Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It is Tuesday, right?

Today I am supposed to teach 9 piano lessons back to back. I knew the first two weren't coming, but the rest were supposed to be here. So far I've had 3 miss (besides the first two I knew were gone) and the 4th is almost 10 minutes late. I'm guessing she's not coming either. That leaves me 3, all sisters, who will either make or break the streak.

I hope it's Tuesday because that would mean it's the 31st and that's my husband's birthday. I'm picking up his requested Tom Thumb (i.e. Safeway) cake today (white cake with raspberry filling and butter cream frosting), so I'll be out of luck if it's not!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A marriage svithe

I know I've written about marriage before, but it's been on my mind the past couple of weeks because of some discussions I've been having with a friend from work.

Last night as I climbed into bed after finishing Harry Potter, I slipped in next to my already sleeping husband and thought, "Wow, I sure do love him."

My friends from work often commented on my marriage being perfect, wondering how I do it. A couple of them have been through bitter divorces and some are in patchy marriages. And then there are others who really seem to be happy in their marriages. So what really makes the difference? Why are some marriages so miserable why others seem to be perfect? While I can't answer for everyone, I can give a few things I like to keep in mind that help me feel content and happy in my marriage.

First of all, I think it's good to remember a quote that I used in a svithe post/ sacrament talk about happiness. "Happiness is not give to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the element of happiness and then treasuring them while they last." (James E. Faust, "Our Search for Happiness,: Ensign, Oct. 2000, 2)

Happiness in marriage is no different really. It's not all peaches and cream. I'm not happy with him nor is he with me 24-7. We each have our moments of frustration. People aren't perfect which means that no marriage can be "perfect." (Unless you count perfection in this instance as a mutual desire to make sure the other person is happy while you both over look a lot of things, make compromises, and are quick to forgive and move on.) Marital bliss is not possible to maintain 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So we must treasure the happy moments, recognize and give praise when the other person is really trying, and feel love (or pray to feel love) even when it seems like they are giving us plenty of reasons not to love.

Probably the biggest block to marital happiness (in my mind) is selfishness. In an email to a friend this week, we were discussing about how hard it was for her to want to do nice things for her husband when he's so darned selfish. My response was steeped in my Leadership and Self-deception indoctrination from school...

The crazy thing about selfishness/selflessness is this: If someone else is selfish and self-centered, always "keeping score" as to how much they do, people tend to not want to help them. Then when other people don't help them, it "gives them a reason" (in their mind) to have a chip on their shoulder; that then reinforces their self-justification for their selfishness. "Since no one else will look out for me, I've got to look out for me!" They feel justified in their behavior.

So in your case, [your husband] can be selfish sometimes, right? So you don't want to dote on him or be overly nice, etc. But then he sees you as being the selfish one and that makes him feel justified for not helping you more. So when one person starts helping and loving unconditionally, stops keeping score, etc. the element of competition and contention starts to dissipate and the other person tends to soften.

The hardest part is that people often don't want to be the one to change first because they're afraid they'll be taken advantage of. And that may be the case for awhile, but I've found that if you give others a different person to respond to consistently, they'll start becoming a different person themselves. So it's really cyclical and both people play a part in the couple's happiness or unhappiness.
Now, this really is just scratching the surface, because you can get into behavior vs. way of being (among other things). Meaning you can act nice toward a person while maintaining resentful feelings. When that happens you often feel like you're being "the better person" and set yourself up as a martyr when the person doesn't respond in kind. That then perpetuates the negative cyclical interaction and you don't really obtain any sort of happiness from your "positive" behavior while you harbor the resentment.

One of my all time favorite and powerful talks is "The Challenge to Become" by Dallin H. Oaks given in the October conference of 2000. "...Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

To extend this thought to marriage, our spouses don't respond just to what we do. They respond to who we are--who we have become. Just as we need to become truly converted to being a disciple of Christ to obtain the blessings of heaven, we need to become converted to becoming a better and more loving spouse to obtain those treasured moments of marital happiness.

He continues in his talk, "Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships—even more than our Church callings—are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother. Being a successful Church leader is not enough. Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it."

So there it is. My take (today) on how to keep marriages alive and happy. It starts with us because who we are is the basis for all our interpersonal interaction and personal happiness.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"List of 4's" continues

Guilty Pleasures
  1. I love mayonnaise. And not just a thin spread. I don't slather it on, but I don't skimp either. And there's none of this "light" or "fat-free" or "Miracle Whip" (sick!!) or "I substitute it with mustard since it's fat free" for me. I love Best Foods (or out here, Hellmann's) original mayo. Give me my deli sandwiches, hamburgers, egg salad/ deviled eggs, and chicken salad, etc.. And give it to me with mayo.
  2. Purchasing. Because guilt is so strong on this one, I generally don't pay full price for anything or go shopping very often. But I do love to buy new clothes (at Ross, Target, or Kohls since they have good selections with reasonable prices), furniture, shoes, baby items, craft items, tools, and home upgrades. I also wouldn't mind buying a few CD's here and there since I've only purchased 1 CD for myself since we've been married.
  3. We tend to eat out about 2-3 times a month. I loooove having a break from thinking of what I'm going to make. Taco bell tends to be our most frequent buy because it doesn't make us feel sick (because of fat or price). We might eat out at a real restaurant (that costs $20-30 for the two of us) once every couple of months. But it's always such a treat. As much as we both love our occasional meals out, it kills us both to think what we could have spent that money on instead.
  4. Pushing myself. For instance, I know it's better for me to walk right now than jog, but walking is SO BORING, and my mind wanders too much for me to make it effective. So I do intervals of jogging and walking. Two days ago I wanted to get some yard work done. I thought I'd just mow the front and back (not a small job since our back yard is so large it borders 5 houses!!), but I noticed the edging could really be done. So I did that. And then I noticed the tall grass along the fence and on the side of our house I couldn't get with the mower. So I ended up weed whacking. Three hours after I began, I finally finished. My arms were pretty sore yesterday from the edger and weed whacker. haha. (I do try and listen closely to my body so I don't push myself to the point of hurting myself. I promise.) But boy did I feel good when it was all done. I guess it makes me feel not so bad as I sit here and "waste time" in front of my computer, doing a whole lot of not much.
TV shows
  1. In the summer there's really only one show I hate to miss. And that's So You Think You Can Dance. I just love that show. I even wrote a post with my own dance pictures about it last year.
  2. I often have HGTV or the Food Network on in the background in the evenings when I'm cooking dinner or doing crafts (or just resting from a long day). My favorite HGTV program is Designed to Sell. Right now my favorite Food Network program is Iron Chef America, though that occasionally changes.
  3. In the fall the only "drama" I watch is Law and Order: SVU, but I'm starting to get burned out on that a little.
  4. My favorite show last year was probably Heroes. We'll see if the second season can hold up to the first season.
The shows that were wildly popular that I just couldn't ever get into were as follows: Friends, 24, Lost, Alias, CSI (WAY too graphic), Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, ER, Scrubs, Malcom in the Middle, 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives, and SNL.

While we're still on the subject of TV and wildly popular shows, we went to the Kwik-E-Mart in Dallas last week and bought Buzz Cola, Radioactive Man comic book, and the classic pink with sprinkles Homer Donuts. I guess there were only seven 7-11's in the country that really went all out and converted into the Kwik-E-Mart for the Simpsons Movie promotion, but it was a TOTALLY smart move on their part. There were TONS of people there.

I guess the 4's will have to be continued again. I really need to get something done today before my Dr.'s Appointment (the first sugar test...).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Svithe: Family. Isn't it about time?

The 24th of July is fast approaching and the celebrations have already past. This really only means something to Mormons, and maybe only to those with connections to the "Mormon Belt" of UT, ID, and AZ.

Growing up in Snowflake, the 24th of July was given more attention and celebration than the 4th of July, really. That was when we'd have our firework shows. That was when we'd have our parades. That was when the town sponsored 2 mi. and 10 K races. We had huge youth dances put on by the church that were attended by locals and supplemented by many visitors from surrounding cities and towns (including the Mesa/Phoenix area 3 hours away). Class reunions take place over the 24th weekend, and I'd venture to say that many family reunions do as well.

Side note: If you remember, my brother was almost killed by a drunk driver April 15th this year. That same brother has had such an amazing attitude, worked very hard in his rehab, and has been blessed by many miracles in his recovery. My mom just told me that he ran in the 24th of July 2 mile race this past weekend and took 2nd only to a guy 10 years younger than him, who, incidentally, had not almost been killed 3 months ago. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.


So why is July 24th so important to Snowflakians? Or Mormons in general? In Snowflake we were celebrating both the founding of Snowflake (by Mormons) as well as "Pioneer Days." For Mormons in general it's primarily a holiday to commemorate and celebrate the Mormon pioneers entering the UT valley for the first time. The first Mormon party was led by Brigham Young in 1847, commencing in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and ending after 4 looooong months of handcart travel in the present day Salt Lake City. Just as the 4th of July signifies independence for the nation, the 24th signifies independence and religious freedom for Mormons. It meant the possibility of living and worshiping without the fear of angry mobs, burning houses, tarring and feathering, persecution and death that they had left behind.

So what does this have to do with family, the title of my post? Well, I did have family who made that trip across The Plains. They were not in the first company, but they were not far behind. My (5th great)-grandmother Louisa Barnes Pratt led her 4 daughters on the trek while her husband was on a 5 year mission in Tahiti. When she asked President Brigham Young who was going to help her, he replied, "Sister Pratt, we expect you to go by yourself and help others along the way!" So much for sympathy! But she did it, and President Young did help assist her family as much as he could. The following is an excerpt from her autobiography.

Pratt, Louisa Barnes, Journal and autobiography 1850-1880, 145-51.

When I had decided to go, and asked strength and courage of the Lord, means came flowing into my hands. Things I had thought of no value, that I should throw away were sold for a fair price, to those who were not of our faith, or who were not prepared to go at that time. The Pres’t ordered my wagon made ready, a thousand pounds of flour was allotted me: a yoke of oxen in addition to what I owned: a man hired to drive my team. Fifty dollars worth of store goods was appropriated to clothe myself and children. this with what I obtained by my own economy made me very comfortable. I began to feel myself quite an important personage! It was hard for me to move the dread of, (as I felt,) a never ending journey!

The gloom on my mind wore gradually away. When I had been three weeks on the way there was not a more mirthful woman in the whole company. The grandeur of nature filled me with grateful aspirations. The beautiful camping grounds, which were so clean, that one was led to conclude no human foot had ever trodden there! So green was the grass, so delightful the wild flowers, so umbrageous the grounds on the banks of the rivers!

On sweet water we camped for two weeks or more to recruit our teams; but it proved fatal to many. There being alkali in pools about on the range, the cattle drank it and several of them died. While we remained there teams were sent by the pioneers from S Lake to meet our company and help us on our journey. This gave us new courage. My daughters wore out their shoes, and made I made them mocasins of buckskins.

Aug 19th day Still traveling through Canyans [canyons], deep mudholes, willow brush, big rocks, steep hills, objects that seem almost insurmountable, still nothing impedes our progress! Slowly we move along, gaining a little every day. We find an opening every night for camping, clean and pleasant. I feel now as if I could go another thousand miles. Frances our second daughter makes her fire the first of any one in the morning; it is her greatest pride to have people come to her to borrow fire, and praise her for being the lark of the company.
I find her diligence, faith and attitude quite amazing. She was reunited with her husband not long after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. Two years later, her husband was called on another mission to Tahiti; she promptly went and told Brigham Young that "he either had to free her from her marriage so she could have a husband or send [her] and the children along as well." And thus she became the first woman LDS missionary in this dispensation.

What better time than now (the 24th of July week) to begin a new family project. Because of my recent unemployment, I decided that it's a great time to do some family history research. My parents have been diligently working on my dad's line, and my grandma has made amazing strides on my mom's side. Since Matt's dad is a convert to the church, I thought they might need a little help with his line. They've done a lot of work on the Bras(s) line, but there are a few noticeable stoppages of information on Matt's grandma's line, and I think I will begin my search there. I downloaded the Personal Ancestry File, Matt's parents sent me the info. they have collected, and I'm ready to go. It's a bit overwhelming, and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Three for the price of...

Sometimes it pays to wait. And to open your mouth.

As I was jogging today I passed a moving sale in my neighborhood. They had this nice, plush, comfy green rocking recliner. The color was not quite the green I love, but its not like we have a designer set up anyway, and with all our furniture coming from yard sales and DI we haven't yet established a great color scheme. I figured it could work in place of a glider and it was only $15! As I was trying it out I said, "I've been looking for a glider, but I think this will work out pretty well." One of the daughters at the yard sale house said, "Hey, mom, I've been thinking of getting rid of my glider since I don't use it much. She could take a look at it." So I went up into their house and tried out her glider/ottoman combo that wasn't even a part of their yard sale. Awesome.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the material. The color was black and the material was kind of a faux leather (maybe even real leather..) which I'm not real fond of. But the chair itself was really comfortable. When I asked how much they'd ask for that, they said $30! It was way more comfortable than the first glider I missed out on from Craigslist for $70. Though the other had fit my decor a little better, this one was a WAY better deal.

So, I then had to decide if I wanted the green, plush rocking recliner or the black glider/ottoman combo. And then I thought..."for $45 I could get both and have one in the nursery and one in our bedroom or living room! And that's almost half the price of the one I almost bought in the first place!!"

So I bought both.

And the family was really nice and said they could deliver them tonight (since they wouldn't fit in my neon) when her husband got home. It is handy they live just one street over.

I love finding good deals, but I wonder what Matt will say...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm it.

My friend Nanci tagged me for lists of 4's. I think it's the first time I've ever actually been tagged. But I've done a list of 4's before on my own...I'd link to it, but I truly can't remember when I wrote it and I honestly don't feel like digging through my old posts.

So, I will do a long-winded Celia special: a variation on the 4's. That's how I like it anyway.

Jobs I've had

The longest job running job I've had is piano teaching. I started teaching when I was in 8th grade for $5/lesson or $20/month. The most students I ever had at one time was my senior year of high school. I had 20 students that year, and I had to travel to their homes since my mom was teaching at our home. It worked out well, though I had to drop cross-country because of it. I don't know how much I was charging at that point. I took a little hiatus during college and I only taught 4 people (at different times) in the 5 years I was there. Though I didn't do much with it, it proved very handy as I traded out half of my month's rent in return for teaching two of my students one year. Now I have 10 students and charge $50/mo. (though I'm sure I could charge more...)

The shortest (and worst) job I've ever had was working at the Tomato Farm the summer after my freshman year of college. Man was that horrendous! I lasted only two weeks (if that!). I kept trying to tell myself "you can do anything for 3 months", but in the end I decided it was not worth $8.50/hour. I was willing to work 40 hours a week at McDonalds plus take on an evening hostess/waitress job over that. It was just looooong hours doing nothing but standing on high riser platforms, picking suckers off gigantic 3 story tomato plants in a very hot room with lots of people who didn't speak English. My feet always hurt. I felt like total white trash. They actually shut the plant down not long after I quit when they were discovered having illegal immigrants filling the majority of their jobs.

The best job I've had...well, that's tough. My cooking job at New Haven probably provided me with the best experience possible for real life. Between cooking and working with the girls, I gained valuable insight into life, relationships, and how important good food is...

But I also loved my Teacher's Assistant jobs with Dr. Lynn Scoresby and Dr. Terry Olson. They were two of my top 3 teachers at BYU. I really grew a lot from helping them. Scoresby hit it on the head during one of our staff meetings my third year working with him. He was summing each of us up with one word and he told me that I was neurotic. Interesting. I didn't take offense to it, because I knew it was true. So I've tried to work on that. I think I've become less neurotic over time. Olson is probably the most compassionate teacher I ever had. And the material for his class (Leadership and Self-deception) and class discussions were life and perspective changing . If I were to have obtained a Masters at BYU I really would have loved having him as a mentor and pursuing research and writing built around his theories.

And how could I leave out teaching in China??? It was an essential piece to my adult transition, self-realization, and real world experience. I always worried if I hadn't done that (or something like it) I would have felt jealous of my future RM husband. It was an eye opener, and I have never felt more gratitude in my life for the little things (and big things) I had been blessed with. Individual (flushing) public toilets (with toilet paper), daily showers, a good education without having to leave my parents at the age of 5, no soldiers monitoring my daily activities, drinkable tap water, etc.

Movies
The movie with the best soundtrack (and good message/ great acting) I've seen (and the only movie I purchased when I was single) was Remember the Titans. I have since gotten over my desire to pop it in and view it whenever, but the soundtrack is still amongst my most listened to albums.

The movie that got better with each successive viewing had to be Napoleon Dynamite. The first time we saw it in the theater with my in-laws, I thought, "Yeah, it's ok...but I don't know why theric is soooo jazzed about this..." But by the end there were so many quotable lines...and then that dance scene clenched it for me. The second viewing was the absolute best viewing experience for me.

I guess another classic that I would love to own one day (because of it's re-watchability) is The Princess Bride. The acting was supreme and the writing was so witty and timeless. "You rush a Miracle man you get rotten miracles."

The only movie I've ever walked out on in the theater was What Lies Beneath. The previews freaked me out and I psyched myself out before the movie even started. It felt so tense at the beginning I left about 10 min. into it. Another movie that freaked me out (but I stuck through it) was Minority Report. If I had been watching it on my own I would have left the theater...

Places I have lived
I felt really blessed to grow up in Snowflake, AZ. It was a good town. We knew everyone. It felt very safe. I was able to participate in just about everything I wanted in the way of extracurricular activities. One of my friends who attended a large Mesa High School said they pretty much had to choose one thing and stick with it since there was such stiff competition and so many students. I got to do multiple sports, multiple choirs, photography and more. The only thing I regret missing out on was a home economics course. They stopped offering it, and in reality I was so entrenched in music and academics I wouldn't have taken it anyway.

My first experience living somewhere other than Snowflake was when I lived with my sister and her husband one summer in High School. They lived in my Grandma's basement in Mesa, and they needed some nannying help. My sister was teaching and my brother-in-law was finishing up difficult pre-dentistry requirements in school. I helped take care of my niece in the day and worked at Hollywood Video at night. They were awesome. I didn't have a car and they commuted me back and forth (I think it was 1/2 hour away from their house or something).

Our first married apartment was a studio in Reno, NV for the summer as we sold Dish Network. We had a pretty sweet set up. A mattress we pulled out of an over sized dumpster. A coffee table we pulled out of the DI truck (we still have it) that we propped up on cinder blocks for Matt's computer, a lawn chair (also from the DI truck), and our 13-inch TV we got for our wedding was propped up on another gift's box. Electricity was so expensive (in our minds and for our budget--$100/mo.) we tried really hard to just use our $10 box fan. We broke down and used the AC when it hit 90 degrees in our apt.!!

And we bought our first house here in McKinney, TX. It's been a good little house and has suited our current needs well. The area is good enough, though it is too far removed from family.


More to come:
  • Guilty Pleasures
  • TV shows
  • Places I have been on vacation
  • Favorite Foods
  • Books
  • Things I would like to know how to do
  • Things I worry about
  • Happy moments
  • Things I want to do this year or in the future
  • Pet peeves

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sometimes indecision is the decision

I like to find deals. I tend not to buy anything because I rarely find things I consider to be a good enough deal. You'd almost think that I was born 100 years ago by how much I think one should pay for items.

I have recently been looking on Craigslist for a good glider-rocker deal. I haven't truly convinced myself that I neeed it, but if I can find one for a smoking deal, I figure, why not?

The other day I found one just a few miles from my house for $70 (for the glider and ottoman). It originally cost over $200, and it was in good condition. But when I sat on it, I wasn't super impressed. I mean, it was ok, but not GREAT. Should I pay $70 for something I'm not totally sold on? I wasn't sure. I went and go the cash and mulled around most of the day before calling him back. I was going to ask to drop by and sit in it once again to make my decision there, but when I called him, someone had just picked it up 5 minutes before.

Well. That was an easy decision. My indecision decided for me.

I found a couple of sofas or sofa/love seats for reasonable prices that were nice and a style and color I liked. I would have gone and gotten them in an instant. But Matt's not ready to shell out money for furniture. And he's a little hesitant to get second hand furniture to upgrade from the second hand furniture we already have. So we'll continue to use our 70's orange floral couch for now...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And it only took me half a year...

Tonight I completed my most time consuming, difficult, intricate quilt to date. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started. The friend I made it for had her first baby two weeks ago, so I'm a little late. But as my mom said, "at least it's not cold right now!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fantastic Family Featuring: Anna and the Princess

My family is quite spectacular really. I'm pretty sure all 7 of us kids placed in the top 10% of our graduating HS class, and most were in the top 10 people. But did we stop with academics? Heck no. We have an award winning seamstress, pianists, orator, debater, vocalists, cellists, guitarist, bassist, and (for a time) a flautist. We had a scholarship pageant winner and runners-up, a published author, a garage band creator, teachers, marathon runner, amateur gourmet chefs, a business tycoon, and a tenured NYU professor (who also taught at Harvard).

I am just beginning, though I'll move onto my next point.

Throw the spouses in the mix and you have a whole new ballgame. An Oxford graduate, forest ranger/ avid hunter and fisher, computer software, social worker extraordinaire, ophthalmologist, amateur photographers, etc.

In the words of one of my brothers-in-law, "I believe that people who are smart, successful, and good looking should reproduce a lot." Because when you have two extraordinary people combining their genes, you'll get extra-extraordinary offspring. Especially when you're as good of parents as my siblings and their spouses are.

That really is holding true in my family. I have 15 amazing nieces and nephews. Here are a few examples of recent achievements:

  1. One of my nieces (who was in first grade at the time) had read and re-read every Harry Potter available by herself. Including the 600+ pagers. I asked her if she knew at what level she read. Her response was, "Well, I really don't know. The tests I've taken only go up to an eighth grade reading level. So something above that." This is not an uncommon phenomenon among my nieces and nephews.
  2. A different niece was just awarded an mp3 player for being the top AR reader in her whole school.
  3. One of my brother's kids can name the people featured on every type of US currency. Can you do that? They were very excited to each receive a "Benjamin" for Christmas last year.
  4. While playing the piano, my sister was practicing a song that had a really fast, hard part in it. Her son was close by, so she told him to watch her fingers, thinking it would inspire him to practice more or something. well, as soon as she started playing, he looked at her hands and started yelling, "CURVED FINGERS!!! CURVED FINGERS!!!" She stopped and he said, "Well, that's what you do to me when you are watching ME practice." HAHAHAHA.
  5. One of my nieces got to do a runway gig with a clothed dog on Good Morning America.
  6. Ok. ok. I could go on forever. So I'll skip now to the title of my post.
Anna and the Princess
Recently my niece Anna was chosen to represent her school at a region-wide art exhibit in NYC. She is an incredibly talented budding artist among other amazing things. Now, the fact that she was chosen as her school's rep. was awesome on its own. But it was trumped last week by another art accomplishment of hers.

"More than 100 entries submitted from across the United States were received in this special art contest for children aged 8 to 12 who were invited to create a 9” by 12” piece of artwork on the subject of how Princess Grace [Grace Kelly--Princess of Monaco] inspires them. The Grand Prize winner is Anna [my niece], aged 12 [who just turned 13], from New York City whose brilliant combination black-and-white pencil etching with colored-pen drawing juxtaposes a young Grace Kelly on the film set of Dial M For Murder with a regal Princess Grace in a formal, official setting.

Anna, a 7th grade student, wins a trip to the Principality of Monaco [France!!!] with a parent or legal guardian to view this summer’s The Grace Kelly Years exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco (open from July 12 - September 23). They will fly courtesy of SWISS International Air Lines and stay for three nights at the four-star deluxe Fairmont Monte Carlo."

Now that is pretty cool. Congrats Anna!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Promised pictures

Here are pictures as promised. I decided to do a review as well so you can see the contrast. Don't mind the really bad picture in the green shirt. That's the whole reason I went to get a hair cut that day...

10 weeks
16 weeks
24 weeks
24 weeks
in a pre-pregnancy shirt to really see the belly

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Follow up and other short stories

Acceptance has come
Last week I was freaking out at the idea of being called into Primary again. This week was a good kick off, however. It was fun. The Jr. and Sr. Primary both meet together for the summer during Sharing Time, so I get to go to all but 10 min. of Sunday School. And because singing time is first, I get to go to the last 25 min. or so of Relief Society!

The kids were great! Plus, the fact that our primary is small enough to fit into the Primary room makes a huge difference too. The smaller space was so much more conducive to good flow and fun games than the chapel was. Also, I didn't feel bad when the kids got a little noisy like I did in the chapel. I've been given tons of good ideas and resources, so I am feeling much better about it all.

The End
My temporary tax clerk job has come to an end. I stayed 4 months longer than most and 2 months longer than any temp has ever stayed. The work had really slowed down to the point that I was scraping to find things to keep me occupied the last few hours of the day. It was sad because I love the people I worked with, and it would have been nice to keep my money flow coming while I can, but it was time.

I'm currently trying to make lists of things I need/should do while I have time before the baby is here. I'm thinking I ought to get started on some family history and get into a really good daily routine that includes set times for exercise, scriptures, cleaning, blogging (yes I'll try and blog more regularly!), meal planning and prep, piano practice, quilting/scrapbooking etc. I also need to figure out things like food storage and 72 hour kits. With all the rain and flooding in nearby towns, it would be prudent to get that 72 hour kit going.

I wish it wasn't bad to paint while pregnant. Our whole house (besides the nursery) could really use paint. I guess even if I could paint, it would be hard to talk Matt into any color other than white. He likes the stark, clean, sterile look. I don't particularly care for super dark or bold colors, but a little contrast and color would be nice.

Fabulous Fourth
Our 4th of July turned out really well. We had the first totally rain free day in weeks, but it was still a little cloudy and didn't break the 80's. Perfect summer weather in my opinion. I signed up to have the missionaries over for dinner, and we ended up getting two sets! They did give me warning the night before, so that was good. Apparently we have a set of traveling missionaries that are in a different city every day helping the missionaries and doing exchanges. It was quite enjoyable to cook for more than the two of us. Hamburgers, jalapeƱo and cheddar sausages, potato salad, green salad, and cherries. And for dessert, the candy grab bag. In the words of one of our elders, "this is WAY better than brownies!" They all were really easy to visit with and they seemed like great missionaries.

Fireworks. Nothing can top fireworks on the beach near Matt's house, but this year gave us hope for good pyro times in the future. Fireworks were illegal here in McKinney (not because they're a fire hazard, but because they are "a public nuisance"). We weren't even allowed cat poppers or any sort of noise makers or fireworks within 5000 feet of city limits! The penalty here was a $2000 fine. However, there were firework stands in towns 15 min. away, and we were able to light them in county territory. Finding county territory that wasn't considered to be within any city's limits proved to be a little difficult. We drove for about an hour and ended up asking a fireman that was giving warnings to people lighting fireworks. We only spent $12 on fireworks, but we had 3 packages of Roman candles, small mortars, and artillery shells. Next year we'll probably get bigger mortars because they were so cool. It was exciting.

Garden
It's doing quite well. All except the tomatoes. They don't like all the rain and minimal sunshine we've had the past few weeks. We have eaten one radish, we have 4 bell peppers close to picking size, and we have a little zucchini growing. Other plants are coming right along, and we'll hopefully have a good productive season. I am glad we put in the fence because rabbits are a plenty in our yard. I sometimes catch them sitting there, staring at our garden from the outside. Haha wascally wabbits!


I think I'm pregnant
My belly grows day by day. I look pregnant. I can't see my feet if I'm just looking down. I will post pictures later because Matt is occupied and can't take any at the moment. I have outgrown all but one pair of pre-preg. pants, one shirt, and my two pairs of shorts. I have come to despise panel pants, and I have decided the pants with the wide stretchy band that sit below the belly are far more comfortable for me. Otherwise it's just too much fabric making my belly super hot(especially since I wear a camisole or tank under pretty much every shirt I own.

I now have to go jolking rather than jogging. I will do a light jog for 1-2 blocks and walk 1-2 blocks. I don't like to just walk because I find my mind wanders far too easily and I mosey rather than get a good brisk walk.

A couple of nights woke up with major cramps in my calves. I've found that yoga stretches help relieve them well enough. Same with my rib cage aching.

Note to self: add more calcium to your diet.


And I think the baby is a little swimmer. I'm pretty sure he's been swimming to one end, doing a flip turn, and swimming back again. Just kidding. He is moving A LOT though. I can sit there and watch my belly move all over. I can't imagine what it will be like when he's bigger and it's really crowded in there!

Well, I guess that should be it for now! I need to leave SOME things for future blog posts this week. I promise I'll try to blog more frequently.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Acceptance: svithe time

First off, I wanted to direct you to Th.'s svithe today since I found it quite good. Quite good indeed. I used to bear my testimony all the time growing up. It has petered off considerably and I quite regret that. One reason I love, love, loved teaching in Relief Society was because it made me think and really study the subject I was teaching and reinforce my testimony. For some reason I didn't feel the same way when teaching primary.

Background Info:
  • Although I was still in High School and although I loved the girls and leaders in Young Women's, I promptly "joined" Relief Society when I turned 18.
  • I have absolutely LOVED Relief Society the last 8 years.
  • I was called into the Primary as a teacher and pianist for the past year. It was ok.
  • Our wards were rearranged about a month ago and it was quite pleasing to be back in Relief Society and adult Sunday School.
A new ward brings new callings.
While I've had some callings I've been less than thrilled about, I've never cried over a calling extended to me. Until today.

Transferring into a new ward made me very hopeful that I would have a change from Primary. Now, it's not that I hated teaching Primary, I just desperately missed Relief Society and Sunday School.

I soon came to find out that this ward is in dire need of musical people. Before I moved in there were only 2 women who played the piano, and one of them had a Stake Calling (as well as being the ward chorister) so she isn't able to help out in Relief Society much.

Guessing the possible callings doesn't always pan out
When I was introducing myself at Enrichment the first week in the ward, I threw out "and I teach piano lessons" thinking, hey, free advertisement, right? The R.S. and Primary Presidents both oohed and were quick to take note of my musical skills. The next Sunday I was asked to "sub" in R.S. since they don't have a piano player called. I didn't mind one bit. I found out later that they actually haven't had anyone fill that capacity (as a calling) in over a year. She said, "every time someone new comes in that can play, the Primary is quick to take them." Knowing that there were already music people established in Primary, I was very hopeful that I would obtain the R.S. pianist calling. I did not mind one bit, just so long as I could stay in Relief Society.

This week I got that "Sunday morning call" asking me to come in a little early so they could extend a possible calling. I still thought a music calling was very likely, however, I was not prepared for what he extended.

"The Young Women's Presidency is in the process of being rearranged," yes! I thought. I can handle Young Women's...at least it's not Primary. "and we ended up taking the Primary chorister to be one of the new counselors." No...not Primary....ahhhhhh!!!! "So we want to extend the Primary chorister calling to you." I found myself responding, "Ok. Sure. That should be fine. That's where I'm needed." Primary...primary...great.

Then he proceeded to tell me how much he wished he could be in primary, blah, blah blah. I shook his hand and left.

Acceptance does not always mean acceptance.
We sat down and waited for church to start. And then the water works started. I tried to go collect myself in the restroom. I know it's fast Sunday, but testimony meeting hadn't even started yet, so it looked a bit odd for me to be sitting there before church crying. Just as I thought I pulled myself together I left the restroom and had to pass by another ward's primary just as they were singing. It made me start crying all over again.

So I went back to my seat and fanned myself and tried to stop the tears. I cried off and on all through the rest of the meeting. I was peachy enough during Sunday School and Relief Society. But as I was leaving, the R.S. secretary stopped me and asked if I was ok since she'd seen me crying in Sacrament meeting. And I started blubbering and bawling again. "I just can't get over being put back in Primary. I wanted to be in Relief Society so much!"

Matt was being set apart for his calling (Elder Quorum Presidency's second counselor) and had some meetings, so I was just standing there in the hall waiting for that to be over. People kept giving me strange looks and I got a couple of, "are you ok?s". I had just about composed myself again when the R.S. Pres. asked me that question, and there I went again. Crying all over the place. I felt like a blubbering idiot and just hoped that people would just attribute it to my pregnancy hormones. I was still crying off and on about an hour after we got home.

I'm done crying, now, I think. I still have to figure out how to accept the calling in my heart and mind though.

Quasi-Epilogue
That nice R.S. counselor came over tonight with a plate of cookies and her husband. They visited with me for a very pleasant 45 min. (Matt was at an EQ meeting already.) It was very welcomed. Just another reason I love the Relief Society.