Thursday, October 31, 2013

Okay, They Talked Me into It

 I keep seeing blog posts from my friends where they talk about how they're going to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I couldn't help it, I looked it up.

Evidently, it all about National Novel Writing Month.  During the month of November, authors are asked to try and write 50,000 words.  I've decided to give it a go.

I've had this new story idea that I got from a dream.  I've already written out the entire plot, and it's been sitting in my mind in the back burner.  I think I'm going to write on it for the next month in the morning while Kevin is still asleep and during his nap times.  After I blog, of course.

I think I can do it!  I write quickly, and for once, I have a story mapped out.  This will be a good opportunity to try and push myself to do something.

Even if I don't finish, 50,000 words should definitely get me started.  I have a penchant for writing long stories, and the current one I'm thinking about doing might end up being a trilogy.

Anyway, I'm kind of excited to start tonight/tomorrow.

I'm on the official NaNoWriMo website as clwoolfe, which was originally going to be my penname.  If you're on there, look me up.

For a synopsis of my story, I simply wrote:

A young man is born with some special abilities.  Though his siblings are also unique, they grow jealous of the attention he is getting.  They are approached by a stranger and they make a decision that will change their brother's life forever.

Okay, so maybe I need to beef it up, but I don't want to give anything away either.  So difficult.

Anyway, if you're interested and are a last minute procrastinator like me, the month begins tomorrow!

For an update on the family:

Kevin is feeling better, in case you were wondering.  We think he has another tooth coming out the top.  Poor guy.  He's been pretty miserable.   

Tonight is his first Halloween!  We are pretty excited.  It is also our anniversary of our engagement.  To read that story, go here.

We've got his costume figured out, but you probably won't see it until this Saturday's vlog.  It's adorable though!  Be very excited.

I'm excited.  He can't eat his candy yet, so that means it's all mine!


Sorry, just getting in the Halloween mood.  Besides, I have to share it with Grig.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are Big Families Crazy?

 I've recently been reading a book series by an author named Angie Sage.  I'm currently on the second book.  I'm really enjoying the series, except for one thing:

The author's portrayal of large families.

In this series, the main character is the seventh son of a seventh son.  So, the main character's family is quite large.  Here's the issue I have:

The family is totally disfunctional.  Four of the boys are now living in the woods like savages, one has turned to the dark side, and only two actually spend time with their parents.

Seriously?  I understand if you don't want to have to write about nine characters at a time, but that seems a bit extreme. 

For those of you who are not from big families, we're not really that crazy.

Grig's family had seven kids. 

There were ten children in my family. 

We are really close.  When I was growing up, there was the occasional sibling argument, but we all knew that we loved each other and we listened to each other.  As the older siblings grew older, we were able to help out our parents by taking care of our younger siblings.  If I told my younger siblings to do something, they generally did it.  They sometimes griped about it, but they listened to me.

I think a lot of people can't imagine having a big family because they think of all those little kids running around.  What a lot of people don't remember is that little kids don't stay little forever, and most people don't have six children at once.  (That does happen occasionally, and it's difficult, but doable.  I knew a family that had sextuplets, and they are doing just fine.)  Usually, by the time you have six or seven children, the older ones can now help with the younger ones.

My parents taught me responsibility.  I loved children and I still do!  I would babysit other people's children, because I couldn't get enough of them.  Not all older siblings are like that, some just like their own siblings, and some are tired of little kids, but I really liked having a lot of babies at my house.

Usually, in order for a large family to work, the parents have to have some pretty strict guidelines.  That doesn't mean that they're cruel, it just means that they set boundaries and stick with them.  As we grew older and were able to govern ourselves, we helped the younger children learn those boundaries too.    In some ways, our parent's work load increased as the number of their children increased, but in other ways, the work got easier.  They now had more people to help get the house dirty, but they also had more people to help clean it up.  We didn't always, but we usually were pretty good.

I loved having a big family.  When you're inside of it, it doesn't really feel like there's that many people.  It just feels like the perfect amount.  I wouldn't trade any of my siblings for anything.  I loved having so many friends that I could generally count on. 

It wasn't always perfect.  Sometimes there was fighting and sometimes I still felt lonely, but as we've all grown older, we've also grown closer.  It's so much fun for Kevin to have cousins to play with.

So are big families crazy?  I guess that depends a little on how the kids are raised.  However, I would say no.  At least no more crazier than any family...and we're all kind of a little crazy.

Do we want to have a big family like our parents?  Definitely.  Maybe not quite as big, but Kevin is great!  Why wouldn't I want him to have brothers and sisters?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kevin was Sick Yesterday

Yesterday, I woke up, took the dog out, and changed Kevin's diaper like normal.  Then about ten minutes later, I started hearing this strange noise coming from Kevin.  I looked over and said, "That doesn't sound good."

Kevin had some pretty intense diarrhea.  The whole day I didn't get anything done, because all he wanted to do was cuddle.  It wasn't a bad day, but I changed his diaper a whole bunch. 

He took his morning nap, and I thought he was doing better.  Then, when he woke up, I went in to get him and found something super exciting!  He seemed super happy, but when I picked him up I realized that he had leaked through three layers of clothing, all over the bedsheets, and down to the mattress.  I did end up getting one load of laundry done.

Kevin went straight in the bathtub, which he loves, so it was a good morning for him.  We put in some water, washed him off, let the water out, and then put some more water in.  Then he was able to play in clean water for a while, and he had a great time.

This is my first experience with a sick baby.   

It's hard to know if the diarrhea was from his teething, or if he got it from the neighbors

The flow (of diarrhea) slowed later that evening, and so we ran to a couple of stores quickly.  Well actually, we went to one store (Sam's Club) and the library.

Our library is awesome!  I've started reading this series by a lady named Angie Sage, and it is actually quite good.  However, I would recommend not reading the summary.  It kind of gives away half of the first book.  Lame.

We also decided yesterday that Sam's Club is a dangerous store.  They sell candy in bulk at amazing prices!  We bought our Halloween candy yesterday, as well as a little more for us.  Yummy.

Sorry today's blog is so short.  Yesterday was a bit crazy, but only in the 'I've never had a sick kid before way'.  He's doing much better today.  Thank goodness.

Poor sick baby!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Saturday Night Miracle

Last week, I told you about how we got a flat tire on our car. 

Well, we didn't have time to fix it until Saturday night.  Grig had to drive the car on the measly little doughnut to work every day, and it wasn't until Saturday night that we were able to take it in.

I had heard good things about Sam's club's tire area, and so we went there with the intention of buying a new tire.  Things seemed to be going pretty well, except that they quoted us  over $110 dollars for one tire plus maintenance.  We just wanted it fixed though, and then I remembered a tiny detail. 

"Oh, yeah," I said, "also, when Grig was taking off the old tire, he accidently snapped one of the studs.  Can we get a replacement one of those too?"

The salesclerk stopped abruptly.  "We can't put a new tire on if any of the lugnuts or studs are missing," he said.

"What?" we asked.

"It's a liability issue," he told us. 

We wanted to know if we could buy a new one and they could put it on, and they just kept telling us that they couldn't put a new tire on. 

So, we left.  We drove to another car place that had been very kind to us before and parked the car.  We went to the front door, but it was locked.  We looked at the hours sign and it said, "Saturdays by appointment only."


Grig tried to call them, but no one answered.  So, we stood there for a minute, unsure of what to do.  Grig kind of wanted to quit for the day and try again on Monday, but I really just wanted to get it taken care of that night. 

We said a prayer.  We asked Heavenly Father to lead us to somewhere where we could get the tire fixed at a good price. 

We began to drive.  We passed a few car-type places, but they didn't feel right.  Then we saw a Les Schwab Tire store on one side of the road.  We decided to see if they were open.  While I got Kevin out of the car, Grig ran to the front door and checked.  It was unlocked.  He yelled that he was going to go in and start talking to them, and I nodded.  As I passed the front doors to enter, I noticed that the sign said on Saturdays that they were open until 5.  It was already almost 5:30 p.m.  Confused, I entered to see them energetically talking to Grig.

He was explaining our situation, and they told him that they could fix that right up for us.  We asked for a price quote, and the lady at the counter said, "Well, usually it's thirteen fifty, but since you are first time customers, we'll just do it for free."

Grig and I were blown away.  We both thought that she meant 1,350 at first, but even when we realized what she was actually saying, we were having a hard time comprehending it.  They were offering to just fix our flat!  We wouldn't even have to buy a new tire! 

However, a few minutes later, the manager reappeared and said, "So, this is what we found in your tire."  He held up a half of a razor blade.  He then explained that the razor had cut the threads on our tire so that they couldn't patch up the hole, but that they could offer us a slightly used tire instead for about $35 and $45 total for maintenance.  We quickly agreed. 

They switched our tire in about ten minutes and we were ready to go.  We apologized for coming in after hours, and the lady smiled, shrugged, and said, "We were still here.  We understand how hard it is to have a flat tire.  We were glad to help."

We were extremely impressed and grateful for their aid.  We were also very grateful to Heavenly Father for leading us there.  We save about $65 by going there instead of Sam's Club.  I later told Grig that I felt that his snapping the stud might have been a blessing in disguise because it kept us from spending too much money.

As we left, Grig made the comment, "Darn it, now they've made me want to be loyal to them."

We still need to get our stud fixed, but they told us that they could do that on Monday for around $25. 

We made sure that we stopped and thanked Heavenly Father for the miracle.  He had been very kind to us.  My aunt later commented that it was a blessing of paying tithing.

I think she's completely correct.

Also, exciting news!

Kevin finally cut his first tooth.  It's his upper left central tooth.  Which is a little unusual, but when did Kevin ever doing anything in the typical manner?   It started coming out Saturday night, but was definitely out by Sunday afternoon.

About time. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dakota is the (Almost) Perfect House Dog

As you know, a couple weeks ago, my old 13-year-old dog came to live with us.  Before she came, I was worried about a number of different things.  As much as I've always wanted an indoor dog, this was going to be my first experience.  Also, Dakota had been an outdoor dog her whole life, so I didn't know how she would do for sure. 

I was most concerned about the following things:

Accidents in the house

Damage to the apartment

Getting in the garbage

Sneaking food off the table

Barking a lot

Getting dog hair everywhere

Leaving her in her kennel when we were gone

To my joy and surprise, Dakota has done amazingly well.  She's had one accident, but I'm pretty sure that was my fault because I didn't get her out fast enough in the morning.  That was the fourth day, and since then, there have been no more accidents. 

She hasn't done any damage at all to the apartment.  One of the advantages of bringing in an adult dog is that she doesn't have the need to chew on everything, unlike a puppy. (In fact, she barely has any teeth left to chew on things.  She also has been a super-low energy dog.  A couple of walks around the apartment compound a day and she's just fine.  (Kevin chases her around the house a lot too.)  She sleeps quite a bit, and helps me feel like I have companionship during the day.  She's like a little shadow who listens to me.

She's only tried to get in the garbage once, but she's learned pretty quickly that it is off limits.  She only tried to sneak into it once while I was in the bathroom, and she hasn't tried again.

On the first day she was here, she lifted herself on her hind-legs to see what was on the table.  We corrected her immediately, and she hasn't bothered the table again.  She usually goes and sits down on the other side of the room during dinner and doesn't bother us while we eat.  Unless it's pizza, and then she has to go in her dog kennel because it is too tempting. 

She hasn't barked once since we've been here.  She'd didn't really bark back at my parent's home either, unless something was wrong, but she did whine a lot when she was scared or needed something.  She doesn't react when someone rings the doorbell, and she doesn't jump on company. 

She did get dog hair everywhere for the first week.  Even after we shaved her, she was still shedding a bit at the change in temperature.  However, we are now in the third week, and there is barely any hair coming off her anymore.  I brush her daily, and except for the fur that Kevin yanks out, I don't have hardly any dog fur on my clothing.

She also does great in the kennel when we're gone.  She's excited to get out, but usually she just sleeps when we're away. 

Basically, we have the (almost) perfect indoor dog.  She's great with Kevin and very tolerant of his antics.  The last couple of days, he's started snuggling up to her, and it's adorable. 

Sometimes though, he gets a little carried away.

Having a dog indoors is a little more cleaning, but I don't feel as lonely for adult company while Grig is gone anymore.  It isn't that Dakota talks to me, but it's more of a sense of adult companionship that I can just feel when she is around. 

Kevin is top dog, and she knows it.  We feed her together and he sometimes helps walk her.  She knows that when he wants to get past her, she needs to get out of his way.  Kevin will always come first, but I'm really glad we have a dog too.  It's a life-long dream come true.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Won't my Baby Take his Naps!?

Kevin playing in the dog's bed

Yesterday was so frustrating!  Kevin just wouldn't take his naps!

Normally, Kevin and I have a pretty good schedule.  Usually, I get up at 4:00 a.m. with Grig, help him get off to work, and then I have a couple of hours to blog, work on books I'm writing, and work on video editing.  Then, around 7:30 a.m., Kevin wakes up.  We play together for a few hours and I usually get some household things done, and a couple hours after he wakes up he takes his first nap.  He usually sleeps between an hour and a half and two hours.

After he wakes up, we usually go on a walk outside, check the mail, and enjoy the warmth (though it is getting colder).  Then, we come back inside and I usually try to get a few more things done.

Around 2:00, he takes a second nap, and I spend that time writing, reading, or sometimes just relaxing.  Then, Grig gets home around 4:00, which is when Kevin usually wakes up, and we do various things for the rest of the night.

It's a great schedule!  I love it, and Kevin is so happy when he gets his naps.

However, the last two days, Kevin has absolutely refused to take a nap. Kevin would tell me that he was tired like he normally would, and we went in the bedroom to lay down.  He would almost close his eyes numerous times, and then he would sit up or start singing.  It was very cute at first, but then he started getting grumpy.  I'd try to help him lay down and he'd fight with me. I'm not very good at holding still when there is nothing to do, so yesterday, after laying down with Kevin for over two hours, I was starting to get a little cranky.  Which is totally not something I would normally do.

So, eventually I said, "If you don't want to sleep on the bed, let's try your crib again."  (We've been trying to gradually help him be crib-trained recently.) I put him in his crib, and he was happy for about five minutes.  Then, he began to scream.  I waited as long as I could to see if he would calm down and go to sleep.  I even took the shower I'd been needing all day.  When I finished, he was still standing up and screaming, so I took him out of his crib.

He was so tired, but he absolutely refused to go to bed. 

After he recovered from the traumatic crib experience, he was happy to play for a little while, and eventually, he fell asleep on my chest around 12:30 p.m.  Happy, I put him in his crib and sat down to unwind.

An hour later, he woke up screaming.

He didn't sleep for the rest of the afternoon.  His eyes were all red from exhaustion and I couldn't figure out what was going on.

Finally, it hit me.  He was in pain from teething!  His nose had been running the last few days, and so Grig and I decided to try some baby Tylenol before bed.  Half an hour after we gave it to him, my happy little boy was back!  An hour later, we went to bed and he slept well the whole night.

If only I had realized that he was in pain hours before, our day may have been far less stressful.

You live and learn, I guess.

Poor guy.  Teething is hard.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flat Tire Tuesday

Yesterday was an exciting day. 

Havelock wanted to borrow the car, so Kevin and I drove Grig to work at 4:30 a.m.  As we were driving, I heard a strange sound.  It made me think that something had gotten caught around our tire.  I prayed that it wasn't a flat and that we would make it home okay. 

We made it home okay, and I didn't see anything wrong, so Kevin and I went back to bed. 

A couple hours later, I was awoken by a text from Havelock.  He said, "The car has a flat tire.  I can't get it off."

I told him to take the bus to work, and I'd deal with it.  However, I forgot I have a ten-month-old.  I realized I didn't know how to change a tire and watch a kid yet.  So, because I have an extraordinarily amazing family, my grandmother agreed to pick up Grig and his friend from work.  She's awesome.

So, that taken care of, I settled down to put Kevin down for a nap.  However, he wouldn't take one.  Usually by 3:00, he's taken two naps.   Instead, he was just grouchy most of the day, and prevented me from getting anything done.  Finally at 1:30 p.m., he fell asleep.  I gave a sigh of relief. 

Then, only an hour later, the doorbell rang and the neighbor kids wanted to come in.  They're good kids, and their mom is a friend of mine, but it just wasn't good timing.  I really wanted Kevin to sleep.  I always feel like a beast when I make them go away though.  Luckily, Kevin stayed sleeping, and I was able to enjoy his nap.

Once Grig was home, he and I put the doughnut on the car while Kevin watched and 'helped' us.  Hopefully Grig doesn't have to work overtime this week, so we can take the car in and get the tire changed on Friday.  We found a flat piece of metal embedded in the tire.  We're pretty sure that's what killed it.

He drove the car to work this morning, so hopefully the doughnut lasts until then.

Crazy day, eh?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Have the Best Family in the World, and So Do You

This is a picture of the part of our family that was able to come to our wedding.

Every family is different.  Every family has its own strengths and weaknesses.  However, the more that I talk to other people about their families, I've just began to realize how lucky I am. 

My family would do anything for me.  If I need help, and there is any way that they can be there, they are.  My mom puts her own life on hold for her children, and she is always there is we need to talk or if we need assistance.  My father has worked hard his whole life to provide for his ten children with a teacher's (now a principal's) salary.  My parents gave us everything we needed.  We didn't always get what we wanted, but I think that was very good for us.  We took vacations together and spent a lot of time at home.  I love my family.

They have even become a sort of foster-family for friends of mine, and have pseudo-adopted families in their town who needed extra support.  

My extended family is just as fantastic.  I am now living close to my maternal grandparents, a couple of aunts and uncles, and some cousins.  Every Sunday, we are invited to my grandparent's house for dinner.  If I need anything, my grandparents are there.  They have even watched a screaming Kevin on occasion so Grig and I could have a much needed date-night.

My in-laws are equally wonderful.  They are much further away, but we try to skype at least once a week.  Grig enjoys playing Risk with his siblings across skype.  We went back to the East coast and visited them this last summer, and we had a wonderful time.  We wish they were closer, but they've already made some expensive trips to come visit us, and we are grateful. 

My family is amazing, and I have watched their examples of self-less service.  That has made me want to be a better person and be equally unselfish. I try to always be there when they need me to, and to extend that service to those around me who aren't my family. 

I am so blessed.  I know there are a lot of families who are struggling, and circumstances beyond control that have made it so other families aren't quite so happy.  I didn't post this today to rub that in anyone's face, but rather to give others hope. 

Families can be happy!  Families can be cohesive!  Every family member can get along!  It does take work, but mostly it takes love.  Even if your parents didn't have a happy ending, that doesn't mean that you can't. 

Even if your family here on earth doesn't seem very supportive, you have another Father who loves you unconditionally and does everything for us. 

Our Heavenly Father is always there watching, loving, and helping us.  Sometimes we don't recognize the things that He's doing, and you might feel all alone, but I KNOW that He is there for everyone of his children.  Like President Thomas S. Monson said in the General Relief Society meeting the other day in his talk We Never Walk Alone:

[Y]our Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there. As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you.

Take comfort, because like me, you've got the best Father in the world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Most Intense Corn Maze I've Ever Been In

Saturday, Grig and I went to a place to participate in a Harvest Festival.  We'll be featuring some of the other things we did in this week's vlog, but I just wanted to talk about their insane corn maze!

We went to it last, it was still light outside, and we thought we'd be able to give it a quick run through before dark.  The longest a corn maze or any other kind of maze has ever taken us has been about 45 min to an hour.  However this was no ordinary corn maze. 

Luckily, we had dressed Kevin really warmly.  We also had a blanket in the backpack, just in case.  Grig and I were dressed in t-shirts.  We discussed going to the car to get coats, but we decided against it.  We weren't going to be in there that long.

We started off making good progress.  We made it all the way to the back of the maze, and then we got stuck so we turned around and tried to find a way back out.  Instead, after about 15-30 minutes later, we found the entrance again.  At that point, we asked ourselves, "Should we go get coats?  Should we just go?"  We decided to try again.  This time, we found ourselves in a different part of the maze.  Confident that we were on the right track, we kept going...and going...and going. 

Kevin began to get tired.  I tried to feed him a little (which was super awkward), but all he wanted to do was sleep.  So, after I carried him for while bundled up in his blanket, he fell asleep.  It was getting darker and we didn't seem to be making any progress.  We began to look at the paper that we had received from the ticket office, and decided it must be a map of the maze.  Here is what it looked like:

The entrance and exit were right next to each other though, and we couldn't find them on this image.  We thought the dark area was the path.  However, after talking to some other people in the maze, we realized that the white bars were actually the path, and the entrance and exit were on the center, right side of the image.  After a few minutes of wandering around trying to figure out where we were, Grig figured out that we were  at the AWHC.  Great.  We had a LONG way to go.

Grig was taking his turn holding a sleeping Kevin, so I began to try to navigate.  We had another couple join us.  It was now after dark, and all we had to see by was the light of our phones.  We were getting cold, but Kevin was wrapped up tight.  Holding him helped.  I navigated for a while, but I'm not very good with directional sense, so I kept getting confused.

Grig took over.  I carried Kevin while he began to successfully lead us through the maze. I showed him how I had figured out to get out on the map, and he was able to identify where we were as we traveled.  Kevin woke up about then and sang for the rest of the trip.  Grig led us out in another 20-30 minutes.  He was incredible!  At every turn he'd say something like, "We should be coming up to a right turn," and he was always correct!  Which was good, because by that point, I was freezing.  As we caught sight of the exit, we all gave a cheer!

We had done it, and without cheating!  We were pretty proud of ourselves.  It had taken at least two hours, but we felt highly successful when we finished.  We took a picture in front of the exit with our new friends who had helped us escape.

It was a great corn maze.  Probably the biggest I have ever been in.  It was quite challenging, and I know a lot of people eventually cheated to get out.  Without our map, we may had had to do the same.  It is amazing what a little guidance will do for you, especially if you can figure out where you are in the first place. 

Team high five!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Two Pets Meet...Dog vs. Snake

Picture of our post-clipped dog.  To compare, go here.

Yesterday, I fed our snake.  His name is Oryx.  He is a blizzard morph corn snake.  He is getting bigger and has a beautiful white skin.  His eyes are red, but he isn't an albino.  Albinism is a random genetic mutation.  A blizzard morph is a consistent color variation.

Anyway, the nice thing about snakes is that you don't have to feed them more than once a week.  This was going to be the first time we fed the snake since we got the dog.  I was a little worried how she would react around him.  I don't know that she has been around snakes very much. 

I went into the snake cage to find Oryx.  At first, I didn't see him (he loves to burrow) and I had almost decided to just feed him in his cage.

Since we first got him, we have made a habit of never feeding him inside of his cage.  Instead, we take him out and feed him in a special box.  Our reasoning was that we didn't want him to associate food with his cage.  This is supposed to help prevent him from trying to bite us when we are removing him.  So far, it's been pretty effective.  We also use tongs instead of hands to give the mouse to him.  This way he doesn't associate food with hands either. 

However, yesterday I was tempted to fudge.  I was home alone with a dog and a baby, and I wasn't sure if they would leave the snake alone while he was eating.  Then, I noticed that the snake was in his paper towel tube.  Grig cut it along the bottom so we could easily get him out, and so I decided I would just pick up the whole tube and move it into the box.  Then I would feed him.  Brilliant idea, right?

I had the (thawed) mouse in tongs in one hand, and I was attempting to pick up the snake with the other.  Suddenly, the snake slithered out of the paper towel cardboard and fell on the floor, right in front of the dog!

Surprised, I hesitated, expecting the worst.  Visions of the dog rushing forward and attacking the snake flashed through my head as I hurriedly put the paper towel roll back in the cage and whirled around.  Luckily, all the dog did was tuck in her tail a bit and avoid looking at the snake.  It turns out she doesn't really like him.  I picked up the snake, which was also surprised by his fall, and put him in his feeding box.  I then gave him the mouse, which he seized with exuberance. He was hungry.

Once he had finished eating, I picked him up and let the dog look at him again, but she just avoided him.  That was good.  A much better outcome than I could have hoped.  At least I didn't have to worry about her eating him.  Maybe not friends, but a peaceful conclusion nonetheless.  I think the snake has more to worry about from Kevin.

Things are going quite well.  Expect a vlog tomorrow about our first week with a new dog!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Disturbing Similarities Between Child and Pet Adoption Sites

Back when we didn't have a dog yet, I spent some time perusing and  Both were wonderful sites for finding rescue pets who needed homes.  Online, there are thousands of videos showing pets who have been rescued from the streets and are in need of "forever homes".  They ask people who want to help to donate money, or go into foster care.

People spend millions paying for their pets every year.  Taking them to the vet, buying them toys, and donating to pets that are in need of homes.  I've even seen cases where concerned and generous people will pay to help a dog have corrective surgery so that it can live a normal life for only a few more years.
I'm not saying that's bad.  I love animals, and I appreciate all the people out there in the world who do their best to help living creatures in need.  However, in 2011, people spent $61 BILLION on pets, and every year that number continues to rise.  People spent roughly three times more on pet costumes than they do on costumes for their children. Here the article where I got that information if you want to read it: "Millions on Pet Halloween Costumes? Why We Spend More and More on Pets"  In this article, it mentions that part of the reason for this trend is that Americans are waiting longer to have children, and then living longer after their children leave home.  However, because they still feel the need to nurture, they buy pets, and then treat them like the children they don't have.

Another interesting article "Why America's Falling Birth Rate is Sensational News for the Pet Industry".  This article talks about how the majority of people who are spending so much on their pets are those with lots of money and no children.  However, it mentions that in some homes with children, the pets are now on equal ground and treated identically.

That makes me a little sick, I'm not going to lie.  As much as I love our dog, Kevin, and other children that we are going to have, will always come first.  She is a pet.  They are my offspring.

I'll admit, I've been occasionally tempted to be a foster-care home for a pet in need, but then I remembered that there was an entirely more important type of foster care system out there.

The foster care of children. Why are we so willing to help an animal in need, but we ignore the cries of hungry children all over the world?

I have a few friends who foster and adopt children.  One of them recently was explaining why they do that to me.  I found the conversation fascinating.  The couple now has five children total and two are foster with pending adoption.  She told me that if you are going to foster children you need to be willing to adopt them on a permanent basis.  "Children can accept that their original home had issues," she said, "but when they come to your home, that doesn't have any problems and you send them away, the child begins to ask 'What is wrong with me?'"  She told me that when they decided to foster, they made the decision that they would only foster to adopt.  She then continued, "If my own child had something horrible happen to them, I wouldn't send them away when they misbehaved.  If they come into my home, they become my own children."

That was a really neat conversation.  I'm seriously thinking about fostering and adopting now.  Right now, we're not at the right place for it, but eventually we might be.  Children are more important than pets.  This is an absolute fact.  People have argued that we are just animals and we are no better than them, thus we should treat them the same as we would be treated, but even animals will care for their young before anything else.  Shouldn't we do the same?  Children are our future, animals are not, regardless if 1 million people have left their pets as their sole benefactor. 

Today, another friend posted a link to an adoption site with children in need.  Here's the link: I went there, and to my horror, found almost the exact same phrases used that were used at the pet adoption sites.

"These siblings will soon be separated!" "Gets along well with others" "Controls impulses" "Health Concerns" "Special Needs"  "Awaiting her forever home"

It sounded like the descriptions were written by the same people!

I don't know about you, but if it came down to helping a dog that was starving on the side of the street and helping a child, I would help the child.  Ideally we would do both, but really, the child should come first.  I wish we spent as much time and money and youtube videos advertising for those children in need as we do for those animals.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walking with my Husband

Yesterday, our family took its first walk in a while.  We have this wonderful river trail near our home, and after Grig got off work he, Kevin, Dakota, and I went on a walk.

Walks have always been a part of our relationship.  When Grig and I were first dating, we used to take long walks every night.  It was wonderful and somewhat magical.  We would talk for hours about everything!  We would discuss our fears, our past, our hopes, and our expectations.  We would talk about plots of books we were writing.  We would discuss our families and our differences.  We resolved a lot of things and came to agreements about how we would handle them in marriage.

One day, Grig came to my apartment.  I was sleeping on the couch and he wanted to go on a walk.  However, when I am asleep, it can be very difficult to wake me up. He tried pulling and tugging on the snuggie I was sleeping in, (and yes, I do have a snuggie).  He tried talking to me and I tried to curl deeper into the couch.

Finally, he broke through my haze.  I sat up, reached for my boots and realized with a shock that someone had replaced them with tennis shoes.  When I questioned my roommates, they all acted innocent and I shrugged it off.  I didn't really get it, but that was okay.

Grig waited impatiently as I slowly got ready, and then we took off.  We walked in a big circle to get to the park where we would usually walk.  It was a way we'd never gone before, but since we tried to alter the routine frequently, I wasn't too suspicious.  I knew he was up to something, but I figured I would find out eventually.

We made it to the park, and as we walked in, Grig put his hand in his pocket and told me that he'd written a poem for me.  However, it was a tree poem, and it could only be read up in a tree.  I readily agreed.  It was sweet of him to do that for me, and we both loved climbing trees.

He brought me to a particular tree and soon we were up in its branches.  He placed me a bit higher in the tree, knelt on a lower branch and began to read.  This is his poem he read, hopefully he won't be mad I posted it.  (He kind of hates it.)

Let me help you into this tree with me,
No inane barking, no mad dash streaking tree, bush, back again,
Just smooth rising to branches we'll weave together,
While the maple grows us beyond and forever.

Then, Grig pulled a box out of his pocket and presented a ring to me.  That's when my brain went into shock.  I had been expecting him to propose, but not for a couple more months!  We had just barely been looking at rings the night before!  (It turned out that the ring had been his grandmother's.  It was a huge blessing that it just happened to fit!)

So, I did what I always do when I'm really surprised.  I emotionally froze and became deadpan.  

"Oh, a ring," I said taking it out of the box and putting it on my finger.  

His face full of nervousness, Grig asked, "Does that mean yes?"

In response, I leaned forward and kissed him.  (I think it was like our second kiss.)  Suddenly, cheering broke out around us.  All of our roommates and close friends came running out from behind a building where they'd been hiding the whole time.  Grig had planned this all with them ahead of time! 

My response?  

"Oh, people."

We jumped down from the tree and hugged everyone.  They had been filming and the camera continued rolling as they presented me with flowers that Grig had bought ahead of time.  It was super sweet.  Finally my emotions began to kick in again.  I became very excited.  

After we had finished hugging and being congratulated by everyone, Grig and I galloped off into the sunset.  (Literally, we started galloping over to his car.)

So, that's the story of how I got engaged.  

Did I mention it was Halloween?
These pictures are actually from that night.  Another friend took them during the events described.

So, walks have always been a foundational part of our marriage.  We've tried to continue them as we've been going, but when I got pregnant it was more difficult, and then after the c-section it was impossible for a while.  Last night was wonderful!  

We walked over two miles and spent more than an hour and a half exploring the river bottoms.  The dog and Kevin really enjoyed it, though Kevin became really tired toward the end and fell asleep.  It was wonderful.  And most enjoyable of all, Grig and I were able to talk without interruptions and distractions.  

We always become closer after walking.  Our relationship is stronger than ever.  I know we'll just continue to grow in love for each other, especially if we continue walking together.

The beautiful flowers Grig got me

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Easy to Tune Out 

I have a problem.  When I read, I cease to hear things around me on a conscious level.  I think it stems from when I was a child.  I grew up in a family of ten children, so if I wanted to be able to read, I had to be able to concentrate even when a lot of noise was going on.

So, I learned to tune things out.

Saturday, we went to the local library for the first time.  It is amazing!  I picked up eight books and then we came home.  I read a bit on Saturday, and then I finished two more yesterday.

A few times yesterday Grig tried to talk to me, but I didn't notice until halfway through the conversation.

This is how it goes:

A movie is playing in my head.  It's intensely interesting.  I'm part of the characters even as I'm watching them.  I know their thoughts and their feelings, and I am part of those too.  Suddenly, like a swimmer deep under water, I notice something on the surface.  I struggle to break away from the fascinating world underneath the water.  It is a difficult struggle and suddenly I'm free to hear....

"...and if they don't get it figured out soon, there's going to be trouble."

I shake my head and realize that my husband has been talking to me for the last ten minutes.  I quickly search my subconscious of the last few moments and am able to pick up the gist of the conversation.

Quickly I apologized and asked him to repeat a few things, telling him that it was hard for me to hear other things when I was reading.  I do pretty well with reading and watching the baby.  If I put forth effort to pay attention to those around me, I can sometimes do two things at once.  However, once Grig gets home, my mind recognizes that there is someone else around to help and it takes a vacation.

This is why I don't read that much anymore. 

I think in life we sometimes get so focused that we don't notice the things going around us. We become trapped in our own little worlds and we turn other people into characters in our story.  Therefore, they are supposed to act a certain way, behave in a set pattern, and never do anything that would surprise us.  Fortunately, people are real.  They make mistakes and they make their own choices.  We have no control over them, but we can appreciate the wonderful diversity that they bring into our lives.

Books, computer games, and other distractions are fun.  However, they should never replace or get in the way of the truly important things in our lives.  I'm still struggling to learn that.

It's not so easy to always be there for those around you.  It's easy to tune things out.  However, the satisfaction that we gain from being tuned in will far exceed any story that any author could conceive.

Real life is better than fiction, because we can choose who we will become.  It will always have unexpected twists and turns and there will be REAL risks.  We can choose how we react to others and how we spend our time.

I just pray that we all spend it on what truly matters so that we don't look back at the end of our story and say, "What a boring book!"  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Living Up to Expectations

Saturday, my husband and I took my brother-in-law to the movies.  We paid for him as a treat, but after the movie, all he did was complain about how much he hated it.  He griped about how movie theaters were a waste of time, how he'd wasted his time going with us, and how he just felt empty inside because all he could do was sit there and watch.

Finally, I did something I don't normally do.  I lost my temper a little bit.  I simply said, "You know what?  Fine.  We won't invite you to another movie."

As he tried to say, "No..." I continued, "No!  If you don't like them, there's no reason to bring you to the movie theater with us again."  I then proceeded to tell him about how Grig had used his spending money to pay for both of us, and Havelock hadn't even told him thank you.  He'd done nothing but complain.

I surprised Havelock.  I surprised Grig even more.

I'm a very non-confrontational person.  That night, I was tired.  I'd wanted to have a fun family evening and spend some time with my husband, but we had made a sacrifice so that Havelock could come with us.  We'd wanted to spend time with him.  So, when he seemed ungrateful, I kind of lost it a little.  Which is something I don't do.

So, five seconds later, I apologized.  The next day I learned that I had hurt his feelings with my comments.  Havelock is a wonderful person, but he doesn't always understand social cues.  He wasn't meaning to be offensive or rude.  He was simply trying to figure out how he felt about the movie.  He didn't think his negative statements were having any affect on us, and usually they probably wouldn't have.  So, the next day, we all had a talk about how our actions are perceived versus our intentions. It turned out to be an excellent conversation, and afterward we all felt better.

However, I spent the whole night previous to our discussion feeling terrible about what I'd said.  Or rather, it wasn't what I said, but how I said it.  I shouldn't have acted in anger, even mild anger.

I felt awful because usually I have very good control over what I do or say.  When Grig told me that he didn't know how to react to what I said because I surprised him so much, I felt even worse.  I hate it when I don't live up to the expectations of those around me.  I like to make people happy, and it's terrible when they find out I'm not perfect.

Well, guess what everyone?  I'm not.

I'm not perfect.

I make tons of mistakes all the time.  I know that, and I still like myself.  However, when other people are disappointed in me, it really hurts.

When I served a mission for the LDS church, I served with several wonderful women.  In the mission field, you serve in pairs.  This acts as a protection, but also gives you companionship when you are doing extremely difficult things.  In a perfect companionship, you get along great, you work together, and you comfort each other in times of hardship.  However, sometimes companionships don't get along. 

All of my companions were wonderful people.  At one point however, I had a companion who decided she didn't like me very much.  After about three weeks she told me "The honeymoon is over."  She then informed me that she had looked forward to serving with me, but now that she found out I wasn't perfect she didn't really like me anymore.

For a while, I really struggled with that.  I wanted to be friends with her, and I wanted her to enjoy herself.  Later, it turned out that she was just having some internal struggles.  Because she wasn't very happy with herself, she had a hard time enjoying my company.  We've since become friends, and I understand what she was going through at the time.  I just hate not meeting other's expectations.

However, I have learned something over the years.

What other people think doesn't matter.

If I know I am doing my best and I am trying my best, the only person whose opinion I should be concerned with is my Heavenly Father's.  He truly understands me and my struggles.  He understands why I do and say things.  He understands my weaknesses and is very patient with me.

I'm not perfect, but I am trying.  I will continue to try to get along with everyone that is placed in my path, but sometimes it's good to have a reminder that I'm not out here to please others.  I'm meant to please myself.

Once I do that, other people's opinions don't matter.

As a side note, Grig wasn't upset with me.  In fact, he really supported what I said.  I just surprised him by the way I said it that night.  Grig is one of the wonderful people who understands me and loves me regardless of my imperfections.  People like that are truly a blessing to have in my life.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sugar: I Used to Love It
My Favorite Candy

When I was a kid, I craved sugar all the time.  It wasn't so bad at first, but as I went through high school, the craving grew worse.

I'm going to tell you some kind of gross stuff I used to do, but don't worry, there is a point.

I could eat an entire jumbo bag of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers in a couple hours.  While I ate that, I would alternate eating a couple cans of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  In four or five hours, while reading a good book, I could eat all three packages.  Gross, huh?

It got worse.  Sometimes, I would crave sugar so much that I would go upstairs, get a 1/4 cup of sugar and just eat it.

As I neared my senior year, my appetite just increased.  I could sit down, devour an entire medium pizza, stand up and be hungry again.  It seemed as though I was never satiated. 

I didn't worry about it too much.  After all, I was a teenager.  We were renowned for eating a lot.  However, I forgot that I had stopped growing when I was in eighth grade.

Finally, during my senior year, I began to gain weight.  Which was ridiculous because I led a super-active lifestyle. We went to doctor to see if something was wrong.  The doctor had a theory.  They decided to have me return the following day for some tests.

I was asked to drink a super nasty, syrupy drink.  Then for the next few hours, they would take my blood every hour or so.  The drink was gross.  I liked sugar, but not that much.

A few days later, they had the results back.

I had insulin resistance.

The doctor informed me that if I didn't cut back on my sugar intake, that I would have diabetes within ten years.  They gave me a medicine to help my insulin, and then advised me to eat more protein with my carbohydrates. 

Since then, several years have passed.  Since my pregnancy, I haven't been on the drug anymore.  However, I still don't crave sugar like I once did.  In fact, my husband sometimes tells me that I don't eat enough of it. I still like cookies, mints, and Pringles, but I now get tired of them.  Candy that used to last me hours lasts me days, and sometimes weeks.

The best thing of all?  I now feel full after I eat, and the feeling lasts.  I am so grateful that I was able to get my insulin resistance under control when we did.  I am nearing my decade mark, and I don't think I'll be getting diabetes anytime soon.  I didn't have it when I was pregnant, and that was a huge blessing.

Why did I write this blog?  It is meant to be a warning.  If you, or someone you love is experiencing sugar cravings like I did or doesn't ever feel full after eating, it might be worth it to take them to the doctor.  Insulin resistance is better than diabetes, and much more manageable.  If you are gaining weight and it is really difficult to lose, get checked out.  This is a completely preventable thing.

I used to really love sugar.  Now, I just like it, and I'm much happier for it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kids are Honest, Yet Tactless...and Sometimes So Am I

My dad took this picture

Lately, we've been having some after-school company.  I have a friend who is going through some struggles right now.  She's a single mother with three girls.  Everyday she has to work long hours to provide for her young family.  So, often, the two oldest daughters get home from school before she gets home from work.  They can't afford to have internet right now, and so the two daughters have started coming to our house everyday after school to use ours.

This new experience has reminded me of a funny fact:

Kids are honest, yet tactless.

The daughters are 11 and 9.  (The youngest one is 2, so she is at daycare during the day.)  The girls are very nice and we usually have a lot of fun when they come.  However, some of the things that they say to us crack me up.

For example:  my brother-in-law Havelock uses chapstick (Bert's Beewax to be exact) quite regularly.  The other day, he was putting it on while they were here and one of them looked at him and asked, "What, do you just play with that?"  It was kind of funny.  He handled it well.  He over-emphasized application in jest, and then said, "No, I just have chronically dry lips."

It reminded me of another time when I was working for a veterinarian.  Her daughter was really sweet, and we got along swimmingly.  At the time, however, I was having a bit of an acne problem.  One day, when I came to work, the daughter looked at me and asked, "What are those red dots all over your face?"

Children often say the things that we are all thinking, but that we are too polite or nervous to say.  They have no qualms about the impact of their words, and no ill intentions.  Children often ask questions that leave us feeling super awkward.

One time, in church I was in charge of a group of three-year-olds.  One little girl was African American.  Another child asked me why her skin was black.

Flustered by the question, and not sure how to answer it, I said the first thing that came to mind.

"No it's not."  Obviously not the right thing to say, and the little black girl quickly corrected me.

"Yes, it is," she said.

Then, trying to repent of my stupidity, I then tried to explain to the other child that everyone has different skin colors.

I still roll my eyes at my initial response though.  That was the wrong thing to say for so many reasons.

Children aren't trying to offend others, and usually they don't.  Generally we all understand that they are simply young enough that they don't recognize when something they say can be offensive.  Usually adults recognize that and choose not to be offended. 

I've said a lot of things in my day that were never intended to be offensive.  One time, I told a classmate of mine that I liked her 'dog-collar.' She was wearing one of those leather-bands around her neck that had spikes coming out of it. I was being genuine and trying to give her a compliment.  She was intensely offended. I apologized later when someone told me I had hurt her feelings, but I was also confused.  I actually still am.  I don't know what else you would call that kind of neck accessory. 

I'm afraid that I still lack some of the social tact that is acceptable among good society.  There are many famous stories in my family about how I said something to someone, meaning it as a compliment and it was extraordinarily offensive.

Here are a few examples that I said to my grandmother:

"Grandma, you smell like a grandma."

"Someday, I'm going to dye my hair, just like yours."

And finally, my best ever:

I was explaining to my grandma about diabetic cats.  (My grandma also has diabetes.)  I told her that you can always tell when a cat has diabetes because they will have to use the bathroom more often, their hair will begin to fall out, and they get really fat.

In jest, my grandma replied, "So, like me then."

I responded, "No, grandma, your hair isn't falling out."

I think I tried to rectify it, but it was too late.  We still laugh about that one to this day.  Luckily, my grandma has a great sense of humor.

I think often, like children, other people say things to us that are not offended to be offensive.  However, sometimes, we choose to be offended.

If I've ever said something to offend you, I'm truly sorry. I actually can count on one hand the number of times I've deliberately tried to offend someone, and usually it was a sibling.  I felt really bad about it later.  Hurting other people's feelings is something that I have desire to do. In fact, I usually go out of my way NOT to offend others. Unfortunately, I don't always have good social conduct.

In another instance when I was in high school, there was a girl who'd recently moved away from our school.  She was in my older brother's grade.  She saw me a while after she'd moved and she asked in kind of a casual way if my brother missed her.

Being clueless, yet intending no harm, I joked that he was glad she was gone.  Yes, maybe that was super rude to say, but I was intending it to be humorous.  I liked to tease people, and I didn't always recognize the fact that others didn't always know that I was joking.

This girl went home and, in tears, told her father that my brother hated her.  My brother ended up receiving an angry phone call from the father about his rudeness to his daughter.  My brother was super confused, and I felt awful.  I hadn't realized that she didn't realize I was joking.  Or that she really cared what my brother thought.

So, when other people say things to me that could be interpreted as rude, I usually assume that they misspoke and they weren't really trying to offend me.  That way, I don't take offense very easily, and even if they WERE trying to offend me, they won't succeed. Why allow others to hit you with verbal darts?  I choose to turn those darts into flowers, and thus they have no sting.

I have a choice about whether or not I'm going to be offended by what others say.  So, I choose not to be.

I'm far happier for it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

First Night with an New Indoor Dog!

Video of this will be included on the 10/19 vlog
 Some of you may remember a blog I wrote a few days ago called "Preparation for a Dog."  Well, it finally happened!  She arrived!

Last night, about 8:45 a.m., our dog arrived.  My parents were on their way to the Provo Missionary Training Center, so they dropped the dog off before they went to stay the night with my grandparents.

Our new dog's name is Dakota.  She was a bit matted and pretty dirty, but we were excited to see her.  Kevin especially was thrilled.  He followed her all around the house as she explored her new environment.  Every time she stopped, he would grab the mats on her back and stand next to her, just holding on, with a huge smile on his face. 

We talked to my family for a while, and then they left.  Grig was supposed to be in bed by 8, (he had to get up at 4) but he stayed up to help me bathe Dakota before we went to bed.  She was pretty dirty.  She's been an outdoor dog her whole life, so a bath was new and different for her.  She'd been washed with a hose before, but never in a tub. 

She did really well!  She stayed in the tub while Grig and I took turns washing and combing her.  We didn't get all the mats out, but we got her clean enough that we felt like we could go to sleep.

I took her out for one last bathroom break, and then we came in to go to bed.  She had a box in the corner of the room with pillows and a blanket that she had slept in on the way down, and I told her to lay in that.  We would see how well she did. 

Surprisingly, after examining the room a little longer in the dark, she went straight to her box and fell asleep.  She was the first one asleep.  After that, Grig followed.  Kevin, on the other hand, was a different story. 

I think he was excited about the dog being in the room because he would not stop growling!  He would suck in his breath in a really funny way, and then let out a really long, prolonged growl.  He did this over and over.  If I gave in and giggled, he would laugh and then keep growling.  It took him probably a half an hour to finally go to sleep. 

Eventually all three were sleeping, and I lay in the dark and listened to their chorus of breathing. 

"Are you happy?" my husband had asked me earlier as I fondled the dog's head.

At that moment, I felt a rush of utter contentment fill me.  Yes, I was happy.

Eventually I fell asleep. 

She was really well behaved all night, though about 3:00 a.m. she began to pace around the room.  Grig got up to see if she needed to go out, but all she really wanted was a drink.  Once she got that, she came back in and fell asleep.  I didn't.  I'm still too excited, I think.

After Grig left this morning for work, Dakota and I had a 2 hour brushing session.  Later, when Grig gets back, we are going to giver her a hair clip.  She seems to be settling pretty well.  I'm sure liking it.  I can't wait for Kevin to wake up.  He's going to be so excited to see that she's still here.

I am.

All clean!
Last night made me wax poetic.  Feel free to read.  You can mock if you want to.  

Night Breathing

The chorus of breathing around me seems
Much better than ever could I dream.
The different tones, the notes, the depth
Each one as different as the rest.
Though sleep eludes, my heart is full.
My thoughts are vibrant and I mull,
About the gift that I've received.
Dear Lord, I thank Thee, my prayers given heed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ObamaCare: The Facts

I admit I've been a failing citizen.  I've listened to a lot of people's opinions on ObamaCare and made decisions without actually researching the subject myself.  So, I decided to rectify that.  After some research here's what I think about ObamaCare.

All in all, I think Obama was trying to do a good thing for our country.  I was reading a site called ObamaCare Explained, and I feel like I understand Obama a little better.  Here's what ObamaCare is supposed to do:

1- ObamaCare (OC) is supposed to provide competition for health insurance companies.  In a capitalist society, competition is our lifeblood.  As OC provides an alternative method of obtaining healthcare from the Health Insurance Marketplace, other companies are forced to lower their premiums in order to stay competitive.  The Health Insurance Marketplace is supposed to provide an alternative means for individuals to purchase affordable heath care.

 -Good Side:  Insurance companies who are raking in profits will be forced to lower their costs to stay competitive.  Premiums all over the country will have to decrease.

 - Bad Side:  Where is the money for the Health Insurance Marketplace going to come from?  Taxes.  Even if you already have insurance, you will have to pay in order to finance other people getting insurance.  Your own premiums will probably be lower, but your taxes will be higher.

2- OC allows children to stay on the parent's insurance until they are 26. 

 - Good Side: More young people will have health insurance until they are successful enough to get their own.
 - Bad Side: This insurance is usually limited.  It sometimes only covers medical emergencies.  It doesn't cover maternity, dental, or eye care. (I know, I was under 26 when I had my baby, but my parents' insurance didn't cover it.  Some expenses were written off, but that was it.)

3 - If you don't have health insurance, you have to pay a penalty until you get health insurance.  In order to understand this section, you need to understand a different section.  This fee is applied because ObamaCare is forcing Insurance Companies to accept everyone, regardless of preexisting health conditions or gender.  It also eliminates life time limits and makes it so insurance companies can't drop you when you get sick.  Due to this fact, the government wanted to keep people from simply not having insurance until they get sick.  The fee for those who don't have insurance is to help keep insurance affordable for the rest of us.

-Good Side:  Those who need insurance the most will be able to obtain it.  Those who have preexisting health conditions and terminal illnesses will be able to have assistance paying their bills.  People will not be able to take advantage of the system because they will have to pay a fee (currently $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1% of your income, whichever is higher.  The family max is $285.)

-Bad Side:  People are forced to have Health Care, whether they want it or not.  This is probably one of the points that bother people the most.  In our country, people like to have choices, and yes, the government is giving them a choice: get health insurance or pay for everyone else's health insurance.  This also leads to another complaint that I've heard a lot about. You don't have a say on what your taxes go to.

There was a petition signed a little while ago by some major religious groups who were protesting because many of the things that they would be forced to pay for are against their religion.  Birth control was listed as the example.  Some religions don't believe in any kind of birth control, but due to the regulations, their money would go toward helping another person have birth control.  This is a moral dilemma for many people.  Personally, I would have a strong problem myself if my money was going toward something that I was morally objected to, such as abortions.  Many people are struggling with the fact that they have to pay for what they see as other people's bad decisions. 

4- If you have over 50 full-time employees, you must have health care for them.  If you are a small business, there is some tax credit you can receive for assistance.  If you can get health insurance from your work, you are not eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace, unless they don't cover 60% of your health costs.  The less money you make, the less health insurance will cost you.  There are many other tax credits that you could be eligible if you are poor.

 -Good Side:  For most people, ObamaCare won't really affect their insurance.  They already have insurance through their work, and the competition may make premiums go down.  For those who weren't offered health care before, it will now be available for them.  If they can't afford it, the government will make allowances. 

 -Bad Side:  There are a whole lot of tax credits promised in this bill.  For everyone who has to pay less, those who can afford it will be required to pay more.  This signifies either an increase of taxes, or an increase of debt.  That frightens me a bit.  It's great that everyone would be able to afford health care, but not if it takes all my money away.  (We're not making that much.)

5- More people will qualify for Medicaid.  If you have it already, than you get to keep it.  If you are poor, you get federal subsidies or tax credits.  Meanwhile, they are cutting excess, "wasteful" spending from Medicaid, "taking the hole out of the doughnut," and putting the money back into Medicaid.

 -Good Side:  Again, those who can't afford care will be able to receive it.
 -Bad Side:  Not sure how removing funding and putting it back in is going to solve any problems.  Mostly, that part just left me confused.  Anyone care to explain it?

So, after looking at the good and bad sides of the ObamaCare mandates, I went to the oppositions website 50 Dangers from ObamaCare.

Here are some points that do worry me:

1- Less freedom, more government control.  A large number of the 50 complaints were about the government mandating our lives.  If you were qualified for Medicaid, you had to be on it.  All private health insurance companies must conform to the new regulations under ObamaCare.  The government could look at your income status whenever they want, and have access to your bank to withdraw the fees.  Again, it talks about being forced to have health insurance whether you want it or not.  I think that this is why so many of us are worried about this bill.  We don't like the government to have this much control in our lives.

Really, I wish they'd worry more about regulating gas prices than insurance.

2- Doctor's fees would be set and health care would be rationed.  I worry about this a bit as well.  Obama was modeling his healthcare after the one in Canada.  In some parts of Canada the healthcare system is working great (my friends from there love it).  However, in other parts of Canada, it isn't going so well.  You can be on a waiting list for months before you receive the healthcare you need.  Also, the fact that all doctors will receive the same pay regardless of specialty could be quite troublesome for our country.  Unless the government also limits the cost of college tuition, we are going to have some very poor and indebted doctors in our country.  This will most likely vastly reduce the number of specialists in our country, which will be both good and bad.

3- Higher Taxes - this one is concerning to many people, but especially those of the middle class.  The more you make, the more you pay.  Even though “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Whatever that means.

Okay, so in conclusion.  ObamaCare does have some excellent ideas, but it is going about it in the wrong way.  The only way to have a true capitalist society (that's been working out pretty well for us, thank you) is to have competition.  However, competition only works if everyone is on an even playing field.  If the government (the competion) can regulate what its competitors can do, that isn't even ground.  If every other company can go under because they only have the money people give them while the government stays on top because they can keep raising taxes, that's not equal ground either.  Personally, I believe in small to little government influence in our country.  I don't really think that ObamaCare is going to solve all the problems.  I think, in fact, it might end up causing some major ones.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Twilight's Not So Bad,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

When I got off my mission, I was excited to watch some of the movies that I'd been missing.  One of the movies I watched was the new Twilight movie that had came out a few months previous.  At the time, I didn't think it was that horrible.  After all, I hadn't seen movies in a year and a half, so it seemed okay to me.  However, since then, I've come to realize that the movies are really not quality entertainment.  This post actually isn't about the movies, but about the books themselves.  The movies have some pretty horrible acting, and the characters all look like they need more sleep.  I'm not going to address the movies, but the quality of the books.

This may be an interesting post for me to write, especially after last month's Harry Potter spiel.  After all, the Harry Potter books are much better than the Twilight ones, right?  Probably.

However, today I'm standing up in defense of books that I don't really like, just because they've gotten a lot worse publicity than they actually deserve.

My sister really like Twilight when it first came out.  She told me that I needed to read the books, because they were fantastic!  Reluctantly I agreed.  Understand, I'm not a big fan of romance books.  However, even though all the teen-angst and drama was wearying to me, I still had a hard time putting down the book.  Especially after I got halfway through it.  Suddenly, the action kicked in, and I had a really hard time putting it down.  I ended up finishing it in just a few hours.  Still, I was reluctant to admit that I liked it because it was such a 'girly' book.

I read the second one eventually as well.  I haven't read the other two, but maybe someday I will.  Here's the thing.  Stephanie Meyers isn't a bad writer.  In fact, if a book is difficult to put down, it means that the person is an excellent writer.  I don't even like romance, and I had a difficult time disengaging from it.

Stephanie Meyer was trying to introduce a different kind of vampire.  Vampires have almost always been allusions of sexual desire.  I've never read Anne Rice, but I hear that she capitalizes on that as well.  Stephanie Meyer wanted to show that acting upon our desires is always a matter of choice.  In the vampires in her books' case, there were several kind of desires that the characters were managing.  I appreciate what she was trying to do with her books.  I agree with her.

Some people didn't like the non-traditional version of vampires that were in her books.  They claim that they were 'unvampirelike.'  What does that even mean?  Vampires are fictional.  They have been around for centuries, but every author whose every written about them has changed them to suit their own needs.  There is not a set parameter on what vampires should look like.  If Stephanie Meyers wants to make her vampires sparkle in sunlight instead of turning to dust, who am I to argue.  We might make fun of it, but it is still legal.

Stephanie Meyer came up with a concept that was supremely successful.  A lot of less successful authors criticize her works and her writing style.  However, she succeeded in capturing the hearts of a lot of young people.  Doesn't that speak for itself?  Writing is as much a gamble as anything.  You never know if your book is going to be successful.  However, she won the gamble.  (And yes, J.K. Rowling did as well.  Maybe I'm just jealous.)

If you haven't read her first book and you are an acute hater of Twilight and her other creations, try to read it before you say you hate it.  Yes, the movies were pretty awful, but like all movies, they didn't really follow along with all the aspects of the books.  The books described the vampires in a way that did kind of make you want to meet them.  Even if they did sparkle.

Like I said, I haven't finished reading the series, but from what I've read, it's okay.  She was trying to portray her morals into a concept that has long been the opposite.  For that, she has received quite a bit of gruff.  I take my hat off to her for trying though.  She's been quite successful.

So, that's why I think Twilight's not so bad.  Tell me what you think.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bathed in Light: The Innocence of Children

My sister took this incredible picture of Kevin
There is a doctrine believed by many churches, but it is NOT taught by mine.  This doctrine states that children are born evil and if they were to die unbaptized, they are damned.

Kevin was not born evil.  There is not an evil bone in his body.  My boy was born pure and perfect.  He'd never sinned, nor was he capable of doing so.  He was a beautiful, innocent angel.

All babies are born without sin.  Many churches believe that because of the sins of Adam, children are born with his stain upon them.  However, how does that make any sense?  God only judges me on what I decide to do, not on what my parents did.

I do agree that there were consequences from the fall of Adam.  His and Eve's transgression led us to be capable of sin and to be separated from God.  We became able to sin and die, and both are forms of death.  Sin is a spiritual death, and the actual dying of the body is a physical death. 

Christ however rectified that.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22
 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I love those versus.  They show that if one man's decision was able to cause an entire people's death, it was only just that one man's decision could save everyone as well.  Adam caused death to occur, so Christ is able to save everyone, if they will only let him.

Christ is called the Savior and Redeemer.  He is called the Savior, because everyone without exception will be saved from physical death.  We believe that every single person who has ever lived will be resurrected, regardless of what kind of person they were.  That's because the decision that everyone would die has no merit on who they were or what they did.  If you are a bad or a good person, you still die.  So, if you are a bad or a good person, Christ will raise you from the dead.  

However, He is called the Redeemer because he also redeems his people.  We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.   In order to redeem a coupon, you must make some kind of action.  You have to take it to the store and use it.  Everyone can be given a coupon, but if it just sits in your home, it never does you any good.  

So it is with Christ's atonement.  Christ's atonement is for everyone without exception.  However, it is our choice whether or not we use it.  God has given us commandments and asked us to do certain things.  The greatest gift that he has given us is the power of choice.  God will NEVER make us do something.  He will ask us and command us, but ultimately it is our decision.  Thus, God will not save us unless we want to be saved.  Our own sins are our choices.  We can be forgiven of our sins and become clean enough to return to the presence of God if we are willing to do all that he has asked us to do. That includes baptism.  

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Baptism is essential to our entering of the kingdom of God.  

So what does that mean for young children?  Does that mean that if they are not baptized, they are damned?


In the Book of Mormon, we learn this wonderful truth.  A prophet named Moroni had a similar question arise in his day, and this is the answer that he gained from the Lord.

Moroni 8:5-15

 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.
 For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying:
 8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.
 And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.
 10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
 11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
 12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!
 13 Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.
 14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.
 15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.

Christ's atonement covers those who are incapable of committing sin. As children become accountable, around the age of 8, then they become responsible for their sins.  Then they are asked to be baptized.  

Children are whole and perfect.  They haven't yet learned the difference between good and evil.  When Kevin smiles at me, it is a smile of perfect joy.  There is no deception, no sadness, and no uncertainty.  He is a perfect being.  If he were to die now, he would go straight to heaven, there is no doubt in my mind.  However, as I raise him and teach him what is right and wrong, he will begin to understand.  With that understanding comes a responsibility for his actions. 

There is hope for us all.  We all have the choice to come unto Christ and be redeemed from our sins.  Little children though are bathed in the light of Christ.  They have no need of repentance.  They are already in the arms of God.

So fear not for those children who have died before baptism.  God has made provisions for them, for He loves them so much more than we can possibly understand.  

And, if we live our lives as we should, we'll be able to be reunited with those children when we leave this life.  I know this is true.  I can feel the truth of it with my soul.  I know the Book of Mormon is scripture that works along with the Bible to bring us to truth and salvation.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.