Sunday, November 17, 2019


A friend in the branch told me about taking her kids to their local hearing ward so they could get to know some of the members that live close to them. "My kids hated it," she said. "There was so much noise and distraction."

Knowing ASL changes the way you deal with noise. I've noticed this in our family Before we knew ASL, if we were in a crowded, noisy room, we would yell to communicate. Now, that just seems like a horrible way to communicate! Why would we want more noise in the room?

I recently went to eat lunch with Lillian at school for her birthday. Since our middle school is so far away, and middle schoolers are usually too cool to eat with their parents, I hadn't been to lunch at that school before. I should have remembered that the noise in the lunchroom spurred my oldest son to do a science fair project investigating the health of noise levels at various school environments. (Answer: the lunchroom wasn't great, but school dances were actually at unhealthy levels after 1 hr. Interestingly, none of the administrators who saw this project suggested changing anything. But I digress...) I was shocked at how loud the room was. For some reason, they think that 180 kids trying to talk in the same room isn't enough, and they play music, too. I 100% don't get it. I literally could not hear the person right next to me. So of course, I'm trying to say hi to Lillian's friends and get to know them. And try as I might, I couldn't bring myself to yell to be heard. All I could do was pull out my hands and try to communicate with them. I'm sure all these girls just think we're the weirdest family ever. But once you know sign language, you lose your taste for shouting.

There's a FB page named #whyIsign that shares people's videos of why they sign. Usually, reasons are something like, "Because I'm deaf" or "I have a deaf cousin" or "I meat a cute girl that was deaf". I think about my reasons why I sign:

  • Because I hate too much noise
  • Because my kids need to learn another language
  • Because I really love being able to talk when my mouth is full
#that'sthetruth #it'snotjustaboutthegoodreasons 

Friday, November 8, 2019

So close...

I had a funny conversation the other night that you might enjoy. We were chatting before a Primary presidency meeting. One mom moaned about her child leaving all his stuff all over the floor when he gets dressed in the morning.

"Sorry to tell you, but even my oldest still leaves his stuff on the floor when he gets dressed. I don't think it's going to get better," I wryly reply.

(Looks of surprise.)

"Lige still wears a pull-up?"

Oh, I'd missed that sign. Yeah, no Lige totally does NOT wear pull-ups any more. Nor does he leave pull-ups on the floor, because he knows that's nasty. And really, he doesn't leave his clothes all over that much, either. Just sometimes. Because, you know, the world might turn upside-down if a teenager was perfect. :)

And to their credit, none of the other ladies in the meeting laughed their heads off at me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

God moves in a mysterious way!

Today, I took Lillian to violin lessons in the morning, then went straight to Sam's school to help with the book fair. I got home about 12:30, and was surprised to be met by Ellis, whom I had presumed to be at school. Unfortunately, she'd missed her bus in the morning and didn't know where I was or how to get a hold of me, so she waited at home until I finally joined her. We were going to jump back in the car and run her down to school when we did some math. We realized that she'd only make it for 1 1/2 classes, and both of those classes were easy to catch up on at the moment. So we went inside and she got out her laptop to do her work, which had been posted online already.

In the hubbub of figuring out what had happened, I asked, "why didn't you call Dad?" Because, you know, even though one parent is sorta busy, he's still a parent. Turns out, the idea hadn't even crossed her mind. "But even if I'd thought of it, I don't know if he could have picked me up. He ran out the door this morning to go visit Ruth (name has been changed). She's in the hospital."

What?!? Ruth is one of Ellis's good friends, and her mom is one of my good friends! So I got on the phone and found out that yes, her friend is very sick and is going to be in the hospital for a while. Marriner suggested that she'd really like a visit, since she's mostly sitting around waiting for test results to come back now. So while we waited for Jane to wake up from her nap, we made some cookies, then we headed up to Children's National with Ellis and all the littles.

We got up there and found out that kids under 14 aren't supposed to be allowed in unless they're siblings. But a nice nurse let Ellis come in and hang out while the rest of us touched bases really quick then went to the waiting room. They had a fabulous waiting room, and my bag was packed well, so we had a good time hanging out. And we went down and got some dinner when we started to get squirrelly. Ellis brought some games and they just played for 2 1/2 hours. The nurse commented to me on what a good friend Ellis was to come and hang out with her.

That was when I realized that actually, this whole thing shouldn't have been possible. Usually Tuesdays are Lillian's orchestra night. The girls get home from school and I take off with Lillian. But orchestra was canceled tonight. Still, Ellis doesn't usually get off the bus until 5:00 or 5:30, which was way too late to drive an hour up to the hospital (it's 14 miles, incidentally...) and get people to bed on time. (Tuesday is also Marriner's church night, so he's not home to help out.) But today, Ellis missed the bus. And I wasn't home to give her a ride.

And we have to ask ourselves...did God actually make Ellis skip school today?

And...can I put that in the note to school explaining her absence? "Dear school, please excuse Ellis's absence due to the hand of God yesterday."

Well, maybe she won't get an excused absence....

Monday, October 21, 2019

Recording the hand of the Lord in our lives

Today, we had a special devotional for our area of the country with two of our Apostles, Elder Christofferson and Elder Ballard. Elder Ballard talked to us about seeing and recording the hand of the Lord in our lives. He said, "Look for the hand of the Lord in your life and in your family. Record and share these stories!...I do not believe you are here by coincidence."

Today was full of the hand of the Lord with my family. So, being a good little girl, here I am to record some of our stories :)

The day started off a little rocky. We spend yesterday at the beach (yes, I know it was freezing cold. It was still wonderful. So there.) so my kids were up a little late. And it turns out I'd forgotten about a meeting before church today. So we had to get ready...quickly. This involved a lot of showering and a lot of cooking. We usually bring muffins for lunch, but today we needed some dinner too. Ellis and Lillian made muffins and I tossed my fastest reliable and easy crock pot meal together. I planned an easy Primary lesson. We packed some toys for the kids to play with while I was in my meeting. We made it work. Off we went to church, with everything except the kitchen sink!

One of the things I noticed first was that Sam had a really good day today. He's struggled a lot lately with things not going the way he wants, or having to make concessions for the good of the whole. But today, he didn't get upset about having to leave early or while Lige and Ellis were babysitting him during the meeting. Which is amazing because he's soooo sleep deprived right now. We've stayed up late a lot this weekend. (And by comparison, he was a lot more grumpy yesterday, when he was a lot less sleep deprived!)

Our church goes from 12-2pm, and the devotional was at 4pm. It was a bit of an awkward time for us, so we decided to just stay at the church, eat some dinner, then watch the fireside. As we talked to people, we kept inviting people to join us. Then Marriner asked if we had enough for the interpreter and her family, who had not been planning to stay because of small children, but she was the only interpreter at church today, so she was willing to help. I said, "of course!" not knowing if that was actually true...but I just thought of the story of the loaves and the fishes, and felt completely comfortable  saying that we'd have plenty. And guess what - we did. That meal which usually feeds my family actually fed 16 people today. Some of them ate really fast right as the devotional was starting, which probably helped them not eat so much :) And the hearing ward in our building had left some food from their potluck earlier, which increased our humble meal. :) So it all worked out.

After we ate, Marriner and I took charge of all the kids, who were not really thrilled at going to more church, so the interpreter and her husband could work/watch the broadcast. We figured we could wrangle kids and listen at the same time, but they couldn't interpret or watch the interpretation with tired kids. We felt really good about it, but as the kids got bored-er and bored-er, I didn't hear so much of the last talk. But at the end, a sister in the hearing ward (Marriner's 2nd cousin!) came up and said she'd figured I wasn't catching much of the broadcast any more and voice recorded the end of it for me, if I wanted her to email it to me. So thanks to her inspired thoughtfulness, we all had access to the message of the gospel today. How cool is that?

A couple of my kids got some neat experiences today. In Primary, we had some hearing visitors, which meant we needed some interpretation. Lillian got to do that. She interpreted into English during opening exercises, then in class, the teacher spoke in English and Lillian signed for the Primary president, who was also in the class. It was her first time signing, and I hear she did a great job. Lige also got to interpret his class, as the oldest youth in the branch in attendance today. And during the devotional, I was sitting out in the hall, playing with magnet tiles (see above paragraph...) when I looked up during the rest hymn and saw Lige interpreting the music. (Have I gushed enough yet about our chapel's wonderful glass back wall?) I don't know how he ended up doing that, but you know, I'm a mom, and you know how your momma heart feels when you see you kid doing something that requires skill and hard work. I admit, I was just proud of him. "Look! My kid's an ASL interpreter!"

Anyway, it was a neat day. I felt guided by the Spirit in a lot of little things, but it's always neat to feel like the Lord can use you. And it was fun to see my kids stretch and grow. Even the little ones, who did things that were hard for them like stay at the church for 8 straight hours :)

Monday, October 14, 2019


Sunday, we invited one of the sisters I minister to for lunch. She's a new student at Gallaudet who is married with 3 children (the youngest is 18). She left her family back home to go get her degree. Obviously, it's tough. I enjoyed having someone other than kids to talk to on Sunday afternoon, and she seemed to enjoy getting off campus and talking to adults. Ha. I was a little worried about being hospitable, since it's hard to cook and sign at the same time. But the kids volunteered to make lunch so I could talk. They were having a lot of fun, and decided to do a restaurant. So, our friend got to experience the gourmet food at Tropical Klondikes, which is the name all our pretend restaurants have. It stems from the first time the kids ever did a pretend restaurant for a date night for their parents, maybe 7 years ago, and I have no recollection of how we came up with that name. Maybe we were having stir-fry and ice cream on the menu? (Maybe that was the time we tried Baked Alaska for the first time? It didn't turn out really great...) This time, the restaurant specialized in grilled cheese and tomato soup. We both had the pesto monterrey jack. It was pretty amazing stuff! The first time we went to Tropical Klondikes, I pretty much did all the cooking, and the kids just put the food on plates and brought it out. And that was about as much as they could do handle! This time, the kids did everything except for slice the bread. They made homemade tomato soup, created various grilled cheese sandwiches, made a menu, mixed juice, and everything. They're getting so big and capable! And they did it all in ASL, except when they wanted to ask a question without our visitor overhearing. (Mom, are we allowed to have dessert?)

After we ate lunch (which really became dinner, we didn't eat until almost 5) and Marriner made it home and we sat around and talked some more while Marriner ate, our guest said and old missionary from their deaf branch in CA had just texted that he was in town, and was actually staying at a hotel close to our house, so he came over to visit. He had a close female friend with him, who is hearing and learning ASL (because, you know, she's really likes this guy, as she put it to me later on...) Well, it turns out that SHE served in the Cauayan, Philippines mission. So we had one group signing and another group speaking Tagalog. As we spoke, our hands were naturally filling in words we couldn't remember in Tagalog with the sign. No need to throw in any "kuwan" or conjugate the word for what (mag-ano ka ba?) Both our brains were clearly working through the 3-languages-at-one-time thing in the same way. All-in-all, the evening was a blast, and I was glad to meet some wonderful new friends!

Oh, speaking of brains processing languages - this is from our two-year old, as reported by Marriner. He says that when he helps her pray, when he uses the sign for "now" or "today" -
Jane will sign two-day instead:
Image result for asl two
Image result for asl day
What the heck?!? Even my little two-year old is translating in her head.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Jane is so cute! She just got the fine motor skills down to make the "I love you" sign!

Image result for i love you asl

Turns out, this is a tricky little thing to do. Heck, it took her until she was two and a half to be able to hold up two fingers to show how old she is. I'm sure it doesn't help that her fingers are so adorably pudgy :)

So, she usually signs I Love You with her left hand...she's WAY better with her left hand than her right hand...does this mean she's going to be a lefty, like her Mom and kuya??

Probably not. I quizzed her today, and she signed almost everything right-hand dominant. But a few things she did with her left hand. Still, not getting my hopes up...

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

More of the ASL Bee and General Conference

The ASL Bee is still popular in our family. I don't know that many people study or anything, but Martha, Jane and I do study sometimes during lunch. This, and the fact that Martha pays attention to things, has set up a fierce rivalry in the little kid division.

Martha won the first 3 weeks. Jane is doing a great job, too, never winning, but actually knowing a lot of the words she gets. Sam doesn't like this. So he's actually started trying at something, which is not his usual M.O. :) But last night, he won the coveted ice cream bar! Woohoo!!

Jane and Martha are both very reluctant to express themselves in sign language. They understand what you say to them, as evidenced by their obedience, or the way they whisper back their response. (Gah! Why do my kids think whispering is the right way to communicate when everyone is signing?!? Anyway...) But getting them to sign back is tough. It turns out, they totally know the signs. I asked Martha this week how to sign "idea" and Jane totally knew it. That's not really a 2-yr old word. Except she's so funny - everything you sign with a pinkie, she does with her thumb. Like her name - wave her thumb, then "e". I remember Martha doing this, too, actually, now that I think of it...

Actually, we practiced the manual alphabet the other day. I spelled, Jane told me what the letters were. "A-B-C-D-Jane."

We watched General Conference this weekend in ASL with the sound on. Because we like the English :) Marriner wanted to watch one session with the sound off, so he went upstairs and watched the General Women's Session by himself. It makes us happy that my sister who lives nearby also turns on the ASL. It's good. But it had a funny down-side this year.

President Merrill and Bishop Harris, of the hearing ward, challenged the Seminary kids to General Conference jeopardy. Losers cook breakfast. The kids were determined to beat the bishops, and payed attention like I've never seen teenagers do before. But seriously, Marriner and Bishop Harris are bright guys, and I didn't give the kids much chance of winning. So last night, I was quizzing Marriner about talks to get him ready, and he was sorta struggling to remember who'd said what. Finally he confessed, "I can only picture the interpreter!" Will it make a difference? Will the kids come home with glory and honor? I won't know until Lige gets home from school, because nobody sent me a text after Seminary bragging. :)