Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We're Making an Offer

So, as of today, we are officially making an offer on a home.

We went to look at one of the homes again last night. It was the home we felt the best about, and as we were looking in the backyard, snow was finally falling from the sky and a hawk landed in the tree next door. That was pretty cool. It was our first really good snow storm this year. Hopefully it doesn't all melt.
The hawk is in the center of the picture

We feel pretty good about this home we're looking into, and if they accept our offer, we will get an inspection done. We don't really want to pay for an inspection if they won't consider our offer.

If the inspection tells us things we don't like about the house, we can keep looking. This is our favorite home so far. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has a large garage and two storage sheds. Part of the backyard is completely fenced in, which is great, and means we can take our time saving up to fence in the rest of the yard.

The house does have a few problems, but it's nothing too serious or that would need to be fixed immediately. It's in pretty good shape.

We're pretty excited about it, and we've been praying a lot. We feel like we could afford the mortgage payments, and with a USDA loan, we wouldn't need to pay a down-payment.

With any luck, but this time next month we'll be in a new home. That would be awesome anyway.

Thank you for your prayers. We know we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, and I know part of that is because of prayers on our behalf.

We'll keep you informed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mormon Monday: Christ is the Gift

As you probably are all aware, this week is Christmas!

I love Christmas. I still get super excited about it, even though I'm grown up and not supposed to be a kid anymore.

Part of what makes Christmas so fun for me, is giving presents and preparing surprises for those that I love. Last year, my siblings all pitched in to surprise my father with a treadmill. He was definitely surprised, even though we managed to get him to drive it back to Idaho. That was a lot of fun.

Kevin and I have been watching some different Christmas movies together. Some of the movies we've watched are Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (a couple of times), Frosty the Snowman, and Elf.

One thing that's been kind of bothering me as I've watched these movies, came to a head when I was watching Elf. I love that movie, and it cracks me up. Honestly, it's probably the only Will Ferrell movie that I like.

However, at one point in the movie, Santa Claus states that the Christmas spirit is believing in Santa Claus.

Now don't get me wrong, I think Santa is a wonderful tradition. However, he is not supposed to be what Christmas is about. In fact, he himself is symbolic of Christ.

Here's a video explaining some of the similarities and symbolism, if you're interested.
They showed this at our Ward Christmas party. I thought it was cute.

According to the dictionary, Christmas is defined as
the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church. 
By definition, Christmas is a Christian festival. Yet, so many "Christmas" movies avoid any mention the Savior. It is easier to pretend that Christmas is about Santa, then to possibly offend someone who doesn't believe in Christ.

However, if you're celebrating Christmas, shouldn't you believe in Christ?

Link to Source
The spirit of Christmas is about becoming more like Christ. We give gifts because Christ gave us the greatest gift of all: the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Father. His gift didn't cost a lot of money, but it was expensive nonetheless. His gift took a lifetime to prepare, it cost Him His life, and it is applicable to all of us. Any one can partake of Christ's gift if they choose to.

I am so grateful for the gift of the Savior. I've been trying really hard this year to maintain my focus on him and his life throughout this Christmas season. To that end, we are trying to establish a family tradition. We taped a box shut, and cut an opening in the top. Then we wrapped the box up, except for the opening. This became our gift for the Savior. Throughout the month of December, we've been trying to do service, and when we do, we've been trying to remember to write down what we've done on a slip of paper, and place it into the present for Christ. Some days, we've forgotten all about our box and even when we've done service, we haven't remembered to put it in.

Though we haven't been perfect everyday about following through, I like the idea, and it has been fun to see that present sitting there. (Kevin wants to unwrap it though, and it makes him sad when we don't let him.)

On  Christmas, we're planning on opening the present and reading some of the service that we have done. As our children grow older, we are also planning on drawing names daily for someone to do a service for the person that they've picked, and then writing what they did on a slip of paper and placing it in the box.

We hope to make this an annual Christmas tradition.

The hope and peace that the Savior brings into my life is incomparable. I wish that everyone could feel the same comfort and love that I do. It is to this intent that we try to share the gift of the Savior. We don't want to push our beliefs on others, but we do want to give everyone the opportunity to accept them if they are interested. If we don't do our best to share the wonderful gift we have received from the Savior, then aren't we being selfish?

I believe in Christ and I know He wants all of His brothers and sisters to return to live with Heavenly Father. I want to be able to live with everyone too. Heaven wouldn't be heaven without my friends and family there.

I know that Christ was born in a stable and that He lives today. He did die, and He was resurrected. His birth was only important because of the choices that He made during his life. I want to live my life in a way that will bring my Savior joy.

I know these things are true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two Dead Mice and Other Miracles

I haven't been very good about blogging lately.

I'm working on it.

We've had some pretty awesomely miraculous things going.

For example, we had a laboratory bill that occurred in July. We haven't been able to pay it until now, due to our rather tight budget. However, we had spoken to the people there, and they had assured us that there would be no late fees.

Even though we have had enough the last couple of weeks, we were going to save up our money and pay off the debt to the laboratory after our taxes came back. It seemed like a good plan, and we both felt good about it.

However, two weeks ago, I started getting a really strong impression that we needed to pay that bill immediately. I looked into our finances, saw that we would have enough to pay the bill out of our savings. I spoke to Grig, and we decided to use that money to pay off the bill. On December 12, I paid the bill online, and our final debt was closed. That was quite a relief for a number of reasons, but I didn't understand the full repercussions until today.

Tonight, as I collected the mail, I noticed a letter from the laboratory place. Thinking it was a receipt for our payment, I opened it up to be greeted by the following words:
*Your account is past due.
*At this time your account has not been placed with a Third Party Collection Agency. 
*Failure to pay the past due amount will result in referral to a Third Party Collection Agency and potentially affect your credit score. 
I quickly went online to check our balance and was relieved to find that it was now zeroed out. I then looked at the date on the past due invoice. The date on the invoice was December 11. So, the day after they sent out the past due invoice, we paid off the full amount.

That is not a coincidence. That is a miracle. At this time, when we are trying to pay for a new home, any impact on Grig's credit score may have been massive. I am so grateful that I followed the prompting to pay off that debt.

We couldn't have paid it any sooner than we did, but the timing was perfect. If it had been any later, it may have really negatively affected us.

I am a very grateful soul tonight.

Here is another story for you:

We've been seeing signs of mice in our laundry room. I first noticed it when I saw that the corner of the puppy food bag had been nibbled through.

After that we started seeing some droppings on the floor. Luckily, it appeared that they only were living in the laundry room, but then, we saw a baby mouse with his eyes barely opened in the kitchen. As soon as we could, we bought mouse traps.

They were just the old wooden kind, but I took a piece of dog food, surrounded it with peanut butter, and used the peanut butter to place it in the trap. Grig then placed the trap against the wall.

This happened at about 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. We then went about our activities.

At about 2:00 a.m. (yes, we were up late, but Saturday nights are Grig's only night off, so we sometimes don't got to bed at 8:00 p.m. like normal), I decided to go and check the trap.

To my surprise, not only was it sprung, but two mice had been caught and killed by the little wooden trap!

I didn't take a picture, but if you want to see approximately what it looked like, here is a link to a picture. https://retirenicaragua.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/img_0472.jpg

The picture really was almost exactly what happened to our mice. One had been caught by the neck, and the other had been caught on its face. Evidently we're not the only ones it has happened too.

Grig came out and dumped the mice, cleaned up the trap a bit, reset it, and put it back in the same spot.

The next morning, I heard it snap again, and came it to see that it had caught another mouse. It was in its final death throes, so I left it alone until it finished dying. Grig was nice enough to dump that one two.

So, with one trap, we killed three mice in less than 24 hours. The trap has remained in the laundry room ever since, but we haven't caught anything else, or seen any new signs. Hopefully that's all of them.

As far as the home search is going, we have one home that we are looking at pretty seriously, but we're not sure yet. We're going to look at it again on Monday. I really like it. I hope it pans out!

I hope to put up the fourth episode of Dragon and the Wolf soon. The animation has been done for months, but it has been difficult to find time for Grig to voice-act. Hopefully I can have it done before Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Update on Our Home Shopping

Many of you are probably wondering how our house shopping is going.

We have now visited eight different homes. Four were in our town, one was in a town south of us, and three were in an adjacent northern town.

After a lot of prayer, we're pretty sure we're supposed to move to the northern town. However, we still haven't found the right home. We've liked aspects of almost all of the homes, but we still haven't felt that we know where we're supposed to move yet.

We really liked one home, but someone else has already made an offer on it. We're kind of hoping the offer falls through, but if not, we'll keep looking.

It's been pretty exciting to look for a home, and it's been really fun to look at all the different homes. As we've viewed them, we started realizing what we really want. We're looking for a 3-4 bedroom home with 2 bathrooms. We'd prefer that it have a basement and a fenced in yard. It needs to be in fairly good condition, because we don't have a lot of extra money for repairs. Other than that, we're not too picky. A few trees would be nice, and we'd like it if the kitchen should have most modern accommodations (a.k.a. built in dishwasher).

We've learned a lot about house shopping as we've gone through this journey. Hiring a real estate agent is a pretty good idea. They usually know what they're doing, but it's important to find one that you feel comfortable with and who cares what you want.

It's also important to realize that the mortgage calculators on all of the real estate sites are not going to give you an honest assessment. They will tell you how much the mortgage is going to cost, but they don't factor in other costs like home owner's insurance or taxes. FHA loans tend to add those in. We're looking at getting a USDA loan instead, but it still it is going to have those additional costs.

So, it's important to know an estimate of costs before you decide how expensive of a house to go for. Grig has pretty good credit, but I don't have any. So, while getting pre-approved, our lending agent gave us an estimate of how much homes we were looking at would cost, and about how much the lender would loan us for a home. That helped us to decide how much we really wanted to spend on a house, and how far into debt we were willing to go.

It's been a great journey so far, and we're excited to see where we end up!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dog Park in December

The weather outside kills me right now, kind of in a good way.

Yesterday, Arkhon, Dakota, Kevin, and I went to the dog park. Kevin wore a light jacket, and I wore no coat at all.
A picture of me and Arkhon.

It was about 58 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and it was a perfect day for a walk. So, about 11:00 a.m., we got ready and left. I jogged a bit, but mostly we walked and my arms got a work out as I worked with Arkhon on not pulling. I usually tie one dog leash to each side of the stroller, so if I'm pulling on Arkhon's lead, I have to steer with the other arm. That wore on my lower arm muscles after a while, but he is making great improvements.

We reached the dog park in about half an hour, and I made both dogs sit and stay before they entered the area. There is a fantastic off-leash, fenced dog park at the end of a walking trail near our apartment. Dakota doesn't much care for playing with the other dogs, but she enjoys laying in the sun. Arkhon and Kevin, however, love it!

Kevin made friends with an obese black Labrador who followed him around. Kevin would run in front of the dog, and it would trot after him with a ball in her mouth. That was pretty cute, and they had other people at the park chuckling.
I didn't actually bring the camera, but this picture shows you what it's like outside right now.

Arkhon made friends with a beagle named Loki, and the two of them wrestled and played with occasional interruptions from Loki's brother Thor, who thought he was the boss and dogs weren't allowed to have fun without him.

Arkhon with a different Loki: his brother.
There were quite a few people there, and at one point I think we had around fifteen dogs. Everyone got along great, though there were a few tense moments with a couple of dogs that came in overly-excited.

Dakota tends to follow me everywhere and to lay down wherever I'm standing/sitting. Arkhon likes to stay close as well, and he's pretty submissive to other dogs, so sometimes they pick on him. Yesterday though, nobody bothered him, and he made good friends with a few of the dogs.

We were outside for about two hours. Kevin fell asleep on the walk home, and Arkhon slept a lot of the rest of the day as well.

They sure love each other.
It is wonderful to be able to go on walks in December, but I'm kind of disappointed as well. We live in Utah. Right now, there's supposed to be snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. There's not supposed to be bugs in the air or frost on the visible grass at night.

I'm not really complaining, but I'm also worried about the amount of moisture we're receiving. If it doesn't start snowing soon, the farmers are going to be in trouble this coming year. I also miss the snow. I want to take Kevin sledding and build a snowman with him. It's hard to do that when there's nothing on the ground.

Maybe it's time to start praying for snow.

The Super Twins!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Big Change on My Mind

I've been really bad this last week on writing on this blog.

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving and Kevin's birthday. We've been pretty busy with parties and gatherings.

Do you like Grig's Snake necklace?

However, that's not the real reason that I haven't been writing.

I've had a big thing on my mind, and it's taking up my every waking thought.

We're going to buy a house.

I've been spending hours researching potential homes. We've hired a real estate agent, seen a home, and done a lot of praying. We've been pre-approved for a loan, and things seem to be falling into place.

We have a few homes that we're interested in, and hopefully we're going to get to go and look at them in the next couple of days.

In some ways, this decision happened suddenly, but it feels right. It is time for us to move. We love our apartment, but it costs quite a bit of money every month, and we've found out that paying for a mortgage can actually be quite a bit cheaper than apartment rent. We feel like we're supposed to be in this area for a while, and we feel good about this decision.

Thus, I've been so excited that I haven't been sleeping well and I can't stop looking at potential homes. It makes it hard to focus on anything else.

I'm trying to do better though.

Hopefully I'll be able to get the house ready. I feel really confident that we're on the right path.

There's one home in particular that I'm really excited about. If anyone wants to pray for us as we're making this decision, we'd really appreciate it!

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude Week 2014: Passing Time

Today, I am grateful for the passage of time. Sometimes it feels like we don't have enough time, but I was thinking yesterday how grateful I am that we age and grow.

We have a television mini-series called Neverland. It is a series that explored the origins of Peter Pan, and we really enjoy it. In this series, they focus a bit on the Native American population of Neverland. At one point, they show a baby and explain that the baby is actually over forty years old (or some huge number like that. It may have been closer to 100).

Grig and I have talked about how awful that would be. Can you imagine having a six-month-old baby and having them never change or grow. You'd be buying diapers forever, for one thing, but you'd also never see the person that they'd eventually become. That would be tragic.

As much as sometimes children (and puppies) grow up too fast, it is still a wonderful thing, and I'm grateful for it. I'm also grateful that I have gotten older and grown. I would have hated to be stuck in high school forever, just as it would be agony to be stuck where I am now.

Part of what makes life wonderful is enjoying every moment as it comes. It would be disastrous if changes never happened (even though sometimes they can be awful). I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that time does flow on.

I love seeing what Kevin learns each day and how big Arkhon has grown in such a short time. Sometimes I miss those previous stages of life, but the new changes are also thrilling.

I'm glad Neverland is a fake place. Children should be children when they are children, but it is important for us all to grow and change.

Even though old age may not be something I look forward to, it is a part of this earthly experience and should be treasured. We also need to treasure those in our lives who are in these twilight years and learn from their vast experience.
Old age is difficult for Dakota, but she's still happy. We're happy to still have her with us!

Life is too short to waste, and too wonderful to miss.

I'm so grateful that we have time given to us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude Week 2014: Being Self-sufficient

Today, I'm very grateful for my husband's job that enables us to be self-sufficient.

At one point in my life, I was going to college in a large city and I didn't own a car. I had a scholarship, but it didn't cover everything, so my grandparents helped me out. If I needed to go somewhere, I either had to take the city bus system, or I had to bum a ride from someone else.

For some reason, that was really difficult for me. I hated asking people to do things for me, and I hated the fact that my grandparents were paying for my schooling, and I would probably never be able to pay them back. It was hard to be dependent on others.

At this point in our lives, we don't have everything we want. Half the time when we go to the store, we say, "When we have money, we'll buy that." Sometimes, it is difficult to remember how blessed we are that we have what we NEED.

I am grateful for our apartment, even if it does have cockroaches.

I am grateful for our heat that keeps our apartment nice and toasty in the winter.

I'm grateful that we can feed ourselves, our two dogs, and our snake. Food is wonderful, and we've been bountifully blessed with it.

I'm grateful that we have a car that has very few problems and allows us to get to where we need to go.

I'm grateful I have super-supportive family members. Part of the reason we can be self-sufficient is because they often help us out. I'm learning that even when you are independent, the service of others can make all the difference in those lean times.

I'm grateful for the little bit of extra money we have so occasionally we can have WANTS as well.

I'm grateful that we have enough money that occasionally we can spend it on other people and do nice things for them.

I'm grateful that we have all of the necessities of life met, so that we have time to take care of spiritual matters.

I am grateful that we are alive, and healthy (though Kevin has a bit of a cold today).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mormon Monday: When Things Fall Apart

The other night, my husband and I were talking about our respective novels. I was telling him about how things were looking really great for my characters and then a colossal disaster happens and things were looking pretty bad.

He made the comment, "There's nothing like disaster to make a hero really shine."

I then mentioned that I noticed the same things in a lot of real stories too. One in particular is the story of Christ. Christ had an incredible entrance into Jerusalem. He came in riding a donkey and the people threw palm leaves in front of him. He was hailed as a prophet, and to the disciples, things must have been looking pretty good.

However, this grand entrance was just the prelude to tragedy. Shortly thereafter, Christ was betrayed, tortured, and crucified. This high point was followed by fear, anger, and disaster. The disciples must have felt that there was no hope. Darkness covered the face of the earth (literally), and things probably seemed like they would never get better.

This period of darkness probably seemed to last forever, but it was only three days later that the Savior rose from the dead and brought hope back into the world. The light was made all the more powerful because of the preceding darkness.
After I had shown this comparison, I said, "Maybe I shouldn't talk about the Savior's life like it is a story."

Jacob's response made me feel a lot better. He shook his head and said, "In some ways, it is THE story."

I've thought about that conversation over the weekend. The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that this isn't only a common plot in stories, but it can give us hope in life.

Sometimes, it seems like things are going pretty well. We are being blessed and we have more than we need. It is often after these periods of happiness that something devastating can happen. Things simply seem to fall apart. If we allow these moment to, they can destroy us. We can lose our faith and hope in the Savior and we can decide that nothing good will ever happen again. We can choose to allow those moments of darkness to make us doubt and wonder if God ever existed and if He really loved us.

However, the moments of darkness rarely last. If we turn to our Heavenly Father, and retain our hope in Christ, we will soon find the blessings that follow will seem all the brighter because of the darkness the preceded it.

I know I'm always more grateful for my health after I've been sick. I'm always more grateful for my job (or my husband's job) when we've been unemployed and struggling financially.

With Thanksgiving coming this week (and Kevin's birthday), I'm going to do a gratitude week again. I did one last year, and I would like to again express my gratitude for all the blessings that we have. Thanksgiving doesn't really mean anything unless we take the time to remember why we're grateful, and who we are grateful to.

Today, I'm grateful that light always follows darkness and that light is stronger than darkness. Like everyone else, I have had difficult times in my life, but when I look back on them, the struggles have made me stronger and increased my faith in the Lord. I am grateful for my challenges and those moments when things fall apart.

After all, it is only with the Savior's help that we can put them back together again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Better Week for Sleep

I mentioned last week that Arkhon had been having an upset stomach. This week, he has felt much better.

And he looks so handsome. He's now over 18 weeks old.
So much better, in fact, that he has been sleeping from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Unfortunately for my sleep, I've been waking up anywhere from 3:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This has been fantastic for my NaNoWriMo goal. Last Friday, I had only written 18,370 words. I was supposed to be at 23,333 words. Due to my lack of sleep, I just couldn't get up early enough in the morning in order to write. I was feeling a bit sad about it. I was worried that I once again wasn't going to complete my goal. Last year I was a little over 7000 short of my goal. I tried my best, but I just didn't get it done.

However, with the extra sleep this week, I've been getting up and writing. As of this morning, I now have written 38,620 words. I'm supposed to be at 35,000. I have exceeded my goal for this point. The story is also getting pretty intense, so it's a lot easier to work on it. Yesterday I wrote 5000 words because I just couldn't stop typing. In a week, I've written over 20,000 words.

I'm pretty excited about the progress on my story. The characters are developing nicely and the plot is moving along.

Kevin has been having a great week as well. I haven't posted videos in a long time, so hopefully I'll be able to put some up tomorrow. We have some pretty great ones with Kevin and his new puppy.

The only interruption to our sleep this week has been Dakota. She hasn't been feeling very well, and the other day she was not eating and sick to her stomach. She's obviously in pain, and we're beginning to wonder if her time is drawing to a close.
Our pretty old lady.
I hope not, but she is old and has lived a good life. I keep praying that we will know what to do for her and when it is time to let her go.

Other than that, it's been a great week! Grig's been getting (a lot) more hours at work, which is good and bad. We're grateful for the extra money, but we kind of miss him. He's a great guy. We talk about our respective plots that we're working on for stories, and bounce ideas off of each other.
One of Kevin's rare naps this week. He was exhausted and as soon as his dad picked him up, he fell asleep.
Dogs (and children) are so funny. We buy a bone for Arkhon and Dakota. It doesn't matter which bone we give them, they always want the one that the other has. There isn't really any dog aggression at our house, but I run a lot of interference. Even if Arkhon has a huge bone, if Dakota is chewing on one, he wants the one that she has. It goes the same both ways.

Kids are kind of like that too. It doesn't matter how great their toy is. If another kid is enjoying a toy, they want to take that one.

I guess that also applies to adults. If someone else has something that they love, it can be pretty easy to get jealous and want the things that others have. However, if we learn to be happy with what we already have, we find that we are a lot more content with our lives. It's something I'm working on.
Stark contrast between father and son. This picture was taken right after Grig got home from work. We have a lot to be grateful for.

Now, if only the dogs would learn to be content with their own bones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review Wednesday: Watership Down

It is fitting that my first book review should be Watership Down.

Watership Down
Author: Richard Adams
Length: 481 pages
(My) Rating: PG
I'm not lying when I say that this is probably my favorite all-time book. I have read this book 15-20 times and I never get tired of it. The only book I've read more than that is probably the Book of Mormon.

Watership Down is a fascinating and well-written story about a group of rabbits. Sounds dumb, right?


This story takes place in England, and the rabbits live within a warren. (As a side-note, European rabbits tend to live in large groups while American rabbits, specifically the cottontail, prefer to be solitary and are aggressive toward other rabbits that they meet.) One rabbit named Fiver receives a vision that something bad is coming to the warren, and prophet-style, tries to warn the other rabbits that they need to flee. Only his brother, Hazel, and a few other males, who are already discontent with life at the warren, listen.

This group of rabbits journeys across the countryside to a place that Fiver can see in his mind. Along the way, they encounter many dangers, but eventually they reach their goal. This is not the end of the story, for the rabbits discover that they have completely forgotten that they need females in order to establish their own warren. 

The process of seeking female rabbits puts them in direct confrontation with a dangerous, nearby warren. The rabbits have to prove that they are courageous and clever before they can overcome their greatest adversary.

Richard Adams has woven an incredible tale that forces the reader to either forget the rabbits aren't human, or forget that the reader is not a rabbit. At the same time, he does a great job of not over-humanizing the rabbits. They have a distinct culture and are very realistic. For a person who loves animals as much as I do, I really felt that Adams did his research into the behaviors and characteristics of rabbits. 

Adams provides theological background and traditions for the rabbits that kept me entranced and added an extra layer of depth to the story. There is plenty of action and adventure, and the you can't help but cheer for the rabbits as they think of clever ways to outwit their foes. 

This is one of the few books I've read where the main character wasn't my favorite character, but I blame the influence of my older brother for that. He loved Fiver, and I did too. He is a fascinating character and prophet figure. There are many interesting characters in this book, but one of the best is the villain.  

Overall, there isn't much that I've found to complain about in this book. If you have no interest in animals, this probably isn't a book for you, but I would recommend this book to any animal lover. For sheer length, it probably is best not to give it to children younger than twelve, but I read it in 6th grade and have loved it ever since. 

There is a cartoon based off of this book, but it is NOT for children. It is violent and confusing unless you have read the book. 

Parental Guide:

On my scale, this book is probably PG.

There is a few minor swear words (mostly from a seagull), and some violence. Rabbits do fight and die. There is no sexual content.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mormon Monday: His Hand is Stretched Out Still

Lately, when I've been trying to put Kevin down for a nap, I've had an interesting challenge.

Kevin sometimes will get really, really angry about nap time. When he gets in this mood, he doesn't want to be touched, and he will just stand there and scream and cry.

Interestingly enough, I've found the best way to deal with it, is to lay in his bed with  my arms outstretched toward him. If I try to grab him, it just makes him angrier. However, if I lay there with my arms out, eventually he'll come to me. Once he decides to, he calms right down and goes to sleep.

He's grown so large and independent since then.
This process can take a while sometimes. So, I have a lot of time to think while I'm waiting for him to get over his anger and decide to go to sleep.

As I've laid there with my arms out, a scriptural verse has come to mind. It is found quite frequently in Isaiah, and it reads:
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
This same phrase is found five times in the Old Testament, and five times in the Book of Mormon when one of the prophets is quoting Isaiah.

The context of the statement is that the chosen people of the Lord are refusing to repent, and so all sorts of terrible things are happening to them as a result. Then, at the end of the verse, the above statement is used.

As Kevin is screaming and angry with me, it is hard to be patient. It is hard to have someone I love so much in obvious distress. However, if I try to force him to take a nap, he just resists more. I know the nap is what he needs and it will make him happy, but I have to wait until he decides he wants it, or my efforts only push him into a further state of anger.

As I've contemplated this, I've realized that this is the way we are to Heavenly Father too.

He wants what's best for us, but He won't force us. He stands there with his arms outstretched toward us, but we have to take the step toward him. Until we decide that we want to follow Christ, we are just going to keep hurting ourselves and causing ourselves spiritual, physical, and emotional pain.

Kevin would be much happier, if he would just take a nap when he is tired, but he is stubborn, and wants to do things his own way. However, when he finally gives in and comes to me, he is relaxed, happy, and comfortable. He obviously likes being held and comforted, but when he is angry, he just wants to be independent.

I am realizing that I am often like that too.

I think I know what I want, and I want to do it the way that I want to do it. However, as I'm learning to walk toward my Savior, I'm finding that doing things His way, is a lot easier and makes me a lot happier. I don't have to waste time screaming and throwing a tantrum. I just have to keep moving toward Him.

Though we may be facing trials, either of our own making or just trials of this life, His hands are stretched out still. He is always waiting for us to come toward him. It's not always easy to take the first step, but when we're finally resting in His embrace, it will be totally worth it.

We just have to throw off our pride and move forward.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Four Hours of Sleep

This morning, at 3:00 a.m., I was all set to write a blog about how horrible this week has been.

Kevin has decided this week that naps are for pansies. Sunday, he never took a nap at all, but he went to bed fairly early. Unfortunately, this resulted in him waking up fairly early Monday as well. Tuesday, he had a nap and went to bed late. Yesterday, he wouldn't take a nap, so he went to bed quickly again. This has made things a bit difficult.

However, on top of Kevin's horrible schedule, Arkhon has had diarrhea for the last couple of days. It has been a sporadic thing, and it only happens at night. Tuesday night, almost every hour on the hour, Arkhon would wake us up with his whining. Grig was kind enough to take him out, but that meant that he didn't get much sleep before morning.

Last night, after scouring the internet, we tried something a little different. I made a concoction of pumpkin and white rice. The white rice was supposed to be easy to digest, and the canned pumpkin was supposed to get rid of the diarrhea. However, he still woke up at 11:00 and 1:00. I let him whine for a while, and then we took him out. My goal was to get Grig some sleep. The first time, he did really well, but the second time we waited too long, and he had an accident in his kennel. I felt really bad about that. However, Grig took Arkhon out while I cleaned it up. Then he went back to sleep and I had a really hard time doing the same. Before that, I had only gotten one hour of sleep, and after the mess, I had finally fell asleep around 2:15 a.m.

At 3:15, Grig woke up for work and asked if I could help him get ready. I agreed and got up . However, after I made him breakfast, I told him I was going back to bed. Two hours of sleep just wasn't going to be sufficient.

It took me a while to fall back to sleep. While I was laying down stewing and hoping that Arkhon wouldn't wake up, I was feeling a bit grumpy. At that moment, I composed a blog about how this has been a really rough week.

However, when Arkhon and Kevin woke me up at 7:30 a.m., I felt a lot better. There's nothing like a solid four hours of sleep to help someone feel better.

The sleeping cycle may have been off this week, but a lot of great things have still happened. Grig and I have been working at keeping better schedules, and I know that we've gotten a lot accomplished because of that. Though I've gotten behind a bit on my NaNoWriMo, I've also written over 17,000 words. That's no small thing.

It's amazing what four hours of sleep can do for someone.

It certainly made me remember the bright side of the week.

Grig told me the other day that I'm too positive sometimes. When he's in a bad mood and wants to grouch about something, I have a tendency to find the lighter side of things. He told me that sometimes it can be annoying, but usually he really appreciates it. On the other hand, he helps me be more realistic.

A couple of nights ago, Arkhon got a hold of one of Kevin's Schleich toys. These toys are well-made, cute, and somewhat expensive. He'd gotten a couple of others, but he'd only chewed off legs. I had been able to glue those back on. However, on this occasion, Arkhon chewed off a horse's face. By the time we noticed, it was too late.

I was a little upset at first, and it was with great regret that I threw the toy away. Grig told me that we probably should lock the toys up until Arkhon's a little older. I told him that Arkhon would probably learn not to chew on toys, but Grig replied that by the time that happened, all the toys might be destroyed.

I didn't want to hear that, but Grig had a point. If we really didn't want Arkhon to get a hold of Kevin's toys, we would need to put them out of reach.

However, I had decided long ago that people were more important than things (dogs too).

One Christmas, my parents gave me a glass statue of a dog. I really liked it, and that night, my sister and I were in our bedroom and she asked to see the dog. I handed it to her, but before she had a good grip I let go. The dog crashed to the floor and its head broke open.

For a moment, a decision rested on me, and in that split instant, I decided that my sister was more important than my new dog statue. Since then, I've tried to remember that. It has really helped me keep things in perspective

So, ultimately, I decided that we would let Kevin continue to play with his toys. What good are toys if they're not played with?

So, yes, there have been some hard things this week, but ultimately it's been a good week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mormon Monday: Articles of Faith

In trying to explain to others what Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe, we often forget to use one of our most basic resources. 
When Joseph Smith was still alive, he was asked by a newspaper editor named John Wentworth to provide information about the church. In response, Joseph Smith wrote the following statements. They are now called the Articles of Faith. 
Lately, I've been trying to spend time on my NaNoWriMo goal, so I haven't been as good about blogging the last couple of weeks, but I thought this would be important to share today. 
Here are 13 basic things that we believe.
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preachthe Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers,evangelists, and so forth.
 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions,healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
 10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
 11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
 12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
 13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
I do believe in these 13 articles of faith. They simply and accurately describe things that I know to be true. 
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Hate Daylight Savings

This blog is written after a crazy couple of mornings from a mother of a toddler and 16 week puppy.

Previous to this week, we were on a pretty good schedule. We went to bed around 8:30 p.m. and woke up at 7:30. The puppy was holding his bladder all night long, and at 7:30 a.m., I was more than happy to take him out when he woke up.

However, ever since daylight savings, we've had a really hard time.

Kevin starts getting tired around 8:30 p.m., which isn't so bad, since Grig has to wake up at 3:00 a.m. now. Arkhon still wants to go use the bathroom at  6:30 in the morning, which I am not as happy about. Yesterday I tried to make him wait for twenty minutes and he had an accident in his kennel for the first time. So, he gets to go out when he needs to now. I felt pretty bad about that.

Kevin is waking up anywhere from 6-6:45. It is really hard to have him be awake that early. I'm usually trying to get things done (or trying to sleep), and he won't go back to sleep. I've just been letting him stay up, but then he isn't going to bed any earlier, so it's just making him grumpy.
And usually he's so happy!

These things collectively have made me a little bit grumpy in the mornings as well.

When I was younger, I loved fall daylight savings. I really enjoyed sleeping in an hour. It was fairly easy to adjust to the new schedule, and I didn't know why people had such a problem with it.

Now that I have a child and a puppy though, I am realizing that they don't understand why we are suddenly wanting them to sleep in an hour later or go to bed an hour sooner. Schedules are important to children and puppies, and they don't always adjust very well.

I understand their confusion and I sympathize. That doesn't change the fact that time HAS changed and I have to find some way to help them deal with it.

Daylight savings is really annoying. It makes me want to move to Arizona where they don't have it.

I'm sure eventually my two boys will adjust, but I know it's going to take a little while.

On the plus side, Kevin slept in his own bed from 9:30 last night until 5:00 this morning. That's pretty incredible. If only I could keep from waking up every two or three hours, I might actually get some decent sleep.

If anyone has any suggestions for helping kids adjust to daylight savings, I would be happy to hear them. We're struggling a bit right now. I know it's temporary, but that doesn't make it less difficult.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween 2014

This year, for Halloween, Grig's parents sent us a package containing a some costumes.

Arkhon's first Halloween. He tried on Kevin's onesie.
Grig, Kevin, and I all received a superman shirt, which was perfect since the theme of our ward party was superheroes.

We kept the costumes hidden until Halloween night, and then we pulled them out. The first first I put on fit me okay, but the shirt Grig tried on just didn't seem right. The neck was too wide and it fit him weird. We decided maybe it was a girl shirt, and we switched.

Hooray for that! The shirt fit me much better, and the one I had been wearing looked much better on him. I'm glad we noticed that before we tried to leave the house. Kevin's costume was a little big, but he loved it.

I have a really old book in the house called Batman: A Purrfect Crime. I can't find the version I have anywhere, so it's probably not made anymore. It's cover fell off long ago, and it's copyrighted from 1992. It's getting pretty old.

However, it is absolutely Kevin's favorite book. However, I am more of a Superman fan myself. I like Batman quite a bit, but I prefer Superman.

Unfortunately, Kevin, at this point anyway, seems geared toward Batman because of that book. He'll run into his room and say, "Batman, batman." He knows what he wants.

So, when we put the Superman costume on him, he became very excited and pointing to the emblem said, "Batman, batman."

"No," we told him, "it's Superman."

"Batman," he repeated.

He did that to us all night long. I'm pretty sure that by the end of it, he was just teasing us because he liked our reactions. We wanted to get it on film, but we can't find Grig's old camera that we've been using to record videos. That's pretty sad.

We went trunk-or-treating first and wandered around to all the parked cars in the church parking lot. Some people had delicious home-made cookies and doughnuts. They were delicious. Kevin got a lot of candy.

Then, we went inside and played games and activities for a while. Kevin really had a good time, especially in the Hulk room where you were supposed to build buildings and then rip them down like the Hulk.
This was supposed to be Wonder Woman's lasso.

After 7:15 or so, we left the party and went to my grandparent's home to go trick-or-treating. We visited with them for a few minutes and then went around the block to their neighbors for trick-or-treating. Kevin caught on pretty fast. By the end of our short run, he was trying to say, "Trick or treat?' and he was definitely saying, "Thank you." He enjoyed ringing the doorbells and getting candy from everyone.

We had a great time.

At about 8:00 we had to go home because Grig's coworker and family were supposed to come over and Grig had work the next morning. Kevin and I watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while we waited for them to show up, but they never came. So, after the movie finished, we went to bed.

It was a wonderful Halloween.
Chasing balls.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mormon Monday: Are There Prophets on the Earth Today?

In ancient times, the chosen mouthpiece of the Lord was called a prophet. This was men like Moses, Noah, and Abraham. They were ordinary, if good, men who tried to follow the Lord's commandments to the best of their ability.

Were prophets perfect?

Emphatically no.

We have several examples in the Old Testament where the prophets would occasionally do things that the Lord would not be pleased with. However, they kept trying and repented.

Prophets are essential to God's plan for his children.

When Christ was on the earth and he set up his church, he chose twelve apostles. After Christ died, the apostles became the head of the church. Simon Peter became the prophet. Though the twelve decided things together, but Peter was the mouthpiece for the Lord after His ascension. In Acts chapter 10, Peter has a vision where he is commanded by the Lord to teach the gospel to the gentiles. This is an example of the Lord giving a command to His prophet, and the prophet informing the rest of the church.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to guide us. He has a method to the way that He does things. The Lord has always spoken man through a prophet. God doesn't change, thus, many people ask, "Why doesn't the Lord speak through a prophet today?"

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God speaks to man, just as he always has. There is a prophet on the earth today. His name is President Thomas S. Monson.

After President Hinkley died (the previous prophet), I wanted to know if President Monson was a prophet. I knew the only way that I could know that, was to ask Heavenly Father. It didn't matter if my parents or leaders told me he was a prophet. If he was truly God's chosen mouthpiece on earth, I knew that God would let me know.

This began a long process.

I began to pray very earnestly to know. I didn't get my answer right away. To be honest, this caused some doubt to rise in my heart. However, I really wanted to know, so I kept praying and living the gospel to the best of my abilities. I even fasted about it.

A few weeks (or months, I don't remember exactly how much time had passed) later, I went to a temple ground-breaking. It was broadcast to the building that I was in, and I was pretty excited to be there. As I watched President Monson put cement on the corner stone of the temple, a strong feeling suddenly hit me. A feeling of love overwhelmed me, and I KNEW with certain knowledge that President Monson was a prophet.

It took a while, but I haven't doubted the answer that I received then. When I think back on the way that I felt, the feeling still overwhelms me.

Is President Monson perfect?

No. Prophets are just normal men like the rest of us. The difference is that they devote their lives to serving the Lord, and strive to communicate His will to the world.

President Monson is simply the mouthpiece for the head of our church. The leader of our church is Jesus Christ. I know that to be true, because I received a witness from my Father in Heaven. That doesn't mean that I can't ask for confirmation from the Lord for the things that he tells us. Revelation through prayer is always an option. If President Monson were to ask the church, and more specifically me, to do something difficult, I would pray about it and make sure that it was the Lord's will for me.

Then, having received that witness, I would do as I was asked.

I know that President Monson is a prophet, so I do my best to follow his counsel, whatever it may be. I know that this has made my life more peaceful and I have been blessed because of it.

If you want to know if there is a prophet on the earth today, pray and ask God yourself. He will tell you, as long as you are willing to change yourself based upon the answer. If we are asking on a merely academic level, God has no need to fulfill your idle curiosity. If, however, you are seeking guidance and direction from the Lord because you want to DO His will, you will receive an answer.

I know this to be true, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.