Monday, September 30, 2013

Little Boy Crushes

Saturday Mornings we attend a kindermusik class taught by someone who is LDS but teaches through this awesome program, click here. Now D has played with her before (she has 2 toddlers D's age) but, since music time he has become obsessed with Miss Jenny- or "My Jenny" as he refers to her in prayers or when we talk about her. 

It has been super cute and on Saturday night when I attended this conference David came with me and had to sit by "My jenny" He would randomly (creepily) just look at her and get the biggest smile. I love it! It also has been great because Miss jenny has a great voice and David is now super interested in music and dancing. He lets me put on different kinds of music (he likes opera-which I know is very difficult to sing but not my favorite) and anytime he hears a good female voice he says "My jenny is singing to me!"  

We are going over for a play date later and I am really excited for him to see the grand piano they have in their apartment. We have downloaded a piano app on the ipad that helps you learn notes and play music but he hasn't focused enough to let me teach him. Hopefully once he sees that Miss Jenny plays and teaches piano he will be interested. Overall we are loving our chance to do kindermusik time with both our boys. It is a sacrifice for the Mr (it is at 10:30 on a Saturday) so he normally has to stop studying to come but we have loved the different kind of one on one interaction we get with the boys. 
But really who wouldn't love this kid! 

Sunday Talks

The Mr and I were asked to speak in church yesterday. Because we don't have paid clergy, every so often, we get the opportunity to share a talk to the congregation. I was really nervous-this ward is kind of (ok really) intimidating for me so for the first time in years I wrote out my talk word for word, and I practiced saying it out loud in front of the mirror a couple times as well. They also had me as the concluding speaker which was slightly terrifying. Between the goof ball elder who was supposed to take 2 minutes but took 10 minutes rambling, the Mr going over about 5 minutes, and the beautiful but long musical number I had 3 minutes to give what they told me would be 15 minutes. The counselor told me I could go over but I was still left with about 8 minutes.  So I am putting the full version on here so I can feel like I gave the full talk to somebody. It really was great to prepare and the Mr did awesome, as usual. He is a stud and we are so lucky to have him. So here it is.

God is our father we are his children we are part of his family he loves us.  I remember the first time I read these few sentences in Preach my gospel, how grateful I am for the truth we know in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was born and raised in the church and know all of these things to be true but I had never connected them so succinctly. 
God, who has so many different titles is first and foremost our father,  which makes us his sons and daughters with divine worth. We are children of royalty-only not some limited type of government we know to be associated with royalty. We are part of his perfect family and he loves us more than anything else. He has said his whole purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I am very comforted knowing a perfect being is doing everything in his power to help me a very imperfect being get back to him.
In that same spirit I understand that a perfect being communicating with imperfect, stubborn, and selfish people is probably really difficult. I will be the first to admit that my type A perfectionistic personality can get in the way of my ability to worship or listen to promptings of the spirit because I want to do things my way.  So when I read the scripture found in 2 nephi 28:30 that talks about God giving us things ”Line upon line, precept upon precept” and I am relieved.
Relieved because there is no way I can become all that God wants or sees in me. Like the CS Lewis quote I can only comprehend building myself a cottage but he is ready to build me into a palace.  Maybe I am the only one to feel this way but there are times when even reading my patriarchal blessing that I get discouraged because I am not developing this attribute fast enough or I really question what Heavenly Father sees that I can become. But, once again I am brought back to this scripture and find peace.  I am not going to become perfect overnight.
My heavenly father (who I might add only has my best interest at heart) is only going to reveal to me what I need for better or for worse. When I have received a new calling or trial I felt unprepared for I think he might of given me a little too much. On the flipside sometimes when I am really wanting direction or relief from a burden I feel like he could provide me with a little more but either way I am grateful to know first and foremost that God-my father knows what I need better than I do.  President Monson shared an experience several years ago about his visit to some saints in Easy Germany behind the Berlin wall.
I quote “
They had so little. My heart filled with sorrow because they had no patriarch. They had no wards or stakes—just branches. They could not receive temple blessings—neither endowment nor sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members were forbidden to leave the country. Yet they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts, and they leaned not to their own understanding. In all their ways they acknowledged Him, and He directed their paths. 11 I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.”
That night as I realized what I had promised, I dropped to my knees and prayed: “Heavenly Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy Church. I have spoken words that came not from me, but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou, therefore, fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.” There coursed through my mind the words from the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God.” 12 The heavenly virtue of patience was required.

All of these things were eventually fulfilled although I am sure not as quickly as what the saints would of wanted but I really admire what President Monson did after making a promise to the people. He offered a prayer to God. The ability we have to communicate directly with our heavenly father is a gift never to be taken lightly and in light of our needing to receive things line upon line in the Lord’s timing prayer can be that balm in gilead as wait.
Now When the bishopric assigned this talk they asked me to consider this topic of line upon line from a perspective of what and how we are to endure.  Endurance is such an interesting topic and whether it is in a gospel or a physical activity like running I think patience is always related. Preach my gospel connects these phrases by defining patience as
The capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith—you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.
As someone who deals with chronic anxiety I am the first to respond defensively or get discouraged by this statement-I think I will never develop this kind of patience.
But I think another point related to our receiving things line upon line has to do with receiving revelation little by little on what we can and should be doing. Elder Bednar’s example of receiving revelation by a sunrise versus a light switch seems appropriate. Rarely do we have experiences that suddenly reveal a ton of information planning out our whole life-most of the time we experience revelation little by little the way the sun comes up in the morning. This line upon line idea that we gradually get more till we have created a beautiful life.
In whatever element of live we might be able to only work on one or two of these sub topics of patience-that is the line upon line part. The endurance element means that once I master those few things I will move onto rest. Ultimately developing, in this example, the Christlike attribute of Patience.
I want to share my experience I have had since movinghere. For the first time I home full time with my boys. Up till this point I have been a full or part time student also working part time at different point but now that I am home fully with them it has been an adjustment. I hope my saying that is an adjustment doesn’t mean I am not loving it because it is the best thing in the world. But, I will not lie that I am not loving the PhD schedule of 10 hour days on campus and then homework after dinner for my husband. With him being gone so much I have found on some days it is harder than others and I have found a whole new respect for single parents. How I have tried to make the adjustment a little easier has been through the scriptures. An obvious but sure way I know God often speaks to me.
Now, I have always known on the days I read my scriptures my days go better but I had an epiphany about why. When the Mr is is gone for so long most days by 3:00 I am done, Frazzled, worn out, patience wearing thin.
 Now the days vary, and sometimes I feel this way by 9 am but when I have read my scriptures come those really hard times I have found if I simply stop to say a prayer The lord gets me through on His strength for the rest of the day. This is where Savior comes into the picture. Up until this point I have only talked about the relationship I have my loving heavenly father but the mediator between the two of us is the Savior. When God reveals what I think is too much I pray for the strength of a Savior whose atonement makes it possible to measure up to the assignment given. In the example of my experiences as a mom feeling like it is too much all I have to do is rely on the savior’s atonement and know he will get me through the rest of the day. This can be applied to any struggle, trial, responsibility or assignment. We do as much as we can do and then turn it over to the Lord.
This does not negate my responsibility to work hard to endure this trial of graduate student life but, we felt impressed for our family to come to grad school and can trust God will help us on our new path.  I might add My new motto has become.
I know that I can’t do it all but I also love that I can do a lot of it most of the time. To apply this scripture of line upon line even more we can’t expect to receive the “next line of revelation” if we haven’t worked on or mastered the revelation we have already received.
I want to share another experience I had as a teenager in high school. Due to certain circumstances I was suffering at the hand of another I often felt discouraged and overwhelmed. I remember being angry for awhile but one day I was tired of being mad at a situation I couldn’t control anyways and decided to experiment on the gospel.
 I had “gained a testimony” and felt of God’s love but found when I was in these trials I doubted in the dark what I knew in the light. So one evening when I was discouraged I had the thought to put on the DVD Special Witnesses of Christ. Now I could of ignored that line upon line revelation/impression but I am so grateful I didn’t.  I started to watch and was instantly reminded of what I knew to be true. I was changed by the spirit and the testimony of these special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
From then on I carried a copy of the DVD in my backpack (I might add I did this through college) and while I still watched it often it became more of a meaningful/symbolic reminder. I was able to learn from an early age that Satan could never take away what I knew to be true- He could never take away my testimony and often that was all I had to cling to as I could not change my circumstance.
That being said I am sure you can imagine how much I have come to love the prophet and the apostles and I look forward to Conference almost as much as I do Christmas Morning. The doctrine and covenants talk about the special witness the brethren bear as they lead and guide his church and I promise it is a very real gift.
General Conference is yet another way we can receive revelation line upon line.
I also might add I have had a few experiences meeting with some of the general relief society, young womens, and primary presidencies and they bear the same mantle.  I want to share one more experience I had with the recently called general Relief Society President Sister Burton. Like my husband mentioned we were at BYU before we came here and like the typical student family we lived in wymount student housing. We had been told Sister Burton was coming to speak to just our stake and the number of people attending didn’t even fill up the overflow.
It was after her first talk in conference on first observing then serving. I do not remember exactly what she spoke on but I do remember the opportunity she gave for a Q&A session at the end.
She spoke of the hardships of young student families and empathized with us. She invited whoever felt impressed to get up and share things they were doing to help find peace and happiness in this stage of life. The meeting went 45 minutes over but was such a unifying experience. We felt one in purpose and spirit and it wasn’t till I got home That I realized Sister Burton had done exactly what she had preached the previous conference. She was taking time to observe us as we shared experiences and then she served us as she acted the mediator of the meeting. The mantle she bore was evident and I knew she was there to help us as if the Savior was there himself.
Now I recognize that this was an incredibly neat experience that often only happens in Utah because that is where most of the Church leadership lives but I know that those experiences can be had at general conference if we let it.  On the church website there is a new page dedicated with resources available to help prepare for general conference. Some suggestions include coming with questions about your own personal life you want answered, not dismissing messages because they sound familiar, and that conference can and should be a compass for the next few months of our lives.
  I am grateful that we can receive things line upon line and know that 2 of the tools those messages are revealed through ARE, through ancient and modern scripture. I am grateful and know the Book of Mormon and Bible to be true and incredibly helpful books in life.
I also know that modern prophets and apostles have been called today and bear a unique calling of testifying of the Savior. I am grateful for their witness and add my own simple testimony. I know my Savior lives. I know he conquered sin and death and that his church is once again upon the earth. I am grateful for the restoration and for the Temples and the ordinances that are now available for all. I know my loving Heavenly Father loves all of his children and is watching and helping us a long the way because he loves us. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

My Parenting Philosophy

To be a parent is hard. Why we complicate such a difficult task by worrying so much about what others think is beyond me but then again kids don't come with manuals so we try and grasp onto anything we can find that might help us.

I have read lots of articles on infant and child development, I have read even more about family processes, and marital interactions.  I have started but never finished a single parenting book.


Because know one knows my child and books are often so political and close minded. They are often my way or the highway and that just doesn't work for me. At least the articles are part of the sciences which means they undergo scrutiny and should have a good research design to even be published.  But the books and the parenting magazines drive me crazy! I mean maybe for the crafts and activity ideas but really press is mostly reinforcing what we want to hear or what conglomerates want to tell us.
So after years of studying and writing papers, and thousands of pages of literature that I have read. I present my parenting philosophy by the way I account to myself at the end of each night.
And the question I ask myself...

How many times did I make my children laugh today?

So simple right. Now I am incredibly grateful for all the literature I have read. It is stored somewhere in my brain and I am sure it subconsciously effects what I do with my kids. I know reading is the most important thing I can do with my children. Or the need for unstructured time through out the day but also the need for routines because kids CRAVE routines.Oh and autonomy-that has been beaten into my brain more than anything else. So yes I will continue to stay up to date and skim research articles on adolescents but really if my kids are laughing every day,


We laugh at funny pictures in books. We laugh outside when we pretend to eat doughnuts and D takes mine e v e r y  s i n g l e time. We laugh before he dozes off to sleep because he knows if he starts laughing I will start laughing as well. We laugh at the funny sounds dad makes at the dinner table. We laugh when the bambino toots because we know it is going to smell and we are going to have run out of the room to escape the smell. We laugh when McQueen and Sally get stuck behind the toilet in the bathroom because they were hiding from Mater. We laugh at the silly songs we listen to as we do crazy dance moves.   We laugh as we  try new tricks out on the playground. We laugh when we tickle each other. We laugh when we spill something because mom and dad are always dropping things. We laugh at dad as we watch him from the window as he walks to our door making silly faces the whole way.

My whole life I was so excited to have posterity to make them smarter and more talented and make sure they had experienced the world by the time they were 5 but as a mom who recently went from a full time student with a part-time job as a mother of two I sure love the simple life. I also attribute this simplicity to the people of Samoa because they really are the happy people with so little by way of means or even opportunities.

When I was a the World Scholar Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island in 2006 I attended a lecture/workshop by a man from a small village in Africa. I don't remember the details but he basically just explained what his life was like and the hardships he endured. It was humbling to listen too but he explained how happy he was and how grateful he was for where he came from. Some of the adult volunteers asked if they could donate money so they could send food over or buy a tractor for the village but his response was No. He responded that more is not better and that America has this aspect of life wrong.

I echo that sentiment and have made a simple life philosophy because of it.

This doesn't mean I am not trying to teach D to read, or the Bambino to use a fork, or have them write, or play musical instruments-simply that those things are going to happen regardless. My boys are constantly growing and changing and because I get to be home with them I get to be creative about how I am going to stimulate them in their own unique ways. And when I take my job seriously I am really pushed to the limit trying to think of ways to help them both learn and grow.
So to any parent or even spouse (because I do have pretty much the same philosophy for marriage) do yourself a favor. Keep it simple and enjoy the little things in life, I promise you wont regret it.
And nothing produces as much laughter as mormon girls camp songs and leaders doing crazy things to connect with the girls. Oh and being in your first trimester of pregnancy trying to forget about feeling sick and why you ever volunteered to go in the first place.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Date Night with the Littles

On Friday Night the Mr was working on campus pretty late. Our life is pretty monotonous these days.He leaves around 8 am and then gets home some time between 7:00 (on a good day) and 9:00 on a long day. When he does come home if the boys are up he plays a little and helps put them down and then he gets back to work. If he comes home after they are asleep we eat together and then he gets back to work till 10:30 or 11.  The Mr loves what he is studying, and it is funny because for someone studying political science he sure hates politics, he just loves the science of politics. Either way he works hard and we are so proud of all that he does. This makes for some long days for me and on Friday I was wallowing in my own self pity but I decided to change my attitude. We put train tracks on the ground (using masking tape) and had fun racing throughout the whole house. Then we decided to make pizza. I have loved trying new pizza and sauce recipes every week (we are up to 8 different ones) and it was fun letting D help. While I was trying to capture this fun night for the Mr a lot happened in about a 30 second time period. The pictures will do the talking.
Helping mom get the flour out.

 The masking tape tracks
 Love my brown eyed boy.
 I can't believe how big this boy is getting.
 The Bambino helped me get the corn meal out.
 And then he helped me dump it on the carpet.
 We hadn't left the house that day and I decided we would head to get a McDonalds ice cream cone and play on the play place. Well just as I was getting ready to drive off I felt like I should call the Mr and see what time he was planning on coming home. He told me the bus had just dropped him off and that he walking home right then! We were so excited to have Dad join us. The closest McDonald's didn't have a play place (dang college town) so we headed to a new park. When we got back we put the boys to sleep and the Mr did some more homework. :) It was a nice little break as a family.

Friday, September 20, 2013

24 harder life lessons

In my last post I shared happy/interesting things about myself. I have had some really neat experiences in my life but in this post I want to make it absolutely clear I had these opportunities because God-MY loving Heavenly Father knows exactly what I need. I have been going through my own "mid-life crisis" trying to figure out how to find purpose in my life everyday  Feeling like I will never measure up as a mom, wife, daughter, student, church members are some of the struggles that keep my up at night. To the article I recently read on putting an end to the notion of the perfect supermom I give you 24 hard experiences that have shaped and helped me become who I am today. I am a firm believer that when one door of opportunity closes God will always open another even better one.
One of my favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis 

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

So, onto things that have knocked down walls and started building my palace.

1.Of students attending my elementary school 85-90% of them received free or reduced lunches. I was one of 3 white kids in my K-6th grade class. Now don't get me wrong I had the best childhood. My dad worked hard to provide for our family and had my mom in a home 2 years after getting married, but the sacrifice they made to keep my mom in the home meant we lived simply and I never took for granted things like school field trips or getting to do league sports.

2. I remember the first time my mom took me clothes shopping to a real store (Mervyns). It was before a soccer party and I got a handful of new outfits. I remember thanking my mom every 10 minutes literally the entire night. I felt so spoiled. (And to my parents reading this-I would not of picked a better childhood).

3. My little sister (the one on a LDS mission click here to read her blog) was in a pool accident when she was 2 (I was 6 or 7). She was not breathing when they pulled her out of the pool and it took about 10 minutes to get her breathing again. It was at my grandparents house and I will never forget my mom coming in from outside gathering me and my brother in a circle to say a prayer and then waiting to hear updates because her and my dad had to drive the 45 minutes to the Children's hospital. This forever changed my parents (my mom and kids around water will never be the same) but it made an impact on me on the importance of life and the power of prayer.

4. My brother 17 months younger than me ran away with my cousin while they were visiting my Uncle in LA area. I remember my dad telling me they couldn't find my brother and going to say a prayer in our toy/game closet. This was the first time I really remember saying a prayer on my own that he would be ok. He was found hours later with my cousin by a truck driver.

5. Remember state testing in elementary school? Well in 4th grade when the tests began you can imagine how big of a deal they made it my school. This was when my testing anxiety first began. Every year from then on (through high school) I got cold sores and would often throw up breakfast the week of testing. Seriously, I hate tests.

5. My 7th grade year of school I tried out for the girls soccer team. During try-outs several of the girls mentioned that they were for sure going to make the team because the coach was really good friends and coached their outside league. I was super discouraged and when I came out for a break my good friends mom asked me what was wrong. I told her I was nervous about not making the team because I didn't play on the outside league like everybody else and that some of the other girls said they for sure already made it.  That night apparently at the other soccer team practice she lit into the girls and told them they would not make the team because of the coach but because of their own merit and to stop being so cocky. or something to that effect. The next day at practice she made some of the girls come over and apologize. Now I knew this mom forever I played soccer with her younger son but I never expected that to happen. You can bet how I was treated after that. I made the team along with the 13 other girls that were on the outside league. My coach did start me and made me earn my position but you can bet my teammates rarely passed or talked to me. My "best friend" till that point who was in 5 of my 7 classes didn't talk to me for almost 6 months and I had to make new friends because everybody that I went to school with for years took her side. I got a "parent" involved so I was on the blacklist.

6.7th grade is rough and at the same time as this awesome social experience I was taking an Algebra Class. It was the smart class and the goal was to have you finish it in 7th grade so that in 8th grade you could do geometry and then be way ahead for high school. Well the teacher was a beast. She was using a new curriculum that made it so she only showed us how to do 1 example problem and that was it. After that if we asked questions she had us refer back to the 1 example problem and she never helped us with the next step. She would call students to the board and then degrade us (the words dumb and stupid were used). I got tired of everybody else getting torn down so I volunteered every day for the rest of the year. I didn't tell my mom this was happening til after the year was over and then we moved schools so I am not sure whatever happened to this teacher. Hopefully she retired.

7. More about 7th grade? I had mono but didn't get tested till 8th grade. I thought it was normal (my mom thought it was growth spurts) but I came home everyday after sports, ate, and did whatever homework I hadn't finished at school and then slept. Remember I didn't really have friends so I spent my lunches and breaks in the library or teachers classrooms doing homework. So I really did come home and sleep for hours each night.

9. So I find out I have mono (my mom realized how dependent I had become on the throat spray I carried in every sports bag and my backpack and that my nodules were huge). But they said because I never stopped to take a break like they require for people with Mono that I would have the lovely symptoms for the rest of my life whenever my body is under duress (aka stressed, fatigued, when I dont eat well). Oh and then they mentioned it was miracle I hadn't died because when you have mono your spleen is huge and if I had been hit hard it would of ruptured and I would of died. Trapping a soccer ball with my body? I had never been hit hard in the stomach before (sarcasm). I also I still carry throat spray just about everywhere.

10.Also 8th grade-my ankles were double and triple their size after every physical activity I do (volleyball, soccer, softball, and running).I would come home and do homework with my ankles in ice for hours. We went and got them checked out and after an MRI find out that my Achilles tendons are both stretched incredibly tight with minor tears that have healed over with a little scar tissue. I was told if I continued doing so many sports it was just a matter of time when I would tear them even with stretches. I needed to take time off. Well up till that point I was all athlete. I never realized how much I based who I was on my athletic ability.

11. I choose to attend a music emphasis high school that had no sports team.   I had done well in school so I qualified for the school and I had played flute since 4th grade but I get to the school and these people have been taking private lessons since they were 2. One of our violin players traveled every other weekend by train to spend the weekend getting lessons from some famous teacher. His hands would bleed they were worked so hard. You can bet none of these people were impressed that I could play sports. And for PE It wasn't even required to dress out.

12. Mr Afifi's Pre-calculus class. When they called going to be the board being crucified you know it wasn't good. I am pretty sure I got 10 ulcers just from this class and was grateful I never got told a monkey was smarter than I was. (You see why I dont like Math?)

13. I mentioned in the previous post the class load I took-Algebra II, Physics, Latin, English, Music theory, and some other fun stuff. Now because this was a charter school I had friends that commuted 45 minutes to and hour every day to come and you can bet we were almost all Valedictorians or considered pretty "smart." Well I also had never had to work so hard in my life and for the first time I wasn't a teachers favorite. 4 out of 5 days a week I got in the car and bawled because I wasn't smart enough. My mom told me years later that she had transfer papers ready and wanted to pull me out almost every day. This went on for the entire year. By the end of freshman year I was crying only 3 of the 5 days but I would reassure my mom this is what I wanted to do and for her not to pull me out.

14. Now I found myself at UHS. High school stinks for so many reasons but the reasons that were good I capitalized and found out a lot about myself. I still hated tests and refused to tell anybody my test scores ever. I even gave a teacher (Mr Canfield) a paper cut as I was trying to grab my test back so quickly so others in the class couldn't see it. While I learned a ton it was never really reflected on my tests.
luckily it was such a small school and every few months the teachers would get together and talk about us students individually. All of my teachers were aware I was a bad test taker and they went above and beyond helping to equalize the playing ground to help me succeed. I had an English teacher give me tests orally instead of on paper. I got to take tests at different times or if I struggled with understanding a question I would leave it blank and then ask her/him to rephrase it after class and then I would write down my answer.

15. That being said I took 7 AP classes in 2 years and only passed 1 of the AP tests. The practice tests I would do fine with 3 or 4's but I never could calm myself down enough during the actual test.  Hopefully no one from my high school is reading this because I am still ashamed of it and you can bet I emailed every single one of my teachers begging for their forgiveness for not doing better to reflect what I had learned. I still wont tell Chris what I got on the SAT or ACT.

16. In my decision to go to a church school you have to meet with ecclesiastical leaders. Meeting with my stake president he looked over my file and asked me where I was wanting to go to school. I told him BYU Idaho because that was the plan and he said that was good because my GPA and ACT weren't going to get me into BYU Provo. Not going to lie that one hurt. I still applied to BYU Provo and it was a good thing I did because I got in and was able to date and marry my best friend. :) God's hand is in everything.

17. At BYU I came to know myself even better. The school's motto is "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve" Well I had a lot of rough lessons coming to know and be honest with myself.

18. I didnt finish serving as Vice President in student learship for the last 3 months because of failing grades. Most people thought it was because I was "doing too much" but I had handled way more in high school taking just as hard of classes. After I left was when I realized just how hard school was for me and how blessed I had been till that point at having teachers willing to work with me. A friend told me about the accessibility center on campus and how I could be tested" (oh the irony) for testing/school anxiety. I took $5000.00 worth of testing (only $25 for me) to confirm what I had know for years. After this was when things slowly got better. It did not happen over night but my last semester at BYU (2 kids later I might add) was my best.

19. Oh at the same time/right before I left BYUSA I also had a cancer scare. I have a growth attached on my thyroid and I had to have several ultrasounds as well as a needle guided biopsy to see if it was cancerous. I am supposed to go in every year to have it checked and they are waiting for the day when they have to remove my thyroid.  Also humbling to contemplate life :)  so young, and also helped the decision to have kids sooner than later.

20. Two miscarriages. Luckily I was never far enough along to need a procedure but hard nonetheless. Something I don't wish upon anyone.

21. Summer of Misery. I had a crash and burn summer. I did not work or go to school. A very low point for me. I was in my first trimester with David but more than just pregnancy induced that low point. I would go a week without leaving the house and it was a very dark time. But after that I have never questioned Chris' love for me. I knew he would love me if  I was doing everything or nothing. And more than just Chris I learned I didn't have to base who I was by what I accomplished. I wish I wouldn't of had to learn it so dramatically but I am grateful I learned to be ok with myself whatever form that takes. And that form varies day to day.

22. I have an irrational fear of driving. Like I hate it. If I want to go to the grocery store I give myself a full day to prepare to go out.  Even after living in Provo for 5 years I still got butterflies driving on  University Avenue. I don't know what it is about cars but I guess I am terrified of getting in an accident. We are in giant metals moving objects that upon collision can
A. Be crushed
B. Do flips
C. Combust
D. Cause Death or Injury
E. All of the above
I think it terrifies me most because I am not in control. If other drivers are careless it could change my life forever and I don't like giving that power to someone else. I will take full responsibility for my children but if they are hurt in any way because I was not able to protect them I would never forgive myself. And yes I do not look forward to years ahead because I know kids are going to be mean and they are going to go through hard experiences just like I did.

23. This post is long enough. and props anyone who actually read this whole thing. 

24. The last one is my dirty little secret. :) Anybody that really knows me knows there is a lot more than meets the eye. I am a pretty open person but like everyone else there are some things that hit to close to home and while I am affected everyday by it. It is something I just don't throw out there.
Which is why I am posting this article. Click here 
I wish we could all wear a sign around our necks to remind us that we are all real people experiencing hard things in life. I want to judge less and be more understanding but sometimes I find ill thoughts creeping in. So really-be a little kinder to yourself and those around you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

24 and Random Facts

I turned 24 about a week or so ago and thought I might record some random things about myself from the time I was born till now.

1. I had Kawasaki disease as a 2 year old. This disease is most prevalent in Asian boys so don't ask me how I got it, but I did. I was really sick and was almost helicoptered down to LA if I hadn't gotten better. It was one of those miracles. I received a blessing from my dad the night before I would of been shipped out and for the first time my fever broke, symptoms subsided and I was better for the first time in weeks.

2. I got "lost" the first day of kindergarten. I got bored at the small playground so I wandered to the big one and hid whenever teachers and people came by. I was lost for 2 hours.So help me if David does that to me I will home school him for the rest of his life.

3. I spoke in Stake Conference (a large multi-congregation meeting for our church) where 1400+ people attended at age 9. 

4. A bathroom stall door fell on my toe in 4th grade and it didn't heal correctly. They thought the blister got infected (gang green) but it got better and now I just have a weird shaped big left toe that hurts really bad if I stub it because it can't bend. 

5. I won an essay on Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech in 5th grade. I got to read it 4 different times-school assembly, department of education building, a museum, and another place during Black history month. I might add I also won a savings bond which was really cool and the school had a special exhibit that all the kids walked past to get to lunch. (at this same time I also won the DARE essay and sticker contest). My peers did not like me (not totally true-I did have friends) but the teachers and administrators loved me. Case and point-I helped out in a 2nd grade classroom during the breaks (it was a track system) and one time the sub didn't show up so the Vice principal came in and out of the classroom while I taught for almost 4 hours. :) Seriously, I was 10 years old. 

6. I ran a 4:53 mile in 7th grade at the regional meet and took 5th so I didn't qualify for state. Got to love California.

7.I went to 2 different middle schools. As if junior high wasn't hard enough...But at the new school of 800 my 8th grade year knowing at the start only about 20 people I ran for school president and won. My logic was it would force me to meet people. 

8. I went to a public charter high school on at Fresno State in California. There were less than 400 students and I took Physics, Algebra II, English, Latin, Music theory-Musicianship class, 3 Band Classes, and PE my Freshman year. You can bet how fun the next 4 years were... We didn't take electives during the semester but spent 1 or 2 weeks at the end of each semester taking a "fun class."I love University High School. 

9.Through this high school I was able to play with our Wind Ensemble in Carnegie Hall and I was able to attend the World Scholar Athlete Games at University of Rhode Island. Both incredible experiences.

10. I was proposed to at a stake dance at age 15 (read our love story).

11. I went to play volleyball at the WSAG but the world cup was going on at the same time and there were about 2000 people there from a 143 countries. Coolest experience ever seeing country pride during those
10 days of games going on. We spent the first half of the morning in classes-I was in the same room as Bill Clinton, Bill O Riley, The Head of the United Nations, as well as some incredible other people I didn't really appreciate as a 16-17 year old.

12. I have survived a school lock down where a gun was involved. I took early morning seminary and we had to cross a big intersection (6 lanes) to get to school (college campus). One morning (The day of my AP stats test) I crossed the street to find the school locked up. The school counselor came out told me they were on lock down and that nobody would let me in (what was she doing outside?) because there was a shooting just off of campus. After me sitting in front of the school for a few minutes not knowing what I should do (the seminary building was locked) she finally took me to a classroom.

13.  I accepted to go to BYU without ever having been on the campus.

14. I planned events for BYU for a year and half and worked with budgets for tens of thousands of dollars (New Student Orientation, stuff for the presidents office and all of the faculty at BYU, etc...).

15. I did model United Nations but didn't go to New York to compete-College was eye opening about how smart and accomplished people were and I got freaked out about being surrounded by such smart people.

16. It didn't last too long because I became a Vice President in BYUSA over the Student Advisory Council and got to work with the administration about changing things on campus. I will never critique why school admins do what they do ever again. Seriously these people care so much about the students and are working tirelessly to makes students lives better.

17. I introduced and lead a discussion with students and the mayor of Provo.

18. I was in High School Musical 3 and got paid $80 to do it.

19. Chris and I watched a BYU game in the Presidents Box and I met President Monson, L Tom Perry, M Russell Ballard,  Robert D Hales, Jeffery R Holland, Quentin L Cook, Elaine S Dalton, some of the Sunday school and primary presidencies as well as the Governor of Utah, and some other important people. We lost but hey I was in good company and there was GREAT food.

20.. I met my heroes Richard G Scott and Henry B Eyring-both at random seminars at BYU.

21. I have studied : Latin (2 years), ASL (3 college semesters and I understand about 80% of what people are signing), Samoan. ( I can read and pronounce about everything), and Arabic....I could write the alphabet and do a basic introduction).

22. I have spent 3 summers (with my family at my in-laws) on the East Coast. This is also where I attended my first professional soccer game (go Liverpool!), Red Sox game, Orioles Game, and Broadway Musical (Wicked).

23. I was supposed to be in Jerusalem the semester Chris and I got engaged. You could say I gave up 1 dream (temporarily) for an even better dream.

24. I make cookies when I am worried. aka there were shots heard at UW tonight and Chris was still on campus and didn't get home till 9:45 at night after being in lock down for over 2 hours.

 Chris was working on homework and I was to chicken to go to bed without him (he just had a near death experience!) ok not really but I couldn't got to bed and decided to write this stuff out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I am huge advocate of making sure my children watch intentional things. Subliminal (and not so subliminal) messages will shape my children regardless, and the last thing I want is for them to pick up is conflicting ideas about what we believe to be right and wrong. This morning we took some time to watch some youtube videos with uplifting messages. (This, This, This, and This are some of our favorites).
Now we have seen most of these several times but today I just watched my boys. I watched their reactions to what they saw. I saw their faces light up. I saw ear to ear grins. I saw them point to the screen. And I heard D say these phrases without prompting or prodding.

"I am a child of God"
"Jesus is the Christ"
"Trust in God"
"Perfect Hope"

Now in the 20 minutes of movie watching I am positive we heard tens of thousands of words and out of all of all those words my little boy repeated those 15.  How cool is that? Sometimes, at the end of a rough day I think "Is what I am doing making a difference?" Is being home the best  use of my time? And while I might waiver momentarily the answer is always yes.
I understand we are all different and passionate about various things but I am so grateful  to sacrifice these next few years to be with my boys.  Advice I continually receive is to enjoy this time now because they grow up so fast. I about had a panic attack as I thought about sending my little boy to preschool a few days a week. So many questions ran through my mind.

Is he going to be kind?
Will he listen to his teachers?
Will he say please and thank you?
Will he be a good helper?
Have I enabled him to learn?

It was such a good moment to reflect on the work I need to do! I recognize that there will always be more teach; I hope to never be a helicopter parent. But, as someone who has studied adolescent development it is a fact that what kids learn in their first 7 or 8 years matters a lot. It isn't an end all be all, but it can make a big difference if you capitalize on it.

A good friend from high school recently wrote this article (click here) and while she is not LDS I am grateful for her insight and also for the Catholic church and their continued support of families. A favorite sentence from the article, as she wrote about the life of a mother not measurable by the worlds standards, was

Yet, this notion of value imposes a level of economic analysis that, while properly denotive of a variety of fiscal situations, is inapplicable in the case of interpersonal and human interactions. Maybe being a mother can be quantified by a certain numeric pay grade level, if the costs of outsourcing those jobs she performs are considered, but is that really how attending tee-ball games or sitting through hours of romantic drama with a teenager ought to be understood?  

I know that I am a competent individual. I know that I could be polishing a resume I worked so hard to create in college but for right now I will stop and (gladly) put it on hold. Some people feel the need to do both, and that is also great, I will just stick to what I know is right for me.
I will never forget a conversation I had with another good friend from high school. We talked about our ambitions and I told her I was excited to get a degree and receive a great education but that I was excited to be a mom.
She then told me She never wanted to have kids because she would never be able to give 100% to her job and a 100% to her kids. Now I don't think it needs to be this black and white and I know some incredible moms who do both, but I really appreciated the logic behind her point.
She is an incredibly hard working and determined woman and would never want to feel like she was neglecting one title for something else. Maybe that is why we were friends, we were all or nothing kinds of girls even though we were opposite in about every other way. Am I sad that she will never get to experience this incredible thing called motherhood? yeah, but that was her choice and it just makes me more confident in mine. I am a mother, and I am ok with devoting 100% of my time to that title.

I mean who wouldn't want to spend so much time with these cute boys?

Friday, September 13, 2013


When I get sick I get emotional. The sentimental kind of emotional where I love going through old pictures, journals, blog posts, etc..Plus we were reunited at a BYU football game in the Fall and I am also reminiscing about BYU's incredible win, seriously? Still wiggin out about it.
So for my new blog I share the love story of the Mr and I. I apologize for those that have read it, but it is just to good not to share. :)

My version of how history was made.
Five years ago this fall I met up with the only true crush I ever had.  I might have denied having a missionary a time or two because we didn't regularly write and I knew lots of girls loved him so I wasn't about to get my heart broken.  But I kept this picture from prom up in my room, dorm, and then apartment to remind me of the type of guy I wanted to end up with.

You see we did meet at a quad stake dance (Mormon youth dance), I wouldn't give him my number because I wasn't 16 and thought "I just blew the best chance I ever had."

I didn't go on very many dates in high school-group or single   I can count them on one hand actually so turning down this tall, athletic, curly haired, north stake boy was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Remember I went to a nerd school with lots of  orch-dorks and bandos (which I proudly was) but the athlete in side me always knew I needed someone coordinated.

Anyways. I waited-looked for him at every dance or activity, but he was a cool kid who showed up late and was flocked by friends for the 30 minutes he was there. Oh, and then he was gone again.  Fast forward, he finally does get my number after a quad stake priest laurel activity. We text a handful of  times.  He texts one Saturday saying he was close to Fresno State and was wondering if I was around, he had been at a AP Calculus review and it so happened I was at one for AP English.  I was going to lie but my friend Emily really wanted to meet him so she texted him and said come to the bowling alley at Fresno State.  In the 15 minutes it took him to get there Emily and Nikki both convinced me I should ask him to my prom. I was class president and had been working really hard to make it the best prom ever.  I swear I planned that prom better than my own wedding.

Well he shows up and I do the boldest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

I asked him to my Junior prom.  Who did I think I was?  He was the perfect gentleman and said he would love to but he needed to make sure he could and he would text when he knew for sure. 

Little did I know he had a girlfriend.  

That is how well I knew this guy.  You can bet no matter how big the crush I had I NEVER, would have asked him if I had known he had a girlfriend, that is just wrong.  He got permission from her to go with me.  Little did she or he know that my mom and I had fasted and that I had been praying for months to be able to go to a dance with someone that was LDS and who had the same standards I did.  That was all I wanted and I can only thank Heavenly Father for letting this girlfriend say yes to letting him go.   Why else would she say yes?  Off topic.  

So the day of my prom actually comes. I spent way to long here making it just perfect for that night. 200 bags with  t-light candles lining the way to the dance floor, 185 hand made chocolate masks.  Well 8 girls ended up getting ready at one house and I had to cancel my hair and make-up appointment. I got ready in 28 minutes.

 He drives up in this.  It is his dads but still I had never been in a car that nice and as excited as I was to ride in it I remember thinking this guy is so out of my league in every way.  We get in the car he turns off his phone and puts it in the glove box for the night.  We drive to Wolf Lakes and from that moment on he is either helping me with the dance (re-lighting the 200 t-light candles), being harassed for being Mormon, having to explain why he would come with "molly" ( my nickname), or being the best looking guy there.

 I should have warned him but he was all ease.  We danced only twice the whole night. He led me by the hand to the dance floor.  We went on a boat ride. We talked about sports, hobbies, and well... the gospel the whole time. I told him what I first gained a testimony of, what I was studying in Preach my Gospel, the new member discussion I was getting ready to teach.  I was seriously so relieved to be there with someone LDS who knew what  I was talking about.  From that point on I didn't even care if he thought I was a Molly Mormon or this crazy religious girl it was just so nice to not be pushed to do things I didn't want to do. The dance ended and he had to drive me home. I lived 45 minutes away-we were in a fast car and he may have gone over a hundred  so we got there in 30 minutes but the best part of the night? the last 15 minutes of the drive. He went through everything I had told him about myself and I mean everything. I was so impressed he was actually listening to me?  That sealed the deal.

He walked me to the door, it was late and he had a stake youth committee meeting at 7:00 the next morning.  You can bet I was on cloud 9 as I walked to my parents bedroom and told my mom every detail.  She was impressed.  Even after that we didn't talk or text very much. I got a random text asking if I would play the flute at his farewell in the Hmong ward.  His family was moving to the East Coast a couple weeks later and I could only hope he would keep my address along with the 43 other girls there for him.  I wouldn't get my hopes up but he was going to BYU when he got back from Samoa.

Fast Forward 2 years later.

He gets my email from his sister by going on her facebook.  I shriek when I see the email. I know he has been home for 2 weeks because I commented on all of her facebook pictures of his homecoming.  He talks about meeting up, I give him my number in case he "needs help"getting situated or campus.  We meet up at BYU football game where she gets this picture.  He wanted to see me, and you can bet I wasn't going to let him go.

His version:
Did you know that Heavenly Father places people in your path that have the potential to change your life for the best? I am grateful for the special daughter of God he placed in mine when I was 17 years old. I had no idea how blessed I would be from one “chance” meeting with the most perfect woman ever.
My buddies and I went to Church (LDS or Mormon) dances often when we were in high school. We might not have stayed long, but we always seemed to at least show up. I remember specifically being at such a dance with a Halloween theme when I was 17 years old. My friends and I had just finished “moshing” to Yellocard’s “Ocean Avenue” or something similar to that. As the crowd cleared I turned around and felt something inside direct me to a group of young girls. One in particular was blond, wearing a black outfit and the perfect height. I had no idea who she was or where she came from but I felt an urge to approach.
I surprised myself as I put a quick plan of action together. I went to the nearest Halloween treats table and grabbed a small, plastic spider ring. I proceeded to walk past this group of 5 or 6 girls huddled in a circle. On my first pass towards the blonde girl of perfect height, I subtly dropped the ring at her feet. I slowly came back around and went down on a knee to grab the ring. She turned around – the plan was working! As she looked down at me I grabbed the ring, held it out while on one knee, and asked: “Will you marry, I mean, dance with me?” She smiled innocently and said yes (although I am not sure she heard me ask her to marry me then).
I was pleasantly surprised to discover how beautiful this girl was. I continued to feel something special as we danced. I recognize this now as a heavenly feeling directing me toward someone who had the potential to change my life for the better. We talked about the normal high school things: what school are you from? What sports do you play? Etc. It was simply awesome.

Soon after our first encounter I, naturally, asked her for her number. She informed me she couldn’t because she was too young to be doing things like that. Now that was a different response than expected. But persistence led to success and I soon (after she had turned 16) got her number. But I was in for a surprise. Her first text to me asked me what President Hinckley had spoken about last general conference Church meeting. Honestly, I had no idea. I made up some answer – families? She wasn’t afraid to let me know I was wrong. Fine then, I thought to myself. I quickly replied, “What does Preach my Gospel say that every new member needs?” I was pleased to find that she didn’t know the answer either.
We continued to text here and there. We went on a few dates. I was honestly in love with her, but petrified to mess anything up. I would often tell a missionary who was acting as my mentor by getting me involved with missionary work that she is the type of girl I want to marry. I always knew this. When my farewell came about I asked her to play the flute for me. I knew she was the type of person who would invite the Spirit into the meeting.
Serving a mission was one of the best experiences in my life. I gave it my all and focused all my efforts in being a worthy and willing servant. Sometimes missionaries would ask each other if there was anyone back home waiting for them or something similar. I would refuse to answer this question. We were there to work. However, one companion prevailed. I told him about this girl who was amazingly spiritual and beautiful. I told him that I would never be able to marry her because she was going to end up with an Apostle of the Lord. She is just that amazing.
When I got home from my mission I felt out of place. I loved seeing my family but I just didn’t feel complete. I remember casually bringing up "Molly" to my sister when she was on her Facebook next to me shortly after my return home. I was intimidated when I saw her picture. She was more beautiful than ever and she looked like a college girl. I somehow got the courage to contact her through email. We met up at a football game. She was gorgeous, fun, comforting and the example I always knew. She still is gorgeous, fun, comforting and my perfect example. I love her so much!

A trip to the Lake

A few days ago some sisters from the ward were heading to a new lake that we have heard is beautiful so I bravely decided to take the boys by myself. I really don't like having to familiarize myself in new places but we all stuck together on the way there and it was seriously beautiful! I got a little bit of tan :) and the boys enjoyed the water. It was a nice little get away and we are excited to go back with the Mr.!
Now, I am such a bad mom. D was not feeling good and I thought it might have been because he slept with the fan on him all night but, those big eyes are so sad. You can tell his throat still hurts and he has a runny nose that is no fun. Here's to a few days of taking it easy reading books and watching blues clues while cuddling on the couch. The Mr, the little bambino, and I are all feeling a little sick but not as bad as this guy. He still had a blast at the lake and truthfully I think it helped him sleep better because he was so tired. Although he was up at 4:30 (Wednesday Morning) which means I have been up since then and Mr doesn't get home till 9:30. So you can bet I am praying for patience and the strength to make it through the day without losing my patience too much.

 Along that note I have had some really neat experiences with my scripture studies lately. I used to be less consistent about reading the Book of Mormon and Bible every day but lately I have been doing great and there was an "ah-ha" moment. I love kids, I have always loved playing with kids and have looked forward to being a mom since I was in Kindergarten and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Because of that mentality, being a mom is easier in some ways for me than others (not saying I am great or perfect at it) but that my mind works in creating cool play experiences for me and D. I also dont mind 90% of the time that everything takes me hours longer to do the simplest tasks. Well, as much as I love my boys come 3:00 sometimes 5:00 or on really bad days 10:00 am :) I am done and feel like I can't give any more without just losing it and being crazy mom.

But, I have realized that on the days I read my scriptures my days go better. Now, I have noticed that before and that is why I have been reading my scriptures for years, but when I read my scriptures in the morning when that afternoon "I'm done" phase hits I navigate it better. I have learned that if I stop and say a sincere prayer asking for help the Lord takes over and I get through the day not on my strength but His.
That makes sense to me (the whole his Grace thing is real). On the flip side we are all capable competent people doing things we are good at or hopefully for most of us, what we want to be doing and because of what we are doing, it is easy to rely on ourselves.
We studied _____ in school and became a ______. Because we work in these professions we can and should rely on ourselves and use what we have learned to contribute to work, society, the world, etc... but what about those hard days, or those hard assignments, or those hard times? Those times are when, if we are in the habit of keeping God in our lives he can help out (not to say he isn't always there or wanting us to turn back just if we are more consistent it makes it a little less rough or extreme of a path back).
For me, I need his help every single day.
I love that I can't do it all.
I also love that I CAN do a lot of it, most of the time.
I am excited for the years ahead, for the changes and challenges that will push me in ways I never thought possible but I am also grateful for the knowledge that "With the strength of the Lord, I can do hard things."

Sometimes those hard things will feel like a constant battle that has gone on for months or years and for those other hard things that only last for the few hours at the end of the day when I want to give up, it doesn't matter. Either way the solution is clear and found in one of my favorite scriptures I routinely tell myself every night.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding, in ALL thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path." Proverbs 3:5
So here is to a new day that I know will be a struggle (sick kids + tired/getting sick mommy + needing to get creative about meals) but it will be ok, it is going to take work, but will be worth it. Because these boys are worth it and because I am worth it. God wants my boys to succeed and he also wants me to succeed-he just asks for us to turn to him.
Here are some pictures from the lake.