Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Eve 2010

With Halloween being on Sunday this year, we did some of our Halloweening tonight. We will carve pumpkins tomorrow after church (Matt was really sick today).  We went to the church for a Trunk and Treat night.  While I agree it's much safer and a lot more consise, I do think there' s a little something lost by not knocking on people's doors and walking the neighborhood. Matt says we might do a little tomorrow night in our neighborhood, but I don't know if I'm up for it and the boys have WAY more than enough candy already.

I made Walter a Charlie Brown shirt by cutting up an old black shirt of mine and appliqueing it onto his shirt. Unfortunately I could only find long sleeve shirts in the right color, and my sewing machine won't do sleeves that small so I couldn't cut them.  At least it wasn't roasting hot. Somewhere in the 70s I think. He was on my hip the whole time at the church. About half the people got that he was Charlie Brown. The other half said he was a bumblebee. Whatever. I thought he was a cute Charlie Brown.

This was a candid shot of him being so excited to go trick or treating.
When I asked Dean what he wanted to be for Halloween, he said a builder. Not Bob the Builder. Just a builder. So I set out to make him a good builder's tool belt. It took us forever to find a hardhat, but we finally did in Target's role play section.  I got a $1 flannel shirt from Kid-to-Kid and we were set. He already had tools. I really wanted to get him the Dough and Melissa wooden tool box so we had lots of screws to put in his belt and so he could use his tool box as the candy bag, but I couldn't justify the purchase since he already has 2 regular tool boxes.  Instead I made them little trick or treat totes today during their nap. I was very pleased with the final size and how cute they came out.

Aren't these darling??

Walter wasn't sure about all the people, so he was clamoring at dad's knee.


I decided to dress up last minute.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Walter at 15 months

My baby is growing up! With his blond curly locks and his brilliant blue eyes, he gets lots of attention and comments from strangers and friends alike. 

Poor baby had a rough morning yesterday. He woke up at 5:45. He was completely distraught when I left him in the nursery for my institute class. We were only there for 1/2 hour because of our doctor's appointment, but he was seriously on the verge of passing out when I got the boys. Poor kid had to stay awake a whole hour longer for his doctor's visit. Everything looks good except I have to do yet another blood draw to see if he's still anemic. This will be our 5th or 6th!

Walter's Stats
Weight: 24 lbs. 11 oz. (53%)
Length: 32.5 in. (87%)
Head Circ.: 18.75 in. (64%)

What is Walter like at 15 mo.?
He is in such a fun stage. He's constantly learning new things, it's easy to make him laugh, and he knows what he wants!  I love that he will snuggle right up to me, he'll rock with me, and he still loves helping his mama. He will not, however, snuggle up or hug Matt! He likes Matt a lot, and is always excited to see him home from work, but I guess he can sense that Matt's not a hugger/snuggler! He loves blankets spread out on the ground (it's crazy hard to keep him off Dean's time out towel when Dean's in time out! that causes extra problems to say the least) and hugs and loves on stuffed animals and puppets. He's really good at growling like growly animals. His favorite way to get from here to there is running! He loves tooth brushes and carries them all over the place. He also loves getting into my "personal items" drawer in the bathroom and as a consequence, there are tampons randomly scattered throughout my house.  The other day when we had some friends here, he came into the living room from my bathroom, had three tampons in hand, held them up high, and said, "TA-DA!!!" Good thing I don't get embarrassed easily! It was pretty funny.

He has been "saying the blessing" at meal times (he folds his arms and starts mumbling incoherently -- SO cute). He loves, loves Dean and watches him like a hawk. He copies so many of Dean's mannerisms and behaviors.  He always wants to play in the front of the car and is very disappointed when I take him straight in the house without letting him play first.  He loves the outdoors, and he's quite good at entertaining himself.

He likes to do actions with songs. Here is his latest "trick", rolling his arms. I still remember when Dean figured out how to roll his arms (right about at this same age), he was so proud of himself and found the new movement hilarious. It's fun to see these kids grow up.

Dean's 3 year well visit and stats

We went to the dr. yesterday for the boys' well visits. Luckily we were able to do both at once this time. That was fantastic. The less I have to be a the doctor's office, the better, as far as I'm concerned!

Dean has had an aversion in the past to the doctor using a tongue depressor to look in his mouth. He's also had issues with the doctor looking in his ears. So, two days ago Dean and I practiced "going to the doctor". We first pretended that I was the patient. He greeted me and signed me in, weighed me, took my temperature, looked in my mouth with the stick, and looked in my ears.  He also reminded me that we needed to use the stethescope and check reflexes!  After he was the doctor, I took a turn and we did all those things. I felt like it was pretty productive.

So, when we were there, it was pretty funny when she didn't have to use the tongue depressor (since he was 3 and big enough to open wide and say "ahhhh" without it). He was very cooperative. They took his blood pressure and he was very good and still while it gave his arm a "hug".

Dean's 3 year stats
Weight: 30.5 lbs (36%)
Length: 37 1/4 in. (37% ) I think he's a little taller. He wasn't looking straight ahead.
Head Circ. 19.5 in.
BMI: 15.45 (30%) Really? They give you their BMI at age 3?
Blood Pressure: 100/59

They changed one of the shots that they'd previously given him, so while he wasn't due for any shots, he had to get one. =P Poor guy. He was very courageous. He cried a little, but got over it quickly with the help of a sucker. By late afternoon his leg was REALLY hurting him, and by bed he was a puddle of tears asking me to carry him to his bed.  Matt told him that he could have some medicine and he declined multiple times. Matt also told him it should feel better in the morning. When I went in this morning at 6:30 when Walter woke up, Dean was laying in bed in the dark, awake. I asked him how he felt and he said, "Dean's leg still hurts. It's not morning yet."  Poor kid. But by preschool he was walking normal and by the time I picked him up, he was running around.

What is he like at 3?
Well, he is very smart and completely drawn to the computer and electronics. He has navigated is way through almost every game on, the friend online, and has completed all of the levels of the world of goo. Luckily all of those things are highly educational, right?

He is going through a very, very difficult and aggressive stage right now. Body bumps, hitting, kicking, stabbing with "swords" (remember pencil incident), shooting fake guns, and throwing big tantrums when he doesn't get his way. And while it's not malicious, he is OBSESSED with spitting. The rules with spitting in our house are: only spit outside, in the trash, or in the toilet. I've even caught Walter spitting, trying to copy Dean (and Matt). His aggressive streak started a few days before his birthday. I was very disheartened by this new change in his personality. I just didn't know what to do because time outs were not effective (though he fought them tooth and nail). I thought it was hard when he turned two and was suddenly very head strong. This has been much harder. 

I was feeling pretty low this past weekend, feeling like a failure parent, and struggling to figure out where to turn and what to do. My mom has been a great support, calling me every day this week to make sure I'm doing ok. I've been listening to the Saturday afternoon session of conference while I fold laundry during nap time, and it's helped me change my outlook tremendously.  One particular talk by Richard Edgely really spoke to me. He spoke of choosing faith and choosing peace. We have to work for them. They are not free gifts. We need to choose faith in Christ over doubt, over fear, and over the unknown. We need to choose it over pessimism. As Alma said in Alma 32, we need to awake and arouse our faculties and experiment upon the word. We need to desire. We need to plant.  I took out of this that my faith in Christ can carry me through this aggressive period. I may not know every good parenting technique, but if I pray and try and follow the spirit, I will be led in my parenting and will be able to guide him to a happier time. I need to experiment and try my best to do what I think will help him. Some things may work, some things may not. I need to choose happiness, choose to be a peacemaker and not feed into his aggression. I need to be a good example in how to handle anger or frustration. I also took it (and other talks from that session that I've listened to this week) to mean that I needed to seek out parenting helps from the Prophets and leaders of the church rather than only turning to "experts".

Since reading this and other church articles, I'll still do time outs, but I've also been taking away a privilege every time he acts out violently. Yesterday morning with a succession of hits and what not, he lost computer privileges on my computer for the day, I took his little "laptop", he lost his blankie, and he lost all wii time. He took the consequences fairly well, but he was very much missing the computer come late afternoon when I started making dinner. It seems to be working a little bit better, though he still hit someone at preschool today. We will make it through the 3's, I'm sure.

In other topics, he is completely capable of going on the potty and often does when we're in public (at the store, at church, at the park etc.) However, he won't at home any more. He says he's never going to wear underwear. All of our cloth diapers lost their elasticity so we're back in disposables until I can fix them sufficiently. 2 boys in size 5 diapers is too pricey for my liking! I just need to back off, and I HOPE that I don't have to potty train Walt and Dean together! Whatever though. There are worse things in life than a 3 year old in diapers I guess.

He can be really sweet and helpful. He gives great hugs and kisses. He knows can recognize numbers 1-12 as well as some of the 20's. He can count up to 22. He has been staring to sound out words lately. He really loves, and I think that's helped with the phonics and sounding out. He can do a decent job tracing numbers and letters, but he doesn't care much for drawing or wielding utensils. He's been very interested in signs and what they mean. "What's this say mama?" "That tells you not to put your hand or foot under the lawnmower because there's a sharp blade."

He had been getting better at eating dinner, but during this past week we've taken a step back a little (trying to swallow things he doesn't like in one big bite and then throwing up because it's just way too much to swallow at one time). He will eat almost anything to get his milk in the evening. A lot of times he'll say, "Dean doesn't want any milk. Dean is done." But, I usually reply with "Ok. That's fine, I'm setting the timer for 10 min. and if you haven't eaten or aren't working on your dinner, it goes in the trash along with your chance for milk tonight."  and he ends up quickly coming over and eating the required few bites of everything I've made.

He's been imitating Walter a lot. He will copy the way Walt talks and do what I tell Walter not to do. For instance, we were at the library on Monday. I was looking at books and FOOLISHLY didn't strap one of the two boys into a stroller. Walt wandered away from me and I asked Dean to go look if Walt was ok. He checked on him, came back, and said, "Walt's pulling books off the shelf!!" I finished up what I was doing quickly, but not quickly enough. Right after Dean told me, he went back and emptied THE ENTIRE SHELF of books all over the floor. Grrrr. I was not happy about that one. The only books I checked out that day were from the stack that he pulled out and we left immediately. It's not been a great bag of books, I must say. =)

He's been taking naps on Tues-Thurs. and Sunday really well. On those nights he ends up having a slightly later bed time (about 7:30-8). Basically because those are the days he interacts with others. I think that wears him out enough to get him to fall asleep. It has been very helpful to have them both sleep in the afternoon at the same time half the week. If he doesn't nap, he goes down for bed 6:30-7pm since they're usually up by 6:30 am. In my book, 12 hours is enough awake time for a 3 year old!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dean turns 3 years

(I wrote this on Saturday, but am just posting it now for some reason...)

Today was Dean's 3rd birthday.  We had our good moments and our bad today. He's been feeling a little sick the past few days I think. He acts totally normal, but hasn't eaten hardly anything at all. Yesterday when I tried the "no milk if you don't eat your food" (our normal rule), he started to eat and then threw up.

Today started out ok. He slept in until 7:40 (unheard of!!!) and then played computer games while I went jogging. When I got back, I made him some puffy oven pancakes by request. I frosted his cake, and then we went outside to play.

That was when things went down hill.  He started throwing fits because I was alternating pushing him and swinging with Walt. He then tried to "mow the lawn" with his little mower, and Walt started chasing him so he could mow too.  Dean pushed him down a couple of times so he couldn't get the mower, so I put him in a time out. He went ballistic. He's usually pretty reasonable about going to time outs, but he was screaming at the top of his lungs and started hitting me repeatedly.  I put him in time out for 10 minutes.

After that we had lunch and naps. After naps, he and Walter wanted to play in the car, so I was out there with them for awhile. I needed to go to the bathroom, and I decided to get Dean some gatorade since he hasn't had much of anything the last few.  When I got back 2 min. later, Walt was SCREAMING.  I asked what happened and Dean said nonchalantly, "Dean poked Walt in the eyes."  He was holding a pencil. That warranted another 5 min. time out and a big talk about how it's REALLY dangerous to do anything to the eyes.  He didn't actually get the eyeball, but he poked him really close to his eye and dragged down. He had 2 nice welts across his face and one on his arm from Dean's pencil. Poor kid.

It was raining here most of the day and we even had a tornado warning go off (though it was just for our county and I don't think we were ever in "danger"). I was feeling pretty caged and the boys were just being difficult, so I let them run around in the rain for a good 1/2 hour or more. It really started to pour at the end and got a little colder, so we gave them a bath to warm up. I have a video that blogger won't load, unfortunately. In the video Dean declares that he is never going to wear underwear. Great. I hope I'm not in for another full year of diapering 2 kids. I don't want to potty train them together, but watch, that's what will end up happening. =P

I felt pretty worn out most of the day from my run. (I swear, anything over 6 miles and I'm TOAST the rest of the day. I didn't recover until about 5:30 or 6 pm!) I asked Dean what he wanted for dinner, and the only thing I could get out of him was "french fries". He doesn't like my homemade oven fries, so I decided we'd eat out. We haven't eaten out at all on our dime (even at Taco Bell) in the last 3 months, so we went a little $$ than I'd normally do for a kid birthday. We'd never eaten at Fuddruckers, so Matt dropped us off at Lowes to play on the tractors while he went next door to pick up "hangaburs and french fries". In my personal opinion it was way too expensive and not good enough to buy again. But it was better than having to cook tonight, so I guess I still won out on that. Their fries were potato wedges, and I don't think Dean even ate one (though he didn't complain about them not being regular fries). He did eat a good portion of his 1/2 a hamburger and said it was yummy. So at least he enjoyed something.

We cut the cake and had a little ice cream (left over from the homemade stuff I made a few weeks ago for the letter I!). He had a tiny bite of his cake, one spoon of his ice cream, and ate the monkey's mouth (a starburst rolled into a rope). So, I guess he was still feeling kind of poorly.

His presents were pretty minimal. In June or July he saw this "tote-n-go laptop" at Target and wanted it so badly. To keep a scene from erupting from my not buying it, I told him we'd put it on his birthday wish list. It worked. We came home, wrote it on a paper, and posted it on our bulletin board. I honestly thought he'd forget about it, but every time we went into the store after that, he asked to see the laptop. It was only $20, so I couldn't not get it for him! I was a little worried that he'd play it 3 times and be done with it since he knows how to use my real computer, but we'll see. I also got him an Eric Carle puzzle set, but Matt felt like that was too excessive since I already got the computer (the 4 puzzles were a whole $10 total), so I'm saving it for Christmas and Matt gave him a $1 big bubble wand instead.  Whatever. He's 3. He was happy. Grr. another video foiled. Our camera's too good I think. It's videos are too large for blogger to compress if they're over a min.!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Snack time!

The other day while I was showering, Walter decided he wanted a snack. So he got himself one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time Out for Women 2010: Saturday afternoon - shortest and last installment!

Hillary Weeks
Sometimes we take on more than we're able to handle, but we don't realize it until we're in the thick of it.  When we are feeling overwhelmed with what is on our plate, do as Christ did with the 5 fishes and 2 loaves of bread for a multitude. 1. Give thanks for what you do have. 2. Your abilities and resources will be magnified and you will find a way to make it through the seemingly impossible.

We can finish what we start. Believe in who you are. Heavenly Father know who we are. Believe in what you're doing. Believe in who you are. Believe in who you're becoming. Believe in who you are. If you could see what he sees, you'd believe. He believes in you.

Wendy Ulrich -- I loved this talk
Ask yourself: Do I want to be happy? What do I love?
  1. Stop worrying about your weakness.
    1. People get more happiness from living their strengths.
    2. Try it: What do you know by experience and the spirit to be true? What is a new and creative way you could use your strengths this week?
    3. Each of us has been given a gift from God that we are obligated to share with others. It will bring happiness when you do.
    4. Here are a short list of possible gifts: curiosity, love of learning, open-minded, creative, larger perspective, brace, gratitude, leadership, loyalty, loving and accepting of love, perseverance, appreciates music, creates music, etc.
  2. Don't try to get motivated to exercize (or do other things you know you should do but don't want to)
    1. Motivation FOLLOWS action. 
    2. Start with 2 minutes of exercise, cleaning, etc. TODAY
    3. Make it social
    4. Trick your energy-conserving mind (I'm not putting on my sweats to jog, I'm putting them on because they're comfortable. I'm not going outside to run, I'm just getting the mail. I'm not going for a jog, I'm just going to see if the neighbors are out. By the end you may just find you've walked/jogged because you STARTED.)
  3. Stop trying to find friends.
    1. Instead, develop skills of friendship.
    2. There are always people who need love.
    3. Make and respond to bids (that just means, say SOMETHING. Just start to talk and ask people about themselves!)
    4. The things that count a lot in the eternal perspective are interpersonal service and friendship. Smile at others. Say hi to someone. Thank others. Give sincere compliments when you think them.
    5. Do I pass on opportunities to bless the lives of others?  Do I pass on opportunities to let others bless my life?
  4. Don't try and feel happy
    1. Instead, look for things to be grateful for.
    2. Write down 3 good things each day and why they happened.
  5. Celebrate failure
    1. Failure often means we are taking necessary risks to grow, stretch, serve. 
    2. Learn from mistakes. Become a better person because of failures, don't wallow in misery over not being good enough. 
    3.  (There was a quote on our bullitin board all growing up that says, "It matters not if you try and fail and try and fail again. It matters much if you try and fail and fail to try again." Thought that fit in well here.)
  6. Don't (just) endure to the end
    1. "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." (Gordon B. Hinckley)
    2. Savor every day delights: loved ones, nature, home, good, comforts, music, art
    3. Find one thing you can try this week to cultivate happiness.
 Brad Wilcox
Our lives are interconnected and build on each other. 

He spoke on turning weakness to strengths.  His whole talk was centered on 2 Nephi 25:23 "For we labor dilligently to write to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and be reconciled to God; for we know it is by grace that we are saved,  after all we can do."

Grace is not just a finishing touch.  Grace is our energy supply. He is the enabling power that gets us through the tunnel. We may receive His grace before, during, and after all of our own doing.

Because God loves us, He accepts any offering, even if it's not our best or all because He's more concerned with the offerer.

Everyone must pass through mediocre (middle of the mountain) to reach the top of excellence. At least you're not at the bottom refusing to climb.

Geral Lund said, "Stan's strategies with some people is to make them thing if you're not perfect, you're not good enough."

Try putting emphasis on different words in the scripture.

After all we CAN do.  After all, what can we do without God?  Man is nothing. Nothing doesn't mean worthless. Moses is God's child/ Nothin doesn't mean worthless, but powerless.  Speaking of that poem footprints in the sand, he said, "there were never two sets of footprints. Christ carries us the whole way."

After all we can DO. We're not human doing, but human beings. Doing is to help us become. The song should go, "Teach me all that I can be, to live with him someday."

No unchanged being will want to live with God. Unless we partake in Christ's atonement and repent, we would feel far too  uncomfortable to live in the presence of God.  He often has friends who ask, "Have you been saved by grace?" And his response is "Yes! But, have you been changed by grace?"

Heaven will not be heaven for those who choose not to be heavenly through the atonement of Jesus CHrist.  We don't gain exaultation by a point system, but by who we are.
Those begging to enter the House of the Lord will not be the unrepentant sinners, but Jesus begging them to change and be cleansed.

We don't earn our way to heaven. We're in the business of preparing to feel comfortable in the presence of God.

After all WE can do. Not we as in you and me. We as in God and me.  Our individual works don't supplement Jesus' grace. It's a relationship that is greater than the sum of the whole. It's not about height, but growth.  We can't do our best without Christ by our side.

A student once asked, "If Jesus fills the gap between my all and the rest, who fills the gap between where I am and my all?"  It doesn't work like that. Jesus doesn't make UP the difference. He makes ALL the difference.

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home to live with Christ, but that we can feel at home with Him. 

He asks us to do things not to pay our debt to Him, but that we might change and become more like Him.

Without faith and repentance, there would be no desire to change.  We need to practice being heavenly.

How do we get to heaven? Holding hands. (Think of the Temple here) No one walks through the veil alone. Every one of us must take the hand of the Savior and together, hand in hand, we enter into His kingdom.  There will be no Him and no Me but only WE.

"For we know it is by grace we are saved, after all WE can do." We are not alone. We enter heaven held in His grip and there we will feel His embrace.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time Out for Women 2010: Saturaday Morning

This one is the longest, most intense set of notes. All of the talks were good, but if you want your life and perspective changed, at least read the last talk by Mariama Kallon from Siera Leon, Africa.

Saturday Morning
When the spirit speaks, we need to follow with exactness. God is interested in the details of our lives and will be as much a part of our lives as we let Him.

Wome women give birth and never really mother. Some women never bear children, but mother their whole lives.

Sometimes all it takes is to change our perspective.

Hope is an abiding faith and trust in God.

Deann Flynn

  • No matter where you serve, it's how you serve that matters
  • You don't have to be a child prodigee to be successful.
  • Where there is Christ, there is hope.
  • Often times hope is the only thing we have to offer others.
The Lord Gives us patterns in all things so that we will not be deceived by Satan. We are daily exposed to good and bad patterns.
  • Pride and competitiveness are traps and are patterns of the world we ought not follow
  • Family prayer, consistent scripture study, family meals and gatherings together, attending meetings are all good patterns we can follow and model for our children.
Obedience is non-transferable, but we can set good patterns for our children to follow.

She talked about how the observance of the Sabbath has changed over the years. It used to be referred to as the Holy Sabbath, then the Sabbath, then Sunday, and now it's most commonly just referred to as "the weekend".  Are our Sunday activities centered around Christ and the Holy Sabbath?

God has given us a pattern. We give our children patterns to follow, but we and they have agency.

Shortcuts rarely pay off.

3 Nephi 11:29 "He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. But behold this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away."

Look to the scriptures for patterns that will give our lives direction and hope for parenting and marriage.

Challenge: You will feel a daily renewal of God's love by having a morning devotional of prayer, scripture study and meditation, even if it is a few minutes. We will be deeply blessed by the Lord and will feel his power.  Are we in too big of a hurry or too busy to be blessed by the Lord?

Family Meals will help effect improvement in all areas if you meet 3 or more times together as a family.

We can't be casual followers of Christ because Satan is abroad in the land. We need to follow the patterns of happiness and optimism.

What light are we shinning? What patterns are emerging from our lanterns?

Hillary Weeks had lots of musical and speaking presentations throughout the day. She was really great.
  • We might want to ask God to help us stop gossiping and find good in people. If we do we will find more love for others and more love for our self.
  • 1 Peter 3:10 "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile."
  • Be kinder. Give the benefit of the doubt. Everyone yo umeet is facing something difficult.
  • Gordon B. Hinckley, "Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all feel that way. I feel that way as I speak to you tonight. I long for, I pray for the power and the capacity to lift you, to inspire you, to thank you, to praise you, and to bring a measure of gladness into your hearts. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do." (Ensign Nov. 2003)

Emily Freeman
Began with a story about going skiing for 3 days straight on a vacation and was so sore by the end, all she wanted to do was climb into pjs by 4pm on the 3rd day. She realized she needed to run to the store right after she got in her pjs and was too sore to want to change again.
She went to the store, returned 3 dvds, and began to check out a dvd while talking on the phone with a woman who needed help.  Though she had a specific plan for her movies, the actual machine was quite slow and a line started to form. A woman came up and tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, but you're not supposed to be on the phone while using this machine!"  She thought the lady was joking, gave her a quick wink, and finished up what she was doing. When she left, the lady approached her again and said, "You are RUDE and you're wearing your pajamas!"  As she walked through the store to get what she needed, her thoughts kept spiraling out to the point where she felt she was the worst mother and she was in tears by the time she got home.

Her point was, it only takes 1 person questioning us and our world can seem to come crashing down.
In our moments of discouragement, where do we turn?
Learn to see a good day
  • change your perspective
  • love life
  • compare the perspective of Nephi and his brothers Laman and Lemuel.  Nephi had "seen much affliction...but knew he was favored of the Lord" whereas Laman and Lemuel complain unceasingly, "Behold these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy." (1 nephi 17:21)
What do we see? A field of 1000s dandelion weeds or 1000 wishes ready to be blown.

  1. Hope will come when we learn to see good in our lives
  2. Create a physical list of what you love
  3. Give your heart a great experience. Ecclesiastes 1:16 "yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge."
    1. She told a story of staying at her mother's and their neighbor had a really noisy dog. In the morning she was complaining to her mom about the horrible dog next door. The mom said she didn't hear a dog. How could she NOT hear the dog, she asked. "3 weeks earlier the neighbor came over and apologized in advance for the new noisy dog. She said, 'I have a son, who I adore, who is having a really hard time in life right now. His counselor suggested that the dog may give him something to live for.' So, I do not hear a dog. Whenever the dog starts to bark I hear, "I have a son, who I adore...'"  Change your perspective. Everyone we meet is facing something difficult.
  4. Determine a reason for the hope that is in you.  Where/to whom do we turn to in hard times? Family? Friends? The Savior can bring the oil of gladness. Our greatest hope comes from our Savior Jesus Christ.  
    1. Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
    Hope for vs. Hope in. We hope for good things to happen. We hope in Christ.  He has strength beyond my own.

Mariama Kallon -- Survivor from Siera Leon (the blood diamond place in Africa where the country was in war for 12 years over diamonds) Her story was very intense, very emotional, and it is one that changes lives and perspectives.

Ask the Lord to not be judgmental. "Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord." Psalm 51:10

Her country was in war for 12 years over diamonds. She had to learn to live in light, even when circumstances were dark and dreary.

Her parents were killed by rebels while she and her brother and sister were running to try and escape. She heard the shooting in the house and began to turn to see if she could help her parents, but her sister yelled, "They are gone! Keep running!" They were unable to bury their parents because they had to run to protect themselves.  Their brother was caught and refused to join the rebels.  They chopped his hands off for this.  She and her sister kept running. They found a hut where the slept for the night, thinking it would keep them safe. They awoke to rebels standing over them, the youngest which was 9.  The rebels told them that they were going to rape them, then cut off their limbs and leave them there to die.  She said the drugs the rebels were on made them view people as chickens.  In that moment, she felt the need to talk to God. She pleaded with the Lord as her sister's legs were chopped off.  As they were turning to her, there was a noise from the village saying the soldiers were coming.  The rebels left and she was unharmed. "I didn't know how long I would live because it was a time of war."  The soldiers came and helped her sister.

She ate and drank off the land as she ran.  Her feet were swollen. She got to Freetown without any of her family.  She found some people she knew, and stayed with them for a time. Their next door neighbors were members of the LDS church.  One day they came to her and said, "We have nothing to give you except hope, refuge and courage in Christ from church."  She found this to be intriguing, and went with them. 

She found the LDS church to be very weird. Quiet. She was used to drums and dancing.  But they described the resurrection as spoken of in Alma 40:23 "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame."  This gave her hope for her family she had left behind. She began reading the Book of Mormon.

At one point, some of her friends were turning to prostitution to try and earn money to live. As she considered this, she came across the scripture 2 Nephi 4:26-28 " O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? And why should I yeild to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."

She began taking missionary discussions from a returned missionary who lived in Freetown. She had to walk 3 miles every day, usually in the rain, to take the discussions.  She was baptised in the river.  She felt new, clean. During that time her Book of Mormon was her best friend. She had no school, nothing, because it was a time of war. So she read and often went to the church to clean the building and the yard. "I did things I didn't realize were service until I came here! I felt blessed to do those things because the Lord spared me to help others."

After a time, she decided she wanted to serve a mission for the church, but didn't know how that would be possible since she had no family to support her and no money to her name.  The branch president said if she wanted to go, there a way would be prepared for her. Just as she was getting ready, she found out that her baby cousin and half sister were found, alive. She was the only relation that could take care of them. She felt very strongly about serving a mission and as she read the scriptures, she came across Doctrine and Covenants 31:1 "Blessed are you Thomas, because of your faith in my work. Behold you have had many afflictions because of your family; nevertheless, I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones..."  She told her branch president of her predicament, and he told her that he would take care of the kids while she was gone.

She was called to serve a mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  She was like a queen in Africa because she would be going to America. While she was serving her mission, she was often saddened that she had no support, no family to write her. The other sisters asked their mothers to write her as they wrote their daughters. She received much love and support as if she were their own.At one point, a couple from Texas asked to speak with the sister from Africa. She was afraid that she had offended someone by her bad English. But they told her that they wanted to adopt a boy from Africa and asked if she knew of anyone. She pulled out the picture of her baby cousin and half sister.  They decided to adopt both of them. Her sister is here and married, and her cousin is now 12 years old and happy.

"When we listen and obey, he grants us his promised blessings."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Time Out for Women 2010: Friday night

This was my first year attending Deseret Book's Time Out for Women. We were lucky enough for them to have it in Plano, just 20 min. away from me, for the first time ever. It was about 15 hours of talks and music directed to women to help lift us up, become better, and give us a new perspective on being a good woman/Christian/Latter-day saint/mother.  I am a firm believer in taking notes when at all possible. I pay closer attention and take away more that way. I took lots of notes on random note paper, so I will copy them here for my (and your) archival pleasure. Because I am such an avid note taker, I am going to break this up into segments so it's easier to read.

Friday Night
The theme for the weekend was, "Hope All Things"

Chieko Okasaki was supposed to speak to us, but unfortunately she was ill.
We were able to hear from President Gordon B. Hinkley's daughter Virginia Hinkley Pearce instead:

What does it mean to live successfully?
  • her definition of success: I trusted God completely and accepted and used Christ's atonement.
  • success is not contingent upon what callings or leadership positions you hold in church
  • Life is NOT a competition. Don't base your success on a comparison to others.
  • Sometimes mere survival is success.
Growth comes when we constantly seek to be just slightly better than our current best. We grow and mature line upon line.

Ask yourself,  "What will help me grow just a little bit? What will stretch me just enough beyond my capacity to learn to trust and rely upon God?"

Our main goal and challenge in life should be to become more like Christ.
  1. Mosiah 5:2 "...the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, [has] wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."
  2. We need to begin to see things and people as Heavenly Father and Jesus see.
Get out of the business of comparing! You will always find someone fatter than you, thinner than you, richer than you, poorer than you. It is the fast track to misery.  Other people have their mission in life, and I have mine.  There is only one YOU. Look at others and learn, but don't compare. It's expressing a lack of faith.

God works in me to do His will, if I am willing to give my life to Him.

Peace, Joy and hope are available to those who knowhow to measure success properly.

You can't measure your success by the results of others' agency and choices, but by your commitment to promoting growth.  If you feel the spirit and respond to it, you can feel successful, regardless of the outcome.

Michael Mclean had a lot of musical performances and presentations.  Here are are a few things I took from him:
We should be on a mission to be happy. The whole world is our training center. Don't be held hostage by your circumstances, children, self, or others. Now is the moment. Don't miss life as you live it.

Life's battles aren't always answered or won the way we want. Realize how spectacular you are.  You don't know what's in store for you.

Just feeling that you're heard is sometimes the answer. "Did you hear me? I can feel you near me."

Mark Mayberry
If you have never seen Reflections of Christ, please click here. The photography depicting Christ's life and ministry is absolutely amazing.

He actually spoke of his experience shooting his latest project, Another Testament Reflection of Christ - click here to see it.

His presentation was mostly visual, but the few snippets I took from him were:
What a blessing it will be to have Him embrace us in His robes of righteousness. We need Him now, not just in eternal worlds.

What can I do on a daily basis to imagine myself at the foot of Christ, encircled by His love?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Letters I and J and a new calling

Well, it was my turn to teach in preschool this week. I had the letter I and the letter J. (Click the links for the full reports on what we did.) Tuesday went pretty well. Today was not the greatest. I don't feel quite so badly about it now, after the fact, but I felt pretty horrible during and immediately following. Nothing I planned seemed to pan out quite like I'd hoped, and I just felt inadequate in the classroom management dept. I have a couple good friends who are real preschool teachers (you know, with training and stuff) whom I'm going to observe next week. Hopefully I can learn a few skills. It should be helpful in my new calling at church, as well, since I was just called as the sr. nursery leader. (working with kids 2-3 yrs. old for 2 hours of church)

Any veteran nursery leaders or workers with ideas that have worked well for you? Our nursery is in serious need of revamping our schedule so we have more structure. I'm just not 100% positive about how to go about it. All I know is that I don't want 45 min. of free play with kids 18 mo.-3 yrs. all trying to play with the same toys!!!! I've already gotten some good ideas from my friend Cassie that I hope to implement soon, but I would love any and all suggestions.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Why I didn't hear much of conference

I love the first weekend in April and October when we have the opportunity to hear from Prophet and Apostles of the Lord on how to become better people and disciples of Christ via satellite transmission. It is quite handy that we can listen and watch from home now, but I have to admit, this past weekend was quite difficult to pay attention to the 8 hours of teaching because of two little chilluns, as cute as they may be. I heard something like this for about 6 of the 8 hours over the course of the two days.

I am very grateful I can read and listen and watch conference over again in my spare time since I didn't get nearly as much out of it as I wanted.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I think I am raising a reader...

Dean loves to keep books in his bed to look at while he goes to sleep, but I had to laugh when I saw this. After church one day, he piled almost all of his books into Walter's crib and then slept on top of them! He did transfer himself back to his own bed before his nap was over, but this just cracked me up.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Living room before and after

I rearranged and painted my living room this past month. I did all the painting myself. One coat of primer and 2 coats of paint. So I painted this room 3 times!!! It took much longer than I expected. I still have the trim on the windows since it was bubbling from moisture damage, but that should be pretty quick.

My good friend Erin is an interior designer and she sketched up the remodel and suggested colors. I would have loved to change out my curtains for a cream with blue jewel tone accent, but that just wasn't in the budget. I mainly did this switch around so I could teach more than 1 student at a time, and since I haven't had much luck on the student front recently (I had a 5 person waiting list before I took a break after having Walt!), I decided I shouldn't put too much $$ into this yet. Thanks so much for all your help Erin! I love how it's coming together.

Horrible picture placements above the piano, I know. I hung them when the furniture was different and never changed them after the rearranging.

I figured out a way to squeeze the stroller in the garage without too much hassle while still being able to park both cars in there. So nice to have it out of my living room.

What you saw from the front door.

The front entry. $3 yard sale bookshelf until I can afford something better. It's worked well enough so far.

You can see the practice piano and desk here. There will eventually be a flat computer monitor mounted on the wall above the desk for piano lesson purposes.
What you see as you walk in. I'm currently making some wall art to hang.

My family history wall.

A picture I got from a street artist at the yellow mountains in China. This was a finger sketch!

Another family tree on top of our hutch. The door on this hutch broke 3 weeks after we put it together. We misplaced a part needed to fix it, so it was missing a panel for over a year! When I took everything out to move it to paint, we found the piece! I was so happy when Matt fixed it this week.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Some days I just don't know...

At one point today I was throwing a silent pity party for myself because it seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep up with the mess!  I was thinking, "I just don't know how [some people] keep their houses clean ALL the time. Like 'company is coming' clean. How is that even possible???" 

And then as I was cleaning up dinner, I had a revelation. Everyone doesn't do everything all the time.  Even if someone's house is clean ALL the time, something else has to give in their lives. Not everyone jogs 4 miles a day, bakes bread, makes cookies, cleans every corner of their house, plays with their kids, paints their living room, makes breakfast, lunch and dinner, does the dishes, crafts with kids, goes to work, etc. every day.

We prioritize. And it's ok if our priorities are different. Some people NEED a clean house. Some people NEED to exercise. Some people NEED to do a little bit of everything so they don't ever seem to have anything quite perfect (that's the category I fit into). I just have to remember to stop comparing myself to others, be grateful for what I have (and what I have accomplished during the day), even if it seems small or less than what I had hoped for. That's why we have tomorrow. Do all that you can today, and what you can't do today, do tomorrow.