Monday, September 30, 2013

When Did My Younger Siblings Get So Old?

This weekend, we were able to travel to my home town and visit with my family.  It was a real treat.  I've missed them quite a bit since we moved.

Most of my family was there.  My younger twin sisters were speaking in church because they are leaving for a mission for our church in eight days.  Crazy!

Saturday night, as we were having family scriptures and prayers, I looked over at my younger brother.  He is sixteen years old.  I just kind of glanced at him, but it suddenly hit me how grown-up he looked.  He's over six feet tall, and he has been for a couple of years, but maturity is beginning to settle into him.  An overwhelming feeling of love filled me and my mind flashed back to when he was just a baby and he and I had been very close friends.  I used to call him Buh-boy (don't ask me why) and we'd go everywhere together.  Since I left home, we aren't as close as we used to be.  He's grown up and become his own person.  Though part of me looks back at that little boy with kind of a nostalgic sadness, the other part of me enjoys what he has grown into.  It is fun to see the adult that he is becoming.

My baby brother is also growing up.  He has become a wonderful friend to his nieces and nephews.  He is a good example to them, and he is trying hard to find his place in the world.  In only a few years, he will be all grown up too, and my mother and father will be "empty-nesters."  For a couple of people who had ten children, that will be an incredible transition for them.  

My sisters did a fantastic job at church.  They gave great talks, and I truly felt the Spirit as they spoke.  They will be wonderful missionaries.  It will also be difficult for them.  Their whole lives, they've never really been apart.  I think back on the curly-haired little babies that they were, and I wonder where time went?  When did they get so old and mature?  Who are these attractive young women and why don't I know them as well as I should?  They are such individual people, but I don't know what their hopes and their dreams are.  Who do they want to become?  What do they like to do?

I realized as I contemplated the things that made each of them unique that I had a huge regret.  I regretted that I hadn't spent more individual time one-on-one with my siblings.  Sometimes it was easy to get caught up in my own life and take my family for granted.  They never change, right?


I'm finding out how wrong I am.  In my mind, my little siblings are still the kids that they were when I left home.  They are still adorable, small, and waiting for me to return to visit.  However, I'm beginning to realize that I've let time slip by me.  They haven't held still, they've changed and grown.  I want to know the people that they've become.  They are neat people.

I also want them to get to know me.  I'd do anything for my family.  I love them so much.  I love my in-laws as well, and I'm so grateful that I have such amazing grandparents for Kevin and any future children we will have.

My sisters are coming to visit today, to spend some time with me, do some last minute shopping, and visit another sister who was unable to come to their talks.  Hopefully I'll be able to make up some lost time.

I'd like that.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our First Video Blog!

Our first video blog (vlog) is up!  Please follow the link below.  If you enjoy it, please like and subscribe to our youtube channel.  We will have a new vlog up every week at noon EST.  Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Work Is Meant to be Hard: Dedicated to Young People Entering the Work Force

This post is dedicated to the young people entering the work force and to those who have very thankless and difficult jobs.  People do see you, and they notice what you are doing.

My mission taught me to work hard without getting paid.

When I was young, I was blessed with opportunities to work.  When I was eleven years old, I began working for my grandparents.  They owned apartments, and every summer my Dad, some of my siblings, and I would go work on apartment maintenance and repair. 

I know I wasn't always the most helpful worker,  but they were very patient with me, beyond what I probably deserved.  They taught me to be time efficient, work hard, and constantly look for things that needed to be done.  (They may have also taught me to be a perfectionist.)  Over the years, as I grew and learned I became a very good worker.  By the time I was eighteen, I was able to work longer and harder than most guys my age. 

Unfortunately, I also inherited the ability to be critical of those who did not have a good work ethic. 

At my most recent retail job, I was horrified to discover the work ethic of most young people.  Some of my coworkers didn't really care about their job.  They assumed that because they showed up, they deserved money.  They would dawdle around, wasting away the hours and complain about boredom.  Well, of course they were bored!  They were standing around doing nothing! 

Some of them even began to surf on the internet during points in the day when there weren't any customers.  That really drove me nuts.  I wasn't their supervisor, so I tried to lead by example rather than chastise them.  During slow times, I tried to clean and dust shelves, organize products, and sweep the floor.  I wanted our store to succeed and I enjoyed convincing people to buy things that they weren't originally going to buy.  I loved my work, and I enjoyed doing well at my job.

Recently, a young man who quit his job told me that he quit because it wasn't enjoyable or fulfilling.  He wanted a job where he could bring his Iphone to work and listen to music while he worked.  He didn't want to manipulate people into buying things that they didn't have money for.  It went against him moral code.  He didn't have another job when he quit, and he is currently living with some relatives for free, so he didn't have any real reason to keep the job.  Money wasn't really a concern for him.

Oh, he wanted to be able to buy things, but he felt like he could do without them until he found a better job.

When I talked to him about it, he couldn't understand why someone would work at a job that wasn't fulfilling or enjoyable.

That's because he is a young adolescent who doesn't have a family to support.   Grig, in the last two weeks has worked over 110 hours.  He is currently working at a job that isn't even close to his bachelor's degree.  He is making far less money than he should be making, and his job is repetitive and involves A LOT of hard work.  Grig is a very hard working man.  He is providing for our family and is trying to save up to get a Master's degree at the same time. 

Single college students in general are at a very selfish points in their lives.  They are trying to take care of themselves, and they are learning how to be adults.  Usually, someone else is helping them, or they are taking out loans to help pay for schooling.  The ones who are working, will waste a lot of their money on entertainment and things that they don't really need.  I know.  I did.

I've been there.  I went through my selfish college student time.  I was working two part-time jobs and going to school full-time.  I knew how to work.  I tried to do my best at my jobs, and though I occasionally made mistakes, my bosses liked me and were impressed with my work ethic.  I did waste a lot of the money I made, and I regret that now.  So, let me share the wisdom that I have gained in the hopes that other college students won't make the same mistakes that Grig and I made.

1 - Take pride in your work


If you try your best at your job, no matter what it is, you will find yourself enjoying it.  When you do your best, it is easy to know that even though it might have been difficult, you can feel good about how it turned out.  Working at a gas station maybe wasn't a job that I could brag about to my friends, but I felt good about how well I could organize the cooler, how many people left the store with a smile, and how I could help angry customers to feel better and return again.  It doesn't matter where you work, happiness is a choice.  Choose to be happy in your work, and have the desire for the business to succeed.  I guarantee your supervisors will notice.  You might even get a raise.  It happened to me.

One of the most important things that I learned was that when I wasted time while I was on the clock, I was essentially stealing money from those that I was working for.  Look at it that way, and it will be very hard for you to consciously waste time. 


2 - Save up for the future

It is easy to be short-sighted in college.  What you are doing seems really important.  Taking out loans is really easy, and spending that money on trivial things is even easier.  Playing computer games all day, reading, or watching television can quickly take up all the time that you aren't in class and suddenly you don't have time to do homework or find a job.  You may feel busy, but really you will feel much better about yourself if you go out and find a job.  Organize your time so that you can socialize with others, do your best in your classes, get good grades, and spend very little loan money.  The less you spend, the more you can pay back immediately, and the less you will have to pay off in the future.  Grig and I are working on paying off school debt.  We've paid off quite a bit so far, but we aren't even close to being done.  If I had saved up more money when I was single, we'd probably be far richer now.  We might even be debt-free!  (We're getting there, but it is a pain.)

3 - Learn to work hard and then teach your children to work hard

Too many kids are not taught to work.  They grow up thinking that life owes them and that they shouldn't have to do anything in order to get paid.  Give your kids jobs.  Teach them to be dedicated and able to keep going even when things get difficult.  Work is supposed to be hard!  It can be fun if you decide to make it fun, but working is not supposed to be playing.  You can enjoy your work, but that satisfaction comes from a job well-done.  It doesn't come from games or music.  There is a real joy that comes from putting everything into a job, struggling, wearing yourself out, and ultimately succeeding.  The success of having done your best is a far greater feeling than winning any video game.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Scary Movies Forget the Most Important Thing

Last night, I had a bad dream.  In my dream, there was a little girl spirit who was evil.  In her life she had murdered four people, including her brother.  She was somewhat safe when she was in the form of a girl, but when she got upset, she would gain all the powers of darkness and attack us.  It was a rather intense dream. 

When I woke up, I was a bit scared, so I began to pray.  That's when the realization hit me.  Why hadn't I done that in the dream?

In horror films, we are so often presented with ghosts and demons, that we don't think about the other side of the coin.  If ghosts and demons are real, doesn't that mean that God is real too? 

As I continued this thought process, I realized that in almost all of the scary movies I had seen that the hero or heroine generally tries to defeat the 'monster' by themselves.  They try to use flesh to overcome their adversary. 

Man is a lot of things, but we are not necessarily light.  We all have both light and darkness to our personalities.  We can only be influenced by dark if we choose to allow darkness into our lives, but the only thing that will truly dispel darkness is light.

Wouldn't horror movies be different if the next time the hero was attacked by an evil spirit, they got down on their knees and prayed for divine protection? 

Part of the reason that scary movies frighten us so much is because they deal with the supernatural, with things that we don't understand and can't fight.  However, we can fight them.  The Adversary only has as much power as we give him.  Light always trumps darkness, and God is stronger than any other power. 

That doesn't mean those powers aren't real.  They are as real as God himself.  However, we have the choice to embrace them or deny them.  If we turn to God, He will give us the power to overcome our trials, tribulations, and temptations.  He will help us when we are frightened and scared. 

One of the most interesting scary movies I've ever watched was The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  It made a lasting impact on my mind.  I haven't seen it since 2005, but I remember that it was a deeply religious movie, and very different from any other film that I had even seen.  Instead of just having shocking and frightening scenes, it delved into the fact that if the Devil is real, then so is God. 

It compared psychosis and epilepsy to demonic possession and posed the question, "Does demonic possession exist, and is it often misdiagnosed as a mental illness?"  I have actually wondered this question myself as I read through the New Testament.  Anyway, in terms of the movie, I think it actually had a very nice, spiritual ending.  It left a good impression on my mind.  I didn't agree with everything that was said, but the intention was good.

In our own lives, we often try to be that hero or heroine that takes on darkness by ourselves.  We think that we are strong enough to stand alone and overcome whatever life can throw at us.  Again I say, the only thing that dispels darkness is light.  The only thing strong enough to overcome the world is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  If we don't turn to him for protection and power, we won't be strong enough to resist the evils of this life. 

These are the thoughts that my dream brought this morning.  I found them interesting, but they also bring up another question.

Do I think too much?  Probably. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fashion is Stupid

When I was a kid, I was one of the most awkward things you will ever see.  I had huge glasses that covered half my face, and they were as thick as coke bottles.  I always, except maybe on school picture day, wore my hair in a pony tail.  I wore sweat pants to school, usually of the hot pink or hot orange variety, and I loved baggy t-shirts (that usually clashed with the pants.) 

When I got to Junior High, my father told me that I couldn't wear sweat pants to school anymore.  I was a bit upset.  They were really comfortable!  However, I honored my father's wishes, and to my surprise discovered that jeans could be quite comfortable too, if you could find a pair that actually fit.  I still wore t-shirts, but it's much harder to clash with jeans.  In my eighth grade year, I received contacts, and suddenly I didn't look so bad. 

I've really never cared about fashion.  If someone asked me what the popular trend in clothing is right now, I'd tell you that I really couldn't care.  I'm now in my mid-20's.  I still wear my hair in a ponytail nearly every day.  Due to my c-section, I still have to wear comfortable, stretchy pants because I can't fit into my jeans.  I still prefer t-shirts, and I don't really care if they make me look like a huge pillow.  My personal appearance has never really mattered to me.

However, I do try to make more of an effort to look nice.  I have a friend from South Africa who changed the way that I take care of myself.  She is a really good friend, and she as we were getting to know each other, I realized that she loved me even though I didn't try to look nice.  She, of course, is always gorgeous and wears adorable clothes that accentuate her beauty.  She loved me first, and because of that, I listened to her suggestions.  Just before I roomed with her, I made the decision to get bangs, which made me look less like a boy.  She taught me how to style them so that they looked decent. 

We would go on shopping trips, and she would help me find clothing that was comfortable and cute!  While we were rooming together, I ended up getting my ears pierced.  She helped me feel beautiful, and I did like it.

However, while she was teaching me the finer points of dressing myself, she was also teaching me something else.  She taught me that it still doesn't matter what the current trends are.  She wore what she wanted to wear.  She wore things that made her look good, and she had her own style.  She taught me that cute clothes are always cute, and you don't have to follow fashion in order to be beautiful and feel good about yourself. 

Fashion is always changing.  If you were to try to keep up, you'd bankrupt yourself.  Things that are fashionable don't look good with every body type.  Not everyone, in fact, very few people, look good in a bikini.  Find fashions that work for you.  I don't dress up very often still, but at least I know how to now. 

For me, it's best if the belly fabric is loose.  If it's too tight, it accentuates the wrong kinds of...rolls.  Ruffles don't hurt, and my friend told me to stay away from collared shirts.  My shoulders are too broad for them. 

The other thing that my friend taught me is don't dress up for other people.  Dress up to look good for yourself.  When you look good, you feel good.  She was right.  However, I don't mind looking good for my husband too.  My wonderful husband loves me regardless of what I'm wearing, and I'm grateful for that.  However, he does like it if I occasionally dress up. 

Basically, I guess I'm saying, don't follow fashion.  Things that they are trying to sell you are generally overpriced and don't always go well with different body types.  Find a style that works for you and stick with it.  Cheaper is better.  If it's on sale and it's cute, why not buy it if you have the money?  There are tons of cute clothes that aren't super expensive.  The fashion industry is just out to take your money.  That's why they change fashions so often. 

Heaven forbid we actually wear the same clothes more than once in our lives.

I've never understood fashion, and I probably never will, but thanks to my good friend I at least can make myself look good while staying within our budget.

Fashion is stupid, being beautiful isn't.  Be pretty for you, choose clothes that you like, and find your own style.  We're all unique, why not show it with our clothing?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crazy Weight Loss Program! I Lost 10 lbs in a Month!

You're not going to believe this.  I didn't, when I heard about it, but this is a true story.  On my new weight loss program, I've lost over ten pounds in one month!  It's the simplest thing I've ever tried, and it works!

My career as a model had been going downhill.  My agent told me that if I didn't lose weight, I was going to only be used for commercials as Bertha the Blue Whale.  I found it very frustrating, and I was having a hard time feeling my inner beauty.

And don't mention those beach parties!  I just didn't feel comfortable strutting my stuff when other people were around.  Sure, if it was a rainy day and everyone else was inside, I didn't mind going out in my bathing suit, but I just couldn't handle it when others were watching.

Finally, though, I found a weight loss program that works for me!  I had heard about it on television, but I didn't believe it would really work.  A friend of mine was going through it, and she told me that if I would give it a try, I would really see results.

They call it the Starving College Student Plan (SCSP).  It's so simple.  Here's how it works:

You don't make very much money and you have a tight budget for groceries.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Wrong!  I tried it and I saw crazy results!  Grig and I were on such a tight budget that we didn't have money to go out to eat.  It was hard at times, and I really missed fast food, but I can't deny the results. 

Also, we suddenly had to eat more vegetables because we had family who had their own gardens and were giving us free fruits and vegetables.  Our diets improved by 100%.  With all the fresh food and lack of high fat, I found myself feeling better than ever before!  We also began to use our meat sparingly because we couldn't afford to buy it very often either. 

On the SCSP, I didn't see instant results, but as I kept at it, I have begun to lose weight! 

The best part?  You don't even have to be a college student to use this plan.  Simply eat more fruits and vegetables, eat out less often, and eat meat sparingly. 

Oh, yeah.  I forgot one last part.  We also have been trying to exercise more.  A walk here, a jog there, it's not much but it sure adds up!

A healthy diet and a little exercise go a long way.  The SCSP worked for me, and it can work for you too!  Call this number to begin your free trial:

(555) Tnk-Ifny

And yes, I do think I'm hilarious.

(As a side note, I haven't lost as much weight on this plan as I did the Nine-Month-and-a-Baby-Plan (NMAABP), but that plan doesn't work for everyone, so I recommend this one instead.  Though, you do get to lose all the weight in one day, the SCSP doesn't requires you to gain a bunch of weight first before you can lose it.  Plus, those stretch marks are torture!)


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Mink: A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a girl who worked at a zoo.  Her name was Emma.  Emma loved animals, and went out of her way to care for those who she came in contact with. 

The zoo was a wonderful, peaceful place, but just up the river lived a very different kind of place.  It was called a Mink Farm.  The Mink Farm was home to hundreds of small minks, and each spring, when they transferred the baby minks away from their parents, some of the minks escaped and swam downriver to the zoo.

At the zoo, there lived many exotic, expensive birds.  The zoo was poor and humble and couldn't afford to lose any of their birds.  Unfortunately, these small black minks decided that the birds tasted wonderful, and so the edict was decreed.  Anyone who killed a mink would receive a free pizza.

All of the workers at the zoo began to hunt for the lithe creatures, but they were difficult to find and even harder to catch.  Then, one day when Emma and another girl named Felicia were working at the zoo, they found that they had caught one in a live trap.  Its little whiskered face looking through the bars right at her.  Its tiny black eyes were locked onto hers and its black fur framed its tiny fox-like face.  It was a small creature, only about foot long including the tail and very thin.  As she looked at it, it climbed upside down on the bars, its padded feet clasping them as it stared at her.  It was really cute.

Emma and Felicia didn't know what to do.  Neither of them had killed an animal before, but for the protection of the zoo, they knew it needed to be done.  Some people at the zoo preferred drowning the minks, but Emma and Felicia thought that this sounded terrible. 

So, they decided to use the CO2 chamber that the zoo used to put down animals that were injured beyond help.  Gassing sounded a lot more humane than drowning.  

As Emma carried the trap back to the Blue Building where the tank was, she could barely feel any weight from the small carnivore.  The trap tipped slightly as the mink ran back and forth and as she reached the Blue Building, she placed it on the ground instead of going immediately inside and waited for Felicia to arrive.  She felt really bad.  She didn’t want to kill the little guy, but knew if they didn’t, he would just go on killing more of the birds.  The mink wasn’t scared of her at all.  She talked to him gently and he came up to the bars, his little nose and whiskers twitching and he tried to smell her.  After a while, he let out a high pitched squeak that was amazingly loud.  It was almost like he was calling for his mother.  About that time Felicia arrived and they entered the building.  They went to the incubator room where the gas chamber was stored, which was basically one of those plastic boxes with the overlapping lids.  It had a small tube hole in the bottom where the CO2 was attached.  Here was where they faced their first dilemma.

They didn’t know how to get the mink from the trap into the small gas chamber box.  They turned the trap so that the door was facing down into the box and pushed the door in so the mink could come out.  However, the mink simply climbed to the top of the trap.  So, they tried to shake the mink out into the box.  Of course, this upset the mink slightly, so when it finally poured out of the trap, it also poured out of the box and ran and hid behind the fridge-like incubator.  The little guy was like liquid lead.

 Now they were faced with a new dilemma.  They tried various things.  Emma went and got a net and Felicia grabbed a mop and she clanged the mop while Emma sat on the other side with the net ready and waiting.  When the mink came running out, she managed to get the net over it.  However, the next thing she knew, the mink was back behind the fridge.  Baffled, they tried again.  After the second time, they took a look at their net and found that it had a large hole in it.  So, they went and got another net.  At that point, Emma started talking to it and to her surprise, it began to come out to the sound of her voice.   She felt very deceitful as she smooth talked the mink out from behind the incubator.  Like a princess, the sound of her voice lulled the creature into coming toward her.  They managed to get him in the new net twice that way, only to discover that this new one had holes in it as well. 

 They went and got the third and final net.  It appeared to be hole-less, but they weren’t as trusting this time.  Felicia left for a while to go see if she could trap another mink which had shown up in Pond 3, and Emma tried to get the mink to come out again.  He came out most of the way a couple more times, but he had learned his lesson.  Then, after looking around a bit, Emma discovered that Felicia could put a pole behind the fridge and push the mink toward her if she crouched on top of the other incubator next to the fridge-like incubator.  She called her back to come help her and she did so.  They managed to catch him a couple more times, only to have him slip out of holes they hadn’t seen.  So, they took masking tape and sealed the net off completely.  The next time they caught him, he held.
 At which point they faced the next dilemma.  The top of the net was bigger than the box.  There was really no good way that they knew of to get the mink into the gas box.  In the attempt, he escaped again.  They tried twice more, only to have him finally escape and run to the other side of the very small room, where he trapped himself in a corner behind plexiglass and cardboard.  They then had a much smaller net and they seized upon this chance immediately.  They blocked off the exit except for the net and Emma brought the pole down through the top and he ran right into the small net.  At which point, they placed the gas box upside down over him and let him out of the net into the gas box.
 One of the overlapping tops was under the box while the other was not.  They now had another problem of how to flip the box over and close the lid.  After thinking for a minute, Emma took a board and slowly pushed it under the box.  Then, holding it tightly over the opening, they pulled the box upright, with the cardboard effectively sealing the exit.  Then they removed the cardboard and shut the lid, trapping the poor terrified mink in the box.  They were both sweating and tired, and the mink which had so far only hissed at them suddenly began a repeat performance of the squeak it had done outside.  Only in repetition this time.  The loud squeaks, which were startlingly similar to a hawks shrieks, but louder, rang in their ears.  After a while he stopped though, and ran around the mostly see-through box, his face following our hands as they moved the box around to the CO2 tank.  They then attached the hose and figured out how to turn it on.  Now they knew why some of the others just drowned them in the traps. 

They left the room at that point.  When they came back ten minutes later, the small mink lay unmoving on his side in the box.  They turned off the tank.  It was a very depressing moment.  As cute as the minks are though, they are highly dangerous creatures.  As the night person came that night he told them that he placed plastic bags over the wire opening and taped the hose directly to the trap and just gassed it in there.  They decided he was a genius.

Though the ending of the mink was quite tragic, the birds survived and the zoo lived happily ever after. The two workers were awarded with pizza coupons and they lived long and happy lives.

The moral of the story?  I'm not sure.  Maybe it's

Sometimes when we try to be kind, we end up causing more agony to everyone. 

That doesn't seem right though.


Don't gas a mink.

Yes, that's probably it.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Brief Note

Check out Kevin's hair!

I was trying to work on a vlog (video blog) for today.  This meant that I didn't blog this morning and I was getting kind of stressed out.  Then, I was in the middle of working on the vlog when my computer shut down.  (We're saving up to buy a desktop.  Laptops and Adobe Premiere just don't mix well.)  So, after all that, Grig was home for the first time this week. 

So, that's when I decided that I'm going to premier our first vlog next Saturday.  I need to spend time with my husband and son.  I don't need the stress today when he needs a break. 

Look forward to our first vlog next week.  It is going to be most excellent, but it will be even more remarkable because I'm going to be working on it all week.  So, expect a blog everyday, Monday through Friday, and then an awesome vlog on next Saturday.  Hopefully, the third Dragon and the Wolf will also be done by the 1st of October as well. 

Thank you for reading and commenting!  Good things are coming in the future.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Early to Bed, Early to Rise...Actually Isn't So Bad
Me, as a night-owl.
 Anyone who has ever lived with me can tell you, I'm not really a morning person.

When I was a kid, my siblings never wanted to be the one to come wake me up.  If someone disturbed my sleep (unless it was Dad or Mom) I was wrath unleashed!  I come up swinging, something I'm not very proud of.  Really, no one should have had to wake me up.  I should have been able to do it on my own.  The problem is that when I do sleep, I'm a very deep sleeper.

I've never really needed that much sleep.  When I was a baby, my parents would tell me stories about how I would only take one nap a day, and a very short, trying nap at that.  My mom likes to tell me about how she would walk around for over an hour trying to get me to fall asleep.  Finally, I would drift off.  She would try to lay me down, and I would wake up re-energized!  My short nap was sufficient.  At least I slept well at night.

As I grew older, it was literally impossible for me to over-sleep.  I remember coming upstairs crying on numerous occasions because I had been laying in bed for hours and I just couldn't fall alseep.  That, along with several other factors, convinced me that it was better to just stay up reading.  I began to get less sleep, and then falling asleep became much easier.  I also became more of a night-owl.  It only got worse in college.

In my first two years of college, I averaged four hours of sleep a night.  Crazy, huh?  That means sometimes I got around two and sometimes around six.  I actually did quite well on that, except for the occasional class that I slept through.

During my mission, I got on a better schedule.  As a missionary, you are required to go to bed at 10:30 p.m. and wake up at 6:30 a.m.  I would go to bed, but I couldn't always fall asleep.  Sometimes I'd lay there for a few hours before I'd drift off.  Even exhausted from working all day, sleep sometimes is a challenge.

When I finished my mission, I got right back to my old sleep schedule.  In college for a while, I was the last one to sleep and the first one awake.  My attempts to help myself go to sleep earlier included always having a 7:45 a.m. class.  That way, I would usually go to bed at least by 2:00 a.m.

With my first year of marriage, things were slightly better.  Unfortunately, Grig is also a night-owl, and often we would stay up late together.  Sometimes, on a really bad night, we would fall asleep around 4:00 a.m.  However, we tried to set goals to go bed by midnight.

After we had Kevin, we did begin to go to bed around midnight.  Kevin however, also seems to require a little less sleep than most babies (but not as little as me, thank goodness).  He's always been a good night sleeper, but he would stay up until midnight with us,and then wake up around 8:30.  It worked for a while.

Then, Grig got a new job.  His job begins at either 4 or 5:00 in the morning.  That means I have to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. in order to make him breakfast.  (This is an entirely voluntary thing.  Grig has told me on numerous occasions that I don't actually have to do that, but I like being able to see him in the morning, and it helps him get to work on time if I help make breakfast and lunch.) 

We are now going to bed anytime from 8-9:30.  That's the earliest I've ever gone to bed in my life.  We consistently go to bed early and wake up early.  Strangely, I'm beginning to realize that I like it.

All my life, I thought people were crazy for getting up this early.  Right now, it's 4:27 a.m. and I'm blogging.  Kevin is asleep and I'm all alone.  It's quiet outside and even the crickets are sleeping.  I have time to think and relax before the day begins.

Occasionally, I go back to bed after Grig leaves, but usually I try to stay up and I'm finding that I enjoy waking up early more each morning.  Sometimes on weekends, when Grig doesn't have work, he and I revert to our old habits.

However, we are both finding that Early to Bed and Early to Rise really isn't such a bad thing after all.

Go figure.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Puppies vs. Babies

Which is Better?

Lately, I've really been wanting to get a puppy.  

Really, like, a lot. 

However, though our housing situation would allow it, we currently we can't afford one.  Since puppies have been on my mind so much, I've been thinking about when I first gave birth to Kevin.  Afterward, my dad, who knows how much I like dogs, kept asking me the same question over and over.

"Isn't he much better than a puppy?"

Okay.  Obviously the answer is yes.  However for those of you who've never had a baby, I would like to tell you my reasons why.  Those of you who have had children, let me know your thoughts on the matter.

When I was in High School, one summer I decided to breed my dog and raise a litter of puppies.  It was a really good experience, and I really enjoyed it.  However, comparing that experience to my current situation of being a mother brings up some interesting differences and similarities. 

Yes, I did draw these pictures.




A Short Thought on Poop

Let's face it.  Newborn animals of any variety aren't very cute.  They come out all slimy and wrinkly, and generally have very little hair.  Newborn puppies are fairly easy for humans to take care of.  We just let the mom handle it.  However, newborn puppies are incapable of defecating on their own.  In order to keep the puppies alive and healthy, the mother dog has to lick them to stimulate their bowel movements.  Then, to add to that, she eats the puppy poo so that the smell won't attract predators.  As nasty as that seems to us, to a dog it's a natural part of being a mother. 

I'm really glad we don't have to do that.  A lot of people will complain about changing diapers, but after watching how animals take care of their babies' poop, diapers don't seem so bad.  Babies are also able to poop on their own as soon as they are born, which is an advantage in the evolutionary side of things.   Babies diapers are also not very stinky when they are newborns.  You have to change them pretty frequently, but it really isn't that much trouble and you get used to it quickly.  


Nursing puppies is quite easy as well, if you're the human.  The mother dog usually does all the work again.  There is the rare situation when a human has to take over, and then it can be a major pain!  You have to get up and bottle feed the pups every two hours.  That can really cut into your sleep schedule.  Luckily, my dog Dakota was a fantastic mom.  She took great care of her pups.  She ended up having eight of them, and all of them survived until they went to their new homes.  Can you imagine having eight babies at one time?  I can't.  One is plenty thank you, and I'm still learning how to deal with one.

When someone first handed Kevin to me, I looked down and thought, "What do I do with this?" 

Don't get me wrong.  I've been around babies my entire life.  I have six younger siblings and I spent a lot of my teenaged years babysitting my siblings and other children.  I'm no novice when it comes to taking care of babies.  However, none of that even remotely prepared me for nursing my own baby.  It doesn't come entirely naturally.  However, once you and the baby figure it out, it is a rather peaceful thing.  There is a connection you feel with that baby that is unlike any other relationship I've ever had.  

When my dog had puppies, I felt proud and I loved them.  I took good care of them and I wanted them to have good homes.  However, the bond I have with my baby isn't even close to the same.  Grig and I made Kevin (with a lot of help from Heavenly Father).  He is our baby.  He is part of us and we are part of him.  I've loved my dogs, but the love I feel for Kevin transcends that love and makes it look trivial.  

Nursing has nurtured that bond as well.  I love putting him down for a nap and feeling connected to him.  Puppy-love just doesn't come close.



Babies change fast.  Even now, nine-months after Kevin was born, I can't believe how fast time has gone.  Everyday it seems like he learns something new.  He's already walking and running, and I some days I miss the little baby who would just lay on my chest.  Kevin only does that if he is asleep now or very, very tired.  Otherwise, he is constantly moving.  It's been a real treat to watch Kevin grow and learn.  We love showing him new things.  We really enjoy watching him try to understand this new world around him.  

However, as fast as babies grow, it's nothing compared to puppies.  At nine months, a puppy would be almost fully grown and well into his teenage months.  He would be awkward, gangly, and pushing his limits.  They are still cute, but sometimes by that point the cuteness is wearing off a bit.  Between eight and eighteen months is when the majority of puppies are given to shelters.  After that, they mature more and people can handle them again.  Before that, they are cute enough to get away with stuff.  Puppies are only puppies for a short time, and then they become dogs.  I think they're still cute, but a lot of people love that puppy stage and really miss it when it is gone.  

That's probably why so many people get tiny dogs.  They can keep pretending they are babies.  The problem is a tiny dog is still a dog.  If you treat a dog like a baby, they never learn discipline and think that they are in charge.  This causes a lot of bad behaviors that go unchecked because the dog is 'cute.' 

Which is why a great many people don't like small dogs.  They often get away with everything because they're not a threat to people.  

Babies remain as babies for quite a while.  We have more time to teach them the things they need to know before they are considered adults.  Children and puppies take a great deal of patience, perseverance, discipline, and love.  However, dogs will never reach the development level of a human.  They will never be able to have deep conversations with us.  Children eventually will. 


Kevin still has no teeth.  His cousin, who is a week younger, has four or five.  She actually has been known to leave little teeth marks in the furniture.  Babies in general however, don't chew on things nearly as much as puppies.  

I've never heard of someone coming home from work to find that their child had eaten their favorite shoe or hat.  Though someone in my family used to chew the fingers and toes off of our barbies, we never found the entire barbie digested.  

Puppies, however, will chew on everything.  Furniture, clothing, toys; you name it, they've eaten it.  That's one nice thing that you don't have to worry about as much when it comes to babies.

A Little More on Poop

When my dog had her puppies, at first it was easy to clean after them.  She took care of most of that.  Then, as they grew and developed, they began to defecate on their own.  Soon, I was the one who had to pick up after eight growing puppies.  It was a full-time job.  

Again, I'll take diapers over that any day.  Both baby poop and dog poop however gets stinkier as the owners get older.  That's part of life.


I think this will be the last thing I'll address in this blog.  Puppies are cute.  They take a lot of work, but when you take the time, it pays off into a wonderful dog.  However, the oldest living dog only lived to 29 and 1/2 years old.  That's pretty old for a dog.  However, for a beloved family member, that's not that long at all.  

Children (hopefully) will be around the rest of our lives and beyond.  They don't just bring joy and heartache, they also are the future of our families.  They pass on stories of us, our teachings, and our experiences.  They also bring grandchildren.  

Dogs bring happiness for a lifetime, but children bring happiness for an eternity.  They can continue to bring joy to others after we are gone.  

So, yes, Dad.  Children are better than puppies. 

At this point, my experience with having my own children has caught up with the present.  I could speculate on what will happen in the future, but until I go through those stages myself, I'll let other people tell me what it's like.  I've raised a puppy to adulthood, but I'm still on my first kid.  Eventually, Kevin will have a few puppies to grow up with him.  Every kid needs a dog.  It's an earth-rule.   

Hopefully Kevin will turn out well.  We'll do our best, and that's all we can do.  The rest is up to him.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Giving Blood and Saving Snails

Yesterday was an interesting day.

It started off with Kevin and I going with my aunt to play floor hockey.  I am trying to exercise more this week, so her invitation to accompany her was very welcome.  At first, Kevin did just fine.  Two of my aunt's kids were there, so I thought he would be enjoying himself while we played.  He usually is a very happy kid, especially when there are other kids around.

Unfortunately, someone brought Bambi, and soon all the kids were watching it...all the kids, that is, except Kevin.  He doesn't really appreciate tv.  We'd only played a few minutes when Kevin began to cry.  The fact the other kids abandoned him was probably compounded by the small amount of sleep that he had been allowing himself the last few days.  We're not sure exactly what's been going on, but I've been pretty tired.

Anyway, Kevin began to cry.  I tried to distract him, but it didn't work.  So finally, I said, "Come play with me."  I hoisted him into my left arm, and put the hockey stick in my right arm.  Luckily, I'm pretty strong, so I could still hit the ball pretty well.  Kevin and I played goalie and we played hard.  He seemed to enjoy it, except when everyone was running toward us, and he'd let out this little terrified shriek.  I'm not sure if it was fear or excitement, but when I looked at him, he looked fine.

We played that way for a while, and then they turned off Bambi so the other kids would play with him.  Again, he was distracted for a few minutes while I began to play harder.  One of the women said, "Oh, you're a runner," as I charged after the ball.  The distractions only worked for a moment though.  Kevin began to wail again.  He was tired and hungry, and every time he heard the sticks hit the floor, he knew he was missing out on fun.  So, I fed him, and then he ended up playing goalie with me again.  I got a pretty good workout.  I'm kind of sore today.  I've still got it though.  Half-way through my aunt told me that I frightened her.  Especially when I was holding the baby.


Then, after Grig got home from work, we went and donated blood.  I always do really well with it.  I've got good veins and a great constitution.  I was a little worried because I'm still nursing Kevin, but I did just fine.  Kevin sure enjoyed himself.  He got the sugary treats and attention as he walked around the place.  Every time we go out, people ask, "How old is he?"   When we tell them 9 months, they usually say, "Wow!  He's doing really well."

We know.  It's because he's batman.

Then, we had to go drop off the car at Havelock's workplace.  He would then drive it home at 10:30 p.m. after he got done with his job.  Grig, Kevin, and I took the bus.  (Havelock would take it, but it stops its route at 8:30).  The bus was kind of fun, but the combination of donating blood and driving home took way long.  We didn't get home until 7:15.  We still had to eat, shower, send an important e-mail, and save a snail.  Not necessarily in that order.  Grig was supposed to get up at 2:50 a.m. this morning.  We didn't get to bed until 10:30 p.m.  It's going to be a long day for my poor husband. 

The snail was quite grateful, though.  And hungry.  It ate quite a bit of Swiss chard.

On a final note, I'm sorry for those of you who are waiting for out next video.  I know it's three days late.  It's been kind of crazy.  It's almost ready, I'm just waiting for some voice-acting from Grig.

Also, I have a question for my readers.  I'm thinking about blogging Monday through Friday, and putting up a vlog (video blog) on Saturday.  Would anyone be interested in us doing that?  I think it might be kind of fun, though more work for me.

Please let me know your thoughts.

TTFN.  Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are Things Ever 'Just Right'?

Everyone knows the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.  One bowl of porridge was too hot, one was too cold, and one was just right.

However, in life, it seems that things are never 'just right'.  How many days of the year do we go outside and say, "Ah, the weather is just right today!"?  A few maybe, but not very many.

When I worked at a gas station, the most common complaint I would hear from people who were coming in during the summer was: "It's too hot!"  A few months later, during the winter people would come in and complain that it was now "Too cold!"  Very rarely did anyone say, "Ah, the weather is just right today.  I'm so glad that I went outside!"

I'm not exempt from this attitude either.  When we moved into our new apartment on the second floor, we found out that we didn't have air conditioning.  Luckily for us, heat rises, so it has been a very hot summer.  We bought a few fans and our bedroom has been livable, but it has been difficult.  Often our apartment is too hot, and we are constantly wishing that the fall months will come quickly.

However, just this week the weather took a turn for the cooler, and though I'm enjoying being outside in the cool weather, our bedroom has become too cold!  We've had to turn off the fan for fear of being frozen out!  Suddenly, I'm remembering why I like summer so much more than winter.  I HATE being cold!

I too often find myself saying things like: "When this happens, we'll be happy."  "When we graduate, things will be better."  "When we get a full-time job, things will be easier."

That isn't usually the case though.  When we do get those things, they usually come with their own version of trials, and things are equally, if not more, difficult.

A while ago, one of our leaders gave a talk that was called, "Finding Joy in the Journey."  Click on the link to read it, I'd highly recommend it.  It addressed the fact that we need to be happy wherever we are, and find things that are 'just right' right now.

So, here goes my list of 'just rights':

Right now, my husband's job is just right for us.
Right now, my baby is just the right age.
Right now, we have just hte right number of kids.
Right now, we have just the right number of pets.
Right now, we are living in just the right place.
Right now, we have just the right amount of money.
Right now, we are just right in our marriage.
Right now, I am just right in my relationship with our Lord.

That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement in these things, but I know that as we are trying our best, we can enjoy where we are, even as we improve.

Take time out of your day.  Enjoy the little things.  Look around for small tender mercies from the Lord.  Admire the beauty of the clouds.  Enjoy having kids that mess up your house.  Enjoy having people to eat with that make dirty dishes.  Enjoy being loved by your family and friends.

Yes, things will change in time, but when they do, we can always find more things that are 'just right' with our lives.  As we do, we'll be happier now and less stressed about the future. 

What are some things in your life that are 'just right'?

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Little Poverty Never Hurt Anyone

Being poor isn't much fun.  When Grig and I moved recently, we were doing pretty well financially.  However, previous to this move, we had been blessed with an apartment that was owned by loving family, and they didn't require us to pay rent.

Thanks to their generosity, we had been able to save up a bit of money, and had reduced our college debt by quite a bit.  Before we moved we weren't rich, but we weren't really poor either.  We'd been able to pay all of our baby bills (which were pretty substantial considering that I had a c-section).

Since we've moved, however, we've joined the world of the grown ups.  Our money that we saved was mostly spent in those first few weeks when Grig wasn't working as many hours and he was signed up through a temp agency.  For a while, we didn't even know for sure that he was going to get the job full-time.  However, we had faith.  We knew this is where we were supposed to be.

We had decided to get a three bedroom apartment so that Grig's brother Havelock could come and stay with us.  It was decided that once he arrived and found a job, he would be able to help with the rent a bit.  The rent is a decent price for a three bedroom apartment, but it is still quite a bit of our income.  However, he couldn't find a job for a few weeks, so we've had to pay the rent on our own.  (As a side note, he found a job, and he starts today!) 

We've had to become very careful on how we deal with our money.  I created a budgeting system on Excel that works great for us, but with all of the finances we've had and a few surprise bills, our money nearly disappeared.  We couldn't buy groceries because we didn't have money for it.  We didn't have any furniture when we moved, and though we were able to buy a bed, we couldn't buy anything else.  We have been dirt poor, and it hasn't hurt us at all.

We've learned so many wonderful things because of it.  We budgeted our money before this, but never with the same caution that we do now.  We only buy what we absolutely NEED, and we're still working on discerning what groceries can wait until we have money.  We have given up a lot of things that we wanted for a later time when we can afford them.  Neither Grig nor I have credit cards, and aside from a (comparatively) small college debt that we are working on, we don't plan on ever going into debt.  We only want to buy things that we have saved up for and can afford. 

We've also been so blessed!  Every piece of furniture that we've really needed, someone has given us.  When we started, we had a tiny end table, a rocking chair, a lawn chair, a desk, and entertainment center (with no t.v.), a book shelf, a bed, and a tote that we use for a desk.  We didn't have a couch, a bed for Havelock, a table, or a microwave.  As the weeks have gone by and we've been trying to stay within our means, others have stepped in and given us furniture.  We've been so grateful as we've learned to rely on the Lord and on friends and family.

We've had enough, but no more.  As Havelock starts his new job and Grig continues to work, we should be able to begin saving again, and move past the poverty line.  It's been tough, but really, it's been okay.

A little poverty never hurt anyone.  It's only made us stronger as we've come closer to each other and to the Lord.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Are There Any Original Endings Left?

When I was going to college, I took a fiction writing class.  It was a lot of fun and I really enjoy writing, so it was kind of a treat.  At the time, I was considering changing my major to become an English major and so I was experimenting to see how I liked those kind of classes.

We would all write short stories and then we would take turns as a class reading each person's story and analyzing it.  You weren't allowed to talk when your story was being analyzed, but you could listen and see people's reaction to your story.  

I learned a lot in that class.  However, one thing sticks out in my memory.

At the class's beginning, everyone's stories were completely different.  Some weren't very well-written, true, but they were creative and original.  However, as the class progressed, I began to see something very interesting happen.  Trying to get a reaction out of their audience, characters in the stories began to die. It was a slow thing at first.  A character death here, someone's reaction to it there, but it spread through the class like a plague.

After two-thirds of the semester was over, everyone's stories were ending in death.  It was an incredible change.  Soon, it was a surprise if someone's story didn't end with someone dying.  Reading back on some of those short stories that I wrote during that time, I was a little surprised by how dark they were.  I don't think I would even think about writing some of them now.  

Finally, at one point, I wrote a story just to stir things up.  Out of all the stories I wrote that year, this one wasn't my favorite, but my teacher LOVED it.

Here's the story:

 The Truth About Age

    The old woman hobbles slowly down the path, a bag in one hand, a cane in the other.  Her legs are bowed and she is bent nearly double with pain as she makes her way to a small gate.  Her wrinkled face is creased with sadness and she stumbles now and again against rocks on the uneven path.  

    As she reaches the gate, she slowly lifts her weary head only to find a young man there.  He smiles gently and opens the gate for her.

    “Would you like me to take your bag?” he asks kindly.

    The old woman, surprised, is silent for a moment and then speaks in a voice worn with age, “I would be most grateful, young man.”

    He quickly takes her bag and extends an arm.  The age-old sadness begins to slip from her face as she gratefully takes the proffered hand.  Slowly, sorrowful wrinkles begin to transform into gentle laugh lines.  

    They walk in silence for several minutes.  Once they reach her destination, the young man graciously hold open the door.

    He nods his head to her slightly as she takes her bag back and he gently smiles a final time.

    “Have a good day,” he says, and disappears down the street.

    The woman, no longer bent with age, continues to smile as she walks into the store.  Energy seems to fill her small frame and she glides more quickly, only using her cane slightly.  Time slowly fades, and wrinkles are made smooth. 


It was a very positive and uplifting story.  I was trying to convey the message that as we help those around us, they can feel younger.  It was very different from the suicide and other depressing stories that we all were turning out at that point.  It was interesting to me to see the positive reaction to my story.  As humans, sometimes we're so busy trying to get an emotional reaction and trying to be stunning that we don't realize that we're stopped being stunning and have become the same.

When The Ring came out, most horror movies had happy endings, or at least resolutions.  However, since then, most scary movies seem to just be getting darker and creepier without resolution.  At the time, it was original, now my siblings don't even think its all that scary.

When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, fantasy wasn't even a genre.  There was simply fiction and nonfiction. When The Hobbit came out, these stories were still being called Fairy Tales.  Now it seems that you can find elements of Tolkien's books in nearly every fantasy.

I enjoy it when books surprise me.  However, as I work at writing my own stories I wonder if they're too predictable.  Do my stories have events in it that are just intended for 'shock-value'?  Or do they have surprises that are surprising because we really couldn't see them coming?  The best authors even include clues, but the readers mind either misses those clues or assumes that they are leading to something else.

In our own lives, do we follow the crowd?  Are we inclined to do things for the shock value?  Or are we going to do uplifting and positive things that will surprise others because they are different from the way society is doing things.  Like the young man in my story, are we helping others to throw off their troubles or are we causing them more pain?

Are there any original endings left?  Yes.  However, it is up to each of us to find our own.  I can't live my life the same as any other person, and I shouldn't try.  I'm someone different.  I want to do what's right, and that means I have to find my own path.  Each of us has a completely different story from everyone else.  We have different backgrounds, different motivations, and different goals.  As we discover that story, we can choose whether we are a good or bad influence in the lives of those around us.  We can choose how we affect their stories.

And at the end, everyone will have their own original ending.  However, what happens and whose with us when the time comes is really up to each of us. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Having the Missionaries Over for Dinner and My Meatloaf Recipe
Every time I add a picture that is not mine, I accompany it with a link to the original image.  Click on the picture to go there.

 Last night was an exciting night!  On Sunday, they passed around a sign-up sheet for anyone that wanted to feed the missionaries.  I was really excited.  It is my first time ever feeding them as a married couple.

When I was on my mission, I loved eating at members' homes.  They usually cooked us really extravagant dinners, because for them, it was a special occasion to feed the missionaries.  Unfortunately for the missionaries, when it is a special occasion every night, it becomes really difficult not to gain weight.  However, the food was always good, regardless of what culture it originated from, and in Texas there is a lot of different cultural backgrounds.  Sometimes people would take us out to eat as well, and that was a nice treat.

So, after I picked up the Sister Missionaries, I told them the ground-rules.

1- Don't eat anything you don't like
2- If you get full, don't feel the need to finish your food, we can doggie-bag it for you

That was basically it.  I just remember too many nights when I left stuffed to the gills, and spent the rest of the evening trying to walk off the delicious food.  One time we had salad for dinner, and that was a rare treat!

We ended up having rice with cream of mushroom gravy and meatloaf.  It is my own special recipe.  I think it's probably the best meatloaf I've ever eaten too.  The missionaries seemed to enjoy it.  In fact, the newer sister was being really polite, and cleaning up the dishes.  However, when I told them that there was another pan of meatloaf, she got really interested, and though she kept trying to tell me it was okay, I could tell that she wanted some more.  

So, I got her a paper plate (so that she wouldn't feel guilty about dirtying another one) and she happily ate some more.  

Here's my recipe for meatloaf, if you're interested.  The problem is, I kind of eye-ball stuff, so this is just a basic guideline.  I tried to write down the measurements based upon how much I put in, and it seems to turn out okay.  This is enough for one bread-pan.

Emma Tank's Meat Loaf Recipe: 

1 1/2 pounds of hamburger
1 cup oatmeal
¼ cup corn
1 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup barbeque sauce (or ketchup)

¾ cup ketchup (or combo barbeque sauce and ketchup)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Spray the bread pan with non-stick spray.  Put meatloaf in pan, press down to fill all edges.  Combine topping, pour on top of meatloaf.  Cover all surfaces.  Cook at 375 for 1 hour 25 minutes.

It turns out really good and moist.  Personally, I think the corn adds a lot. 

Anyway, it was a really nice evening.  Kevin showed off his walking, and while they shared a spiritual thought he kept walking back and forth between them.  He really liked them.  Afterward, they were going to walk to another appointment, but it cancelled, so I drove them to another place to do some service.  They seem like very good missionaries.  One was from Tonga and the other was from Wyoming. 

Having them over, reminded me a lot of my mission and how much I loved being a missionary for my Savior.  I have had very strong spiritual experiences since my mission, but there is no other calling in life like being a full-time missionary.  When you sacrifice everything in your life for an 18-month to a 2-year mission, the Lord blesses you in turn.  I can't explain how much I grew over that period of time.  I learned a lot about myself and how much the Lord loves every one of his children.  It doesn't matter where you live or what you are doing.  The Lord loves you.

One of my favorite sayings goes like this:

The Lord loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.  

The Lord constantly is requiring us to grow and change for the better.  If I allowed my own son to only stay in kindergarten his whole life, he certainly would not grow into the man I know he is supposed to become.  The older grades may be tougher, and he may suffer because he has to learn harder things, but in the end Kevin will be better for it.  

I know the gospel is true and Christ is my Savior.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's church on Earth and He has set it up.  It is not a church of men, but of God.  

We pray for you, and keep you in our hearts.