Alex and Roxy Love

I took Alex and Roxy to the vet for a check up. Alex, being over 10 years old, had to go in the back for a blood draw. Well, Roxy didn't like that. She kept looking at the door Alex went out of and then at me. Then back at the door. She even whimpered a few times. Eventually she walked over to the door and baked. When Alex finally came back (remember we are measuring time in dog years) she did her happy dance. It's nice to see sibling love still exists at my house. 

 Roxy waiting for Alex

Roxy waiting for Alex

Kid Brag Time! 

Kray and Alysia are still living in Bothell. Kray is working at a collection agency and racking up bonus checks! Alysia got 4.0 in her first quarter of graduate school! And she works full time too! They have two dogs: Harley and Winston and they are loving life!

Jason is still studying at BYU. His major is computer science. He is having great adventures.  He went to April General Conference Priesthood session. 

 Jason at General Conference

Jason at General Conference

Elder Michael Blanding is loving his mission now that he can sleep (see the next story). 

Elder Matthew Blanding is loving North Augusta, SC. He wrote: Forgot to mention this. On Thursday I went on exchanges with the zone leaders, Elders Duran and Allen. I stayed in my area with Elder Duran. Elder Higgins and I had planned a meeting with an investigator that lives 30 miles away, so we had a member take us. Because none of us knew how to get to her house, we used the GPS. The GPS took us down a questionable road that eventually turned into mud. Eventually, we got stuck. We tried for two hours to get out on our own. Elder Duran and I left the member with the truck and walked about a mile down the road to find someone to pull us out. Now my suit pants are all coved in mud and my shoes were (I have since cleaned them). That certainly was a fun experience.

Chris is awesome! Sorry this is long but it needs to be told, and grab a tissue. This is an account written by his Scout Master Brian Heywood. 

On October 12, 2012, the Redmond 3rd ward scout troop invited the 11 year old patrol to join them on a campout followed by an exploration of the Ape Caves in Southern Washington.  Despite the interesting name, the caves have nothing to do with primates current or historic but they are interesting none the less because they are giant lava tube caves linked to Mt. St. Helens.  One of the first explorers of the caves was the Mt. St. Helen’s Apes – a boy scout troop in the 1950’s and the source of the name.  

The caves are are the longest continuous lava tube in the United States at about 2.5 miles.  The hike is not particularly arduous as it is fairly level however within the tubes there are numerous cave ins and boulders that add a challenge to the hike.  Furthermore there is no light whatsoever so the hike must be done with the help of flashlights and headlamps.  

I was the scout leader for the 11 year old patrol and I had been told that traversing the caves would not be a challenge for any of my boys.  Of particular concern to me was a young man in our patrol who was high functioning autistic.  But again I had been reassured several times that he could make it through the cave.  

As we started our trek into the caves the young man was somewhat unnerved by the darkness but it seemed that we would be able to manage his anxiety ok and we continued on further into the caves.  About ¼ of the way in however, we began to encounter our first obstacles of boulders and cave in material that blocked direct passage and caused us to have to climb up and over the piles.  Our young scout became extremely agitated and nervous and slowed down to a crawl.  In fact, at one point he quit moving forward at all.  I went up to him grabbed him by the hand and we began traversing the obstacles.  He was slowly able to make it but now I was completely unable to manage any of the rest of the scouts and was worried that perhaps before we got any further I should just take him back out the way we came.

We held a counsel with the other leaders and the scout master for the other patrol (I believe it was Tyler Seamons) and he suggested that his senior Patrol Leader Chris Blanding could use the opportunity to show some leadership and that he would ask Chris if he would be willing to help the younger scout through the rest of the cave.  The implication was that Chris would basically have to hold hands with the young man for the next 2 miles up and over rocks and dealing with his worries, complaints and observations.  If you could design a scenario that was the complete opposite of what most 12-13 year old boys would like to do, this had to be pretty close.  

Amazingly to me, Chris, when asked, did not hesitate even a little bit.  I explained to him how I had been helping the young man over the rocks and debris and that it required me to hold his hand as it would require Chris to do the same.  His attitude was “sure" and he reached out and grabbed the young man’s hand and started off.  Together they went about half the speed that Chris could have gone himself but about 10 time the speed that the young man would have achieved on his own.  It was truly inspiring.

I monitored the situation closely and tried to stay somewhat nearby the two to make sure that Chris was not getting frustrated or distracted but it was clear that Chris had this in hand literally and emotionally.  His compassion and his leadership deeply impressed me.

We made it all the way through the caves and we had two happy scouts at the end.  The young man felt a terrific sense of accomplishment that he had made it through especially when it seemed earlier that we might have to turn back.  Chris, I am sure knew he was the hand of an angel – he might not have used those words but he was.  I logged it in my brain…. “here is a  young man you can trust."

The photo below is at the end of the route as we came back up above ground.  The young man on Chris’s right with his head turned away from the camera is our younger scout and Chris’s beaming face tells you much of the story just in this one photo.

 Chris is on the right in the black coat with yellow around his neck. Oct 2012

Chris is on the right in the black coat with yellow around his neck. Oct 2012

Jessie had a month off of competitive dancing, but she still had her studio dancing so she put her efforts into her piano. She is quite the accomplished pianist and I just love to hear her play. She has taken a liking to classical music and my house is filled with it. Some days she will practice up to three hours. That isn't to say I don't like it when the other kids play, they aren't here and Chris is so busy with school and work I seldom get to hear him play anymore, but he does play. 

Conversation I had with Jessie:
Me: We need to talk about quitting piano lessons.
Jessie: I'm not having this conversation, EVER!

Jessie did do something pretty cool this month. She passed the Running Start test. She will be starting Running Start in September. I guess I just got fired from my job (or was it forced retirement?). 

A Miracle for a Missionary

Elder Michael Blanding suffers from allergies. Last year they didn't bother him at all. This second year in California they have been really bad. On top of that Mike has a very mild form of sleep apnea. The combo of the two has made it very difficult for Mike to sleep and he has been very sleepy and that has been his medical problem.

We were given false information before his mission in that we were told that missionaries could not have c-pap machines while on their mission. Now Mike's sleep apnea isn't bad enough for insurance to cover the cost of a c-pap machine and I have a brother who is a dentist and was willing to make a dental appliance for him. That is how we solved the problem before he left on his mission. (His sleep apnea score is a 5.0 and that is the very bottom for what insurance companies will pay for and because he hasn't had a sleep study in the past 6 months they do not recognize that he has a problem. They start to cover patience at 5.1.) 

For the past month Mike has been suffering while we try to figure out what the problem is and remedy it.

Allergies are hard to fight once they have started, but I sent him a ton of medication as well as instructions on how to get better sleep. His father, who suffers just about as bad as anyone, also was sending helpful hints. 

Then Sister Anderson, the mission nurse, called and we discussed what we needed to do to keep this boy on his mission. She told me that c-pap machines were allowed on the mission and asked me to get the ball rolling on getting one shipped to him. 

Long story short, we have a c-pap machine on a truck on the way to his mission office. We hope this solves the problem for the next four months and that he can finish out his mission. C-pap machines are very expensive! 

Here is a note from him after Sister Anderson called him and told him he was staying:
"I'm going to buy some [white shirts] here. we've been packed with work, but because of the transfer and the need, I'm going to need to go shopping for food anyway, so i'll just buy a few at Ross or something. Also, the good news is I can get a C-pap in the mission, which means... I"M NOT COMING HOME EARLY RIGHT NOW!!!! Sister Anderson was at the baptism on Sunday, so she talked to me and I told her what's been going on. She said that the only thing left she could do was talk with mission medical and I said do it, knowing that it could mean I leave the mission this week. We went to lunch at I-hop with familia pina and I got a call from sis. Anderson which I was sure meant, pack up, your going home, but instead was you can stay and have c-pap, so I'm still here and walking on Cloud 9!"

Side note: Sister Anderson and I know each other. She was the Relief Society President just before I was called back in 2000. And she called me while we were at Disneyland! I was literally 42 miles away from where Mike was and desperately wanted to go do at least a drive by, but sadly we didn't rent a car.