Monday, March 31, 2014

Mormon Monday: Lifting Others

Today, Grig and Kevin are sick with the stomach flu. Luckily Grig didn't have work today anyway, but after being thrown-up on all night, I don't have much energy today and I almost didn't want to blog. However, I realized that since they are both sleeping right now, I don't have much in the way of excuses and there were somethings that I wanted to share.

Saturday, I went to visit some amazing friends of mine. We were able to go to the 1st semi-annual General Women's Meeting for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was amazing! It was so much fun to see my friends again (it's been a couple years) and I really enjoyed listening to the talks and watching the videos (even if I still have a really hard time sitting still). If you didn't get a chance to watch it, and had the desire to do so, here is the link:
It was a historic moment where women age 8 to infinity were able to sit down and hear talks from our leaders. Elder Eyring spoke as well, and I loved his message. Something in particular stood out to me.

He talked about how when we lift those around us toward God, that brings our Heavenly Father joy. We are all sisters and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and He loves us. Sometimes I wonder how I could ever pay him back for all the blessings that we have received and when I heard Elder Eyring's words, I felt joy shoot through me. It is possible to bring joy to our Eternal Father. By becoming more like Him, and by helping those around us become more like Him, we can make Him happy and proud of our efforts.

I love women. They are incredible beings with a lot of love that they share unselfishly. Some of my greatest role-models are women in my life who devote their lives to serving their children and families.

I want to be better at lifting those around me to greater heights. I guess before you can lift other you need to be standing on higher ground yourself. I am going to try to be a better friend and neighbor. I want to be more Christ-like so I can bring joy to my Heavenly Father.

I  think that's going to be it for today. Please pray that my family gets well soon!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Visiting Friends

Starting tomorrow and including next week, I'm going to go visit some friends that I haven't seen in a long time.

This weekend, I'm going to visit my friends that I met in Nauvoo, Illinois. This is probably the first group of friends I ever had. We're haven't seen each other in years, but in a friendship like this, it doesn't really matter. I'm super excited to go and see them and to catch up on their lives and what they've been up to.

Next weekend, I have a mission reunion on Friday, and then a mini companion reunion on Saturday. I'm excited for three of these events, and I'm grateful that everything is being held relatively close. I'm excited to see my mission president again, as well as friends that I made on the mission.

I just find it kind of ironic that after years of not seeing anyone, everyone decides to have get-togethers within the same couple of weeks. We should be okay money-wise, because there is another pay period starting next weekend.

I'm pretty grateful for these opportunities to see some friends of mine, and I'm grateful to a loving husband who is willing to travel with me to meet them. Grig is pretty awesome, and I really want those I love to get to know him too. I think they'll get along swimmingly.

General Conference for our church is also coming up. Next weekend is women's conference and the weekend after that the Brethren speak to us. I've been looking forward to this for months. It's one of my favorite weekends, because it is always a spiritual feast. I'm eager to know what the Brethren have to tell us.

Can't wait for them to meet this little guy!
It's more friends that I'm looking forward to seeing after what feels like a long time!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just Say No!

I have a problem saying no. This doesn't involve drugs or anything like that. I've never tried the stuff, and I never will. This is actually a family problem that has been passed down for generations. This kind of no involves sometimes turning away people who want your help.

When people need help or want me to do something for them, I have a really hard time saying no. Usually, it's fine. Usually I'm eager and able to help them in any way that I can. The problem arises when four or more people ask for my help on the same day or week.

Too much service can tucker you out!
This Sunday, I was sitting in Relief Society (our meeting for women) and they passed around a few sign-up sheets. I was feeling particularly good on Sunday, so I signed up for all of them! One was a sheet for helping the local Sister Missionaries, another was a volunteer sign-up sheet for helping at the cannery on Wednesday morning from 7-11, and the other was an announcement about indoor soccer that was starting on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

Sometimes I think I can do everything, and when I find out that I can't, I feel bad about it. Tuesday was going well, and then the missionaries called me during the morning and asked if I could go to a lesson with them at 6:00 p.m. I said yes. I wasn't feeling very well that day, but I went to the lesson and I felt a lot better.

It was really nice. They were teaching a nine-year-old boy who had decided, with his parent's permission, that he wanted to be baptized. He was a really sweet kid, and the spirit was strong in the lesson.

As the Sister and I left, I got a text on my phone reminding me about the cannery assignment the next morning, and it told me that we would be meeting to carpool at 6:00 a.m. (the cannery was about an hour out of town).

Whoa! I suddenly realized I didn't have a baby-sitter for Kevin. My usual baby-sitters (my grandparents) were out of town, and it was pretty late notice to be calling anyone else. However, I gave my aunt and uncle who live in town a call. They didn't answer, but I left a message and I assured them that if it was inconvenient that I would figure something else out.

I felt worn out that day, and  though I was planning on going to the indoor soccer thing that night, with the cannery the next morning and my not feeling very well, and I decided that I was going to go the next week instead. The problem with the time on that one, is that Grig and I usually try to go to bed at 8:00 p.m., and if I went to play soccer at 8:30 p.m. Grig would have to stay up and watch Kevin. That wasn't going to work out that night, especially if I had to get up to go to the cannery in the morning.

At that point I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I felt as though I was trying to be of service to the Lord and to those around me, but I had over-stretched myself a bit much.

As we got ready for bed, I received another text from the people in charge of the cannery. They told us that the machinery had randomly broken down, so our cannery assignment had been cancelled.

Usually that would have been disappointing, but I felt as though it was the answer to an unspoken prayer. The Lord knew I was trying, and He made a way for me not to go back on my promise to help. Wednesday (aside from some craziness from Kevin) turned out to be quite a relaxing and stress-free day. I even got my bathroom clean!

Though often I've done my best to be there for everyone, sometimes it is important to just say no!

Honestly evaluate what you can actually do with the time you have, and don't forget that sometimes you have to find a babysitter before you can help others. If helping others is causing you to take away precious time from your family, try to figure out how much time you can actually spare. Service is very important, but it shouldn't become a burden on your family. Do what you can for others, but not at the risk of your own health and welfare. However, sometimes we can do more than we think we can with the Lord's help. We are His hands on this earth, and if we don't spare a few moments, who will?

Also, don't be afraid to ask for help yourself. That is something that I often struggle with. It's okay for me to help others, but not for them to help me? What kind of a contradiction is that? Service brings blessings to both those who are serving and those who are served. We need to rely on each other more and try not to hog all of the service opportunities ourselves. Other people need the blessings too!

Sometimes it's okay to say no.

Just don't overdo it, in either direction.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It Doesn't Always Come Naturally

Being a mom doesn't always come naturally.

This kid is awesome!
There is a revolutionary statement for you. However, it's true.

I grew up in a family with ten kids, and I was on the older side of things. I learned to change diapers at a very young age, entertain siblings, and help them stop crying. Not to brag or anything, but I'm really pretty good with kids.

I thought motherhood would be the same. I imagined that they would hand my baby to me, and I would instantly be the World's Best Mom. I figured that I would know just how to take care of my baby, and my life would just instantly be perfect.

I may never had uttered these actual words or even thought them consciously, but the reality still came as a shock. In the hospital, after a long and tough delivery that ended in a c-section, my baby was handed to me. Even having grown up around kids all my life, the thought that popped into my head was, "What do I do with this?"

They had to help me with breastfeeding, because it doesn't necessarily come naturally. In fact, they have a whole video that they show you before you leave the hospital that teaches you the proper technique for breastfeeding so that you aren't in pain all the time. Even though Kevin latched on right away and was an incredible eater, it still took us some time to get his mouth positioned right so it wasn't super painful every time.

The longer I'm a mother, the more I realize that I don't know anything. Being a sister was so easy. I could comfort my brothers and sisters during the day, but at night I got to return to my own bed and sleep (when I wasn't reading). I never really understood what happens during the night for my parents.

These last couple of weeks have brought a new kind of challenge to our home: my milk supply is no longer adequate for my baby. For a very long time, Kevin would eat foods in small quantities, but he was really getting most of his nutrition from nursing still. However, recently he would nurse and nurse and still act hungry. I finally realized that he needs more than just milk. It just isn't cutting it anymore.

So, I have been scrambling to find things that he will eat. Feeding a toddler is difficult. Something that they like one day is gross the next day, and vice versa. I made him macaroni and cheese with hotdogs, and he loved it...or at least, he loved the hotdog part. He wouldn't touch the noodles, and if I tried to sneak them into his mouth, he took them out and put them in my mouth.

He loves ramen, but that isn't healthy to eat every meal, even when I put vegetables and meat into it.

I think that this is one of those things that I assumed would come naturally and that ideas for feeding my toddler would be a snap. Life is so much more complex than that.

It doesn't always come naturally to put this incredible little soul's wants and needs before my own. It doesn't always come naturally to put my life on hold and temporarily give up my career to stay at home and be a mother. Sometimes it's hard to not be earning money. It doesn't always come naturally to have an unending supply of patience and love, especially on days where he's a little bit crazy.

However, it is worth it, and I'm learning. I'm learning to be a mother, and every day I hope to be a little better. Kevin is a great teacher, and as I learn, other things come naturally.

I may not be a perfect mother, but I am going to give it my best shot. If I mess up one day, I'm determined to do better the next. Stubbornness does come naturally for me, and I am determined to be the mother than Kevin and our other future children need!

Motherhood isn't always easy, and sometimes it's frustrating beyond belief, but there are moments between the frustration that are unforgettable. The first time your son wraps his little arms around your neck, squeezes as hard as he can, and then gives you a big kiss is one of those. Kevin has been doing that lately, and it makes my heart melt every time.

The in's-and-out's of motherhood may not be natural, but loving my son is.

And love makes all the difference.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brigadoon

When I was a kid, we took a long trip one summer. We drove our twelve passenger van and my father rigged up a television and VCR on top of a wooden stand. It was quite innovative, and ahead of its time. (Now of course, everyone has a little TV inside of their van.)

We drove all across the country and stopped at momentous places like Mount Rushmore. I really enjoyed that trip.

One of the movies we watched was the Brigadoon. Its been years since I saw the video, and though I only had a vague recollection of it, I remember that I really liked it.

This last weekend, my cousins and their stake (regional church congregation) put on Brigadoon. It was quite impressive. My uncle directed an orchestra created from local people, and my younger cousins and aunt were either part of the pre-show, or cast member in the performance. My grandma and a few other cousins were part of the orchestra as well.

Kevin loved it! He sat still for nearly two hours (which is almost unheard of for him). He liked the dancing and the singing, and often he would quietly join in. At intermission, way past his bedtime, he began to tell me he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. However, when I tried to take him out, the music began to play again and he just couldn't relax! He wanted to see what was going on.

Grig ended up holding him in the back for the last half hour of the play, but overall he did fantastic!

It was a wonderful performance, and it reminded me why I liked the show so much. I've been told that the movie is very different from the play, but I enjoyed both very much.

The basic premise is that two men get lost in Scotland. They are in the middle of nowhere, and there isn't supposed to be a city around for miles. Suddenly, they see mist and hear singing. They approach and find a town that isn't on the map called Brigadoon.

The two men have different experiences in this enchanted town. One's experience is carnal and ends in tragedy. The other falls in love with both the town and a certain young woman there. There is a mystery surrounding the place, and it shouldn't exist. In fact, it is possible that it is all a dream.

However, faith and love turn the unbelievable into reality, and by the end it was easy to believe it was a real place.

The cast did a phenomenal job and the orchestra was amazing!

The only problem I had with the story-line was that the two main characters only knew each other for a day and decided they were in love. I'm sure it worked out for them (as it sometimes does in real life) but it is important to get to know someone in all different types of situations before you marry them.

I was impressed with the show and the moral behind it. I felt bad for Jeff, the friend who didn't believe in Brigadoon and who had such a terrible experience there.

How we view the situations we are placed in can change how we feel about the experience. Two people placed in the same situation will have completely different experiences because of their attitude and choices.

It's a good theme and a great show.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mormon Monday: Kingdoms of Glory; Part 6 of the Plan of Salvation

Here are the previous parts, if you want to read them in order:

As I discussed last week, after we are resurrected, we will be judged.

Our judges will be our Heavenly Father and our Savior. They are perfect beings, and cannot make mistakes.
Mosiah 29:12 Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.
When that day comes, there are no more chances. We will stand before our Savior, and we will have a perfect remembrance of our guilt and our iniquities. However, if we accepted the Lord's gospel, were baptized under proper authority, kept the commandments, and endured to the end, then will his grace be upon us, and we will be clean before our brother.

One of the things that we believe very differently from other Christian religions is the concept of Hell. We don't believe that there is a fine line between salvation and damnation. Instead, we believe that there are three degrees of glory. Christ said that (John 14:2):
In my Father's house are many mansions.
People sin to varying degrees. One person may have been a good person, but decided to never accept Christ. They went through their whole lives being a basically moral person, but just never would accept Christ as a real person. Would it be just for this human to be placed in the same place as a serial killer?

The Lord loves all his children. He allows them to choose what they will, but He will try to place them in a kingdom where they can be as happy as possible.

We believe there are three kingdoms of glory. Paul also spoke of these kingdoms. He said (1 Cor. 15:39–41):
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Celestial Kingdom 

The highest degree of glory that you can attain is called the celestial kingdom. Its glory is likened to the sun. This is where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ dwell, and this is the only place where we can continue to progress to become like our Father. Here, families are eternal and will be together forever. 

Those who reach this kingdom are those who have repented of their sins, received the ordinances of salvation, and kept the covenants that they made through the Lord through these ordinances. These people shall be cleansed from their sins and shall live forever with their eternal families. 

We have also been told, that those who would have received the gospel in their mortal life but didn't have the opportunity to make and keep these sacred covenants, will be saved as well. (Doctrine and Covenants 137:7-10)
 Thus came the avoice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died bwithout a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be cheirs of the celestial kingdom of God;
 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, whoawould have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;
 For I, the Lord, will ajudge all men according to their bworks, according to the cdesire of their hearts.
 10 And I also beheld that all achildren who die before they arrive at the byears of accountability are csaved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.
This really is the only kingdom that we should strive to reach. It is the only kingdom that will bring everlasting happiness and joy and the only place where we can dwell with our families forever.

Terrestrial Kingdom

This kingdom is the next kingdom of glory. Its glory is likened to the moon. This is where those who live honorable lives, but refuse to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ will dwell. It will still be an incredible, wonderful place, but it will be incomparable to the celestial kingdom. 

Telestial Kingdom

Those who revel in their sins and refuse to repent of them will be placed in the lowest kingdom, the telestial kingdom. This is the place where those who do not accept Christ shall go. Its glory is compared to that of the stars. 

Those who reach the higher kingdoms will minister to those who reside in the lower kingdoms. The terrestrial and telestial kingdoms do not have the opportunity for eternal progression, and in that sense, their occupants are damned. 

Personally, I want to do my best to be saved in the celestial kingdom. Those who dwell in the lower kingdoms will be those who are not clean and cannot bear to be in the presence of our Father. How awful would it be to not be able to even look at our Heavenly Father? Doctrine and Covenants 88:22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.

I testify that our choices in this life do matter. The Lord has given us very strict commandments, and as we strive to listen and hear his voice, we will be lead to truth. I know that God lives, and that His Plan of Salvation is perfect and is a plan for living life. If we follow the teachings of his prophets, both modern and ancient, we will be lead to eternal happiness.

Do your best. That's all that He expects of you. Listen closely, and heed His voice when you hear it. He is real and does speak to us if we will only listen. The world is pretty crazy right now, and we need all the help and peace we can find. Don't let the voices of the world overwhelm the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. 

Be humble and prayerful. Repent of your sins. We all have them, and we are all trying to get to the same place. Help others and allow others to help you. 

It wouldn't be Heaven if we got there and we were all alone.


If you would like more information about these three kingdoms or the Plan of Salvation visit Mormon.org, read this article on the 3 degrees, or meet with the missionaries. They can answer your questions, and that's why they exist.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grig Got the Job!

A week or so ago, I posted about how an opportunity had opened up in Grig's company.

Grig had been hired as a fitter back in July, but because he had taken time on his breaks to learn how to weld, they had begun to allow him to do actual welding.  Over the past few months, he has really enjoyed welding and has really grown quite good at it.

Grig was working on something when a coworker of his approached him kind of hesitantly. He told me that his coworker watched him work for a moment, and then asked, "Do you want to weld?"

At first, Grig thought the man was talking about right then, and he said, "Sure."

Then, he realized that the man meant in an official capacity. His friend explained that a welding position had just opened up, and that Grig should apply for it. So, he did.

Yesterday we found out that Grig had gotten the position. The new position not only comes with duties that Grig really enjoys, but it also comes with a pay increase.

Honestly, this isn't even close to what he graduated in, but we are so grateful for this opportunity as we continue to earn our residency. Grig is a hard and dedicated worker. He has an incredible eye for details, and he is very meticulous. I appreciate how much he does to provide for our family, and the opportunities that we have been given. God has been very kind to us.

A long time ago, when Grig was looking for a job, my father gave him a blessing. In the blessing, he advised Grig to be "open to opportunities for growth within the company." We really feel that this is the answer to that blessing.

We're pretty excited about the news and we wanted to share it with you!

Now we just have to purchase a welding helmet!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My First Dislike!

So, our youtube channel has been going for ten months. We haven't been able to make many of the videos that we planned on yet, but this week we reached a momentous milestone.

One of our videos got its first dislike.

This might seem like a sad thing, but it was on our most popular video The Nightmare Nose Sucker, or Why Babies Fear the Bulb Syringe. This particular video has gotten quite a few views, and it's one I'm particularly proud of.

Here it is in case you want to watch it. I'd forgotten how fat Kevin is in this video.


The reason I'm kind of excited about the dislike, is that it means that the video is reaching more people than just family and friends. Generally family and friends don't dislike your videos, so if someone pushed the dislike button, it's because they don't know you and they're judging the video on its own merit. It has almost 500 views, and it has 2 likes and 1 dislike.

I think it's like getting your first negative critique when you write a book or make a movie. Even though it could be upsetting, it's also a sign of recognition.

I had a previous youtube channel, and it had some pretty popular videos (they were mostly music videos I made while learning how to video edit) and I received dislikes and likes from that, so this is nothing new to me, but it marks a historical day for our family video channel.

Yay for the beginnings of success!

However, it got me thinking, what kind of person dislikes a video? I mean, unless it's a REALLY bad video? Even if I don't like a video, I never think about clicking the dislike button. I've never even clicked the dislike button. If I don't like something, I stop watching it and move on to something else.

Grig and I were talking about this last night, and he told me that he occasionally dislikes things if they are really bad.

It made me wonder why do other people dislike things.

Feel free to tell me, I'm curious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Superman: A Symbolic Representation of the State of Our Union

I've always loved Superman.

Always.

Yes, he's nearly invulnerable, has probably WAY too many powers (which fluctuate in strength depending on who's telling the story), and is known as a "boy scout", but he is my all-time favorite superhero.

Why do I like him so much? I think the number one reason is that he's a good guy. The character of Superman is a moral, upright person (alright, alien) who is constantly trying to do the right thing. The very essence of Superman is self-control. He could kill anyone at any point, but he chooses not to. He could have any woman (thousands are throwing themselves at his feet), but instead he married, and stays faithful to Lois Lane.

However, over the years as I've watched and studied this iconic character, I've noticed a disturbing trend. The heroic and moral figure that I've loved has changed, and not always for the better.

Click here to go to the page where I found this image.
When Superman was first invented in 1938, he was an full-blown American. He was super (forgive the pun) patriotic, stood for 'truth, justice, and the American way,' and used his abnormal strength to topple cheesy villains.

He was a huge success. So what if his costume was designed after a circus performer? That style lasted for years, and was copied by many other wannabes. Our country empathized with and loved Superman. We were also extremely patriotic in 1938 and we wanted to be good moral people. Superman symbolized what every human desired to be like. Yes, he was a little goofy, but people read comics to be entertained and they like to laugh at the campy characters.

The original context of the character occurred in the Great Depression. The wikipedia page states:
"Superman took on the role of social activist, fighting crooked businessmen and politicians and demolishing run-down tenements. Comics scholar Roger Sabinsees this as a reflection of "the liberal idealism of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal", with Shuster and Siegel initially portraying Superman as champion to a variety of social causes."

He continued in this tradition as the years passed and he fought other social groups like the Ku Klux Klan. His creators, Siegel and Shuster, were both Jewish, and some scholars have suggested that Superman's creation was influenced by Moses. On the wikipedia page, it states:
 For example, Superman's Kryptonian name, "Kal-El", resembles the Hebrew words קל-אל, which can be taken to mean "voice of God". The suffix "el", meaning "(of) God," is also found in the name of angels (e.g. Gabriel, Ariel), who are flying humanoid agents of good with superhuman powers. Tye suggests that this "Voice of God" is an allusion to Moses' role as a prophet. Moreover, Kal-El's parents send him away in a vessel, delivering him to new adoptive parents in an alien culture in order to save him from impending doom, just as Moses' parents do. "The narratives of Krypton's birth and death borrowed the language of Genesis.""
Other people (including myself) have seen Superman as a symbol of Christ. This has been heavily stressed in some of the movies as well. 

However, as times have changed, so has Superman. His stories and villains have become darker and more violent. Superman himself has faced times where he struggled with his own inner darkness. Of course, thus far, he has always conquered, but sometimes it has been supremely difficult. As the morality of our country has struggled and become fuzzy, Superman's own decisions and methods have been questioned. People have become less interested in a hero that strives to be perfect and more interested in heroes that have questionable moral ethics. 

I think one of the worst things that Hollywood tried to do to the Superman character was to give him an (spoiler alert) illegitimate son in Superman Returns. Hollywood and television have tried harder to rip down the morality of Superman than any other medium. In the comics, Superman eventually married Lois Lane, and they adopted a child. However, before that, Superman practiced celibacy. This was well-stressed in the series Lois and Clark where Lois finds out that Clark is a virgin. Hollywood tried to change that, much to the dislike of many of Superman's fans. That is the main reason that I didn't enjoy that movie as much as I should have. Hollywood wants us to believe that no one can abstain from intimacy before marriage, and everyone is doomed to have one or two past affairs. This is NOT true, and anyone who writes Superman with those fallacies in mind is determined to ruin the soul of the character.

(By the way, I loved Man of Steel. I felt as though the character was again portrayed in a way that was true to the essence of Superman, even if they did ruin half of Metropolis in the process.)

As our country has slid further and further from clear moral standpoints, many heroes like Superman have faded away or been mocked or scorned because they are 'too perfect'. However, for some reason, the Man of Steel is still a popular figure all across the globe. 

Even though the story lines and villains have darkened, for the most part, Superman still retains his intrinsic goodness and moral strength of character. I feel that even though our country has darkened and all the media portrays is evil, for the most part, our country is still filled with good people that are trying to be better. None of us are perfect (we all have our kryptonite), but we are trying.

It is possible that the day that Superman fails and stops being the moral symbol that he is; may be the day that the majority of our countrymen abandon their morals as well. 

That day may be coming sooner than we'd like.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shaving Our Dog

Dakota lately has been panting a lot. She breathes very hard and fast, and when she does that usually we assume that she needs to go outside to use the bathroom. However, we've had an unusually warm winter this year. Several times over the last couple of weeks I have been able to wear shorts and t-shirts outside.

So, the thought occurred to me that maybe the reason that Dakota seemed so stressed lately is because she was too hot. So, Friday night, I decided to clip her fur.

I do the hair-cutting at our house. A friend asked me what I wanted for my wedding, and I told her I wanted hair clippers. She gave them to me, and it has been one of the best presents that I received. I cut Grig, Havelock, and Kevin's hair with them. When I was in high school, I also bought a pair of dog hair trimmers so that I could clip my dog's hair as well. When we moved here, my dog clipper blades were very dull, but we found a man just out of town that sharpens clipper blades for a really good price. He did a great job on them, and I've clipped the dog 3 or 4 times since she came to live with us.

I was clipping her fur to an inch long. For winter, this seemed logical. I wanted her to have some protection from the cold when she went outside. Lately though, it's been getting warmer in our upstairs apartment; much too warm for a long-haired dog.
Before picture
So, this time I clipped her fur to 1/2 an inch long. She's always been really good while I clipped her, and she was pretty patient as she and I sat in the bathroom and took off most of her hair. You can see from the picture below how much really came off of her.
During the process
I decided to leave the fur long on her tail and ears, though I did trim the top of her tail so that it would be more uniform with her fur. Here are the after images:
These pictures were taken right after her bath, so she's a little wet still.

Back view

Side view
It's taken a little bit of getting used to, but I really like the way she looks now. On Saturday, when we were going on a walk, a lady stopped us and had to tell us how beautiful our dog was! She asked us if she was part husky, and we told her that she was a border collie/Australian shepherd cross. She really liked her fur color. 

Dakota has been much happier since we trimmed her. She's more relaxed and doesn't pant nearly as often. It's been nice to know that she likes her new haircut.

There's been another advantage to trimming her fur, and that is that Kevin doesn't have as many hand-holds to grab. It is harder for him to pull her fur now, and she seems to like that much better. 

She's a very good dog. She and Kevin are little co-conspirators. He sneaks her food off his plate and she's happy to let him. They're pretty good friends now, even though he is a little rough occasionally. She tolerates his mistakes and moves away when he gets to be too much for her. Sometimes I have to intervene, but usually he is very sweet to her. He likes to pat her back and give her hugs. She is an amazing kid-dog, and I'm so grateful that we don't have to worry about her hurting him. 
This is important, because if it came to a choice between the two of them, we'd always pick Kevin. 

We're just grateful we don't have to make that choice.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mormon Monday: Resurrection,Judgement, and Grace; Part 5 of the Plan of Salvation

I got a bit derailed last week, but this week we're back on track!

Here are the previous parts of my Plan of Salvation series:

After we die, we exist in the spirit world. Then, once everyone has had a chance to accept or reject the gospel, Christ will return in his glorious second coming. Then, everyone who has died will be resurrected. We believe that our bodies are sacred and that when we die, our spirits and our bodies are separated. Then, during the time after we die and until we are resurrected, we exist solely as a Spirit. 

However, we believe that we were created in the image of God, and that God has a perfect body of flesh and bone. Therefore, because of Christ's atonement, we will all overcome physical death and be reunited with our bodies. However, once this resurrection occurs, our bodies will be perfect. Thus, one aspect of Adam's fall is rectified. 

Then, once everyone has been brought from corruption to perfection, we will be judged by our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Our Father wants all of His children to return and to live with him, but He will never force anyone to do anything. Choice is our greatest gift, and He has offered us salvation, if only we will choose to accept it. For those who accept Christ's sacrifice for them and who kept God's commandments to the best of their ability, they will be saved in the last day. 

I think that nowhere is this better expressed then in the book of Alma 11:42-45:
 42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
 43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
 44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
 45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.
I love these versus, because it so clearly explains what will occur when our spirits and bodies are rejoined.
Often people ask if Mormons believe we are saved by grace or by works. Really, we don't believe they are separate. We believe that the definition of grace is "the enabling power of God." This means that through Jesus Christ, we will have to ability to do anything, including obtain perfection. However, God has never allowed his children to sit idly by and let someone else do the work for them. Without the grace of our Savior, NO ONE would get to heaven. However, if we don't allow Christ's grace to work through us and change us, we won't be enough like our Father in Heaven to be able to dwell in His presence. Grace isn't simply saying that we accept Christ and then we're saved. Grace is doing our best and relying upon our Savior. As we do that, his grace (enabling power) will magnify all that we do and allow us to do things that are only possible through our Savior. 

If you want to read an incredible talk about the grace of our Savior, go to this link. It changed the way I thought about grace. 

It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that anyone is saved. Unfortunately, discussions about grace often come down to semantics. Often, Christians have more in common than we'd like to believe. I don't know very many Christians who really believe that if they accept Christ and then go out and kill someone that they will be saved because they accepted Christ. Most I know, in our faith and out of it, believe that they need to do their best and that their Savior wants them to treat others will love and respect. A true disciple of Christ will be judged on the way that they treat those around them and on who they become. (Matt 25)
 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 
For my final note to this topic, I'm going to geek-out for a second and quote from one of my favorite television shows. One of my favorite quotes from the Stargate universe goes like this:
“Judge yourself by the intentions of your actions and by the strength with which you faced the challenges which stood in your way. The universe is vast and we are so small. There is really only one thing we can ever truly control--whether we are good or evil.” 
― Oma de Sala
We can't control what this life will throw at us, but we can control how we will react to the challenges that we will face. Every decision we make is important, and the Plan of Salvation is a plan of hope. God will be as merciful as He can be, while still assuring that justice is met. If we will accept the Savior's atonement, the demands of justice will be satisfied. However, if we throw his sacrifice away and treat it as naught, we will have to pay for our own sins, and that is a far less pleasant option.

Next week, I'll talk about the kingdoms of glory that are in store for Heavenly Father's children after they are judged.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Making a Cartoon

This week, I've been doing awesome at getting up early with Grig! (Self-congratulatory pat on the back) Once I finish blogging, I usually will edit a chapter of my grandpa's life history that he's been sending me, and then I will work on making my characters for the movie I'm planning. So far, I'm half-way through the script and I've designed four characters.

This has technically been something I've been working on for a few years. As I mentioned before, Grig and I were able to buy a new computer and I also used my birthday money to purchase Toon Boom Studio 8, which is an animation software. It wasn't until now that I had technology compatible with my ideas.

The new animating software I bought recently also makes it possible for me to improve my animating for Dragon and the Wolf, so look forward to new and improved animations!

I am going to try and involve family as much as possible for the voices, so I'll keep you updated on my progress. The cartoons that I have created so far (The Dragon and the Wolf series) has mainly been for me to practice and learn how to animate. 

My brother thinks I'm silly, because it is possible to get actual 3D models who have already been designed by other people and use those free of charge. However, I kind of want to do everything myself as far as possible. That may be strange and extremely time-consuming, but I love it! I love drawing and watching my drawings come to life. It may be tedious, but it's a kind of tediousness that I enjoy.

If you want to see a little bit of what I've been working on, here is a raven from my movie, and a testing pose for Dragon and the Wolf using my new software. 


I'm super stoked about all the things that I'm working on, and sometimes I get a little too involved in projects. Those are the days that I have to turn off the computer for a while and just spend time with my son. Kevin likes watching my animations move, but he likes it even better when I stop working on them and play with him. The nice thing about getting up early is I now have a few hours in the morning that I can work uninterrupted before I have to take care of him. The trick is to stop working on it after he gets up. 

I'm a work in progress and I have good days and bad days, but I am grateful for the talents that I have been given. Technology can be a wonderful thing in moderation. Kevin is helping me learn moderation and selflessness. 

Babies are good for the soul.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Explaining "Funny"

The other day, I was watching an episode of Studio C with Kevin (he loves it for some weird reason), and Havelock stopped behind me to watch it with us. Havelock has a different sense of humor from me, and he didn't understand the satire behind this particular episode. So, he asked me why it was supposed to be funny.

As I tried to explain the joke behind the episode, I was reminded how difficult it is to explain the "funny" behind something. It's like trying to explain salt without using the word salty. You can  talk about the satire behind a concept, the irony, the joke, but if it isn't funny to someone, it probably won't be after you try and explain it. If fact, usually that just makes it even less funny.

Here I will tell you a story. You may have heard it before, as I told this story during Top Ten Injuries in My Life: The Weird, Wacky, and Serious.

Once upon a time, I was walking with a group of friends down the sidewalk. I was very engaged in the conversation, and there were too many of us to fit on the sidewalk, so I started walking on the grass. One moment I was on solid ground, and the next my foot was plummeting through the ground. I may have been mid-sentence. My leg disappeared down a manhole up to my thigh and I fell on my face. One leg was down the hole, while the other was bent at a 90 degree angle. I laid still for a moment, trying to figure out what had just happened and if I was injured. I was fine, so I got up and we laughed about that for the next ten minutes.

Why is this story funny? It had an unexpected twist that resulted in slapstick comedy. However, if you don't find the thought of my leg falling down a manhole funny, I can't change that. It's like trying to explain the punchline of a joke that someone doesn't get. Sometimes they do understand, and laugh, but usually it just makes the joke less funny for everyone.

Babies seem to think slapstick is hilarious. I've never known a baby that didn't laugh when they were swinging in a swing and I pretended that they kicked me every time they came close. Kevin loves to sword fight right now. We babysat a couple of boys from our ward last night, and Kevin, Grig, and the younger boy engaged in an epic sword battle while I and the other boy painted. Kevin laughed and laughed as the other two pretended to be hurt or injured.

Where does humor come from and what makes something funny? At what age do children decide what they find funny and what they don't?

I thought for a while that humor was learned. However, Kevin will laugh at things that Grig and I would have never thought about laughing at, and once he starts we can't help but join. He has an infectious laugh. Sometimes we'll ask him, "Why is that funny?" However, just like me, he is incapable of expressing the humor behind the situation. At least he has the excuse of the language barrier. I'm just stuck with being incapable.

I love laughing and being happy. Grig makes me laugh quite often, and so does Kevin. Life is a lot more fun when you can find something to laugh about.

In my parent's family, we didn't like to be sad. Even in the midst of tragedy we'd find something to laugh about because we just didn't enjoy feeling bad. So, to others, we sometimes laugh at inappropriate times, but really it's just a defensive mechanism. Laughter can shield and help you recover from tragedy faster than any other tonic.

There are moments when it is completely inappropriate to laugh, and I've had to work hard over the years to learn when those moments were. I'm sure my father will remember back a few years when I and my older brother were in the car. We were almost back to our house when flashing lights appeared in the rear-view mirror. My father pulled over, but since I had never been in a car that had been pulled over before, I got really nervous. Unfortunately, when I get nervous, my first response is to laugh.

My father really didn't appreciate the two giggling kids in the background while the officer informed him that his taillight was out and he needed to replace it. We weren't doing it to be immature or rude, we were just plain anxious. It all turned out okay, but sometimes it's hard to shut off the giggle when it begins.

Man is that he might have joy. Laugh more often. Smile more frequently, and find the humor as often as is appropriate.

You'll live longer, and be much happier...even if you can't explain why it's funny.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

After the Trial...

On Saturday, we were driving to Sam's Club to go shopping. It was an unusually warm day outside, and so, for the first time all winter, we decided to roll our windows down.

A harmless thing to do, right?

Wrong! Or at least, that's what our car decided. As Grig tried to roll the window back up, it simply groaned and died. We tried to get it back on the track by pushing the button back and forth and we were rewarded by the sound of cracking glass.

Great.

I was pretty hopeful at first. I told Grig, "It will be okay. All we have to do is pray, and it is going to work again." He was kind of skeptical, but willing to try. He wasn't skeptical because he didn't believe God could fix the window, he was skeptical because the Lord may have a reason for breaking the window, and if so, no amount of praying was going to fix it.

We went shopping and when we came out, we said a prayer and tried the window again. If anything, the sounds got worse...and then it stopped working completely. It didn't dampen my faith however. I felt like it was going to be okay, even if we had to take it in. He agreed.

It's hard when you believe something is going to happen and it doesn't, though. I took the car in on Monday and was told it was probably going to be about a $300 fix to get it back on track.  As I left, that was when the frustration hit.

We'd just barely finished fixing up our car. We were starting to be able to save money again! Why did this have to happen now?

However, there was nothing to be done, so we agreed and left the car there over night. That night it snowed, and we were grateful that they had it inside of their shop where moisture couldn't blow through the window.

Sometimes bad things happen, and you begin to ask the Lord "Why?"  However, I am learning more and more that as we continue in faith the blessings begin to pour in.

The same day we turned the car in, Grig's co-worker approached him. Grig was busy sweeping because they were at a slow point, and his co-worker kind of just stood there and watched him for a minute. Then he said, "Hey, man. How would you like to weld?"

Grig loves welding. He is officially a fitter (of parts for the welders), but every time one of the welders will let him, he has been welding. At first Grig thought that his co-worker was asking if he wanted to weld right then, and then he realized that the man was talking full-time. His co-worker informed him that a full-time position had just opened and he should go apply. So, he did.

If he gets this position, we will receive a raise, and Grig will be able to do something he enjoys a lot more! So, we are currently praying that he gets the job. That would be a huge blessing.

Then, my parents just informed me that our phone plan is changing. With the change, our phone bill is suddenly going to become more inexpensive! That's pretty exciting.

On top of that, when I went to pick up the car yesterday, I informed my grandfather (who was driving me) that I had finally received my new state driver's license. He told me, "Okay, then I'm going to take you to Wal-mart and get you a fishing license. I'll pay for it."

I've been dying to go fishing. Lately, I've been editing my grandpa's life history for him, and he told me this was his way of paying me back for all of my work. Then, he asked if we wanted to go fishing at 4:00. I really wanted to, but I wanted to talk to Grig about it first.

We picked up the car and it turned out that the motor that rolls up the window was actually broken. The man at the repair shop told me that it fell into six pieces as he pulled it out. He also told me he had never seen one in that bad of shape. So, I don't know why our car had to experience this right now, but I'm grateful we had money to pay for it. It ended up being a bit less than $300 when all was said and done, and our window works again. That was another blessing.

We did go fishing last night, and we caught three beautiful (though smallish) rainbow trout. We had a lot of fun! Grig didn't fish (he doesn't have his driver's license yet, but he will soon), so he and Kevin explored the area while Grandpa and I fished. They found a couple of fossils and a dead bird. They had a good time.


These pictures are actually from a different fishing trip, but I forgot to bring my camera last night, so I decided to use these pictures instead. We only caught three fish last nigh and they were all about the size of the little one between Grig and I. Also, Kevin is much older now.



I am pretty grateful for how many blessings we have in our lives. I feel like our trials are insignificant in comparison, and I feel bad for my frustration the other day. I am learning to trust in the Lord, regardless of what life might throw at us. He hasn't steered me wrong, and He never will.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not Quite Tired Enough

This blog does not refer to Dakota, she's always tired enough.
Lately, we've had some interesting new adventures with Kevin.

He will walk up to me and tell me, in his own frank way, that he is tired and is ready for bed. Usually when this happens, as soon as I lay down with him he will go to sleep. Lately, that hasn't been the case.

Last night when Kevin did this, Grig and I went through the whole bedtime ritual. We brushed teeth together, read scriptures, said prayers, and Grig read him a story. Then we settled down for him to go to sleep. We laid there for a few minutes, and then he got up to play. Even though he was tired, he wasn't quite tired enough.

So, we decided to wear him out a bit more. We took him back out to the living room, and we waited for another 45 minutes. Next time we went back into the bedroom, he fell right asleep.

He's also been overly hungry. He'll be nursing and nursing, but it's like he just can't get enough milk. Which is fine, because then I'll take him out and feed him solid food, and suddenly he'll feel great. He's a growing boy and milk just isn't cutting it for him anymore. Which makes me kind of grateful, and also kind of sad. I guess at 15-months, he's probably ready for more.

Though he's been eating solid food for a long time, he's never shown much interest in eating a lot of it. Mostly, he just nibbles as everything we are eating and then wants to nurse. However, last night he ate an entire bowl of my special version of Rice-a-Roni* (all that was leftover). When he finished, he was definitely full. He barely asked to share the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was eating for dinner. He actually has all four of his molars now. They are not fully out, but they have breached the surface and they are sharp! He now has the capacity to eat the things he prefers (meat).

The other funny thing that he's been doing lately is what I like to call syncronized sleeping with his father. If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say that, well, a picture is worth a thousand words:


They do this on their own. I just take advantage of it by taking pictures. Notice how the arms are even at the same angle, and the pointer finger of the right hand is slightly elevated above the rest.

I think it's pretty adorable.

Speaking of adorable, Kevin received a gift from his Aunt yesterday. She had made him some cross-stich refrigerator magnets. I was pretty impressed, but Kevin LOVED them. He especially liked the otter that she did without a pattern. Here is Kevin's reaction to the magnets:
I like to call this the face of happiness.

He's a pretty special kid! We sure like him.

*To make the special version of rice-a-roni, simply cook a family-size version beef flavored version, but when you add the water and seasoning, also add a can of black beans, 1-2 cups of corn, and 1/2 a lb of hamburger. Once it boils, lower the heat and cover until most of the water has been absorbed. Then, serve with ranch (I like to add it on top and stir it around) and eat on tortilla chips. It's delicious!