Thursday, April 16, 2009


My little sister does these updates better than anyone, so please take a look at her most latest post:

Since her post, he had an MRI today. He has a tumor on his brain. It is cancer, but it is very small and in a good spot, if that is possible. They are going to treat it with laser surgery. No going in and opening him up (thank goodness), but shoot several lasers at different angles and kill that lesion. The doctor was positively optimistic that it would get rid of that tumor and will not allow for any more to grow there.

I'm scared to be happy with this news because every time we get an answer about his cancer, two to three more questions get raised and they're always, "Let's see what can stump the doctors today" type of questions. Frustrating puts it mildly, but all we can do is remain optimistic and pray. Pray like we've never prayed before. Which is what we all do. It's what all of you are doing.

Thank you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Dad Update

So many people have asked me about my dad. Here's the most recent posting (she did this on Thursday, April 9, 2009) that my sister Cassie did (she lives in Utah about a block away from my parents):

Yesterday seemed like it was going to be just a typical day. I left my house at 7:00am to pick up my parents so we could head up to the Huntsman Cancer Facility for my dad's check up. It was actually to visit with the oncologist to figure out when his Chemo would begin again. Since his surgery 2 weeks ago he has been in more and more pain. Everyday it has gotten worse. To see your father's eyes well up with tears every time he has to stand up really gets to you after a while. Any how this was supposed to be a routine check up and I was going to be home at 10:30am. Well his doctor took one look at him and the amount of pain he is in and called in his other doctors and nurses. We had about 4 doctors and 4 nurses in his room. At that moment a decision was made. They needed to admit him ASAP and get him into surgery...Again. We had very little time to prepare. They got him all ready for surgery and informed us that it would begin in 15 minutes. My mom and I were very nervous. My dad really wanted a blessing. I was able to go to the front desk and ask if they could find two priesthood holders to come and administer a blessing for my dad. Sure enough about 10 minutes later two men in scrubs showed up to give my dad a blessing (definitely a bonus to living in UT). So surgery was performed and sure enough my dad's hip had filled back up with infection, the antibiotics apparently are not working. So he is resting up at Huntsman for now. The lab will culture the infection and if it comes back positive than the next step is major. He will have to have surgery next Wednesday to take out his hip and put in an antibiotic spacer and they probably would not put a hip back in. The doctor said that this is the last resort that they like to do but with the infection and pain that my dad is in it looks like it will be his best option. We continue to go day by day with this and again I cannot thank those who have helped me and my family out enough. We really are blessed!

So Dad is going back into surgery this Wednesday (April 15) to get his hip removed. He will probably go the rest of his life without a hip. Apparently this is possible, I just can't wrap my mind around it yet.

Luckily, I'm going to Utah this Friday to play Aunt Mommy to my sister's six kids, so I'll be close to my parents again and hopefully be some kind of help to them while mommy-ing my nieces and nephews.

Thanks for the kind words, notes, prayers, calls, chats, etc. I am surrounded by AMAZING people and feel the love and prayers you all offer on a daily basis. I have no doubt my parents are strengthened by you too.

Love you all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The LaRue Family

With all the CRAP (sorry) going on with my dad these days, I've gotten a whole new appreciation for my entire family. One of the General Authorities in General Conference a few times back said Cancer is a disease of love. I couldn't understand/comprehend/grasp that phrase until it happened to us and Dad got this dreaded disease.

I have always been a fan of my family. I thank Heavenly Father every single night for sending me to this particular family. I'm even more grateful for them now - for who they are, for how they live their lives, for how we all love each other, for their support and guidance.

I am going to be a little indulgent here and share with you my family and who they are:

Allan LaRue is the patriarch of my family. He's my dad and I've never loved a man more. He has one wife, five daughters (no sons), and two sisters (no brothers) and is therefore surrounded by women who constantly mother him. He has more patience with the women in his life than anyone should have to have, yet it's what he knows and he loves us all. Dad has cancer and is in a lot of pain right now. He hasn't talked much during this time, but you can see the pain/frustration in his eyes and that's hard to see knowing he's hurting. Yet, true to my dad-ness, he says he's grateful this happened to him and not any of his family. He really is quite selfless. I love Love LOVE my dad.

Sharon LaRue is the matriarch of my family, my mom. I went to Utah a couple of weeks ago and spent some really good one-on-one time with my mom while my dad had some more surgery. She and I are a LOT alike in so many ways and it was comforting to share with someone the strange quirks that I have. I love my mom and I love how much she loves us and especially loves my dad. This cancer has put us all through the ringer, but most especially my mom. She sits all day in Dad's hospital room, just needing to be near him and near his doctors. It's inspiring to see the love that is between them.

Leslie LaRue Julian is my oldest sister. She lives in Colorado with her husband Jason Julian, has 3 boys (James, Jake, and Jackson Julian), 1 girl (Jonni Julian), 1 daughter-in-law (Tabitha), and 1 granddaughter (Olivia) (my sister is a grandmaw, can you believe it?!?). I believe she has coined the phrase "Suck it up," or if she didn't come up with it, has used it more than anyone else on this earth. She not only says that phrase, she believes in it wholeheartedly and applies it to her life as she expects others to apply it to theirs. She's one of the hardest workers I know and really loves her family. I think she's happiest when they are all together at a wrestling tournament of some sort. I really love my sister Leslie.

Stacey LaRue Johnson is my 2nd oldest sister. She lives in Utah with her husband Kirk Johnson and her two sons Travis and Dylan Johnson. Stacey has discovered how to paint. And man alive does she do it well. I get so excited to see her new masterpieces - usually one a month or so, and feel privileged that I have one of her originals hanging on my wall. I'm proud to display it in my bedroom right now and can't wait to have a house some day where I can show it off a little more. Stacey is Switzerland in our family. She's always been neutral in arguments, fights, skirmishes, etc. that the LaRue girls seem to occasionally have. I love Stacey and am grateful she's my sister.

Andrea LaRue Derrick is my sister that is just 18 months younger than me. She is married to Ron Derrick and has seven children (6 girls, 1 boy): Bryndee, Porter, Torie, Kymber, Abby, Ellie, and Taralee Derrick. Andrea and her family live about five miles away from me and I get to share in their lives. Their home is my home and I'm so grateful to be a part of their family. Andrea loves to cook and is a part of a line of fabulous cooks: my grandma, my mom, and Andi. All of my sisters are fantastic cooks, but because Andrea lives near me, I get to experience her cooking the most, and she's excellent. She loves recipe books (sits down and reads them like they're novels) and loves to try new things. I love Andrea. She's my best friend and I'm grateful that she's my sister as well as my friend.

Cassie LaRue Kerby is my baby sister. Cassie is married to Chad Kerby and has 3 boys (Tyler, Andrew, and Max Kerby) and 3 girls (Raegan, Kalli, and Sydney Kerby). Cassie is Supermom. This girl can go Go GO better than anyone. She's happiest when she's on the move, whether it's carting her kids around town, helping my mom and dad with their massive amounts of doctor appointments, being a bishop's wife, going on fun excursions (Disneyland, Boston, Guatemala, New York, etc.), and being one of the most embarrassing parents in America (anyone see Rachael Ray?). I love my baby sister and am inspired by all that she does and accomplishes.

I love my family and appreciate you taking a moment to get to know them a bit better. I think they're pretty terrific and am humbled to be able to call them family.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just be happy.

I found this in the October 2008 Real Simple magazine and I loved it. I'm going to type it up word for word so you can get the full gist of this article. I've been asked by several people lately to update my blog a bit more frequently (though I'm not sure what to say other than, "Yes, I'm still in debt" and "Yes, I'm still working on it"). So I'm going to start posting a bit more on more random things and I hope you forgive me if you're looking for straight up me-getting-out-of-debt info. That's important and I'll update/post whenever something happens on that, but will sprinkle in other things too.


How happy are you - really? If there's room for improvement, then Gretchen Rubin has some suggestions. After spending a full year studying the art - and science - of true contentment, she found her bliss and some surprising nuggets of wisdom.

A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.

"What do I want from life?" I asked myself. "Well...I want to be happy." I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls, ages 1 and 7; I was a writer, living in my favorite city. I had friends; I had my health; I didn't have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?

I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that's the kind of thing that appeals to me.) In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture. If I followed all the advice, I wanted to know, would it work?

Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

1. Don't start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I'm feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I'm feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things - learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places - are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to "Enjoy the fun of failure" and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don't treat the blues with a "treat." Often the things I choose as "treats" aren't good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it's easy to think, I'll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine...a pint of ice cream...a cigarette...a new pair of jeans, it's worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do and having a sense of control. Money doesn't automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I've learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness bang for the buck.

7. Don't insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the past sauce that has the qualities they want, they're satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can't make a decision until they've examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they're often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, "I'm just too tired to go to the gym?" Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn't working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn't realized how shrewdish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying "Milk!" instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You're born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that's that. Although it's true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won't take you a whole year.

(You can check out Gretchen Rubin's blog at