Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas pics

I was trying to post these on FB, so the Grandmas could see them, but it kept not working, so we will try the round-about way.
Thank you for the presents. It was a Merry Christmas all around. The dollhouse was a huge hit. Games have all been played and post-Christmas malaise has set in.
M. played in the snow a bit too much. I found her crying in the neighbor's yard, too cold to even come inside.
According to my visiting teacher, we got 8 inches of snow in one night. It hasn't snowed so much since 1973.
The much beloved dollhouse.

B. had to help everyone open their presents.Daddy's new toy.

And a good time was had by all, especially once Mommy and Daddy went back to bed for a nap.

Books for the Winter

Contrary to what you might think, reading the blog lately, I have been reading a bit. The odd, snowy weather has a bit to do with it, and being far enough along in the pregnancy to get a bit of brain function back also contributed.
I just wanted to mention a few, so as to keep track, don't you know.
We have been reading the first four books in the Percy Jackson series. Ryan got them for his birthday and they are very good. Light reading for an adult, and great for my myth-obsessed boys. It makes me think the movie just might have some potential. I just got the last one from the library, but I have to wait for R. to finish it before I can.

My dear hubby got books 2 & 3 in the Jack Campbell series The Lost Fleet, which he spent all of the 25th and 26th reading. He had been very frustrated that I have not read them so we cannot talk about them in a meaningful way. It is a new experience for him to read something I haven't. I think it is good for him. I probably won't read it until after the baby comes because it is a little dense for me right now.

I finally got a copy of Parallel Play from the library and was a bit disappointed by it. For a while this guy was on every NPR talk show and reruns and web sites and etc. The book was nice, and I enjoyed the first half, but the second half seemed more like bragging of the drugs, sex and scholastic difficulties that he managed to experience and still have a successful(?) life. I wasn't impressed.

I just finished Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, which suffered a bit from the same phenomenon as Parallel Play. Why do people think I want to know about their first sexual encounter? I personally regard that type of information as private and intimate, and not to be shared with millions of people in your memoir. TMI, anyone?
Other than that I thought it was a lovely book. Most of these types of books tend to rely on cleverness to be funny rather than actual good writing. Some of the chapters I didn't connect with, but others were amazingly gorgeous prose, talking about things that all parents can relate to.

I also read several silly vampire and supernatural fiction books, but they don't really count, since they are pretty much pure fluff.
I am collecting books that I mean to read in April after my brain comes back. It always feels like some sort of compensation that I have so much nursing time to read once my desire to read returns.
Happy New Year and all that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Wishes

One of my wishes is that I had the time or brain capacity to blog more, but that ain't happenen'. So this is my wish that all of you have a wonderful Christmas or whatever you do with this few days off. My schedule is full until Friday morning, then I will be taking a nap. If you want to call, call after noon, OK?
Today we are cleaning and I am refereeing my sons, who cannot clean their room without violence, unassisted. Tomorrow is cooking and last minute stuff, then Friday morning the fun starts.
So whatever you are doing, be happy, it only lasts a few days, then we have dreadful, grey January.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

N is for Notes

Ryan's piano recital was this week. I generally hate these things, because our piano teacher gets together with several others, so there were 21 students at this one. That is too many. But we love our Ryan and we go every time. One of Ryan's pieces was Binary Sunset from Star Wars(the original one). He has a great ability to put feeling into his pieces. You could see the scene, where Luke is standing in front of the two suns going down, melancholy and alone. It was beautiful. I even heard a whispered "Wow." as he finished.
I love having my children take music lessons. I never did and it is something I always wished I could catch up on. Having the piano in my home is such a treat, even when it is the three-year old playing it. There is just something about live music, being produced in my home, that makes me happy.
I am also grateful for all of the many ways we have of bringing music into our home. I think MP3 players are wonderful. Mine has a connection to the stereo and is almost always going. The variety of music that is available is so wonderful and overwhelming. Then we have the radio, my left-over CDs, Pandora. This is a golden age for the music lover. Not so much for someone who enjoys silence, or wants only good music, but they can learn to live with it.
My boys have discovered Weird Al (though it is mostly my fault), we have Christmas carols going all the time, and my little girls sing while they play and are happy. Music is a part of our lives and I am very grateful.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

M is for Moab

I have talked a lot about the town I live in. We moved to this tiny, isolated community from Las Vegas and haven't had a moment of regret. In the age of cars, Amazon.com and over-night FedEx you can't complain about the availability of products.
The beauty looking out my front porch is wonderful. So many talk about how going out in nature helps them remember God's love and feel rejuvenated. I am blessed enough to feel that just looking out my window.
I can let my children walk to school. I know the teachers and see them at the store. I have two of the three maternity nurses at the hospital living in my neighborhood, one of them across the street. The librarians know me, the grocery clerks know me, we have so many of the benefits of living in a small town.
Yet, because of the nature of our town, we have a bookstore, a good after school program, and a healthy artistic community. Some of the insular nature of small towns, (Utah ones in particular) is alleviated by the nature of the tourists that come through and those who came "just for the summer" and stayed for love of the area.
Can you tell I love it here? I hope this post didn't sound too boastful. I love living here and hope to be here a very long time. I am grateful that we are blessed enough to find a place that suits us so well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

L is for Listening

My husband is an audiologist. He deals with people who can't hear to one degree or another everyday. He also comments that half of his business is marriage counseling. If you have ever taken a "how to be a better person" class, lecture, note, pamphlet, etc. under whatever guise, there is always a section on how to be a better listener. I remember in the MTC, learning to be a missionary, there was a section in the handbook on listening to the person you are teaching.
If everyone on this planet (well, 99%) is born with the ability to hear, why do we need so much training to listen? Obviously there is a big difference. Part of the problem is that our ears are so easily overwhelmed by our eyes. If I had a nickel for every time I pretended to listen to my children while actually doing something else I would be on a beach in Bermuda instead of writing this post.
Even when we intend to listen, our brains put up this competitive sideshow to distract us. My husband comes in and starts talking about his day. A sentence or two in he mentions lunch and then my brain starts thinking about dinner, what we should have, if I have the ingredients, if I want to eat what I am going to make, etc. And I haven't actually heard anything my sweetheart has said. This happens more than I want to admit.
So why am I thankful for something that isn't in my life often enough? Because when I make the effort wonderful things happen; my relationship with my husband improves, not only are my children better behaved, but they are happier and I learn things about them. The funny thing about listening is, the things we allow in front of the conversation are very rarely as important as the conversation itself.
Perhaps the most important listening we can do is to the Holy Ghost. Our Father in Heaven wants to talk to us, but if we never turn off the electronics long enough to hear, who is at fault when we feel we lack guidance. In her recent talk Sister Beck suggested putting a pad of paper and a pencil near where we pray at night. Then spend some time listening. It might seem silly to stop praying in the middle to write something down, but it is better than forgetting it.
I am grateful for what I hear when I listen. I am grateful for how I feel when someone listens to me. And I am most grateful for what I feel when I listen to the Holy Ghost.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

K is for Kids

For a few months at the beginning of our marriage, David and I worried about not being able to have kids. We got over that.
I am incredibly thankful for my children, to the point that I feel completely inadequate to write about them. The list of adjectives alone is over whelming: smart, funny, cute, talented, aggravating, adorable, kind, thoughtful, brilliant, good-looking, spiritual, helpful, geeky, musical, readers, artistic, persistent (some), erratic, entertaining, healthy, charming, educational, the list could go on all day. I could do an ABCs of my children quite easily (don't worry, I won't).
They have changed my life for the better and made me grow as a person I didn't know I was capable of. And I have grown in ways I didn't want to be capable of. They are amazing people, each of them. I look forward to getting to know them better as they become teenagers and then adults, with their own personalities and opinions.
I have been amazed, as each comes into our home, at how different they are, even as a newborn. Their own spirit personality shines through. It is an honor to have been entrusted with the care of such strong and brilliant people. I am grateful for the help of our Heavenly Father, because left to this task by myself, I would surely mess it up.
Thank you Heavenly Father for my children, thank you for their strengths and weaknesses and the joy that comes from learning together. Help me to keep on and for us to progress together.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

J is for Joints

After a very long Thanksgiving break, which was mostly enjoyed and completely survived by everyone, I am ready to get back to a semi-normal life. It won't be completely normal because it is December. But I love December and all the stuff that goes with it. I've started the Christmas carols. I find them very soothing when what I want to do overwhelms what I can do.
Today I chose joints because they are cool. Remember the Primary song? "I'm all made of hinges cause everything bends. . ." Though they often cause problems, where would we be without them? In the same place because we couldn't move.
My sweet daughter, E. will be getting an MRI on Thursday for her difficult hinge, her left ankle. We took her to Primary Children's to see the doctor of last resort. At least now I know we won't have to go to anyone else, he has to figure it out. So we will get a pretty, multicolored image of her ankle, and hopefully all will be revealed.
Our bodies are amazing, the more I learn about them the more I am grateful for a mostly healthy body. It is like pregnancy, the surprising thing isn't that babies are born with defects, the amazing thing is that so few are. The way we move, grow and heal are all miracles, every day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I is for Ice Cream

Sometimes, in the midst of all that serious gratitude, you have to remember the simple things that make life good. Like Coldstone Creamery, Dove Cherry Chocolate Courtship, and watching a three-year-old eat a chocolate ice cream cone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

H is for Honesty

Today I had the opportunity to go to a regional women's conference to hear Sister Beck talk. The format was different than other conferences. Rather than just talking for a while, she invited sisters in the congregation to ask questions. The reason I put honesty as the idea behind this post was that the answers she gave were your typical church answers to things but in a wonderfully blunt and honest fashion. I felt inspired, but also refreshed, as though the cobwebs that build up around the normal "Sunday School" answers were swept away.
Two of the questions, or rather her responses, struck me. The first was when a sister asked (paraphrasing) , "The men have been told to avoid pornography, the Young Men to prepare for missions, and so on, what specific thing should women be doing?" Sister Beck then quoted president Monson, when he gave a warning to all, young and old, men and women, about pornography. She went on to say that pornography is everyone's problem. And if you think that as a woman you have no personal temptation you still have a responsibility in your home. She phrased it as a war, and women as the chief defenders of the home. She suggested, "Ask your husband, 'When was the last time you saw pornography?' ask your teenagers". This should be as routine as asking "When did you mow the lawn?" Find out what is happening in your home. Don't let ignorance be your excuse, you have no reason to not know. Use the filters, be careful what is on your television, be aware of what can be done with cell phones.
As a call to action it was unequivocal and stirring. It also left no room for denial or avoidance.
The second time she was so blunt was when a sister asked the well meaning question of can we really raise righteous children in such a wicked world? And while Sister Beck sympathized with the honest frustration and longing this sister expressed, she also very boldly proclaimed, "You can do it, you must do it. You chose to do this and you can."
She then went on to point out that there are a lot of famous women in the world, who even have a portion of truth, but most of them preach a message that as women we deserve a break, something special, a treat just our own. Then this statement that hit me square between the eyes, "You are not owed anything. I hope you don't take that badly." We have been given the Atonement, life, the gospel, our families; everything we have. No one owes us a thing. Whenever we feel that we are picked on or someone should give us something, we are not being influenced by the Holy Spirit.
She didn't mean we should work until we drop. She had talked earlier about taking care of ourselves. When we are so tired we can't feel the Spirit we are alone and cannot do what we are capable of. But the attitude difference of "I am owed this chocolate, vacation, nap, etc" versus "I have worked and now I can take a break" is enormous. I am extremely guilty of this type of thinking and I need to get a handle on it. I think it will make a huge improvement in what I can accomplish if I can avoid looking for what I "deserve" after doing anything.
She commented to the few young women that were there that YW is preparatory to RS. The main difference being that in YW every good thing you do counts toward something, service hours, your medallion, etc. There are always leaders there ready to give you applause for the good works you do. When you get to RS, you are just expected to do those things, and no one counts how many times you've done it, no one marks a chart or announces it in Sacrament Meeting. But you are loved, and that has to be enough.
So I am grateful for her honesty. Sometimes the polite version isn't strong enough to get through the wall of justification we build around ourselves. I hope by writing this down I can get it firmly enough in my mind to be better and change. I am thankful for the opportunity to hear one of God's chosen servants speak and for His spirit to tell me what I need to do.

Every Member a Missionary

We interrupt the regularly scheduled but infrequently posted Thanks posts for a Sunday School lesson. I really just wanted to post a couple of quick quotes because what really struck me about the lesson was a talk in General Conference that connects very well with the theme of the lesson.
The full talk is here, but I pulled out the story that impressed me.

On April 6, 1974, the Church sustained a new prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball. That same day I received my call to serve as a full-time missionary in Finland. I wasn’t aware at the time that President Kimball had just delivered a landmark address that week to the General Authorities and regional representatives of the Church. Later I learned that in that address President Kimball prophetically outlined his vision as to how we as a church would accomplish the Savior’s charge to “teach all nations.” In his address, President Kimball invited the members of the Church to lengthen their stride and enlarge their vision. He asked that every worthy young man prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission. He encouraged the members in each country to prepare to supply their own missionaries, and he called upon “able men to assist the Twelve [Apostles] to move out into the world and to open the doors of every nation” (“When the World Will Be Converted,Ensign, Oct. 1974, 10).

In response, we as members of the Church began to pray regularly in our families, in our sacrament meetings, and in our stake conferences that the hearts of the leaders of nations would be softened and the doors opened to our missionaries. The members began to see more clearly their responsibility to share the gospel. Our young men stepped up, and a great army of missionaries was gathered. We witnessed President Kimball’s vision begin to unfold.

While serving in Finland, I learned that my mission president’s wife, Sister Lea Mahoney, was a native of Finland. As a young girl she had grown up in the eastern portion of Finland in a city named Viipuri. As the ravages of war engulfed Finland and other countries during World War II, she and her family left their home, and Viipuri became part of the Soviet Union and was renamed Vyborg. In our zone conferences, Sister Mahoney would tell us of those left behind in Viipuri and of her desire that the gospel be taken to them. Following President Kimball’s challenge, we unitedly prayed that the hearts of the leaders of that nation would be softened so that the gospel could be taken by our missionaries into the Soviet Union.

We would go to the border between Finland and the Soviet Union and see the guard towers and the fences, and we would wonder who those brave young men and young women would be and when they would cross that border to take the gospel to the people there. I must admit, at that time it seemed like an impossible task.

Three years ago, our son Eric received a mission call to serve in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission. In his first letter home, he wrote something like this: “Dear Mom and Dad, I have been assigned to my first city in Russia. Dad, you may have heard of it before. It is called Vyborg, but it was previously a Finnish city named Viipuri.”

Tears came to my eyes as I understood that Eric was in the very city we had prayed about 32 years earlier. Eric found a chapel there and a branch of faithful Saints. He was living and serving in a place that to me as a young man had seemed impossible to enter.

I did not realize those many years ago, as we prayed for the borders to open and the missionaries to go in, that I was praying for our son. Most importantly for you of the rising generation, our son Eric did not realize that he and his companions were the answer to the prayers that had been offered by thousands of faithful Saints so many years ago.

That story brought tears to my eyes, especially as I thought about my own boys and this quote from President Monson from October Conference 2008:
It has been my privilege during the past six months to meet with leaders of countries and with representatives of governments. Those with whom I’ve met feel kindly toward the Church and our members, and they have been cooperative and accommodating. There remain, however, areas of the world where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely. As did President Spencer W. Kimball over 32 years ago, I urge you to pray for the opening of those areas, that we might share with them the joy of the gospel. As we prayed then in response to President Kimball’s pleadings, we saw miracles unfold as country after country, formerly closed to the Church, was opened. Such will transpire again as we pray with faith.

Though the lesson talked about many ways we can be missionaries, from preparing our children, inviting our neighbors, serving as senior couples and encouraging the newly converted, I keep thinking about this one thing. What kind of miracles are we going to see in the next thirty years? How will it change our lives if we routinely pray for those miracles to happen? I can see each of us becoming more aware of missionary opportunities, just because we are keeping those ideas in our minds. So pray for the missionaries, pray for the places that don't have missionaries, pray for the miracles to come so our children may serve in places we can't even imagine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

G is for Garden

The first gardening catalogue of the season arrived yesterday. Those wonderful catalogues are one of the things that get me through the winter. I love the flowers, the new kinds of vegetables, the completely unlikely dreams of huge harvests and days spent canning. If I ever get as good at gardening as I am at thinking about it I will feed the whole neighborhood.
This last spring I did better with the garden that I have before. It is one thing that I can see my progress each year. Once the morning sickness showed up the garden suffered, but there was still improvement. As all our progress happens line by line, I like having something that I can see that progress in a measurable way.
I also love being outside in the sun. Pulling weeds is very soothing, in a mindless way. There aren't any complications when you work in the garden; is it a vegetable plant? No, then pull it. Very simple. If my kids are out there too I enjoy teaching them about the plants and watching them work(ish). If they aren't outside then I get quiet time, which is very valuable too.
This spring I will not be planting the garden myself. Prime gardening time will be interrupted by the birthing process. But David will plant and I can spend summer days getting myself back together by working in my garden, growing food for my family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

F is for Fetus

I had my mid-way ultrasound today. As far as I could tell the baby is healthy and the proper size and most likely a boy. He is also a wiggle-worm. I don't think any of my babies have moved as much during an ultrasound. It was very funny.
This pregnancy has been interesting. There have been numerous reasons for us to decide to have another baby. Most of the promptings are either too convoluted or too private to discuss on a blog, but I can share one thing: this baby has had a name since before he was conceived. Seeing that he was a boy was just one more confirmation that the Lord really does want us to have this child in our home.
I have been so blessed to be able to bear children and to help more of our Heavenly Father's children receive bodies so they can continue to progress. It is an honor and a privilege. Perhaps I should print that out and post it somewhere, maybe in the bathroom.
I won't hide it, I never have, that pregnancy is very difficult for me. All the little perks, feeling the baby move, etc. never really compensate for 9 months of brain damaged, physically impaired insanity. What does compensate however is the joy and love of having a new child in our home. Each one has blessed our home in so many ways. I look forward to getting to know this new little spirit as well. Only 20 more weeks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

E is for Education

I still plan on being thankful for the entire alphabet, though planning on blogging everyday was overly optimistic. I might still be doing this at Christmas. That is OK, more thankfulness is not a bad thing.
We recently had a bond election for the schools that failed miserably. It has made me worry about what will happen to my children in the coming years. The problem is big enough to make the news. Since the tax vote failed they have floated such things as closing the Jr high and placing the 7th graders at the elementary and the 8th at the high school. Laying off 25-35 teachers, eliminating all extracurricular activities, and other similarly drastic measures. I don't know what will actually happen and I am grateful that we have the resources to help our children do well without depending on the schools.
But I am very grateful I live in a place where I do trust the schools. When I meet the teachers they have all been people I trust with my children. I am VERY grateful that I do not have to home school my children. I know it works for some people, but I would need some pretty amazing blessings to manage it for our family.
Next year I will have 4 kids in elementary school and Bridget in pre-school. That is a lot of trust and a lot of papers coming home every day. The planning of the teachers and the efforts they make on my children's behalf is appreciated.
I am also grateful for the education I received. I was lucky enough to have teachers who challenged me and gave me extra things to think about. I was in gifted and talented programs in many different places. I managed to avoid the swamp of Jr high entirely and spent those years in a very sheltered spot in a regular high school. Though I must admit I did not take advantage of all the opportunities I was given, I did learn and progress.
I am grateful for a system that still enables people to put themselves through school if they work hard and are willing to pay for it. I received scholarships and got loans and worked my way through college. My children will do the same. An education that is not earned is not appreciated.
Thank you to my teachers, my parents and all those who have taught me in many ways through my life. Learning is still one of my favorite things and I hope to continue doing it forever.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

D is for David

Every time I think about how David and I got together I have to say a quick prayer thanking my Heavenly Father for my husband. Many people talk about divine intervention in various parts of their lives and the strongest example in my life is how we got together. Basically the Lord picked us up, pushed us together, and said "You will get married." A few weeks after we came to our senses and had to deal with where we were.
Though there were a few rocky patches in the beginning we have a good strong marriage, with a developing and growing ability to communicate. Though we both have faults, we balance each other in ways we couldn't have known about only through dating.
He is an excellent father and a devoted, caring husband. I am and will be eternally grateful for him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

C is for Constitution

I thought of this earlier, otherwise this post would be for Completing the laundry (for now). I voted today and I am always amazed at how boring this event is. Despite complaints here and there, we don't have to worry about someone rigging our elections. (If you have a favorite conspiracy election theory, please don't tell me because I won't believe you). They run in a completely pedestrian, boring manner and no one takes to the streets when they lose.
I have heard people from other countries say that one of the things that makes America so great is its bureaucracy. Because ours works. The amount of corruption is small and even important people can be sent to jail. It doesn't take months and a barrel full of cash to get a permit for something. You don't expect to negotiate with the county clerk to get your car licensed.
All of this stems from the balanced powers developed in the Constitution. We have practiced this whole democracy thing for over two hundred years. So many of the countries that have problems are just starting to work it out. We were also blessed with honorable leaders in the beginning when everything could have gone wrong. In just the stage where so many other lands end up with dictators and corruption and misery, we had the founding fathers, willing to risk everything to start this new country off right.
I want you to remember to be involved, even if it is no more than to vote. For one thing, I firmly hold to the axiom that if you don't vote you can't complain. For another, if everyone who complained voted, things might be different. It is difficult to listen to the news sometimes, especially if you feel you can't do anything, but if you get annoyed enough, maybe you will be inspired to find a way to make a difference.
We have been incredibly blessed, we should act on and use that blessing.

And as a side note, PLEASE find out the facts before passing on untrue political rumours. The boneheaded things I have seen, from both sides, makes me want to require intelligence tests before elections. There are many places on the web you can go for fact checking, snopes, politifact.com and many others. Don't pass on rumors just because you wish they were true.

Monday, November 2, 2009

B is for Books

I partially think I should look for something less obvious, but I am very thankful for books. Not only books, but libraries, the printing press, authors, public schools, near universal literacy, easily available scriptures, picture books, reading to my children, my children reading and late night reading in my comfy chair.
As long as I can remember I have been a book worm. For the longest time I felt silly when asked about my hobbies because I only had one: reading. It is as much of a part of my personality as . . . well, right now I can't think of a part of my personality that wasn't influenced by books.
I love Sunday afternoons when my older children all curl up with books. I love it when my littlest comes and smacks me with a picture book, "Weed me!" she yells as she climbs up. R. has started to read novels and I love sharing with him. It helps that he enjoys the same type of books I do. I am starting to figure out J.'s preferences, he is a nonfiction kid, because he hates the type of tension you find in a regular book.
I love reading aloud and sharing with my sweet husband. He wasn't much of a reader when we got together, but I have corrupted him and now he ignores his children when we get a new book nearly as much as I do. I love reading the same book and sharing the good parts and quoting bits to each other later. It is like our own private language because when you quote a movie, a lot of people will know what it is from, but rarely will anyone recognize a book quote.
I am grateful that I can buy books and that in the last year or two I have found authors good enough I think it is worth buying their books hardcover. I am glad that my chosen genres are becoming more popular and there are so many things to explore and learn.
I love that you can always learn something from a book. Even the most worthless one will at least teach you what to avoid. Fiction might be made up, but there is always some sort of detail that is new, or an idea you haven't had before.
And most of all, right now I am grateful that my pregnant brain has let up a bit and I am reading again. It felt very odd not to be reading. I missed the books, but couldn't get up the mental energy I needed to read them. I am still not up to reading difficult and complex things, but light fantasy and "cosy" mysteries are great. And some of the mysteries even have recipes I might use. I love the fact that there are so many types of books out there. No matter my mood, there is something to fill it. We are so blessed to live in such a rich time and I am very grateful.

A is for Apples

I've been pondering doing something to help my mental state and when I noticed that Thanksgiving was on the 26th of November I had a mild epiphany. I will try and write an ABC of thankfulness. Don't expect anything profound, because I'm not experiencing that type of eloquent brain activity. Mostly I want to get my mind into a better position, both mental and spiritual. My desire to be positive with this pregnancy, especially since I chose to have another child is battling with the natural desire to grump at everyone because I hate how I feel when I am pregnant. I won't be posting every day, since we don't turn on the computer on Sunday, but I will at least say something for every letter.

A is for Apples

Healthy eating has been duking it out with convenience the last few months. Thankfully all of my children like apples, which is one of the few foods in both camps. David has been doing very well in his effort to eat less sugar and I am trying to change my shopping and snacking habits to match. Changing the eating habits of my children is a bit harder. Things like apples, baby carrots and cheese logs help. Halloween does not, but we will run out of candy soon.
I generally don't like apple juice, which means my children now think it is as good of a treat as pop or punch. While it might be loaded with sugar, it still came from a tree and not a plant.
Now all I have to do is convince them that applesauce is edible and we'll be good. Though that is probably not going to happen, they don't even like applesauce cookies.
Thank you Heavenly Father, for the apple.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Pics

So I actually finished the costumes, though I was still working until right before they left. But all the kids are happy and only one tummy ache at bedtime.
These are the pumpkins that we put out on our tree house . They look like they are floating there once it gets dark.
One very satisfied ballerina princess. Tip for next year, never try to sew a tutu, it is harder than it looks.
A slightly confused cowgirl. Her ankle did fine, though she was hurting by the end of the night. But no way was she going trick-or-treating with crutches.
So what is he? Mad Cow Disease? Bull with a vendetta? nope, a minotaur. And he even liked the feeble efforts of his parents to portray such a thing. AS he learns more esoteric things, like Greek Mythology, his costumes get harder.

Some form of ghost, I'm still not sure what kind. He was so excited to go get candy that he forgot the glow-in-the-dark paint we got for his hands and face.
B. refused to let me take her picture until she came home. And then only because J. was getting his picture taken. Thanks to my sister for the Magenta costume that required nothing more of me than to find it in the costume box.
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gathering Storm

I have been waiting for this book for approximately four years. That's when the last book in this series came out. Then the author died and I gave up. Then a spectacular new author picked up the burden and delivered and oh boy did he deliver.
I have been waiting almost two weeks to write this as my local bookstore evidently thinks release dates are for sissies. Not that I am complaining. I read this 740 page novel in around six hours. It was that good. And more than just good, it was satisfying.
So often when you read books in a series, often in this series, you get to the end of the novel and there is no real conclusion. There might be some sort of ending, but no conclusion. It makes me want to throw the book and send nasty letters to the author for stringing me along. It also doesn't help that I am a sucker and get drawn in this way on a regular basis. (On a side note, this is one reason I like Brandon Sanderson so much. He writes stand alone novels, which is getting to be a lost art in sci-fi/fantasy.)
This book ended so well that even though there are two more books to come, I was content to just be at the place the story ended. Until next October anyway.

The Gathering Storm. Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson. Tor. 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I usually avoid parenting books. Most of them cherry pick studies, or just make stuff up, to agree with their own personal theories, then try and convince everyone else they are right. I also have a long-standing conviction that you should not be allowed to give parenting advice in the media unless you have two or more kids. The reason I read this book in spite of these previously held rules is that the format of this book is different. Rather than being a prescriptive book (telling you what to do) it is a descriptive book (telling you what four decades of child research has discovered).
I trusted the authors a bit more when I heard one confess, in a radio interview, that he had to rethink some of his own parenting ideas after doing the research for the book. Once I knew the author wasn't just finding excuses to preach about why his way was the best, I was much more interested.
The book is broken up into broad topics and describes the sum of years of research. I really liked how they took a large number of studies, and even included those whose results didn't necessarily agree with the mainstream. In fact, I was surprised at the number of times the total of scientific ideas conflict with the stuff you get from the talk shows and parenting magazines.
I would recommend that every parent should read this, not necessarily to change how you parent, but to give you some new ways of looking at your kids and your family dynamics. I truly appreciated the tone of the book. Too many parenting books imply that if you do not follow their advice, your family will be a complete wreck. This one offers you new ideas and lets the reader decide how (or if) to implement them.
Look! Look! I read a whole book! I love the second trimester.

Nurtureshock: New Thinking About Children. Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman. Twelve. 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reality Check

As the mother of five children I get a lot of comments like , "Wow, you must be busy" or "I couldn't keep up, my two are all I can handle," and similar comments. They are all meant to politely express the speakers astonishment that I seem to be sane and at least moderately intelligent and yet have so many kids. (I can't wait until my pregnancy is obvious to someone other than my husband.) I don't mind and for the most part I feel that these concerns are overblown. I don't feel nearly as busy as a lot of mothers I know who spend all their time shuttling kids to activities and volunteering and working and a multitude of other things. My days are pretty much open and its not that much more work to feed 7 than 4 or 5.
Then we have weeks like this one has been. My children tend to have problems one or maybe two at a time. This week we counted four and one an extra time consuming and worrisome event. I honestly think this is one of the few times I've really felt as harried as others seem to assume I must be all the time.
With all the waiting rooms and driving I've been doing I've also had time to think about the large family stress I have been feeling. And my conclusion is, I'd rather have this type of stress than the self-induced busyness that I see around me. B. will figure out her bathroom timing issue; E will heal eventually, even if the doctors can't figure out what is wrong; J.'s eyes and teeth are all repaired now, at least for another year and R. will probably not have another fight at school (I'm praying on this one, and on all the others really). All these things will pass. It was only coincidence that it all is happening at once.
But my family is forever. Right now things are a bit labor intensive, but nothing worth doing is easy. The work and stress I put into my "job" will all be paid back 100-fold in the days, years and even millenia to come. I'm grateful for the waiting required for many a crisis, it helps get my mind out of the frenzy and panic and looking forward to the (usually brief) time before the next problem.
Thanks for reading all the way to end. I am trying to post every week, but sometimes I only have my own mental circles to comment on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

applicable meme

Wasn't conference great?
So I have a goal of writing at least once a week but my brain is not working properly, so I stole this meme from another book blog.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
If I eat alone I read. But I also like to eat while I read. I would probably be skinnier if I could not do this.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
If I am studying I do and I have often been tempted when I read a really good quote, but I rarely have a highlighter with me.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
A random piece of paper if there is one handy, otherwise the following:

Laying the book flat open?
Yes, though I know it is a terrible thing.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Usually both, though recently only light non-fiction and fiction I've already read.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
I don't have the patience for audiobooks. I can read so much faster.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I am frequently forced to put books down suddenly, so I can now.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
No, never, though I usually can guess the word.

What are you currently reading?
I started Servant of a Dark God by John Brown, Alcatraz vs The Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson and The Magicians by Lev Goodman. Finished none of them. There are many good books coming out this month that I might not read until April.

What is the last book you bought?
Servant of a Dark God is the most recent of my pre-orders that has arrived. I am also waiting for Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett and The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
I always have books scattered around the house. Whenever I read I put the book down and then need another in another location.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
I try for a time when my brain works and my children are busy or sleeping.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Either, as long as it is good.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Brandon Sanderson, Terry Pratchett

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
Wherever they fit on my overcrowded bookshelves.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as a Rose

The whole premise of this lesson is that all members of the church, from those with 16 lines connecting to pioneers and the newest convert, owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneers, for their obedience and perseverance.
So really all you need for this lesson is to think of three or four of your favorite pioneers stories and you are good. But then you need to think beyond what they did to what you are doing:
  • When Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University, he compared the building of our lives to the building of the Salt Lake Temple:

  • “The prestigious Scientific American referred to [the Salt Lake Temple] as a ‘monument to Mormon perseverance.’ And so it was. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. The best things are always worth finishing. ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16.) Most assuredly we are. As long and laborious as the effort may seem, we must keep shaping and setting the stones that will make our accomplishments ‘a grand and imposing spectacle.’ We must take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow, dream dreams and see visions, work toward their realization, wait patiently when we have no other choice, lean on our sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again. … We are laying the foundation of a great work—our own inestimable future” (However Long and Hard the Road [1985], 127).

Everything we do is setting the scene for what comes tomorrow and even further in the future. Which is kind of depressing or inspiring, depending on how you are doing at the moment. Since my main occupation right now is child-rearing, it is nice to be reminded that worthwhile endeavors take a long time, and we often don't see the results right away.
Imagine the thoughts of the stone masons who were told to replace the entire foundation of the Salt Lake Temple with granite instead of easily worked sandstone. But the results have been worth that effort.
Since I had a terrible case of pregnant brain yesterday I don't know if anyone else in the class got something from the lesson. But a reminder of the worth of perseverance is good right now in my life. April is looking VERY far away right now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Mission of Saving

I wish I could just post a transcript of what I said during my actual lesson. It always seems to go much smoother than these recaps. Perhaps because I pray for a week before giving the lesson and I just use the time I can get on the computer for these posts.
This lesson is on the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies. If you don't know the story or need a recap, here is the lesson, it has a good summary.
This quote from President Hinckley really stuck with me:

“It is because of the sacrificial redemption wrought by the Savior of the world that the great plan of the eternal gospel is made available to us, under which those who die in the Lord shall not taste of death but shall have the opportunity of going on to a celestial and eternal glory. “In our own helplessness, He becomes our rescuer, saving us from damnation and bringing us to eternal life. “In times of despair, in seasons of loneliness and fear, He is there on the horizon to bring succor and comfort and assurance and faith. He is our King, our Savior, our Deliverer, our Lord and our God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 54).
The handcart companies needed two different kinds of rescuers; they needed the large scale, massive effort that involved hundreds of men, wagons and the whole valley to bring supplies together, but they also needed the individual attention described in the following story:

“ ‘The handcarts moved on November 3 and reached the [Sweetwater] river, filled with floating ice. To cross would require more courage and fortitude, it seemed, than human nature could muster. Women shrank back and men wept. Some pushed through, but others were unequal to the ordeal. “ ‘Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue; and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of that ill-fated handcart company across the snow-bound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, “That act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end” ’ (LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1960], pp. 132–33).
When Christ was born the Jews were expecting the type of hero we think of in the movies. Someone to rouse the people, kick out the Romans, and set a up an all powerful kingdom with them in charge. They wanted the super-mobilized effort of the type Brigham Young sent to rescue the parties as a whole. But Christ comes to rescue each of us individually. At some point every single one of us reach a point when we have no strength left and we cannot go any further. At this point He carries us, one by one, across our own rivers of despair and hopelessness.
Once we have been saved, at least for this crisis, we have a responsibility. Referring to the suffering of the Martin and Willie handcart companies, President Hinckley said:
“I am grateful that those days of pioneering are behind us. I am thankful that we do not have brethren and sisters stranded in the snow, freezing and dying, while trying to get to this, their Zion in the mountains. But there are people, not a few, whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out for help and relief. “There are so many who are hungry and destitute across this world who need help. … Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness. “There are so many young people who wander aimlessly and walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality, and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices and that spirit of anxious concern which speaks of love. There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord. “My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).
That seems clear enough, if slightly overwhelming. But we don't have to help the whole world at once. Just do our visiting teaching, fulfill our calling to the best of our ability, pray and try to stay close to the Spirit so when we can help, the Lord will show us how.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three Years and Counting

My youngest turns three tomorrow. She brings so much life and energy to our family, it seems odd that she has only been around for three short years. She even had the grace to become potty trained before her next sibling arrives, giving us the first break from diapers in over 10 years.
Happy Birthday sweetheart, I love you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Wheel of Time Re-Read

I haven't had much patience for new books lately. I just don't feel like expending the effort to get into the characters and plot. Especially with modern fiction, in which the first third of the book introduces the characters and the plot doesn't really get going until later on. I just don't care enough to put that much effort in right now.
So I have been re-reading the Wheel of Time Books by Robert Jordan. Since there are 11 of them it has taken me a while. If you are curious there is a much better and funnier commentary of these books going on a tor.com.
I have written about why I like these books so much previously, but this time I was really struck by how enjoyable it is to read these again. There is so much detail that you catch new information the second and even the third time you go through them. There aren't many books that have that kind of information packed into them. As I read the last one (so far) Knife of Dreams, I honestly was regularly surprised by plot details I had missed the first time. It felt like someone had added extra chapters while it had been sitting on the shelf.
I wasn't looking forward to reading books 9 & 10 because I remembered them as frustratingly slow, with not that much happening to move the main plot forward. This time I enjoyed them much more. I could see why each chapter was there, and each chapter had a point and an important reason for being there. I think I thought these books rambled before because I had certain ideas about what would happen in the book before I read it. Since these things did not happen I was frustrated. Reading it without those expectations, I could just look and enjoy what was there.
Now I am even more excited for the next book to come out at the end of October. Though I am sure I will need to read it several twice to pick up all the details.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

A bit late, but with how my brain is functioning now, I am impressed I got it here at all. I wasn't that excited about this lesson because it was mostly a recap of what happened between the death of Joseph Smith and the start of the trip to Salt Lake. If you would like a review of what happened, here is the link.
To better help myself understand what happened I made a timeline and plotted out everything mentioned in the lesson. Church history lessons have a tendency to jump back and forth without giving you enough references to frame everything. By doing this I noticed that the Lord gave the people direction for this time ten years before everything started to fall apart. D&C 107 was given in the fall of 1935, and among all the other directions, it has these verses, 22-24:
22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.
23 The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
24 And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.
That might not sound like something very interesting, but those three verses are what guarantee a smooth transition whenever a prophet dies. The weddings at the temple don't stop, we keep going to church, because the authority to run God's church is spread out. The First Presidency presides, but the Twelve, and the Seventy, hold all the keys. It is a marvelous blessing to be able to have seamless transitions.
Joseph Smith was also looking at the possibility of moving to the Rocky Mountains by 1834. So by the time it was needed, there was a lot of information and planning already done. The years 1844-1847 were difficult, but without the seeds planted much earlier keeping the people together would have been impossible.
The lesson also talks about the urgency the people had regarding getting their endowments. Brigham Young wrote in his journal:
“Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive, as if the brethren would have us stay here and continue the endowments until our way would be hedged up, and our enemies would intercept us. But I informed the brethren that this was not wise, and that we should build more Temples, and have further opportunities to receive the blessings of the Lord, as soon as the saints were prepared to receive them. In this Temple we have been abundantly rewarded, if we receive no more. I also informed the brethren that I was going to get my wagons started and be off. I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing. “Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord. Two hundred and ninety-five persons received ordinances” (History of the Church, 7:579).
I spoke with David about this. I think that we underestimate the power of the endowment in our lives. Those of us who went to the temple just as we were starting out an independent life may miss the impact having those blessings, just because we have never been without them.
That was what I tried to stress to the class, the pioneers had a terribly difficult time,. but without the blessings and preparation they received, their task would have been impossible.
I know that in my own life I have seen that. I chose to get pregnant this time. And I have not had easy pregnancies and this one is no different, but I have been given blessings to help me get through it. The difficulties of pregnancy haven't been taken away, but other circumstances and ideas and peace have blessed me with the knowledge that I can get through it. I think when we get to the other side we will be amazed at how much we were helped, without even knowing it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eye of My Heart

I haven't been sure about blogging lately because I wasn't sure I wanted to turn this into a pregnancy blog. But trying to ignore my current physical state would be impossible and silly, so if you don't want to hear about the miracle of procreation, you will have to go away for 7 months. But once the baby is born I have LOTS of time to read while I nurse, so come back mid-April.
My reading habits change when I don't have the concentration to follow a complex plot. This type of light memoirs are just my speed. This one was especially good because it dealt with children and mothers, but in a different way than usual.
The author points out that when she became a grandmother she looked for other books about that peculiar state and found nothing. Being an author and editor, she made her own compilation. The stories were sweet and slightly compelling. Most of them were too short to do more than give a gentle brush at your heart strings, not the tug that would be possible with such a subject.
The best part was the variety. There were grandmothers raising their grandchildren, ones close and far apart, ones revelling in grandmothering and some hesitant about the whole thing. As a stereotype-busting exercise it was wonderful. The only category of grandmother that was missed is the one I am most familiar with, the so many grandchildren you have to write things down to keep up. My grandmothers both had over 30 grandchildren. My mother has 15 grandchildren, my mother-in-law has nearly 30. What is it like to have so many children to love? Maybe there could be an LDS version of the grandmother book. Send e-mails to Sherrie Dew about it.

Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother. Barbara Graham, Mary Pipher. Harper. 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too Tired to Read

You wouldn't think that would be possible, but it is. I am re-reading a few things, but very slowly. I don't have the brain power for anything new. I've decided my brain during pregnancy is like a computer when you are listening to web radio, printing, downloading and trying to play a game all at the same time. There is not enough capacity and it freezes.
But I have found a bit of consolation. The LDS church recently started a web radio and they have some very cool podcasts. The two I like best are Conversations and Everything Creative. The first is an hour long interview with various church people. like Elder Bednar. And the other is sort of a round table about creativity. One person is interviewed one week and the next time they interview someone else.
LDS.org also has all the lesson manuals as well as the scriptures on MP3. So I have started listening to the current Relief Society lesson manual, since I haven't been to RS in a long time.
BYU has some good podcasts as well, particularly one called Thinking Aloud that has all sorts of interesting topics.
So when the stupor turns more to stupid I can listen and feel like my brain still works, at least a little bit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"The Prisoners Shall Go Free"

I survived last week, I think that's all I need to say right now.
Part of last week was a Sunday School lesson. To get the gist of what is is about read this entry about the Nauvoo Temple.
We know that temple work is important, but I truly felt like I got a little glimpse of why and how as I read this scripture, D&C 128:17-18.
17 And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding clink of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
The lines that are in bold struck me and I had this image of a net, this beautiful interconnected fabric, with each person being connected to every other person through multiple channels. During the lesson we talked about families being united and imagining being in a group of people and knowing everyone, knowing that you were connected to everyone, never having to feel alone or out of place. That was a wonderful idea and it doesn't come close to the idea in my head.
Then this week I had the chance to sort of see this in action. My husband's family had their reunion in some cabins at Moonlake in the Uintahs. Because there are nine children in his family, we had all the cabins on one side of the resort. It was wonderful to let the children run, knowing that every house had someone who knew the children and would watch out for them, in the same way you watched out for all the little ones running past your place. You could go out and wander a little until you found someone to chat with or do something with. Dinners were organized in a rotation, but since we had the biggest kitchen, we ended up hosting, (if not actually preparing) all the dinner meals. There was a wonderful communal feeling that was lovely.
At the end several people commented that this is a taste of what the Celestial Kingdom would be like, but with better beds and less rain. That kind of feeling of community is rare in our day and I wish there were more opportunities to experience it.