Monday, May 31, 2010

My Backyard part 1

Welcome to my Backyard!
part 1.
This was taken in early spring, just a few weeks after we first moved in.  Let's say the end of March?



Just because I know you've been dying to see what my backyard looks like.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bread Snob

Around here, Devin is more than just the breadwinner.  He is also the bread baker.  On a side note, while he does bring home the bacon symbolically speaking, he is sadly bring-home-bacon-less in the literal sense.  Go ahead.  Take a moment to pity me.  I can take it.

I return now to my purpose: When we first got married he typically made two loaves of bread a week.  Many changes have come to our family since then, but one reliable constant has been that Devin still bakes our bread.  About a year ago he taught me to bake bread, and I do it occasionally, but the undisputed award for best bread will always go to Devin in this household.  Or until the girls get old enough to challenge him. Which may happen sooner than you'd think:
Yes, it truly is what you think it is: Hallie kneading the dough for a loaf of bread.

Hallie, in the short, tender years that she has been with us, has become somewhat of a bread snob.  It's totally not our fault, it's just thanks to the fact that we always seem to have fresh bread coming out of the oven.  For not only does Devin bake a loaf of bread or two a week, we also have various types of bread throughout the week depending on what a particular meal calls for.  So, we have dinner rolls, or he makes pita bread, or tortillas, or garlic bread, or english muffins, or bagels, or whatever the occasion calls for, we have it.  And we have it piping hot, fresh out of the oven.  Can you see where this would lead a young, innocent such as Hallie?  She now tends to refuse any bread if it isn't fresh fresh FRESH.

So of course, to spare the people in her future it was only fair that we teach her how to bake her own bread, because she can't always be expecting other people to bake it for her.  Start 'em young, I guess.  If she wants fresh bread from now on, she can have it.

And, because she's so sweet, she was willing to make this tutorial for all of you.  Here are her best tips for baking bread:


Well, ok. It's clear we have a few things to work on.  And that's why for a little while longer at least Devin will continue to be our primary bread winner, and bread baker.  And maybe someday he'll bring home some bacon too.  For real.

Post Script: Devin read this post before I clicked the magical orange "Publish Post" button and he had a lot to say about it.  Something like, "Looks good...  And I do too bring you bacon. And I bring you chocolate chips, and sausage, and sometimes ice cream. I bring you lots of good things."

On that note, I apologize.  And the bread was delicious.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Woman in White

It is a completely satisfying experience to read a thoroughly good book.  It is so uplifting to me to read a book that not only has good plot and great characters but is also well written.  Have you ever read Woman In White by Wilkie Collins?  If so, join with me in saying "Bravo" to Mr. Collins, and if not, let me urge you to do so.  If you've never heard of it, do not despair, for neither had I until just recently.  Now that you have heard of it, make haste! Run, don't walk to your nearest library and begin! At once!

Ok, see how I'm trying to talk like him now?  That's the one problem I've found with reading literature written by such genius as Wilkie Collins.  It's the same way I feel after reading one of Jane Austen's.  They have the same way of describing their characters so deliciously, of developing a plot so carefully and to the purpose that fill me up with excitement.  I shuddered as I was reading it to think what I would write in my notes about it for Goodreads.  (Something I do because I have a tendency to forget what I think of a book once it is read and put away, and it's nice to have it written down somewhere so I can say, "oh yes, I thought such and such" before I decide whether or not to read it again. Obviously in the case of this book every decision about whether or not to read it will end the same way: I'll read it.)  Anyway, before I began that long parenthetical statement I was shuddering.  I felt like, like, I'm floundering here, can you tell? I felt like to try and describe Mr. Collins' use of words with nothing but words of my own would be like asking a two day piano student, albeit a true lover of music, to sit at the piano and describe their feelings for Rachmaninoff using only the medium of the piano itself.  Horror!  It would be like asking the child of Michelangelo to express his love for his father by creating an artwork for the big man himself.  Impossible! And not merely because Michelangelo had no children! (Did he?)  So, now you know I cannot use words to express how I felt about this novel, this writing.

Why are we not asked to read works such as this in our English classes?  Why do they make us suffer through Thomas Hardy when we could have been reading the works of his contemporary, my new pal Wilkie?  Oh well, luckily I came through unscathed, but I feel certain that if the books chosen were more Woman in White and less The Awakening or Tess of the D'urbervilles then more of my classmates would have subscribed less to old Cliff and his notes.

For a sample, this line describing a character made me laugh out loud: "Some of us rush through life; and some of us saunter through life.  Mrs. Vesey sat through life. ... A mild, a compliant, an unutterably tranquil and harmless old lady, who never by any chance suggested the idea that she had been actually alive since the hour of her birth.  Nature had so much to do in this world, and is engaged in generating such a vast variety of co-existent productions, that she must surely be now and then too flurried and confused to distinguish between the different processes that she is carrying on at the same time.  Starting from this point of view, it will always remain my private persuasion that Nature was absorbed in making cabbages when Mrs. Vesey was born, and that the good lady suffered the consequences of a vegetable preoccupation in the mind of the Mother of us all."

Genius! To be compared in such a way, even if it is to a cabbage, I could never have felt offended.  People just don't write like this anymore. 

And this, from the introduction, written by our pal Wilkie in discussing his book, made me think of you Heather, and your honorable quest for story:

"It may be possible, in novel-writing, to present characters successfully without telling a story; but it is not possible to tell a story successfully without presenting characters: their existence, as recognisable [sic] realities, being the sole condition on which the story can be effectively told.  The only narrative which can hope to lay a strong hold on the attention of readers, is a narrative which interests them about men and women - for the perfectly obvious reason that they are men and women themselves." Harley Street, London February 1861 - (Wilkie Collins, Preface to the Present Edition, 1861.)

And so I go now to Goodreads, to try and make my tribute.  If you'd care to read it (or any of my thoughts on the books I've read) just click on the picture of it on your right.  Sigh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cave Dweller

You'll think that I must live in a cave when you are done reading this post.  Or maybe under a rock. Or on Mars.  Put me wherever you want, but it must be some place far from the reaches of popular culture, or whatever they call it.

I don't own a smart phone.  I have never used DVR.  It's possible that I have never sent a text message.  I had to have a friend explain "BubbleBoy" to me when I kept hearing people talk about it and couldn't figure it out.  I finally googled Susan Boyle, again when I couldn't figure out who she was that everyone kept talking about.  (Pretty amazing, though.)

I don't tell you all this because I think it makes me great or wonderful.  I don't think it makes me anything except, well, just me.  The reason I tell you this is because I just stumbled upon an ENTIRE WORLD that I never knew existed.  Have you ever heard of the Bloggernacle?  Me either, until about a week ago.  You may have noticed the new buttons on the side of my blog.  That's because I just discovered NieNie, her sister C Jane, and even more recently, on the other end of the spectrum, the blog Seriously, So Blessed.  (I do not list these blogs as any sort of endorsement, or recommendation. I'm still trying to figure out what I think of them myself.  Read at your own discretion.)

So is it possible to be part of something you didn't even know existed?  I wonder.  I am certainly a mom, I am LDS, a Latter Day Saint, if you will.  I am a Word of Wisdom following, temple attending, three hours of church meeting going full fledged active, involved member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I write on my blog about my family, and what my life is like.  What does that make me?

All I know is that while I came fairly recently to this blogging scene, I started doing it for a few reasons: I wanted to have a way to keep my family and friends updated on my life without having to send out long, bothersome emails.  (Remember how much you hated those?)  The other reason I write a blog is because I always have words in my head floating around, forming themselves into sentences and demanding to be put down somewhere. I used to write them in an ordinary spiral bound notebook.  I still do that sometimes, but this is much more satisfying, because, of course, I get to hear your comments - which totally validate me.  (That's for you, Seriously So Blessed.)

So, whether you consider me to be a part of the Bloggernacle, whether you consider yourself to be a part of it, and even if you've never even heard of it, I'll continue writing my thoughts and experiences, here, and posting pictures of my family.  I hope you do the same, because I also love reading and commenting on your blog.  If you have one.

And now, go watch the video of Susan Boyle if you've never seen it.  If you have seen it, just watch it again.  It's that inspiring.  (and if it bothers you when they look down on her at the beginning, just wait. She gets hers.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Preparations

Let's go on a walk, Mommy.

Ok.

Fully dressed, check.
Diapers recently changed, check.
Baby recently fed, check.

Diapers, check.
Wipes, check.
Sunscreen, check.
Spare Clothes, check.
Burp Cloth, check.
Water bottle, check.
Garage door opener, check.
Toddler, check.
Baby, check.
Sunglasses, check.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Holiness

I love to see the temple
I'm going there someday
 to feel the Holy Spirit
to listen and to pray
For the temple is a House of God
A place of love and beauty
I'll prepare myself
while I am young
this is my sacred duty.

from the Children's Songbook of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
c. 1989, p. 95

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stop, Thief

Al and I walked to the park today.  The park is just down the street from my house and it was a nice day, so we packed up all our gear and off we went.  We were about halfway to the park when we passed a house.  From the garage we heard barking, and as Hallie loves all things dog I said, "Listen Hallie, do you hear the doggy?"  She got excited so we stopped for a minute, and that's when I noticed the yard.

It looked worse than ours does, which is really saying something.  The house itself looked creepy and unkempt, (think the house kids avoid on Halloween...)  I just looked and looked at that house trying to put my finger on just exactly what it was that looked so wrong about it.  Then it occurred to me: it looked neglected, completely abandoned.

So what were those dogs doing in the garage then?  I said to Al, "I hope these people take better care of their dogs than they do of their yard."  I was quickly calculating in my head what options I had for rescuing these poor dogs.

We went on to the park, and I resolved to take a closer look on the trip home.  If they were still in there barking their heads off I would sneak off to the store and at least bring them some food and water, I figured that would be a good start.

On our return trip from the park as we neared the house I began plotting to rip open the garage door, take the dogs home and keep them in our backyard until I could find someone to give them a loving home.  (Devin is not, shall we say, a "dog person".  Highly not.)  But this time as we neared the house I saw a very official looking van pull up on the street in front of the house.  I could see that it was some sort of Animal Control from the city.  I tried to walk past.  Really, I did.  But my feet stopped in between the van, and the house.

I guess something about the way I stared alternately between the man in the van and the dogs in the garage sent a message that I wanted to talk.  He rolled down his window and I marched over.  "What's going to happen to those dogs?" I asked him.  Before he answered he tried to find out what I knew about the people who lived there. I answered his questions the best I could - I knew literally nothing, except that there were two dogs in the garage, and the yard looked terrible and the house was scary in a "no one loves me" kind of way.

Once I made sure that he would take good care of the dogs, that they would go to the Humane Society to be adopted if no one came to claim them in the next two or so weeks, I unwillingly made my feet take me home.  I am still so worried about those little dogs.  Luckily, they are really cute and their bark really isn't annoying at all, and I'm almost positive they would never bite.

So, if you're husband isn't totally anti-dog go out and adopt a dog. Like, tonight.  Or sometime after the next two weeks.  Otherwise, I really might have to steal them.  And hide them in my backyard. And my mom tried really hard to raise me honest, and it would be a shame to ruin all her hard work now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Old Dog, New Trick

Sometimes I think about the people that first said common phrases.  I mean, the person that first said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” condemned old dogs to a life of performing only the tricks they had always known, never to have anyone try to teach them something new.  Was the person that first said it merely being flippant, having no awareness of the impact his words would have on the lives of dogs around him?  Or was he a dog expert, and made his comment after years and years of intense, careful research, and he actually knew for a fact that you cannot, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks?  I’ve also wondered if perhaps it was one person at all.  Could one person really say something and have it catch on like wildfire, spreading throughout the masses until everyone had heard it at least once in their life?  (While we’re on the topic of phrases, I have never understood “catch 22” OR “mutually exclusive”. If anyone could explain these to me, I’d be grateful.)

I thought about this phrase in particular today because I in fact, did learn a new trick.  Now I am fast approaching 27, which in human years is not considered old. (It’s not old, it’s not. It’s not.  I’m not old.)  But then I thought, well in dog years it’s really actually getting up there, in dog years it’s what 27 x 7 is what 189? Don’t judge my math skills.  (I’m not certain that’s how the whole dog years thing works, anyway. But my point remains).  So I’m somewhere in between 27 and 189, which I think you can now begin to see is old, and I learned a new trick today.

I learned that I can throw a towel, from a sitting position, onto a towel rack from four feet away (don’t worry, I got out a tape measure and measured it. We’re all about accuracy here at the scientist’s house.) And I can get the towel to land on the rack maybe like 2 out of 3 times. (That part of the experiment was a little sketchy, I grant you, I was too lazy to actually count. The point really is that I was pretty good)  WOW! 2 out of 3 times, from four feet away, and sitting! How about that?! Are you wondering right now, what possible use is a skill like that? And you’re right, it probably never will save my life, but you don’t know that it won’t.

And if you’re wondering what led to me being in a sitting position four feet from a towel rack long enough to learn this skill, don’t ask. I’d tell you, but then I wouldn’t be able to think of my blog as “family friendly.” So don’t ask.  Just be proud of this old dog for learning a new trick.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lose Weight, Guaranteed!

Ok, really this post is about gardening again. But I've already written a post that I titled "Gardening", and I thought this would catch your attention. And I think that gardening probably is a sure-fire weight loss activity, cleverly disguised as hard work.

There I am, getting the soil ready to welcome the seeds.  The original garden was pretty big, but we added about five feet, and put the fence around it.  The original owners also apparently planted nothing but corn and strawberries, and let me tell you what: Strawberries are a mess to dig out once they get in cozy and comfy.  Phew, that was a chore.
What a handsome, handsome man.
Hanna was a champion through most of this part:

And Hallie did a really good job sleeping through all the fun parts, and then she woke up to the drudgery of putting in seeds.  Thank goodness we had her around to liven up that most dull of garden tasks.



I can't wait to meet you, little carrots, sweet peas, green beans, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, cantaloupes, raspberries, and the inevitable strawberry that escaped our grasping fingers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Zoom, Zoom.

So, I never really got the whole "zoom-zoom" thing as an advertisement. I even thought the little whisper at the end was super-creepy.  Because of all that I didn't have much to do with Mazda. We are a GM family, after all.  (I'm still proud of it.)  However, all that changed two weeks ago when I became the official owner of my very own Mazda.  ZOOM ZOOM, indeed.


"Hi, I'm 2 going on Legal-driving-age.  Want to friend me on facebook?"
 "Ok, really, I am still just two."

 And, because it's been so long since you've seen any pictures, I know you all want a peek at Hanna:
"Huh. So that's where I put my foot."

Now that I am footloose and fancy free, I can go wherever, whenever. Just like Shakira.  Awesome.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Humble Pie

Last week Devin was gone from Monday through Thursday, touring the wheat fields of Kansas to help with the projected yield for this year's crop.  The girls and I missed him dearly.  It was the first time I had been alone in... a long, long time. (Usually when he goes somewhere I make my mom come and stay with me, but we are much too far away now for me to indulge in that kind of silliness.)

He is out of town again, this time touring Nebraska, and he won't be home until tomorrow night.   A few days ago (read: before he had even left) I was walking around with hot, bitter grumblings coming out of my mouth.  I was dreading him being gone, leaving me alone, and I was felt that if I complained, well mine was a "righteous" murmuring, and I was entitled to it, because after all, look at what I was being forced to deal with! Alone! By myself! Here! Sometimes, at night, it gets dark!!  Can you believe it?

Then, as I was really getting into the groove of my grumblings, I remembered the words of a woman I greatly respect, as she wrote about what it is like to be married to the bishop, and the time that it takes away from their family.  I thought, well, it is nice that Devin is around most of the time, that he helps me put the girls to bed every night, makes dinner 3 or 4 nights a week, I really can't complain about that.

I felt myself being served a cold dish of hot, crumbly, humble pie.

Then I thought of my friends who are married to doctors whose husbands work in hospitals, never knowing what the next month's busy, erratic schedule will be, and hesitant to make plans because who knows when the man will be around?

I could see a spoonful of "Whodoyouthinkyouare" flavored ice cream coming down on the side.

Then I thought of all the women whose husbands are in the military.  And the women whose husbands have passed away.  Or left them.  The women who are raising their children alone, for whatever reason, and doing the best they can.  The women who don't have husbands, or kids, and fight loneliness every night.

And the "getoveryourself" cream, whipped up real smooth, was put on top of my little (big?) piece of pie.

So, to all those women, I would like to offer a sincere apology.  I am heartily ashamed that I thought I had something to complain about.  I salute you, and I respect you. I fall to pieces after just a few days of doing this on my own, and can't imagine the strength it takes to do it every day.  I'd like to take a page out of your book, because I know it's called "Heckuva Woman."

I'm pretty sure my  book is called, "I'm Scared of the Dark when My Husband is Gone." and that's a lame story.

I'm going to use the opportunity of him being gone to try and focus on how lucky I am that I have a husband that is the kind of man that I miss when he's not here.  That he is the kind of daddy that Hallie wants home so badly she asks me every ten minutes where he is.

And maybe that will help when he leaves again next week.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Devin's thoughts

One of the most exciting things about moving here was that we finally expected to be in a permanent location. Since we were married three years ago, we have moved eight times. The moves have all been my fault as I have worked my way through internships, graduate school, research assignments, and post doc positions, and I am particularly grateful for my wife’s constant support.
    One example of how supportive my wife is occurred just after one of these many moves. Part of my research in grad school required me to travel the Netherlands for three months to collect some data and evaluate some new equipment developed by a company there. This was my first time ever being out of the country and I was terrified of not being able to talk with anybody.
    We arrived on a Sunday, and my supervisor picked us up from the airport. When he dropped us off at our new apartment, he told me that he would take me to work the following day, but after that I should take the bus. Tuesday came, and I was really nervous about getting on the bus by myself. I did not know how much money it cost and whether they would give me change. I didn’t know if I needed a pass, or if I could pay when I got on. I didn’t know if I should pay when I got on or when I got off. Amy could sense my anxiety, and offered to take the bus with me. The ride there went off without a hitch, and I got to work on time.
    Once I had settled into work for the day, I realized what I had done. I had sent my wife that was 5 months pregnant at the time on a bus by herself in a foreign country without any way of contacting anyone if something went wrong. I worried about her all day long. When I got home I learned what had happened.
She had gotten on the same bus going back toward our home, except unbeknownst to us, on the half hour, the bus takes a different route. We lived on the same street that I worked on, so it was 10 miles straight down the same road. As Amy neared home, she suddenly felt the bus turning. I think she panicked in horror, and did not think to pull the cord to stop the bus. It continued on for about 2 miles before it finally stopped for someone else to get off. Amy climbed off the bus, and walked home, which turned out to be about a 3 mile walk. Luckily she was able to find her way. This story stands out in my mind as a great example of how selfless my wife is.
 The scriptures contain other examples of selfless women. One particularly interesting example is Sariah, Lehi’s wife. In 1 Nephi chapter 2, we read, “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father [Lehi], even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness. And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him. And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness. … and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.”
This scriptural passage focuses on Lehi, but what if we read between the lines at what Sariah must have been thinking? She gave up all of the comforts that are mentioned, too – gold, precious things, the comfort of her home – and accompanied her husband into the wilderness. This was a young mother – her children were probably teenagers; and we know that she had other children – Jacob and Joseph – in the wilderness. Can you imagine if she had refused to go with her husband into the wilderness? The most obvious consequence is that Jacob would not have been born, and we know that he was an important Nephite prophet that continued the writings that make up the Book of Mormon today.
Sariah, indeed, must have been a strong woman – yet she certainly does not receive a lot of credit in the scriptures for her sacrifices. On the contrary, we might infer that she is not a strong woman, because only a few short chapters after we read about her leaving Jerusalem with her husband, she is “complaining”. If you remember, Lehi had to send his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve the Brass Plates from Laban. After they had been gone for longer than both Lehi and Sariah had anticipated, we read that she had “complained against [Lehi], telling him that he was a visionary man; saying: Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.”
We might conclude from this that Sariah is not a strong woman, but what is she complaining about? She is not complaining that her life is too hard, or that she has to sleep on rocks, or that she no longer has a decent stove. She is genuinely worried about the safety of her children; displaying her great love for her children. As a choice daughter of God, she has a unique capacity to love and nurture that is being tested here. In Elder Holland’s most recent talk from General Conference, he said, “Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate you unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.”
I have seen numerous examples of this unique ability to love and nurture in my wife. For about the past month, we have been trying to get our oldest daughter to sleep in her “big girl bed”, instead of her crib. Typically, the routine goes like this: after getting her all ready for bed, we say good night, turn out the light, and close the door. Hallie instantly hops up out of bed and reopens the door. We tell her that it is time for bed, and one of us stays with her in her room to keep her from getting up out of bed. Over the next 2 – 3 hours we continue to put her back in bed until it is finally our bed time and we end up putting her in her crib for the night (where, by the way, she instantly falls asleep).
It is at the point of putting her in her crib that Amy and I differ significantly. I tend to, for lack of a better word, “throw” her in her bed and close her door, without worrying about tucking her in. I am usually seething at the time. When my wife does it, she will gently lay Hallie in her crib, carefully tuck the covers around her, and whisper to her “good night, we’ll try again later”.
I know for a fact that we are both equally frustrated that, after fighting with her for 3 hours, Hallie still ends up in her crib, but Amy has the ability to still be nurturing and patient. She says that she does this because she wants Hallie to know that no matter what, her mother will always treat her with love and kindness.
This story not only displays women’s unique ability to nurture, but also patience. I know that everybody would do well to have more patience, but I think it is significant that in our most recent General Conference, President Uchdorf decided to give his talk on patience to the brethren in the Priesthood Session and not to everyone in a General session.
Another attribute of a selfless woman that Elder Ballard mentions is the ability to listen.  So often we focus on what we have to say, and not what others are saying. My favorite example of this, among many, goes back way before my wife and I were even dating. We were friends, and she had invited me to her family’s house for Easter, since I was not going to be able to see my family for Easter. At some point during the 6 hour drive there, I mentioned that I needed fingernail clippers because I had a hang nail that was driving me crazy. When we arrived, things were busy as they often are during holidays, and Amy’s mom put us in charge of making dinner. Before we started, however, Amy asked her mom where the fingernail clippers were because she remembered that I still needed them. This seemingly trivial act had a profound influence on me – demonstrating Amy’s ability to both nurture and listen.
H. Burke Peterson, in the April 1990 General Conference stated, “As you develop your capacity to love unconditionally, remember that listening is a part of showing love. If your home is a home where children are listened to, even when what they say doesn’t seem important or you don’t feel you have time, then you are preparing hearts. Can we listen openly to a shocking experience without going into a state of shock ourselves, or without an immediate verbal overreaction? We all know there is a time to talk and a time to listen. To listen with patience to a young person’s reasons for getting home late will bring you undying gratitude. Remember, you can listen to understand, not necessarily to agree. Ofttimes we do our best teaching when we listen.”
These characteristics of women that I have described – selflessness, the ability to nurture, listen, and have patience, are divine attributes that we should all work toward improving in our own lives. These qualities, however, do not bring a lot of fame. Unfortunately in the world today, we, and especially women, are encouraged to abandon these gifts in favor of fame, career, or other pursuits. In Elder Holland’s talk that I referenced earlier, he says that we should “teach [our] daughters to find joy in nurturing children”.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the joy in nurturing children when they cry all day, or they keep getting into something they’re not supposed to, or they make incorrect choices. I know – I have seen the haggard look on my wife’s face when I come home from work after a particularly difficult day at home.
Is there joy in nurturing children? After being kicked out the the Garden of Eden, Eve thought back on the choices she made. In Moses 5:11, she exclaims, “Were it not for our transgressions, we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the Eternal Life which God given unto all the obedient”.
I was not the easiest child to raise. During my teenage years, I can remember causing my parents a lot of anguish. Just this past week, however, my mom sent me a letter. In it she wrote, “I thought you would like to know how grateful I am to be your mother! I have learned many things about God from the experience of being your mother. One of the most important one was how much Heavenly Father loves you and how closely he watches over you. I am very grateful for the spiritual journey that I have had and the knowledge I have received that he loves me also. Being your mother is one of the greatest things I have or will ever do!”
I hope you will forgive me for using so many personal stories in my talk today. My goal was not to brag about the wonderful women in my life, but to illustrate some of the divine attributes of women that make them so important to our Heavenly Father’s plan for us. I am quite certain that without the righteous influence of our mothers, many of us would not stand a chance at making it back to the Celestial Kingdom. I am grateful for my mother and my wife. I am grateful that my wife is willing to stay home with our daughters and put off having a career that I know she would enjoy. I am humbled that Heavenly Father has entrusted two of His daughters to my wife and I to raise and to teach these divine attributes to. I pray that I will be able to help them fulfill the roles that Heavenly Father has in store for them here on this Earth.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Between 20 and 30

A few posts back I wrote about a journal that I kept when I was a junior in high school as part of a daily writing assignment for my English class.  I was 17 at the time, and I think I thought that I knew a lot.  I also, it seems, was afraid that I would become boring sometime in my twenties.  Well I'm definitely in between twenty and thirty, and what's funny to me about that is that I'm still worried that I'm boring.  (And if you think that's a silly thing to worry about, you should hear about the other things I'm afraid of!)  So I've decided to stop worrying and being afraid that I am boring, and analyze the situation.  I realize that some people would say, "Ok, I'm afraid that I'm boring, so I will go and start being totally un-boring.  Alright, tomorrow I've got myself booked for sky diving, and the day after that I'm going to have a few teeth pulled at the dentist without the anesthetic.  That should keep  me interesting at least until next week.  Solid."  But not me.  I'd rather save the sky diving and teeth pulling until after I've decided whether or not I actually am boring. Then I'll get drastic.

So first I started thinking about what makes a boring person boring.  And I have decided that the fundamental qualification for classifying a person as "boring" is not the person, but rather the audience.  Think "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" but in this case it would be, "boring is in the mind of the audience."  Logically then, I must consider my audience.   Well,  my main audience for the largest portion of my day is a two year old and a three and a half month old.  That's a tough crowd.  But, as Hallie assures me on an average of ten times a day, I am "Hallie's own funny mommy"  (her words, literally).  That sounds good.  Hanna is even trickier, but she has given me a few solid giggles in the past few days, and I'm the only one who has gotten any, daddy will manage the occasional squeal, but nothing like what she's putting my direction. So I think I'm doing ok there too.  Next is Devin.  He talks to me about food on a chemical level, which essentially means I don't understand a word of it. And I tell him about naps, and diaper changes, and who we saw at the library.  So I think we're on a pretty level playing field there.

My next audience, I guess, would be friends and family.  They call me, I call them, we talk, and I think it works.  I'm not too worried there.  Then of course there is the audience of people who read this blog.  I get on average 719 page loads a month (not counting when I load my own blog).  That's not terribly shabby. It means there are a few people out there who think what I have to say and any pictures I might have to put up are interesting enough to get at least a peek during a lunch break or spare minute.   Great.

Once I looked at all of these evidences I decided that I am doing pretty well.  If my family stops calling me, and my average number of page loads goes down to say, 500 a month, then maybe I'll pick up skydiving and other exciting ventures.  I know that if I were forced to go to a luncheon with Regis Philbin, Brad Pitt, Oprah, and the Obamas I would probably be considered duller than sheet rock.  Luckily, that is not my audience, and as far as I can tell no one is getting up to leave during the half time show.  Thanks, guys.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Inside the Lines

A while ago I made Hallie some alphabet flash cards to play with. I know, I know, I'm such a nerd. That's not the point here today. A few days ago I decided to make her some number flash cards that we can play games with, too. She's pretty good at her numbers, but I thought it would be fun. (Nerd.) So I made these ones really big, a full half sheet of paper for each number. I left them empty on the inside because I wanted to color them in myself (save on ink) and then I was going to laminate them. Hallie wanted to color something the other day and saw them and before I could stop her she had grabbed them and commenced coloring. Well, I figured they were for her anyway, so why not let her scribble all over them? My eyes bugged out of my head (almost literally) when she showed me her finished product, and my goodness, you could tell she was proud of herself. Not nearly half as proud as I was when I saw:
Good job, Hallie!  I've never said a word to her about drawing inside the lines, I just assumed she was too young to care about that, but obviously I was wrong.

That same day (this was Friday) she began doing what Devin calls her "editing".  This is from a homework assignment I turned in in seventh grade. Yes, I realize that was a while ago.  (Nerd.)

Now, when we call her for dinner or to come get ready for bed she likes to tell us, "I'm almost done.  Need two more minutes." and, my favorite, because I hear my own voice so clearly echoed in hers when she says it, the classic, "I'm coming."  Can you believe she's only two?

What really gets me about this also is that just two days before we had gone to the library for toddler story time and she had colored a birthday cake (she made two, she told me one was for her, and one was for Jill Bean.)  She had colored it all over, green, yellow, purple, in a delicious, two year old crayon-ic mess.  Two days later she is very carefully putting all of her scribbles inside the lines.

Oh, my baby is growing up.