my Facebook feed.  My liberal friends are decrying Hobby Lobby as oppressive, dictating how its employees must live, and holding their employees hostage.  It's really mind blowing.  When did America become like this?  When did Americans decide that whatever they want or need should be provided to them regardless of the cost; regardless of the religious beliefs of others?

One poster even claimed corporations should not be able to have religious or moral views of any kind.  Really?  Does she not get that every corporation makes all sorts of decisions based on some kind of ethical or moral standard.  Corporations are run by people and that is how people operate.  This decision making by CEOs goes both ways.  The CEO of Starbucks defended his decision to promote gay causes by saying, "It's a free country," and I agree with him. It is a free country, and corporations have just as much right to that freedom as individuals do, as long as their decisions and business practices remain within the law.

What is really freaky about this whole debate is the death grip these women have on contraception as being not only a right, but a right that should be paid for by their employer. If their employer won't provide it, their employer is an oppressive dictator holding their reproductive rights hostage.  It's downright creepy.

Don't be fooled, this case is important, not just for Hobby Lobby, but for all faith based companies and institutions that will be affected by the HHS Contraceptive Mandate.  This battle is not about contraception.  This battle is about religious freedom in America.  I believe it absolutely has the potential to bring down religious freedom in a domino effect.  Beware, there is a lot of false information going around about Hobby Lobby.  If you find yourself in a debate with a Hobby Lobby opponent, be sure to read this linked article that gives five misperceptions about the Hobby Lobby Case.

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365 Project-March 26

Crema Perfection by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

365 Project-March 23

Firecracker Salad by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

365 Project-March 24

Swing by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

365 Project-March 25

Beginnings by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Demo Photos

This is what we've been living with since Friday.  We are hoping the fans and heater will be gone tomorrow.  They are so loud we can't even hear ourselves think!  Once the rooms are dry, restoration will begin on the interior.  We are waiting to hear how much USAA will cover of the exterior issues before demo takes place outside.  Oh, did I mention, there isn't a time table yet for how long we will be living this way.  Wahhhhhhh!

This is our computer room/office.

Our formal living room.

The entry way.

The kitchen and dining room.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

365 Project-March 21

Baby Barista by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

365 Project-March 20

Lil Guy by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

365 Project-March 19

Chicken Pot Pie by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

As if I Needed More Stress in My Life

We are busily getting the house prepared for an influx visitors and special celebrations. Wingnut Jr. Is receiving his First Holy Communion in early May and his entire god-family is coming from Maryland. We are hosting the party here for Wingnut Jr. And his special buddy.  In June, Skoshi A will be confirmed and there will be a party for her as well. Later in June we have more very dear friends, also from Maryland, coming for a visit. It's shaping up to be an extremely busy spring.

We have been patching walls and painting and deep cleaning as part of our preparations. Last weekend, Wingnut and I were working on moving and rehanging curtains in our living room, when he pulled our couch away from the wall and noticed water damage on our one year old wood floors. I called our flooring guy out to have a look and he found extensive water damage on the wood floors, all along the front exterior facing walls. The damage was caused by ice damming on our peaked roof melting and then leaking between the interior and exterior walls.  The seepage caused cracking in our exterior stucco walls, water damage to interior walls, mold growth, and warped wood floors in two rooms. Yay!

Thankfully we have an awesome insurance company and our wood flooring guy put us in touch with an awesome disaster recovery contractor that can do all the needed demo, drying, cleaning, and repairs. They are here today cutting up our walls, tearing up the floors, and setting up heaters and dryers.  

We haven't been given a time table, but the mold scrub, drying, wall patch and repainting, stucco removal and restoration, floor replacement, sanding and finishing all need to be completed in less than six weeks! Yay!
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Small Town America

round button chicken


I took a little photo excursion into our little town.  I love this old sign.  

Black and white gives it a real vintage flair.


Wingnut Jr. was having a blast jumping his scooter in the neighbor's driveway.


I call this "Tin Roof Rusted".  I just cracked up when I discovered this corrugated tin out building with a lovely painting displayed on its exterior.  I found the dissonance funny.


In our small town, very few of the shops are still operating along Main Street.  It's probably typical of many small town America Main Streets.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When There are No Miracles

When I became a Catholic 19 years ago, this coming Triduum, I had no idea what a small, interconnected world I had become a part of.  It's a beautiful thing to be included in this tight knit community.   

I was a particular witness to this interconnectedness yesterday through a terrible tragedy.  Two young daughters of a professor at Wyoming Catholic College were critically injured in a car accident and quickly life flighted to a hospital in Salt Lake City.  I had three different friends on Facebook, connected to the girls' family in different ways reach out asking for immediate prayers for the girls.  Although I did not know this family personally,  I prayed and waited throughout the day, along with countless others. Unfortunately, despite the many, many prayers, both girls passed away in their parents' arms.  

Sadly, we didn't see any miracles yesterday.  What do we do when we don't have miracles?  An integral piece of our Catholic interconnectedness is to grieve with each other and to pray together; even if separated by miles and even if we don't know each other personally.  Today I grieve for the loss of the two beautiful little girls, Emma and Olivia. Today I pray for their parents Becca and Sean, for their remaining sister, and for all who cherished these precious little souls.   

Today we mourn together.  Tomorrow we look forward in hope to the resurrection and the eternal joy we hope to share.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

365 Project-March 18

Self-Portrait : This is 45 by Maurisa · 365 Project Print Friendly and PDF

Saint Patrick's Day Photos and a Link to a "Controversial" Story

Little Lamb reading Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.

Irish Soda Bread made with goat's milk instead of buttermilk.  I worried the baking soda would not have enough acid from the goat's milk to react and create a rise in the bread, but I was pleasantly surprised, that indeed, it did get enough lift.

Oven roasted cabbage brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and caraway seeds.

Corned beef brushed with a mustard glaze and then broiled.

I posted the linked article on Facebook, too.  It discusses the ongoing controversy between New York's Annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade organizers (The Ancient Order of Hibernians) and the gay lobby.  In summary, the article points out that gays are not unfairly discriminated against and barred from participating in the parade each year.  They are welcome to march, they are just not allowed to identify themselves as an organized gay group or promote gay issues and agendas.  If you read the guidelines the document makes it very clear no group is allowed to identify themselves as anything other than Irish and are not allowed to promote any cause or agenda other than "England Get Out of Ireland".   For the life of me,  I do not get why the gay lobby is making such a brouhaha over this. Anyhoo, it's worth a read.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

365 Project-March 16

Naan by Maurisa · 365 Project

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365 Project-March 17

Little Leprechaun. by Maurisa · 365 Project

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I Believe in Miracles

At about 5:30 pm Friday, Wingnut Jr. hopped on his scooter and rode across our street to see if a friend could play.  Not more than 5 minutes later I heard a large dog barking wildly.  I looked out our front window to see our 7 year old tearing past our house into the driveway to the left, and to the right two teenage girls screaming in terror and hugging each other in the street.  I ran to our back deck to call for Ben and that was when I saw the Ranger ATV overturned in my garden and a boy lying face down to one side while a second blood covered boy frantically tried to rouse him.  Rushing once again to the front door, I ran out to see my neighbor cradling still another teenager lying in the street.  I called to her as I ran and she handed the girl over to me as she ran down to the now upright Ranger.  The boy face down in the dirt was her 13 year old son.  The girl I held and comforted had been the driver and had lost control of the ATV as she took a corner too fast.  She was thrown out onto the road and the ATV then rolled down the hill into my garden, throwing 3 passengers as it rolled.  The girl appeared to have a very serious head injury.  Blood was coming from her ears and nose.  She was moving, but not speaking.  As more neighbors rushed to the scene, we were instructed to hold her still and speak to her, in an attempt to keep her conscious as we waited for paramedics to arrive.

Our neighbor's son was thrashing and wailing in his mother's arms as another neighbor tried to calm him and ask him questions.  Within minutes police, paramedics, and firemen arrived and two life flight helicopter landed not long after.  One just behind our house and the other down the street in our neighborhood park.  Both of the most seriously injured children were flown out in the helicopters to Children's Hospital, and the other two children were transported via ambulance to a local hospital with minor lacerations, scrapes and bruises.  Our neighbor's son sustained a critical head injury that required surgery, while the girl sustained a less severe, but still serious head trauma.  It was a horrific scene, and one of a mother's absolute worst fears come to life.

As I reflect on this horribly tragic event in our community, I can see God's Hand guiding so many aspects.  First of all, if Wingnut Jr. had left his friend's home just 5 seconds later than he had, he very well could have been hit by the out of control ATV!  Secondly, throughout the entire emergency one of our neighbors moved from one child to the other, calmly giving instructions on how to care for the injured.  He just happens to be a paramedic, and he just happened to be home early.  Because of his efforts, the helicopters were called before the paramedics arrived, cutting out the middle man and at least 30 precious minutes of waiting, leading to critical care measures being taken that much sooner.  As of today, the three of the four have come home from the hospital.  Our neighbors son has been moved from ICU into a normal hospital room.  He is breathing on his own and very communicative. Apparently he was very upset the surgeons had to shave part of his head and that he had to miss his basketball game on Saturday.

You may read this story and believe it was just a series of coincidental events.  When you live through something like this, there is only one thing to believe.  These children are alive today because of miracles.  I, for one, believe in miracles.  Praise God!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Homeschool Language Review

We have tried a new language arts program this year and so far it is the best we have ever used.  Written by Jessie Bauer and part of the Well-Trained Mind series, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind has been the language program I have always wanted for my children.  The lessons are diverse, with plenty of review, and cover not only all the parts of speech, but also poetry appreciation and memorization, summarization, letter writing, dictation,
etc. The lessons are fairly short, without a whole lot of writing or preparation, but do require nearly constant teacher-student interaction.  The devoted face time with my kiddos was what really drew me to the program to begin with.

Prior to using First Language Lessons, my kids just worked through the Seton Language workbooks and had very little to no teacher input from me, which I found inadequate, and completely lazy on my part. Our older children did wonderfully using Seton, which is a truly well done series, I have just been wanting more and I am sure my younger kids are benefiting from more discussion and teacher input.

This year I am using Level 2 with Wingnut Jr.  Nearly all of the lessons at this level are oral.  Special K is using Level 4.  Her book comes with the teaching manual and a workbook that she works from as we go through the lesson together.  Right now there are only 4 levels in the series.  I am desperately hoping the folks from The Well-Trained Mind continue the series for several more levels, otherwise, I have no idea what I will use for Special K next year that will satisfy!

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365 Project-March 12

radish by Maurisa · 365 Project

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365 Project-March 13

Fun with Action Shots by Maurisa · 365 Project

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

{P,H,F,R} March 13--Instagram

round button chicken


Found this selfie on my iPhone.  She is becoming such a beautiful young lady, in every way.  Silly, too.


As in, I'm happy to get cuddles from my very active toddler.  He is just too busy to snuggle up anymore.  When I asked him to come cuddle with me, he begrudgingly replied, "Fine."


This little guy is such a crack up.  He didn't want to come say prayers with us to start the school day.  Instead he stomped away declaring, "Me 'tand in da torner!"


Wingnut Jr. is a real smarty.  He's only 7, but has been cruising through a 3rd grade math book all year.  Some days, especially the days just after a time change, math can be tough for such a little guy.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Mexican Posole

I used to have a recipe for Posole from Cook's Country, but I've misplaced it and I am in no mood to spend the $ to subscribe to Cook's online recipe collection.  I am fairly certain my recipe is similar to Cook's, and it is just as delicious.  I'm posting here so I do not forget how to make it.

New Mexican Posole

5 dried New Mexican peppers
4 cups boiling water
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, loin, or ribs; cut into 5 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 14 oz cans hominy, drained and rinsed
Juice of one lime
salt and pepper

diced avocado
sliced radish
julienned cabbage
minced cilantro
lime wedges
red onion slices
flour tortillas (we use The Pioneer Woman's recipe--they are awesome!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems of the peppers and place on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven until fragrant; not more than 5 minutes and be careful not to burn.  Place roasted peppers in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of boiling water and allow to steep at least 30 minutes.  Place peppers, 2 cups of steeping liquid, oregano, cumin, and coriander in a blender and blend about 30 seconds until a paste is formed.  Set aside remaining steeping liquid and chile paste.

In a large stew pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of oil until hot.  Salt and pepper pork on all sides and brown in batches on all sides, adding another tbsp of oil between batches. Remove and set aside.

Add another tbsp of oil to pot and sauté onions with a bit of salt until soft and translucent; about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and chile paste carefully to hot pan and sauté 30 seconds.  Add pork and coat in chiles and spices.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 2 1/2 - 3 hours; adding reserved steeping liquid as needed.  Remove pork and shredded with two forks and return to pot.  Add hominy and heat through.  Add the juice of one lime and stir. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh tortillas and garnishes.

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365 Project-March 11

New Mexican Posole by Maurisa · 365 Project

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Birthday Books for Oleander

Here is the lovely stack of books we sent to Oleander for her birthday last week.  She was thrilled with them all, especially the book of riddles.

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Uno with my Buddy · 365 Project

In case you are interested in my progress on 365 :)  I'll post links each day to the photo I've submitted.

Uno with my Buddy by Maurisa · 365 Project

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Monday, March 10, 2014

New Catholic Homeschooling Group

We've recently joined a new Catholic homeschooling group in Utah.  In general we only meet on First Fridays, although we have had a couple special gatherings for other celebrations.  After years of trying, I think we are finally going to make 9 First Fridays in a row!  We only have two more to go, and as long as we are all healthy, it should be accomplished.  Hooray!

This last First Friday we met for breakfast in the Neumann Center on the campus of the University of Utah.  After a potluck breakfast, we had a guest speaker who has a special apostolate teaching children how to make rosaries and running a rosary club.  She taught us all how to make a pro-life rosary, for which each of the colors of beads has a special meaning.  We then donated our completed rosaries to the 40 Days for Life ministry.

After making rosaries we had mass in the Neumann Center's chapel, celebrated by a young and awesome Dominican father.  Several families then went on to pray outside a Planned Parenthood clinic close to campus that performs abortions.  Our family did not make it to this part of the day, Lil' Lamb had had enough for the day, but we were encouraged to hear that since the inception of the 40 Days for Life campaigns, one clinic in Salt Lake City has closed and another has had to greatly reduce it's hours of operation.  Hooray!

Wingnut Jr. did a great job stringing the beads in the correct pattern.

Our Lady holding the children's offerings.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} March 7

round button chicken

Another reason I have been remiss in posting here is I've joined 365 Project.  It's a photo diary of sorts, meant to help photographers of all skill and experience levels improve their art.  Some days I have a really tough time finding something to photograph, especially when we get busy, but so far I've only missed one day.  I am already seeing improvement in not only technique, but learning to use manual settings correctly.  Some of the other photographers I follow are absolutely amazing and inspirational.


Lil' Lamb and I took lunch up to the skiers one afternoon.  On our way back down, the winds really picked up on the mountain and I was able to capture the snow blowing off the mountain.  Unfortunately, it was a very gray day and there wasn't enough contrast between the sky and the blowing snow until I processed the photo as black and white.


Special K has been learning about electricity in science and has really enjoyed the experiments we've been doing with the electronics kit.


I did not take this photo, but I love it and decided to use it because of the story surrounding it.  Our very dear family friends surprised Oleander for her birthday yesterday.  They took her to lunch and then they had a gorgeous cake at the Aspirancy with the rest of the Aspirants.  Ollie wanted to mimic her father's favorite photo ruining facial expression.  She's pretty close, but not quite. 


On busy days, I find my only available photo subject is food.  Maybe I'm meant to be a food photographer?  This the beautiful and nutritious kale, garlic, and leeks I sautéed to add to our Ash Wednesday vegetarian Greek white bean soup.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dear Oleander!

She may not read this today, but one of the reasons I do keep blogging is so when she is home she can read about everything we've been up to.  I know she will read this post eventually.

17 Things to Love About Oleander

1. Her active pursuit of holiness.  None of the rest of our family are as proactive as she is.  She is an example for all of us.

2. Her joy. She has really been through many sufferings and trials in the last 4 years and you would never know it.

3. Her smile.  It is warm and beautiful.

4. Her laugh. It is quick and infectious.

5. Her adaptability.  She has had curve balls thrown from every direction and she manages to adapt and change as needed with very little effort.

6. Her courage.  She amazes me.

7. Her generosity.  She is so thoughtful and gives everything she can.

8. Her impeccable memory. She is our go to brainiac when it comes to remembering crazy, minute details.

9. Her enthusiasm for trying new things.

10. Her patience.  This goes hand in hand with her adaptability and her generosity.

11. Her sense of humor.  She is like her father in this regard.

12. Her special, individual quirks.  Most notably, her love for having her hair pulled so tightly into a ponytail.  She was even like that as a toddler.  If her pony tail wasn't tight enough, she let everyone know.

13. Her emerging ability to cook.  She is getting more and more creative and competent in the kitchen.

14. Her steadfastness.  Very little shakes her fortitude.

15. Her devotion to family.

16. Her devotion to God.

17. Her individuality. God is so amazing in His creation.  It never ceases to surprise us how differently He has created each of our children and the unique talents each possess.

Hoping she has a most happy and blessed birthday.

Ollie and Ollie (Great Grandma)

That infectious laugh

Her beautiful smile
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I am sorry for the extended blog silence here of late.  We have had a lot of personal family stuff going on, and I am, of course, very preoccupied by it all.  With so much on my mind I am left with little time to think of anything else and so blogging definitely dwindles.

One of the things going on I will blog about is our Oleander is continuing to have health issues.  Her knee has flared up once again and she is suffering from insomnia and fatigue. Her orthopedist has no idea what is wrong with her knee.  They have found nothing wrong with it structurally.  This combination of symptoms and mystery has led us to believe she may be suffering from Post Lyme's Disease Syndrome.  If you recall, she was treated for Lyme's almost 2 years ago after having gastrointestinal problems for about 6 months.  We had her tested again this last week and the Lyme's test came back negative, as was expected and is typical with PTLDS.

Poor Oleander.  I'm not sure what this will mean for her.  The main stream medical community does not treat PTLDS, believing it will eventually resolve on its own.  Unfortunately, in researching the syndrome I have read horror story after horror story of long term health problems that require long term care and treatment.

We are researching alternative therapies and consulting others who have struggled with recovery after having Lyme's.  Crazy, we know of at least 5 other families who have had this same issue with Lyme's. Oleander will be home for several weeks during Easter, and we are going to try some herbal therapies that have been recommended by a naturopath. I did contact a Lyme's literate medical practice in Utah, but the initial visit and subsequent treatments are not covered by insurance and would run upwards of $1000.  Please pray for answers and healing for Ollie!

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