Monday, December 31, 2007

Sometimes the ups outnumber the downs

We've been here in California just about 2 weeks now. I think this is the longest break I've taken from blogging since I started back in Feb. 2006! Sorry to my faithful readers who've checked in to only be disappointed by my lack of new posts. I've been absolutely spoiled here. I haven't had to think about what to make for dinner. I've had no piano lessons to teach. I've had help with Dean all day long. It's been fabulous.

First off: The airplane situation went ok. Our plane was delayed 2 1/2 hours so we were in the airport forever! He would have done really well had we left on time. He cried about 1/2 hour before we boarded and about 10 min. or so on the plane. We had a few glares, and one person moved to avoid sitting in front of us, but overall he slept quite a bit and did well enough. Not bad for a 2 mo. old who's a fusser under normal circumstances.

He's really started behaving much better here. I guess it's due mostly to him getting older. He's starting to figure out the whole smiling thing and he has longer periods of awake contentment. Christmas day was probably his best day ever. He went down easily, was happy when he was awake, and had minimal fussiness. What more could I ask for? It was a Christmas miracle. His behavior modification has been a relief as I am getting a little burned out on the incessant crying sprees. Like the one he had tonight.

Jimmeny Christmas! He's been so much better the past two weeks I'd almost forgotten what it was like at home. He was out of control crying. You know, the kind where he holds his breath followed by a piercing scream. Three of us took turns trying our best tricks to calm him down and he'd have none of it. But he finally did go to sleep. I'm just hoping this is a mere bump in the road and that he'll continue to improve with age.

I forgot to bring my camera hook ups for the computer so no pictures yet.

But speaking of pictures here's a funny little ditty. While taking family pictures on Christmas day, I accidentally walked in front of the camera while Th. was taking a picture. That resulted in a nice close up bum shot. I'd quite forgotten about the bum shot until tonight. Th. said as they were looking at the family pictures with their son Big O, he kept asking "Where's Celia?" on the pictures I wasn't in. When they got to the bum shot he said, "Oh, there she is!" (He's 4 and probably right at the height to ID me by my bum.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Perfect timing

Nothing like having to cancel your credit card right before you take a trip because there's been fraudulent activity on a crazy website that's not even in English.

What's worse is they had the 3 digit code on the back as well which means they hacked an online transaction somewhere along the way.

Why do people have to be such jerks? And at Christmas time nonetheless.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Over the river and through the clouds

To grandmother's house we go. Or to Dean's grandmother's that is. And luckily for us we don't have to rely on a horse and carriage to get us to northern CA.

But I am a bit worried to fly with an infant. I'm worried about being that passenger. You know. The one you dread to be seated next to.

At least we have a non-stop flight.

We're leaving tomorrow evening and will be gone until the 3rd. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post while I'm there. If not, Merry Christmas everyone! (And a Happy New Year.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Could I have a big red bow for that?

Well, Merry Christmas to us.

Last night we signed all the papers and handed over a nice little (little?!?) check for a down payment on a new car. Unfortunately the car is not on the premises here in McKinney and has to be transported from another dealership. The expected arrival date is the day after we leave for CA, so unless it gets here early, we will pick up our silver 2008 Toyota Rav 4 (2 wheel drive and as basic as it comes) when we return in January. This is second only to our house in the way of $$. Sheesh. It's a good thing for financing.

It will make for a boring Christmas morning since we won't be unwrapping any presents, but really, I'll take the car.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You know you're tired when

You know you're tired when you fall asleep while actually saying the family prayer. It was pretty funny when Matt had to wake me up.

We had a really full week last week with my in-laws here. We had a lot of fun and almost bought a car. We would have bought it if they had been able to get their hands on what we wanted. Who knew it would be so difficult to get a 2007-2008 Toyota Rav-4 with a V6 engine without the bells and whistles (and in a decent color)? Apparently people who want a V6 don't want a basic car. I guess we'll try again after Christmas. Too bad since we're not sure our Neon will actually make it to the airport next Tuesday since it tends to almost over heat at freeway speeds.

And now I need to work like mad to get my Christmas/birth announcement cards done. It's much harder to do projects with a little baby who needs attention I must say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dean by the tree

I know he's still just a little guy and can't really do that much that's entertaining, but here's his first video debut by the Christmas tree. This was taken last Tuesday. Also, we took pictures for our Christmas cards last night. We're not using this picture, but I thought it was a great frowny face.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Getting to know you: Christmas Edition

My aunt sent this in an email so I thought I'd put my responses up here.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
  • Gift bags are nice because they're reusable. However, I do use both. One thing that's fun is using plain brown wrapping (like you'd use to cover a book to keep it from getting damaged) and then doing different things with the bows and tags.
Real or Fake tree?
  • We always cut our trees fresh from the forest growing up, and those were some great memories. We have a $10 tree from IKEA in our house now. It works.
When do you put up the tree?
  • I would love to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling that we won't put it up until Dec. 1st as a martial compromise.
When do you take down the tree?
  • New Year's day? Or whenever we get back from our parents' house after Christmas/ the New Year.
Favorite gift received as a child?
  • Not sure. I know I really liked the dolls and pound puppies my mom made. Can't think of anything else that sticks out in my mind.
Do you have a nativity scene?
  • One. I got it in Guatemala. I love it. They're in brightly colored traditional Guatemalan dress. I wouldn't mind getting others. My mother-in-law collects nativities and I think it would be a fun collection.
Hardest person to buy for?
  • My brother Eric.
Easiest person to buy for?
  • Me. Just kidding! Um. Matt, however, his wanted items are usually some pricey computer part like a new processor or video card or something.
Worst present you ever received?
  • Is any present a bad present? I mean, seriously, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. (Is that the phrase? It sounds really weird once I type it.)
Mail or email Christmas Cards?
  • Both. I love making Christmas cards, but it's hard make enough/ get them out to EVERYONE I want to. Good heavens it's expensive to mail cards now a days.
Favorite Christmas movie?
  • Best Christmas Pageant Ever. A Christmas Story. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Depending on my mood.)
When do you start Christmas shopping?
  • Whenever I see something that screams "CHRISTMAS PRESENT!" but usually it's sometime between late November and mid-December.
Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
  • Hmmm...I wouldn't put it past me, though I can't recall a specific time.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
  • At my parents' house I love to eat: our traditional shredded wheat breakfast on Christmas morning. Also, my mom's date balls are good. And in the stockings I always like the malt balls the best. Oh, and cheese balls are good too.
  • At Matt's parents' house I love to eat: homemade chex mix. And burritos from El Gran. It's not a Christmas thing, really, but we're only there at Christmas time and boy are they good.
Clear or colored lights on the tree?
  • Colored for sure. Unless it's an angel tree. But for a regular tree, colored.
Favorite Christmas song?
  • I like "What Child is this?" a lot. Silent night is great. And for a secular song, Ella Fitzgerald's version of Jingle Bells.
Travel or stay home for Christmas?
  • Right now it's travel. We've yet to spend a Christmas on our own. We're on the "every-other-year" Christmas schedule with our parents. Once Dean hits 2 and we have to buy him a plane ticket, we might start reconsidering.
Can you name all the reindeer?
  • Heck yes.
Angel or star on top of the tree?
  • I don't have either, but I'd probably say star.
Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
  • Christmas morning for sure.
Most annoying thing about this time of year?
  • TV commercials that use tweaked Christmas songs to sell their products
What do you love most about Christmas?
  • Time off of normal life to spend with family.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Blessing

On Sunday Matt blessed Dean. It was very nice. My in-laws were able to come so that's been fun. The outfit we blessed him in was my father-in-law's christening outfit. Matt, his brother, and Lady Steed & Th.'s two boys were blessed in it. So we kept the tradition going.

Here are the promised pictures.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Possible disaster.

well, last week at my check up my doctor spoke with me about birth control and put me back on the pill. i was told that it could temporarily decrease my milk supply but that it should come back after a little bit. i've been on it a week and I've noticed a definite change in my milk supply for the worse. up until now i've had ample. now i feel like he never gets enough to eat and he sucks me dry quickly. i'm starting to get cracked and i hurt.

i'm angry at myself that i didn't research it more than my dr's word. after looking at things on the internet tonight, i've decided it was the wrong decision to start at all. hopefully i can get back to my normal supply by stopping now. it's only been 1 week.

i am angry and sore and i hope this isn't a horrible disaster.

on a totally unrelated side note, we blessed him today at church. I'll post pics and write about that later though. my in-laws are in town, so it's a little harder to find time to post at the moment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When in doubt, check it out

We got our bill for my hospital stay. When we saw it we were a little surprised. We have an EPO where our co-pay for inpatient hospital visits should be $150 with 100% covered after that. But the bill was for $506.

I called today to check it out.

The first guy told me that the bill was right. That the $506 was our % we had to pay. I didn't know exactly what our plan was, so I hung up and called Matt. He said that was wrong since 100% was supposed to be covered after the initial $150.

So I called again.

The next lady was just as clueless as the first guy, but when I explained what I understood our coverage to be, she transferred me to a claims resolution dept.

After taking one look at the statement, that lady said, "Oh, they definitely read this wrong and charged you incorrectly. You're supposed to only be charged a one time $150 co-pay. They charged you $150 for every day you were there."

So, the moral of my story is: when in doubt, check it out. If it seems you're paying too much for something, you just might be.

(Oh, and they charged us $56 for being in a private room. The hospital only offered private rooms. Don't get me wrong, given a choice of a shared room that's 100% covered or upgrading to a private for $56, I'd have chosen the private room, but it seems odd that they don't cover a private room when private rooms are the only option in the hospital!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looks like who?

I personally think he looks most like Grandpa Brasfield's baby picture. I wish I had baby pictures of all of my siblings, though, so we could make a fair comparison. (Scroll over for names)

Monday, November 26, 2007

5 weeks post op

Well, it's been 5 weeks since I had my little Dean. I had my six week check up today and everything looks good. I'm 3 lbs. from my starting weight, but my body doesn't quite look it. But what can I expect when I had major surgery and can't exercise yet? Sometime soon I'll be able to work on flattening the pooch. It could be worse.

Dean's doing better. He's still pretty fussy, but we figured out at least one reason he was crying soooo much. After reading the Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, we realized he was tired beyond tired as well as overstimulated. He has a really hard time falling asleep if anything else is going on around him. So, he's not one of those babies that just falls asleep when he's tired. We've been working on noticing his tired signs from the outset and try putting him down immediately. It doesn't always work, and sometimes it takes him 30+ min. to fall asleep, but he's been much better with the extra sleep. He also has gas that contributes to his fussiness. I think my holiday eating has agreed with his stomach.

But enough of this blab. Lets get to the pictures. The pictures in the green shirt are from today. (I love the one where it looks like he's dancing.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Curses...but I guess I'll still give thanks

Well, the Brasfields are notorious for having car trouble on Thanksgiving. You'd think we'd be exempt from that curse this year since we were not planning on driving any more than the 2 miles to Walmart and back. Yeah. Matt went to get some foil and had to call me from a pay phone when our car wouldn't start. Dead as a doornail.

Since we only have the one car, I had to call our friends to go pick him up or give him a jump. Luckily the car was jump-able, but even after letting it run for half an hour, it wouldn't restart once turned off. Dangity, dang, dang. My father-in-law said it could either just be our battery or it could be our alternator. I think it's been about 3 years since we changed our battery last, so it's possible that's it. Then again, this car is falling apart and I wouldn't be surprised if it were the alternator (or both).

So, we're going to try and fix it. On the upside, I am thankful this is going to help expedite our new car search. We've put it off because it's a bit overwhelming and we really don't know anything about cars or what we want. That means a lot of research. But I think we're shooting to find a new car before the year is over. That means furniture will have to wait. But I don't mind. I'd love to have a new car.

After looking online until about 1:30 AM, we are considering getting some sort of SUV crossover. Not an SUV. Not a mini-van. Not a compact. It's either going to be a crossover or a large sedan. Maybe a Toyota Rav4. That was looking fairly decent last night. We originally thought we'd get a lightly used car and buy it outright, but we've noticed that the cars that will suit our purposes and last awhile (even lightly used) are still quite pricey. So for the first time in our lives we're going to have a car payment.

My other Thanksgiving curse: my pumpkin pie was too salty. Blast it! Without thinking I used kosher salt in my filling since I had it out for my crust. After I dumped it in I knew I'd made a mistake. But I hoped it wasn't going to be too noticeable. It wasn't HORRIBLE, but it wasn't good. So I think it's headed for the trash. Last year I had a pumpkin pie mishap as well. I had a major miagrain when I was making my pies last year and I forgot my crust made two crusts, but my filling made 1 filling. I split it in half. It tasted good, but the pies were so thin!! Haha. I guess even good cooks can have an off day. Or item.

My pecan pie, on the other hand, turned out splendidly as did the rest of the dinner. (Thanks for coming and bringing your goods Erin and Christian!)

Oh, and the other little blessing for the day: Dean slept through the whole dinner and almost through our entire game of Settlers of Catan!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In all things give thanks.

When everything in life is a gift from God (from the air we breath to the ones we love), it's hard to verbalize my gratitude sufficiently. Here are a few things I am most grateful for today.

  1. My husband who is a source of great strength for me.
  2. My son who recently joined our family. He was worth the wait and prayers.
  3. The Doctors and technology that made it possible for him to join our family.
  4. My parents and siblings as well as my extended family. I'm extremely sad to miss out on the huge family gathering this weekend for my Grandma's birthday celebration.
  5. Good friends from all stages of my life.
  6. The ability to keep in touch with friends and family I can't see on a daily (or yearly!) basis.
  7. A house to live in.
  8. My husband's job and the opportunity it affords me to stay home with our baby.
  9. Food to eat.
  10. Public toilets* that flush, have doors on the stalls (and actual toilets in the stalls rather than a trough!), provide toilet paper, and soap and water to wash hands.
*Though it's been almost 7 years since I lived in China, #10 is still quite important and amazing to me.*

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A cute Thanksgiving Craft

Since many of you have young children, I thought I'd link this cute turkey craft page of my friend Emily. You can do it with your kids or by yourself if you need some new fall decorations. The instructions are here from Martha Stewart Living.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The holiday at hand: The Menu

Turkey Time
Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey (recipe link)
Last year we discovered the delights of brining the turkey. Sure it adds an extra step, but oh is it worth it! Additionally, the use of a digital probe thermometer is absolutely ESSENTIAL for not over or under cooking the turkey. We didn't use the candied ginger or the allspice, and I don't think the aromatics really added much, but the rest was superb. We used our camping food chest to hold the brine.

We've always done a small (but whole) turkey, even though it's just the two of us. But neither of us eats dark meat, and truthfully I don't eat a whole lot of white meat. And I think boiling the carcass for soup was one of the most disgusting byproducts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is one thing I don't think I'll ever be able to do with meat/bones... So this year we thought we'd buy just the turkey breast with ribs. We'll still brine and follow the same general process set out by Alton, but it will just be a lot quicker. Less waste. We'll see how it turns out.

To dress or stuff?
I myself prefer dressing. I don't like the idea of eating something that's been stuffed inside the skeleton of something else. It's the same thing, just in a side dish.

My family's traditional dressing is a cornbread stuffing. Honestly, growing up, the look of it kind of grossed me out. I like it well enough now, but I think I prefer a white bread dressing. I haven't yet found my perfect recipe, so this year will be another new creation. Last year I made sourdough stuffing from scratch. It was pretty good, but this year I will use french bread.

I don't want apples or sweet things in it. I will omit sausage if the recipe calls for it. I just want it to be bread, vegetables, broth and seasonings. I think I might just try this one.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
A must have from scratch. Russet Potatoes. I wanted to buy a potato ricer this year, but Matt says he likes a few lumps here and there. So they will be mashed rustic home style by hand. Since we'll have no drippings this year due to our turkey change, we'll have to make a gravy out of chicken broth, a roux from butter and flour, and seasonings. We've done this before and it's worked nicely.

Green Bean Casserole
This was a Bras(s) fam. addition since I never had it growing up. I enjoy its presence on the table.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE—serves 4 grown people
¾ C. milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz. or so) bag frozen green beans, thawed (can also used canned, but I prefer frozen)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can French fried onions

Mix together milk, soup and pepper. Stir in beans. Stir in some of the onions, but keep some out for the topping added at the end of baking. Bake in a casserole dish on 350* for 20 min. or until it is hot and bubbling. Top with remaining onions and bake 5 min. longer or until crispy.

No Rock, just Rolls
I think we've done rolls differently every year. I've made my mom's wheat rolls, regular white rolls, frozen rolls, etc. I haven't decided yet what I will do this year. Mom's are really good though, so I'll put down the recipe.

2 ½ C. warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
½ C. sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 C. oil
2 eggs, beaten
4 C. wheat flour
3 ½ C. white flour
butter melted to dip

1. Mix the yeast and a little sugar into the water. Let sit about 10 min. or until bubbly. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Mix with an electric hand mixer.
2. Add the flour in one cup at a time, starting with the wheat flour. Use the hand mixer for the wheat and knead in the white. Put in a clean, oiled bowl. Let it rise once to double (about an hour). Punch it down and roll out thin.
3. Cut out circles with a cup. Dip ½ of the circle in the butter, place on a greased baking sheet and fold over to make a half moon shape. Let them rise until double and bake in a preheated oven at 350* for 15 min.

Something for the Pie Hole
I have tried many pie crust recipes. Butter crusts, butter-shortening crusts, shortening crusts. You name it, I've tried it. I think the most frustrating part of pie crust making is the water. Recipes always say to use as little water as possible, just until it sticks together in a ball. Unfortunately, this often leaves people with a crumbly mess because they don't put enough liquid in. It's always better to use a little too much water than not enough. I promise.

I got the best crust recipe from my friend Pam this year. I was surprised to see the recipe because it was an all shortening crust (which I generally don't prefer). The last few years I've gone to shortening-butter crusts, but this year I'll replace it with Pam's recipe. It's different from other shortening recipes because it includes vinegar, an egg, and enough water. It makes 3 crusts at a time, so you can either freeze the extra or make a couple pies! The only thing I altered was the salt. Her recipe didn't call for any, and since there's no salted butter in it, I really think it a necessary addition. The crust was flakey, hearty, easy to work with, and baked up beautifully. This year I will make 3 pies because I will have 3 crusts.

Pam's Pie Crust

This recipie makes enough crust for 3 pies.
5 cups flour
2 cups shortening
1 TBSP vinegar
1 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 1\2 tsp salt (I always use kosher salt when baking)

Combine flour, salt and shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together, vinegar, water, and egg then add to flour mixture. Mix until just blended and forms a nice ball. Separate into 3 equal sections. Form each 1/3 into a ball. Place between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten into a disk by hand. If it seems a little sticky, sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and lightly rub to cover. Continue to roll out in a circle with a rolling pin. Flip you pie pan upside down and roll the crust 2 in. bigger than the lip of the pan. Place in pie pan. Be sure to poke holes in bottom of crust.

1. Pumpkin Pie. Brasfield's recipe. A must. I'm using fresh sugar pumpkin. A question arose on my sister's blog about using large pumpkins for pies. I have used large pumpkins and it works great too. I truthfully didn't notice a difference in taste. The large pumpkins take longer to bake since they're about twice as thick. And you'll have tons of pumpkin. But that's not a bad thing since it freezes well. Both sugar pumpkins and large pumpkins are noticably better than canned. I was shocked to see the difference in color, smell, and taste when I compared canned and fresh pumpkin side by side. Canned isn't horrible, just not as good.

To cook fresh pumpkin:
So, cut the top off, clean out the pumpkin, cut it into chunks and cook it on a cookie sheet at about 350 for an hour or more (depending on the thickness) until it's tender. Peel off the skin and puree in the blender or food processor with a little bit of milk.

Pumpkin Pie filling:
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk
2 C pumpkin puree (canned or fresh-if canned, make sure it's not pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin)

Combine the pumpkin with the milk and other liquid ingredients. Add all the other ingredients and whisk or beat well until smooth. It will be very runny, but that is how it should be at this point. Pour into an unbaked pie crust. Cover the crust (not the whole pie, just the crust) with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 425* for 15 min. Without opening the oven, reduce temperature to 350* and bake for 45 min. Take the foil off the last 10 min. or so of baking.

2. Pecan Pie. Waterman's recipe. I've had a lot of bad pecan pies, but my mom's recipe is great. Very rich, but not too runny or gloppy or anything.

3 eggs
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C. melted butter
1 C corn syrup
1 1/2 C. pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375*. Beat the first 5 ingredients together. Place pecans on the bottom of an unbaked pie crust and pour liquid mixture on top of the pecans. Bake 45 min. (You might want to put foil under the pie pan to catch any drips.

3. Some new creation. I love watching the Food Network pie bake off, and think it would be awesome to come up with a great new creation to compete with in the competition. Past Thanksgivings I've made coconut cream pie (I'm not so good at those. The custard is hard to master.), and I've also tried buttermilk pie (a favorite of my sister's family), but it was just a little too rich for me. I made an apple pie a couple months ago, so I don't think I'll do that (but I do have a great apple pie recipe if anyone wants it).

So I'm looking for a good new creation. Something I've never made before. Anyone have a good suggestion? In reality, I'll probably not have time for the third pie, but I wouldn't mind finding a great new recipe.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas confession

I generally am a vocal advocate for starting the Christmas season (i.e. music and decorations) the day after Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving is an important and often overlooked holiday. Once Halloween is over (and sometimes before) stores clear out their fall items and move immediately on to Christmas, skipping that holiday in between. Costco had their Christmas items stocked and out in August! So, I try to create a little space in my life for the Thanksgiving holiday.

But I have to confess.

I started listening to Christmas music yesterday. I think I just needed a little extra cheer since I have a cry-some baby. It helps. He seems to like it too. At least his crying subsided a bit when I had it on. (He also seems to like the Remember the Titans soundtrack.)

Since it's on my mind (and on my computer--Pandora's the greatest) I'll let you in on what I like in the way of Christmas listening.

My favorites are the classics:
Ella Fitzgerald
Bing Crosby
Nat King Cole
Luis Armstrong
Frank Sinatra
Big Band Christmas
Perry Como

Now, I didn't really grow up on any of these. I mostly associate Mannheim Steamroller and the Vienna Boys Choir with Christmas at my parents'. I first got hooked on Big Band and these classics my freshman year of college. One of my roommates had the CD Ella Fitzgerald wishes you a swinging Christmas. Her version of Jingle Bells may be my favorite Christmas song. After getting hooked on that CD I went out and bought the other artists' Christmas CDs from her Era. Love it. The "swinging" songs make me the happiest and get my toes a tapping.

I also like to throw in:
SheDaisy (I have to admit I fought my roommates on this one a little because they're "country". But I soon became converted and 6 years later it's one of my most listened to Christmas albums.)
Jackson 5

Pandora does an excellent job of adding other artists to my list. I may not even bust out my actual CDs this year because of that website.

Oh and by the way

When Matt found out I'd started listening to Christmas music he gave me the "how dare you" head shake and said, "It's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

He believes that the Christmas season starts 2 weeks prior to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Resistance is futile

Unfortunately it seems Dean takes after me in the sleeping department. He fights it. He'll have one eye closed and one eye slightly open for an hour, unwilling to submit himself fully to his sleepiness. Or his eyes will droop, droop, droop, and he appears asleep when BAM! His eyes shoot open wide and he cries. I don't know why he fights it. Sleep is when he seems the happiest. He even has what appears to be an occasional smile...

My mom said that I stopped taking naps all together by the time I was 1 year. How dare I! I always had a hard time falling asleep. In high school I could lay in bed for hours tired but unable to sleep. It wasn't until I got married that I learned to fall asleep within minutes of laying down.

Matt, on the other hand, has always loved sleeping. He can fall asleep within seconds of hitting the pillow. If only Dean were like his daddy in this regard. Sleep will eventually have to come. Why fight it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Too much too soon

I was afraid it was too soon. Though I am ready, Dean was not.

I tried teaching piano lessons yesterday. He was sooo tired but would not go to sleep because of everything else that was going on. So what did he do during the 2 hours? Cried. A lot.

So I learned my lesson. I'm not just on my time schedule anymore. I have to think about someone else.

I'm pushing back my other lessons until at least after Thanksgiving. They might end up being pushed back until after Christmas. Really I wouldn't mind doing that, but I feel bad affecting 13 other people like that. But who's most important to me right now? Dean. So, one step at a time I guess. I can only do what I can do. And that's less than what I used to be able to do. I need to get used to that for now.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mana from Heaven

You know, I think the LDS church organization and community are quite amazing.

Before I had my baby I had our compassionate service coordinator (a person in charge of coordinating service for people in need) send an email to the ward asking if anyone had a swing we could borrow for awhile (to see if Dean was a swinger). We didn't want to throw down a lot of money on an item that he may or may not like and will grow out of fairly quickly. I had people (some I didn't even know) email me, more than willing to lend me their $140 Papasan swing! AMAZING.

And then there's the meal thing. When people are sick, moving, having babies, etc. other people sign up to bring meals to them. These people generally aren't relatives, nor are they always close/best friends (though sometimes they are). However, we feel we need to look after each other (even if we are just acquaintances) because we're a part of the same ward family. It's such a blessing since many of us don't have relatives close by. It makes me feel watched over and cared for.

Matt felt a little bad that people were bringing us meals the few days just after my parents left since I was recovering fairly well and he's an able bodied soul. I know we could have made it on our own, but it was quite a blessing to have one less thing to worry about for a few days at least. I figure sometimes we give and sometimes we receive.

When we got home from the store today we had a message on our machine saying someone was bringing us food tonight. We hadn't expected it, but it was much appreciated! Ribs, salad, rolls, and a DELICIOUS pumpkin dessert. Like mana from heaven. A very nice surprise. Not only that, they also brought gifts for Dean! HOW NICE!!

So thank you ward. Thanks for the great meals, service, pumpkin bread (thanks Emily!), gifts, friendship, and swing. I appreciate it and am in awe of your generosity.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Here we come chubs

We took Dean in for his 2 week wellness check up and he's gained a whole pound in 2 weeks! He now weighs 9 lbs. 7 oz! The doctor kept stressing that 1 lb. in that short of a time was a lot. What can I say? My mom said by her children's 6 week check ups they'd almost doubled in weight. We produce eaters I guess.

We've been a little concerned about him being slightly tongue tied. His frenulum looks pretty tight (I haven't seen him stick his tongue out beyond his lip), but it obviously hasn't kept him from obtaining proper nutrition from nursing. The on-call doctor we saw in the hospital commented on it and suggested we look into getting it clipped. I think it could be helpful, but the doctor we saw yesterday was pretty opposed to it. He said that Dean isn't being adversely affected by it and that in all his years of practice he's only seen a handful of babies that really were "tongue tied." He said if it's not a problem, don't try and fix it. So, I'm not sure what we should do.

He has totally broken out in baby acne. I hope it doesn't get much worse and clears up fairly quickly. Most of what I've read says it generally clears up on its own by 4 months. I hope it doesn't take that long...

He has allergies. I've never heard anyone (let alone a baby!) sneeze as many times in a row as he does. He sneezes a lot and has been a little congested since we were in the hospital. Poor kid. Hopefully it gets a little better once winter sets in and kills off the pollen allergens.

He's a crier. Since he's doing well feeding, we decided to try and give him a pacifier to help keep him a little happier when he's awake. He sucks on his hand to self soothe, and we'd rather he not. The first couple attempts were failures, but he did take it last night, and it helped him not cry while Matt was holding him while I made dinner. He cries about half of the time he's awake. I'm not too concerned. He'll figure this world out soon enough.

His stump is gone. He has an innie. Mostly at least.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tagged for 6

My friend Diane tagged me for 6 things about me. After my 100 things about me (in 4 installments) awhile back, I don't know what more to say. But I'll take a stab at it.

1. Sometimes I start books and don't finish them. For instance, this year I tried to read Moby Dick since it's my brother's favorite. I read it for a couple weeks, but it was slow going and I kept falling asleep. Dang. Another similar experience was with Tess of the d'Urbvilles. I just couldn't keep reading after awhile. While I wish I'd finished them to say I've read them, I don't really care that I stopped short.

2. I have a hard time keeping plants alive. I just seem to forget to water them regularly. It's a good thing Matt's much better about it.

3. I store my Tupperware lids according to type and size of lids for easy finding. I can't stand piles of lids in a jumbled mess. OCPD? Maybe. But maybe I just like my lids in order.

4. Postpartum is the first time I've used maxi pads since 8th grade. What more can I say? (I probably already said too much.)

5. I'm not a fan of talking on the phone. Aside from speaking with my family, phone talking is a little awkward for me. I kind of cringe when I hear the phone ring. I don't hate talking on the phone, I just usually don't enjoy it.

6. I LOVE steakhouse and pepper jerky. For one who was a vegetarian for about 10 years, my sheer enjoyment of it's kind of odd, but I love the spicy/salty combination a lot. I really don't care for original and I dislike teriyaki.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Last October I applied with the McKinney School District to be a substitute teacher. I didn't hear anything at all, got a different job, and just let it go thinking it odd that I couldn't even get a SUBBING job when all the teachers I knew said they were short on subs.

Last week I got an email thanking me for my interest in substitute teaching. The orientation is November 15th.

Man that's some efficiency for you. Over a year before making any contact.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Never too young to start...right?

There are so many types of fountains.

Water fountains: Good
Drinking fountains: Good
Soda fountains: Good
Chocolate fountains: Good

Spit up fountains: Not so good
Pee Fountains: Bad
Poo fountains: Worse

Dean likes the latter three the most right now. He is such a poo machine that even though I change him after he's gone, he goes again while I'm changing him. Sheesh. Can't the kid take a little break from the pooping? I see endless laundry and diapers for the next couple of years. A week and a half isn't too young to start potty training, now is it? Any tips on changing boys (other than speed) so I can at least avoid the fountain part and him squirting all over?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hallows Eve

Before my parents left for home yesterday we went on our first excursion with Dean (besides the Dr.). I needed to get some nursing bras from Target so we all packed up and headed out. It was exhausting! Even just trying things on and walking was tiring. Dean was pretty good, though he did require Grandma and Grandpa to hold him while I was trying things on. And then my parents drove home. It was sad. But the time had come.

When Matt got home from work we each carved 2 pumpkins. It was quite fun. I think our most successful year yet for pumpkin carving.

We didn't really get many trick or treaters. I think it's because we live on a cul-de-sac with BORING neighbors. We were the only people on our street (that we could tell) with our porch lights on and pumpkins lit. So, I think that kept most people from coming. But in reality, I was ok with that.

I didn't get to put Dean's cute Halloween outfits on since his cord hasn't quite fallen off yet. It's hanging by a thread, but it's still there. No matter, we'll let him be Daddy's little monster as long as he fits the outfit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy 1 week!

I don't have much else to write about right now other than baby and recovery, so if you're looking for something other than that, you can sadly move on to another blog...

The first night home was not very restful to say the least. We tried having him sleep in the pack n' play bassinet, but he just didn't like it much. Plus he was just trying to get used to this crazy world still. My sister gave me advice that has seemed to prove invaluable. CAR SEAT SLEEPING! He's been sleeping much better at night snuggled in his car seat. I can even catch a moment here and there to write a little blog update because of it. Maybe I'll be able to shower sometime too!

My parents have been here and helping. It's so nice to have help. While I feel I'm recovering quickly and feeling quite good considering I underwent a major surgery last week, I get tired and overwhelmed still. Yesterday I didn't cry at the overwhelmingness of it all though. That's a good sign. It's really easy to underestimate the time and energy required to take care of a newborn. I think the most overwhelming thing to think about it teach piano again. I'm going to have to rearrange my schedule so I teach for shorter times Monday - Friday. Right now it's just Monday - Wednesday for longer stretches. I don't think that will work any more. I hope I can still teach and figure it out with a baby, but I may just have to take maternity leave from it if it gets to be too much.

We took Dean in for his 1 week weigh-in and jaundice check. I'd been a little worried because he only eats about 10 min. max before falling asleep. I can sometimes wake him to get two sides in for 10 min. He is eating every two hours or fewer though (even at night since I'm going according to his schedule). My fears were abated when he hit the scales. They tried to preface the weigh in with "Now, don't worry, it's very common for babies (especially breast fed babies) to lose weight in the first week." Then they weighed him. 8 lbs. 12 oz.! He has gained 6 oz. since birth. I don't know what his weight was when we left the hospital, but I must be producing ice cream or something for him to gain off of 10 min. feedings. =)

Also, the doctor said he was the least jaundiced looking breast-fed baby she'd ever seen! AWESOME. I mean, we definitely produced a pooper (we've already gone through a whole package of newborn diapers!), so that helps him out in that dept.

I am not very good at "taking it easy". I picked him up in his car seat to move him from the kitchen to the living room (while my parents were out running) and while it's under the 20 lb. limit, I can feel it in my gut (literally!) I shouldn't have done that. Oops. Mom and dad are leaving tomorrow morning, so I'm going to have to figure out how to do what I need to without doing too much. I think my list of "need to" will need to shrink a bit.

So here are a few more pictures from last night. The picture up top was from this morning.

Hey, where's my food???

Friday, October 26, 2007

Week 40

Well, he made it! My water broke on Monday night/ Tuesday morning at midnight. I wasn't sure if it was my water breaking or an unfortunate bladder moment because it wasn't a huge gush and I hadn't experienced any contractions or other indications of labor. But it kept trickling and after about 15 min. sporadic contractions began. I called the Dr. to see if I should go and check it out, and she said to come on in. By the time we got to the hospital my contractions were 5 min. apart.

I was only dilated to a 2, but they decided to keep me since my water had, in fact, broken. I labored until 9 AM without an epidural, but I wasn't making very quick progress. I had thrown up twice and the contractions were pretty intense, so I asked for an epidural. RIGHT MOVE!!!!

I labored until about 4 PM with the epidural, so it wasn't too bad. They told me I finally hit a 10 but he was still pretty high, so we shouldn't push yet. The epidural started to wear off by about 6 PM when the doctor showed up and decided to try and push him out. (The hospital was packed, so the nurses only checked on me once every two hours or so!) I wasn't prepared at all for the doctor to show up since they'd checked on me so infrequently, so when they started me in position, I started freaking out a bit. When they laid me on my back and put my legs up, it felt very wrong. He felt way too high up and I started hyperventilating and crying. They didn't really explain what I was supposed to do very well, so the first attempt was horrible. I was out of control and all of the sudden the doctor started yelling to call my actual doctor in for an emergency c-section. His heart rate dropped really low so they turned me on my side to try and get it up while we waited for my doctor to get there. (The doctor trying to help me deliver vaginally was pretty new and hadn't ever done an emergency C-section.)

I thought we were having to do a C-section because I was freaking out, so I calmed myself down. His heart rate came up while I was on my side so I asked if we could try one more time with me in control. We did, his heart rate dropped again, and by that time my doctor had shown up. They kept saying "I see molding", but I didn't know what that meant. So, they quickly wheeled me down to the OR and in a matter of minutes they had given me a general anesthetic. I could still feel what was going on when they started cutting so they gave me nitric oxide as well. By the time they got the baby out I could barely open my eyes and hear him scream. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes and seeing Matt holding a clean baby.

His poor little head couldn't fit through my pelvis, so his head had molded to the opening. There was no way he could have been born vaginally. We would have both died probably.

His head was very cone shaped that first night, but it's nice and regular looking now. I felt so bad for him! But he is healthy and hungry now, so I guess we both survived.

His stats:
Birthday: Tuesday October 23, 2007 (One of the 3 % born on his due date!)
Time: 6:45 PM
Name: Dean Addison Bras(s)
Weight: 8 lbs 5.9 oz
Length: 21 3/4 in long
Hair: brownish-reddish hair
Misc: big feet
Conclusion: very cute

Here are some pictures to prove it. He looks different even now so I'll post a few more later. Celia and Dean were able to come home today (Friday). I'm recovering pretty quickly. My incision is quite small, and I'm feeling pretty good considering what we went through!

I'm so glad my parents are here to help take care of us for a little bit!! It's scary!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pre-Svithe: An article everyone should read (ESPECIALLY MOTHERS)

My readership has expanded since I last gave a definition of the word svithe, so here it is again.

Svithe is a word my Thmazing brother-in-law created by combining the words seven and tithe. One day a week he blogs about something spiritual or religious. While I don't consistently write a weekly religious post, I have grown accustomed to labeling my religious posts svithes. Mainly because I think it's a cool word.

While I really wanted to write a svithe today on the role of women, it didn't quite happen. However, I want to do a pre-svithe on a similar subject.

Way back in April my sister posted a link on her blog to an article written by Jane Clayson Johnson titled "I am a mother."

To give a little background, Jane is LDS and was at one point a news anchor for CBS and ABC. She's given many interviews with people ranging from George Bush to Martha Stewart. At one point she turned down a high profile, lucrative job with a major network to be a stay at home mom. Through her experiences, she noticed mothers (and others) seemed to view motherhood somehow less of an occupation than paid employment. When asked what they do, stay at home mothers often respond with, "Oh, I'm just a mom." Or "I used to be such and such, but I'm just a mom now." Almost apologetically. She wrote a book titled, "I am a Mother" from which her article was derived that "calls on mothers everywhere to rethink their answers, to look inside themselves and discover the truth: none of us are just mothers." I've not actually read the book yet, but after reading the article, I think it would be a great read.

It is an article I think every woman and man (LDS or not) should read. Seriously. Read it.
She's a fabulous writer. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I received the 7 book boxed set of Harry Potter today! I pre-ordered it way back when the 7th book first came out, but it didn't actually get released in boxed set form until October 16th. I'm excited to read books 1-7 straight. I think I'll get more of the fine details like that than my previous readings. I devoured a book in a day or 2, and then had to wait a 1-2 years until the next one came out. I generally didn't re-read the books before I jumped into the next one.

Also, Design Mom (someone I don't know, but I happened across her blog which is full of very visually stimulating posts as well as lots of cool giveaways) went to a reading at Carnegie Hall by J.K. Rowling. There was a Q&A on the books afterward that she reported on (follow that link). I found some of her answers to be unexpected and interesting. There are spoilers, so if you have somehow made it thus far without hearing what happens and you don't want anything ruined, don't visit that link.

Plan B

I just heard back from the Dr.'s office. My induction is now scheduled for Monday October 29th at 5:30 AM.

Matt, my mom, and I all feel more comfortable with the 29th than the 24th (since my body shows no indication that it's ready), so I think it was a good decision to push it back a little.

I'm still shooting for Friday the 26th to go on my own. This kid just needs to drop into place first.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dr.'s update

I hope you're not getting sick of all this baby talk and updates!!

I had my 39 week appointment today. It was with a partner of my doctor. 9It was scheduled for 12:45 and I didn't get to see the Dr. until 1:45! It was a long wait today.) Anyway, I am exactly where I was last week. Except with puffy legs and feet that I need to elevate more. I am 1 cm dilated, the baby's still "floating high up" in me. She could barely touch his head. She sent a note to my doctor to give me a call so we can set up an induction date as "plan B". This doctor thought the induction would probably take place the end of next week if he hasn't come by then. But it really depends on my doctor's schedule. (I should probably take a look at the moon calendar too. I don't want to schedule an induction on a full moon because you KNOW that it's going to be full and I'll be bumped.)

I don't mind the idea of being induced. I hope I don't have to be, but if it comes down to it, I'd rather be induced than run out of amniotic fluid, have a baby too big to fit through my birth canal, or have him pass meconium before he comes out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My greatest sewing collection yet

When I was a little girl I TOTALLY wanted to learn how to sew. My mom sewed a lot of our clothes growing up, and my sister Suzie was an amazing seamstress as well. She won contests and everything. I wanted to learn too. I made one skirt (I'm not sure if I even completed it) and then life got a little too busy for both me and my mom to do more with the sewing.

I was excited to buy a sewing machine last year when we moved in for home projects, and it's been a fun experience figuring out how to do things. I have a small Brother sewing machine that has been good for most things, but I may want to upgrade to something a little better if I continue quilting. I can't really machine quilt with it because it's too small. But right now it serves my needs.

So here is the final crib collection. Quilt (scroll down a couple posts for a good picture of that), bumper and crib skirt. Oh, and Vanessa, I used Simplicity pattern # 9315 I got from Walmart. I don't know if I'd recommend it. I kind of had to alter it a little to make it fit the crib properly. It's a good basic pattern, just not perfect. Oh, and here's another prego picture I wasn't able to post last night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One week

Next Tuesday is the due date. Although I'm feeling pretty ready, I actually hope that he'll wait until next Wednesday night or Thursday so I can get 4 lessons in with all my piano students. Otherwise I'll worry about make ups and/or make my mom help me teach some after he's here!

This picture was taken on Sunday. Oh, and I finished the crib skirt today. So my bed set is now complete. For some reason blogger's not letting me add any more pictures tonight, so I'll have to post the other pictures tomorrow.

In Search of Studs

I never knew it would be so difficult to hang pictures and medicine cabinets where you want them. Our house seems quite void of studs. We have a pretty ghetto stud finder that doesn't work well at all. We've also tried the tapping method, and seriously, each wall seems to have only one stud. Sometimes I wonder how the house is still standing. The standard distance is 16 inches between studs, but I think ours is 18-24 inches. That's quite the spacing if you want to hang a picture. Or cabinet. Or TV.

I eventually wanted to upgrade to a flat panel TV and hang it above our fireplace so we could make the most of the limited wall space in our living room. Right now it's pretty cramped with our piano and 20 in. TV. But in order to do that, I think we'd have to cut a huge square out of our drywall, add in reinforcement studs, patch the hole back up, and then hang the TV.

While the TV dream is not in the near future, pictures and cabinets I have a plenty right now. We bought some drywall picture hanger hooks, but we have yet to use them. It says it can hold up to 50 lbs., so I would imagine my medicine cabinet can be hung by those as well, but I'm a little nervous to test it out.

I guess good studs are hard to come by.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jungle Fever: Bumper addition

Here is the finished product. I would like to do a crib skirt as well, but we'll see how it goes. That's more aesthetic than necessary, so it's not top priority.

It was a little harder and more time consuming than I expected, but it'll work I think. The 24 ties were the most tedious and unenjoyable (I know, not a word, but it should be) part of the project.

Devil in the Details

I don't really know what the title of my post means, but it sounded appropriate as I'm trying to get the last little details squared away between today and 2 1/2 weeks before I'll consider induction.

  • Quilt finished: check
  • Bumper finished: check (ok, so not quite check, but it will be done tonight and I'll post pictures)
  • Car seat purchased: check
  • Hospital back packed: check
  • Pack 'N Play with bassinet inset for our room: check (though I haven't set it up yet)
  • Figure out where the Labor and Delivery section is in the hospital: check (just yesterday)
  • Fridge cleaned: check
  • Nursery cleaned: mostly...once I finish the bumper and get the pack n' play pieces out it'll be dandy
  • Thank you cards made and sent out: check on the made. Need to get them out still.
  • Squaring away my church calling: .....Ok. So that's where I'm feeling stuck.
I can't quite decide what I should do about this one. While being primary chorister has it's ups, and I've enjoyed it more than I originally thought, it seems like it would be a difficult calling with a newborn. It covers a 2 hour block, and though I have breaks here and there, it doesn't feel like much. I'm not planning on doing anything for my calling after my due date (October 23) until I get back from CA after Christmas (January 3) at the very least. That means 2 full months of having to find a sub if they don't release me. I don't think they're planning on releasing me unless I request it.

Should I email the Primary Pres. and see if they could call a permanent sub for those two months? And if I decided it would be too much after that, the permanent sub could then be called to the position permanently maybe? I really hate asking to be released from a calling for a couple of reasons. The last time I suggested my release from a calling (since I had 2 and many people in the ward didn't even have 1), I ended up getting released from both of my callings (one of which I LOVED) and was called to something I didn't particularly enjoy. Also, what if I'm supposed to be there for some reason I just don't see? Oi. I don't like this situation at all. Any thoughts?

Anyway, I'm getting close to being ready for this baby people. I have to say, I have not been so pregnant that I'm miserable, but with one week left, I am feeling quite pregnant indeed. Just in the last week my hands and feet have started to swell enough that I've noticed (my wedding ring doesn't quite slip on so easily as it used to). My feet are tired after exercising and running errands for half a day. And my belly feels very heavy. In the last 2 weeks I've outgrown pretty much all of the shirts I purchased for pregnancy, so I'm now wearing the shirts I got from my much taller sisters. They work, but they're just a little big for this 5'3" girl. Plus I like them a little more fitted, and that wasn't the style when they were pregnant. At least I have (free) clothes to wear. Can't complain too much I suppose.

On the up side, the weather is finally starting to cool off! This week we've at least been out of the 90's during the day, and nights and mornings have been cooler than 75* so we've been able to open our windows and let the air circulate. I've even been cool enough at night to stay in my bed rather than moving to the couch under the fan. I have been making weird sighing noises when I sleep though. Not quite sure why.

I had a check up yesterday. More effaced and "a good 1 cm" dilated. "Still quite posterior" but the baby is where he should be, and he still seems to be doing just fine in his cramped quarters. He hasn't dropped at all, I haven't had any sort of contractions I've been aware of, and I've really had no indication he's planning on making his debut any time soon.

I'm a tiny bit worried about the hospital I'm supposed to deliver at. I swear the L&D is always packed. Every time I've tried to go in for a tour, all the rooms are full. If the rooms are all full when I go into labor, I'll either be put in triage to wait for a room or, worst case, I'll have to go to a different hospital further away. We at least know where the other hospital is since Matt had his appendix removed there, but I really would like to avoid that if possible. They say the weekend is usually less busy, so maybe I'll shoot for that. Ha! Like I have a say when this baby's coming.

Ah well. It will all work out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Halloween Ideas

I've seen a couple of cute ideas for Halloween goodies, and though I won't be hosting any Halloween parties due to the imminent arrival of our little boy (who are we kidding, I generally don't host parties anyway!), I thought I'd link a few for those of you who may.

Relatively easy and cute:
Great Pumpkin cake

Monster Cupcake Cake

For those a little more adventurous:
Pecan-caramel spiders

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bite sized pieces of Conference: a semi-annual svithe

A few themes that stuck out to me were: Christ, dispelling myths about the church, taking advantage of the Preach my Gospel manual, finding hope and happiness in the gospel, and the world wide church. I really felt like this was the most globally diverse set of speakers ever in one conference.

The talks that stuck in my mind:
Elder M. Russel Ballard's on concisely sharing with others what the gospel is about. I've always kind of struggled with this because I'm never quite sure where to start and stop. I don't want to overwhelm the poor people (especially if they're casually wanting to know a LITTLE bit about it), but I want to make sure they have a clear picture of what I and my religion are about. I think his suggestions are magnificent.

Elder Wirthlin's talk on Charity. Now, to be honest, I don't have a clear recollection of all he said. What impressed me most was his dedication to unwaveringly finish his talk while he was clearly very frail. I also loved the literal support he received from Elder Nelson. It was a true act of love, brotherhood, and charity. It was very touching.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk on the difference between choosing good things, better things, and the best. I think that I often choose ok things (maybe not even GOOD) to fill my time, and I often put off the best, thinking I'll get around to it someday. It was a good priority check for me.

What I hope to take away from this conference:

Really, our main question should be, "how can I become better because of what I've heard?". Listening to the words of the Prophet and Apostles does us no good if we choose to continue exactly as we have been without somehow trying to improve ourselves because of it. I know I've not been as dilligent as I should about making life changes after listening to conference.

This time I felt very impressed that I need to have more meaningful scripture study and prayer, and to occupy my time with the best choices first. One way I am trying to better my scripture study is by using the Preach my Gospel manual and to also study with a pen in hand. I used it this morning and had the most effective study time I've had in ages. Now to continue in faith rather than let it slip by the wayside like an uninteresting New Year's Resolution...that's where the challenge comes.

Highlights of the talks (I promise I condensed my notes to a more manageable size):

Saturday Morning

Boyd K Packer:
There's a natural tendency to put leaders of the church on a pedestal and think that somehow they are worth more to the Lord than we are. That is not the case.

Richard C. Edgley:
While talk amongst church members may sometimes feel intrusive, there is a positive side to the congregational microscope we live in. Greater support because what happens to few happens to all. Members who suffer tragedy often experience an increased capacity for love.

Mary N. Cook:
An individual's actions can be a powerful influence within the family. Can you make a difference in your family? Yes. If your parents' examples aren't good, it's up to you to break the cycle. Do your part to build a happy home.

Enrique Falabella:
Happiness doesn't depend on money. The promise of life eternal is the riches of eternity.

Spencer Condie:
The Lord makes promises and will follow through every time that we do what we're supposed to. In this age of fast food, we may forget that things are done in the Lord's time. That may not be immediate. That may not be today. It may be far off. But we can embrace the Lord's promises and know that God will not forget us.

Elder Dieter Uchdorf:
The restored gospel can lift us above our daily misery. It can bring hope and life. It can give us an elevated viewpoint of our lives. Wherever you live and whatever your circumstance, the gospel gives great power and ability to overcome weakness, challenges, and hardship. Because of Christ, you can endure joyfully to the end.

Thomas S. Monson
The gospel message is of hope and love for those who pass on. The dead will live again in Christ. Walk by faith until the day of resurrection.

Saturday Afternoon
M. Russel Ballard
Be able to recognize if someone wants to know more about the gospel to satisfy their curiosity vs. wanting to investigate the church in depth. If people want to know a little about it, tell them a little. Don't bombard them with all of the teachings you've received over the course of your life. We can do this by having a clear outline of basics. President Ballard's outline includes:
  • Facts: Mormon is a nickname, Saint means member, Joseph smith restored Christ's original church, Gordon B. Hinckley is our current prophet, we are currently the 4th largest Christian congregation in the United States
  • Faith: We are committed Christians, we believe in the eternity of the soul, Jesus is our personal Savior
  • Family: Basic unit of society and church, committed to monogamous relationships, while there was a time members of the church practiced polygamy, that practice has been discontinued for many, many years, etc.
  • Fruits: Mormons have longer life expectancy because of code of health (Word of Wisdom), have much lower divorce rate than national average, committed to self reliance, good work ethic, service, and humanitarian aid
Have a basic one page outline to share with those who inquire that tells the essentials of the gospel. Use his or create your own.

Elder Wirthlin
Without charity, nothing you do matters. He was very frail, was shaking horribly, and looked on the verge of collapse. Elder Nelson got up and quietly stood behind him supporting him through the majority of his talk. It was such a touching act of charity and love, and it brought tears to my eyes.

Bruce Porter
We must give our hearts to God. Having a broken heart means we are willing to submit to the Father, we are open to the spirit of God, we acknowledge our dependence on him, we experience godly sorrow that leads us to repentance, and we are willing to do all God asks without resistance or resentment.

Eric Kopischke
Spoke of the Preach my Gospel book and how it can be a good resource for teachers and leaders.

He quoted a line from CS Lewis' Screwtape letters about malice and benevolence. Satan wants us to direct our malice toward those we see every day and our benevolence to those who are far away and removed from our immediate contact.

We need to make sure that we "quench not the spirit." The path to eternal life is not a plateau. It's on an incline. The spirit gives us increased strength to make it up that hill. Search the scriptures with a pen in hand. Pray frequently and fervently.

Elder Holland
Are we Christians? YES! Should we be apologists for our view of the Godhead and latter-day revelation? NO! He gave a good rundown on the trinitarian notion of the Godhead, where it originated, and why it is not supported by the scriptures.

Russel M. Nelson
The Book of Mormon doesn't compete with the Bible, but compliments it and visa versa. The Book of Mormon restores many of the plain and precious truths taken away or lost in the many translations of the Bible. It reaffirms and clarifies the messages of the Bible.

Sunday Morning
Henry B. Eyring: New counselor in First Presidency.
Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch me today? Find ways to recognize what the Lord has done and learn how to best preserve those memories. That may be writing it down in a journal. It may be some other way. Find what works for you.

Quentin L. Cook: New in the Quorum of 12
Live by faith and not by fear. Are we in camouflage to our co-workers and neighbors? Or do we let our light shine? The members need to move their feet and let their voice be heard.

Claudio Costa
Fathers are to provide for their families. That doesn't just mean monetary provision, but spiritual as well. Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another. Lay down your life for those you love. Not through death, but through life. Don't leave for tomorrow what you can do today. What if tomorrow never comes? Tell people you love them. Don't just assume they already know. Opportunities may not always come again.

Julie B. Beck
Mothers who know...create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth, are good homemakers, are organized and patient, and build children into future leaders. Consider your home a pre-MTC. Then the MTC will be a review and not a revelation.

David A Bednar
Repent, turn to God and renounce sin. That's a prerequisite to being sanctified through the Holy ghost. That's a prerequisite to standing spotless before God at the last day. We must do good, be good, and become better.

President Hinckley
When the church was organized in 1830 there were 6 members. The angel Moroni promised that Joseph Smith's name would be had for good and evil among all nations of the world. That is being fulfilled today. We are currently the 4th largest Christain congregation in the United States.

Sunday Afternoon
Elder Hales
Personal revelation is the way we learn to live the gospel and endure to the end. Seek personal revelation through the spirit. Obtain the spirit through sincere prayer. Study the gospel out in your mind. Pray and study further. Answers come on the Lord's timetable. Move forward in faith even if you haven't received all the answers you desire.

Elder Scott
2 ways to find truth.
1. Scientific method. Good way to find truth but has 2 limitation. You can't be sure you've found absolute truth and you can get the wrong answer.
2. Revelation. Go to the author of truth and ask. You must have unwavering faith and willingness to keep God's commandments for this avenue of truth.

Truth is of little value unless we apply it and make correct decisions.

Daniel Judd
Teachers: Focus on fundamental doctrines. Preach the gospel by the spirit. Speak out of your heart, not just the book.

Octaviano Tenorio
Spoke of the blessings we receive from the Temple.

Claudio Zivic
We seek freedom and eternal life. We will receive it by the grace of God after we've done all we can do.

Douglas Callister
Truth has never been dependent on the number of those who know it.

Dallin H. Oaks
There are three levels of quality: Good, better and best

Just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. How do we use our time? Do we only choose good activities to pursue, or do we choose the best? Reserve time for family. Don't over schedule your kids. Don't complicate church callings. Simplify and do that which is most important. Weed out excessive and ineffective busyness in church and elsewhere and translate that saved time into quality family time.

Teachers: When teaching in Relief Society and Elders' Quorum, teach out of the books provided. You may be able to give a good lesson while skimming the book and teaching your own lesson, but to give the best lesson you must teach out of the book provided. (Referring to the Teaching of the Prophets books).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A few more projects

One of the perks of being friends with creative people (beside the fact that they're just plain fun) is that I get to mooch off their great ideas and tweak it to my personal liking. Most of the crafts and projects I do come from something I've seen elsewhere. I may be a creator of sorts, but I surely am not an inventor.

My friend Erin came up with a great idea of turning placemats into throw pillows. Kohl's had some great microfiber cloth placemats on sale, so I decided to follow her lead and make some of my own. It was a fun, easy little project and I was happy with the outcome. I made two of the dark brown pillows and just the one two toned harvest pillow. She gives basic instructions and the two things I'd add are:

1. Notice the type of stitching the placemat has. The two toned had a double stitch and was a little harder to work with. Not so hard it couldn't be done, but it made it a little more unruly and added an extra step.

2. When you go to sew the edge back up, pin it really well or it will slip and you'll have to redo the stitch because it didn't even catch the backing.

I also have been working on getting some thank you cards made for the baby shower. They're coming along. Simple, but that's generally how I keep my paper crafts.