Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tired, but Happy

We are having a wonderful time with our new puppy.

However, it's not all fun and games.

Puppies can make you tired.

Arkhon is a great pup, but at this early stage I have to be paying attention to him all the time, or we end up with accidents. The crate-training will hopefully help, but it is a process, not an instant solution.

Like babies, puppies need near-constant care. If you don't pay attention for two seconds, you look back to find the puppy chewing up your son's pants, chewing on the couch, or urinating on the floor. It happens. It doesn't mean you're a terrible owner or you have a bad dog, it just means you have a puppy.

Toddlers are similar. Kevin can be playing nicely and suddenly, it gets quiet. When you are a mom, you know it isn't the noise you have to worry about, it's the silence.

You run and check to find that your son has discovered a book and is delightedly ripping the pages out. (This doesn't really happen anymore, Kevin's gotten past the point of destroying books. Now he just likes to read them.)

Regardless, always having to have your mind and attention on a couple young people can be tiring. The mental fatigue can make you want to run and go grocery shopping as soon as your husband gets home so you can relax for a moment.

Don't let this discourage you from having children or puppies, though.

It is also very rewarding.

I get to see those minute improvements that Grig doesn't get to see. I get to see the pup start responding to "Drop it," and feel thrilled when I have a whole day without an accident.

I get to see my little boy affectionately rest his head against his puppy's side while he calls it his "Baby," over and over.

I get to see my old, grumpy dog sneak a quick, tender lick on the puppy's head that she doesn't think I see, and I get to see her move protectively in front of him when another energetic dog is getting too close.

I see my son learning to be kind to both dogs and learning to reward them for good behavior.

We get more exercise as a family as we try to keep the energy levels in our home down.

We are so blessed. I am so grateful for my family, including the canine part of it. They aren't people, and they never will be treated the same as our son, but they do enrich our lives by being part of it.

Kevin has learned a lot about how to be gentle by owning dogs. I hope he can apply that to other children as well.

I am so grateful for a hard-working husband who earns enough for us to support ourselves. Sometimes there isn't a lot extra, but there is always enough.

So, yes, we've lost a little sleep by having run a puppy outside in the middle of the night, but we are happy.

Currently, both dogs and Kevin are asleep. I finally get some quiet time to do whatever I want!

I might take a nap.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A "Short" Walk

Yesterday, Kevin, Dakota, Arkhon, and I went with our next-door neighbor on a walk (this is the neighbor who received Arkhon's brother). We were walking her daughter to school, but seeing as we had two small puppies, we decided to leave at 10:30. School started at 12, and we didn't want to be late.

Even with the two pups, we made pretty good time and got there about 11:50. We would take frequent breaks and make the puppies ride in the stroller after a while. We were trying to be very careful not to over-exercise them.

Even so, by the time we got back at 1:20, the pups, Kevin, and Dakota were all exhausted. It didn't help that it was pretty warm.

It was really fun to see the differences between the two brothers. Arkhon is a little thinner and less fluffy, but he has a lot more energy. He also is a bit stubborn. Loki, his brother, on the other hand, is calmer and easily tired. It was funny. We walked about ten minutes and Loki wanted into the basket under the stroller. Once he was placed inside, he instantly fell asleep.

Arkhon on the other hand, did NOT want to take a break inside the stroller basket. He continually tried to jump out. It was only during the last half an hour of the three hour trip that he finally relaxed and went to sleep. That was nice. We'll have to keep working on that.

They love each other a lot. They're always excited to see each other, but neither one of them listens very well when they're playing. When the sidewalk was too narrow for both strollers to be side-by-side, the brother in front would try to get to the brother behind, and the brother behind would be straining to reach the brother in front. They were getting better at ignoring each other and walking though.

We had a great time, and I'm really grateful that my neighbor invited us to go. I like walking with her. We get along well.

The only downside of our "short" walk was that I missed the UPS guy so I had to wait until today to get our crate. It was totally worth it though.

We are planning on walking most days, but so far, we've only managed to do two day in the last two weeks. No worries, we'll get it!

Arkhon's first veterinarian appointment is set for Friday. I'm excited for him to start getting his shots so that we can take him to the dog park.

It's fun to see how quickly he's learning.

He already loves his crate. Just a moment ago, he started whining because he couldn't get into it. I opened it up, and he went right in, laid down and fell asleep. Hooray for successful crate-training!

We started off by putting his favorite toys, his water bowl, and couple of treats in there. When he would enter, we would praise him. After a few times of him going in on his own (it is important not to force them in), we started shutting the door. We lengthened the time that the door was shut, praised him when he was quiet and calm, and ignored him when he started whining. It didn't take long for him to feel relaxed.

Ideally, the crate is supposed to be seen as a safe place. I think he is starting to quickly recognize that. We don't let Kevin bother him when he's in there, and I think he enjoys finishing his naps. (Kevin doesn't like it when people or dogs are sleeping when he wants to play.)

He and Kevin are doing better at being nice to each other. Last night, Kevin would run over, pet him, and run back with a huge smile on his face as we praised him for being so gentle. Arkhon had this look that said, "I endure this because I love you." It was pretty funny.

We have a good time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day Four of Life with a Puppy

Some of you may be wondering how things are going at our home with our new arrival.


Things couldn't be better.

Arkhon already feels like part of the family. He and Kevin are best friends (though we do have to continually remind them to be gentle with each other). We try to monitor, but all it takes is a second for Kevin to hit Arkhon or for Arkhon to nip Kevin.

They're learning though. I think they'll understand how to play better soon.

Kevin loves his dog.
We ordered Arkhon's crate Thursday afternoon. It is supposed to get here today. Meanwhile, he's been sleeping under our bed. We'll start crate-training as soon as it gets here.

Arkhon has been picking things up quickly. He is already pretty good about not coming in the kitchen, not getting on the beds or couches, and not urinating in the house. He hasn't pooped in the house once, but he has had a couple of urinary accidents. Fewer every day, and usually if he does have an accident, it is simply because we didn't move fast enough when he was giving signs that he needed to go. The crate should help eliminate accidents all together.

Meanwhile, Grig tried to make Arkhon a bed out of a box. At first Arkhon didn't like it, but when he saw Kevin playing in it, and Grig cut another hole so Kevin could get out, he suddenly loved it.

He doesn't sleep in it, he just plays in it.

Aw, isn't he cute?
Kevin and he play a fun game where Kevin will run and look down one hole, and the puppy will pop out. That usually results in a lot of laughter from all involved.
Sunday we tried to trap the dogs in the hall, but our gate hasn't arrived yet either, so while we were at the temple dedication, they got out.

The damage wasn't very bad. One small accident and one chewed up pair of headphones (that Grig wanted to replace anyway) were the main casualties. Dakota, of course, was excellent. Also, Arkhon evidently helped himself onto the couch, because we've had to correct that a couple of times in the last couple of days.

He loves people, especially kids. Every time he sees someone, he wants to go say hello. He is doing really well at learning not to jump on people and walking on the leash. We all love taking walks together. He is really fast too! If we run with him, he can pretty much keep up already. He tends to run at our sides and not to run ahead, which is excellent.

He is playful, but calms down quickly. If you can't tell, we are very pleased with him.

It's been great to have his brother next door too. They're always happy to see each other, and they enjoy wrestling. Usually, his brother, who's been named Loki and is slightly bigger and heavier, pushes him over and ends up on top, but last night Arkhon got the upper hand.

I couldn't be prouder.

It made Loki mad though.

The other day, Grig put him on his lap, and then they both proceeded to fall asleep. It was pretty cute. Of course, as soon as I got out the camera, Arkhon woke up and jumped off. I did manage to snap this picture though:
Photo-bomb Dakota in the corner.
As for Dakota, does she love the puppy?

Not yet maybe, but give it some time. She's learning to tolerating the puppy.

She's starting to come around.

After all, he loves her, and that's what friendships are made of.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mormon Monday: Temple Dedication and the Spirit

Yesterday, we attended the Ogden Temple re-dedication.

When we build a temple, we try to make a building fit for our Heavenly Father to dwell in. That's why we try and make it beautiful and use the best materials possible. We want to give the Lord our best.
It was a beautiful event, and the Spirit was very strong. The Ogden temple was dedicated before, but after renovations, it was re-opened to the general public for tours. We weren't able to attend the open house (where anyone could enter), but they broadcast the re-dedication in our area.

When a temple is dedicated, it becomes a House of the Lord. It is meant to be a sanctuary from the world and all outside influences. This is why is it so important to be keeping the commandments and as clean as possible before you enter the building. This is why it is so restricted. The feeling in the temple is a very calming one. As the scriptures say in John 14:27:
 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Often times, people may claim that they've never felt the Spirit of the Lord. This may be true for some of them, but you'd have to try awfully hard to never be in a place where the Lord's Spirit can dwell. I think more often, people just don't recognize the Lord's Spirit when they feel it. Galatians 5:22-23 say:
 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,gentleness, goodness, faith,
 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 
When we feel peace, love, and joy, we are feeling the Spirit. He will testify of truth and guide us and strengthen us.

When we are baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are baptized and confirmed or born of water and of the spirit (John 3:5). To be confirmed is when you are given the gift of the Holy Ghost through proper authority. This is a promise from the Lord that when you keep His commandments, always remember Him, and take the Savior's name upon you, you will be accompanied all your days by the third member of the Godhead. Previous to the confirmation, you can feel the Spirit occasionally, but after the confirmation, He is with you always.

When I was a kid, I was baptized and confirmed at the age of 8. However, I went through a point, where I thought that I had lost the Spirit through wickedness. I was about 11 at the time. I remember being really concerned about it, but I continued to try to do my best.

I would get reassurance from time to time that the Spirit was still with me, but I thought that I had never felt Him really powerfully.

Then, one day when I was 18, I entered a building where the Lord's Spirit could not come. Suddenly, inside of me, I felt a hollow feeling. I felt almost sick. I was only in this building for a short time, but right afterward the group I was with went to one of our church buildings. As I walked through the doors, it was as though a great wind flooded back into my heart and I felt peace. I realized that I had never lost the Spirit. I was just so used to having Him with me, that I didn't recognize the feelings when I felt them. I couldn't identify the Spirit in my life.

Since then, whenever I teach lessons at church or in my home, I try to point out to those around me when the feelings that the Spirit kindles are present. It has helped me notice how frequently I feel Him, and I think it also helps those around me learn to identify Him.

I am so grateful for the blessings of the temple. When ever I enter the Lord's holy house, I am flooded with peace and calm. There are very few places like it in the world today. The world is so noisy, that unless we stop to listen, we often won't hear or feel the still, small voice of the Spirit.

I encourage everyone to listen. I'm still learning how to know when He is speaking to me, but I know He does. I am so grateful that the Lord cares enough to take notice of our lives. I know He loves all of us, regardless of the choices that we have made, and He wants us to return to Him.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

And introducing....

This morning started out great!

It was like Christmas. I woke up at 6:30 a.m., and as soon as I remembered what was happening today, I could no longer sleep. So, I began to deep clean my oven. Isn't that what everyone does when they can't sleep?

I was half-way through the racks and the bottom of the oven when Kevin and Grig woke up at about 7:45. We were planning on leaving at 8:30, but with the mess I made, we didn't manage to take off until 9:00.

We drove the hour and forty minute trip with our GPS giving us bogus directions, and we found our destination with no problem (it helps that we had been there only a month before.) We did, however, have a miracle on the way.

Since my sister's wedding, I haven't been able to find my wedding ring. We've prayed and searched everywhere. However, as we were driving to pick up the pup, Grig was searching for snacks for Kevin in the diaper bag. Suddenly he said, "Hun, guess what?"

He pulled out my wedding ring! It evidently had been in the diaper bag the whole time. I was so grateful. We immediately said a prayer, and after Grig had cleaned the sticky-candy-juice off of it, I was able to put it back on. Heavenly Father is very kind.

As we drove down the driveway to my aunt's home, we could see the puppies running in a field to the side of us. They had grown quite a bit and were quite fast. They raced us to the house and all six (mother included) greeted us with happy faces and wagging tails.

There is still one (maybe two) puppy(ies) available. She's the whiter one. There may also be a boy with similar coloring available too.
We said hello for a few minutes, and then we went and knocked on the door. My aunt answered, and we spent the next couple of hours fawning over our puppy and talking to my aunt. All of her kids were at school, so we didn't get to say hello to them; which was too bad.

We had a scare at one point. We had been playing with our boy, when suddenly he wandered off and disappeared about the time that my uncle drove in with his truck. We couldn't find him anywhere!

Visions of him lying crushed under a tire floated through my brain, but luckily, after half and hour or so, we found him in the den where his mother had given birth. He was pretty far underground with some boards covering the entrance. We had worn him out, so he just went to take a nap.

What a relief!

After that, my aunt was kind enough to fix us some lunch, we packed up our pup and the other dark male, and loaded everything into the car. The box we had brought was far too small for both puppies (though it might have fit them a month ago), so my aunt also supplied a new box. It was still a bit small, but it was big enough. They were cozy all the way home. Also, they were very cute.

The one on the right is our neighbor's pup. The one on the left with the broader white blaze is ours.
Kevin was pretty excited about the puppies being in the car. He kept wanting to play with them, and would get mad if his dad (who was in the back seat monitoring the situation) would touch them. He was tired and needed a nap. Grig was sure that he wouldn't fall asleep because he was too excited.

I guess he wasn't as excited as he was tired.

The puppy crashed too.

Other than a little car-sickness from our new pup (he threw up four times), things went really well. (Our neighbor's pup wasn't sick at all.) The pups slept most of the way. Grig thought he had the better end of the deal by sitting in the back while I drove, but at least I didn't have to clean up puppy-puke. :)

We reached our home and introduced Dakota to the new pup. We took them both outside so they would be on neutral territory before we brought him into the house. He was a little scared of her, and she didn't really care about him. She gave him a casual sniff and went back to what she was doing.

They've warmed up a bit, though Dakota still isn't sure what to think about the little guy. They'll get used to each other.

A long day for a little guy.
Next we brought him in and gave him a good bath. He did really well, and seemed to enjoy it. He seems to be a water-dog. He loves to splash in his bowl and in puddles outside. There goes the bath.

Oh well.

The pup is doing really well with house-training. He has only had two spills, and we caught both before he got very far. He finished up outside both times and has also defecated only on the grass. We have high hopes. He seems to catch onto things quickly.

Our neighbors seem to really like his brother and they were pretty happy to see each other when we ran into them later. We have plans to get them together and let them play.

Finally, we have officially picked our pup's name. We'd like to introduce:


After his long and exciting day, Arkon has spent the majority of it sleeping.

I'm tired too. I think I'm going to head to bed. I decided that I've been living off adrenaline for the past week, and when things got peaceful and I relaxed, I became exhausted.

Good night, all. It's been a good day.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

If you ask anyone who's spent even a smidgen of time around me lately, they would probably tell you that I'm pretty excited. Tomorrow's the big day!

We are driving an hour and a half to pick up our new puppy from my aunt's home. I think our home has been about puppy-proofed (though I guess we'll find out for sure when he gets here).

It's been nearly a month since we've last seen the little guy, so I'm sure he's changed a bit. I was talking to my aunt on the phone yesterday, and she said our puppy is usually the first one to greet her when she goes outside, so that made us pretty happy.

We went to her home a few months ago with a very definite type of puppy in mind. The puppy shouldn't startle too much at loud noises (since we have a toddler), it should be curious, it should be friendly, fairly calm, and submissive. To our delight, more than one of the puppies fit this profile!

The mother was very friendly and calm, though I was surprised by just how petite she was. I'm used to Dakota's build, and this beautiful little mother was so delicate!
Our puppy's mother.
My cousin was pretty funny. He kept telling us, "You can have one for free! Take it with you!" We told him thank you, and we wanted to take one, but they were still too young. He then informed us that they had started eating solid food. His mother then explained to him that they still were drinking milk, so they still needed to stay with their mother.

When we saw the puppies, I was thrilled. Secretly, I hadn't really want just a black and white border collie. They're cute, but I like a little more color variation...and variation I received:

I love his coloring.
They were perfect. Now, if only they would fit our profile.

As we were examining the puppies, I made my elephant-impersonation, which if you haven't heard it before, can be quite startling. Two of the puppies were hiding, so they were ruled out of our choosing, one of the puppies took off running, and two sat still and didn't seem bothered by the sound at all.

We determined those two were in the running. They had similar markings (a.k.a adorable), so their look didn't affect the decision. One was a girl and one was a boy. I was more inclined toward the girl (I'd never owned a boy dog before), but Grig kind of fell for the boy. Both were friendly and laid easily on their backs (a sign of submission), but the girl fought it just slightly. I decided to step out on a limb and agreed to get the boy puppy (if we were going to get one). At the time, we still weren't sure, because we wanted to have enough money for vet bills and things.

Having decided which puppy we would take if we were going to take one, we took some pictures so that we could look at them while we were thinking about it. He's cute from all angles:

 Of course, the most important thing was that he got along with Kevin. Kevin had just woken up from a nap, so he wasn't too enthusiastic about it at first. However, he warmed up to it.

Do I need to say why I love this picture?

Grig and his two boys.
I'm so stoked! Tomorrow morning can't come soon enough. There are a few things we need to finish in preparation, but over-all, I think we're prepared. I've spent the last couple weeks deep-cleaning my house and we moved all the books and bookshelves to our room so they won't get chewed on. I just have to hide the computer chords (and finish the dishes) and we're good to go!

I think.

We went to the dog park last night with Dakota, and there were so many puppies there! It made me a  little crazy. They were really cute, and Kevin did really well with them. I think he'll warm up to the idea.

Dakota also did really well at the dog park. She usually likes puppies and bonds well with dogs that she's introduced to when they are young. Hopefully the pup won't bother her too bad. We're going to try to make sure he leaves her alone when she's had enough.

She is old, after all.

We think they kind of look alike too, down to the heart-shaped mark on the forehead.
I'm going to be a bit outnumbered by boys, but I'm getting used to that. At least I still have Dakota.

Wish us luck!

My neighbor is getting one as well, so we're actually driving back with two pups. She still has two more (I think they're both girls) if anyone is interested. Let me know ;).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Best and Worst of Times With a Toddler

I read a fantastic blog this morning from a friend of mine where she talked about her struggles and joys with her son during his first year of life. Here is the link if you'd like to read her post. It's fantastic: I highly recommend it.

Anyway, it got me thinking. She talked about how the baby stage wasn't her favorite stage of life, and I realized that the stage that we had just hit and nearly passed is probably my least favorite stage of babyhood.

Kevin was an awesome baby. He was nearly always cheerful, he slept through four hour chunks at night, and he immediately grasped the concept of nursing. We had a pretty peaceful babyhood.

He became mobile quite quickly, as we might have mentioned before. He was crawling at six months, and fluently walking at nine months. At the time, we were pretty proud, but that quickly led to pleased-horror as he began to get into everything.

That stage wasn't even really that bad though. Kevin has an inherent cautious streak in him. He might do something once, but he learns pretty quick when something hurts him, and he tends not to do it again. Due to that, it's been pretty easy to allow him to make some mistakes, because he usually learns from them (key word: usually).

However, this last stage has been pretty challenging. Kevin is now at the stage where he KNOWS what he wants, and he isn't able to communicate it very well. That, combined with me leaving for work with a month and his eye teeth coming in, has made for a pretty grumpy, frustrated child.

When my son would scream and scream and follow me around the house, but wouldn't want to be touched, has probably been the hardest point of motherhood for me. It was very frustrating, because I often know what he wants, but it was something I either couldn't give him, or I didn't want him to have. He couldn't understand that though, so it resulted in a temper tantrum. It didn't matter what I did, he would just stuck in the angry phase.

He's also still nursing, and that makes it difficult because I am about ready to wean him. However, with as much pain as he's been in, some days all he wants to do is nurse.

When Kevin throws a temper, it can be pretty hilarious. He'll stomp his feet and swing his arms and blurb his lips. Sometimes I have to laugh at him, because he's so cute. Of course, that can make him even more angry. Sometimes humor is our only salvation.

I don't really enjoy those times when he was behaving that way.

The other thing that he has been doing that has been frustrating is when he tries to hurt you. Somewhere he picked up pinching, biting, and hitting. We're working on those, but the more tired he is, the more he tries to lash out. He's learning, even if it can be a slow process. I think he just does't comprehend that he's hurting other people. He thinks it is some kind of game.

At the same time, it has been a glorious period. Kevin is starting to talk, and it has been thrilling to hear identifiable words come from his mouth. He can say bubble, run, and dog. One of my favorite things that I hear him say, is he will go, "He says ROOAARR (or whatever noise he just heard something make)." He'll say it a couple times if I don't react right away. That's always fun to hear.

It's amazing what he can do now!
He's an adorable baby, and we're so proud of him. Right now, he really wants to help with everything, and that has been a lot of fun. A few weeks ago, we were snapping beans, and he wanted to help. I decided to let him try. This is what happened:

He was trying really hard. He finally figured out that it didn't take that much effort and was able to help a bit. He loves to help with dishes and it's easy to keep him preoccupied while I do them. I just hand him a wooden spoon and he stirs around the water.

We usually have a great time together!
We've seen some incredible things that he has been learning, and every day he becomes an even more awesome little man. Grig is thrilled (when Kevin's not screaming at us), and as his vocabulary has improved and his tooth pain has subsided, we seem to be moving away from the screaming fits. Hooray!

We've recently discovered balloons, and he has really been enjoying those.

At the end of every evening, even when the day's been rough, he's still my sweet little boy. I will never regret having such a wonderful child. I know times might be challenging, but he is worth every frustration and stress. I wouldn't trade him for anything, including more sleep.

Everything he learns is a thrill and a delight. It will be so much fun to see where he goes next. With a kid like this, he can do anything he puts his mind to!

And he's stinking cute to boot.
So, yeah, it's been tough. Sometimes I was so frustrated that I just had to leave for a few minutes and cool down.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't do it all over again, and I probably will. We want more than one.

A lot more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lagoon Trip, Year 2

Many of you will remember our Lagoon Day from last year. It's kind of crazy that I've been writing on this blog for over a year now.

This year, we invited some different family members to come with us. Last year we took Grig's sister and brother-in-law with us. This year we invited my sister, and Grig's two brothers.

Grig had work the day of the event, and I was on my way back from Idaho. It didn't start until 5:00 p.m., so things worked out well.

We had a great time!

Havelock drove down with us and my sister, and we waited outside the entrance until his other brother arrived. His friend was kind enough to drop him off.

This was outside of the park while we were waiting. Havelock and Kevin were having a great time!
Once we'd gathered our complete party, we entered the gates. That's when I realized that we had forgotten our stroller! I convinced Grig to let us rent one, even though that was a little expensive. That was nice of him. It ended up carrying everyone's stuff, so it worked pretty hard throughout the night.

Hooray for strollers!

Once we got inside, we did one of the water-rides right away so hopefully we would have time to dry, and then we convinced Grig's brothers to try the Samurai.

Don't they look happy?
Grig's older younger brother liked it, but Havelock thought it was too scary. After that, we went and ate dinner, which was delicious. They served hamburgers, hot-dogs, and fried chicken. We also could get ice-cream, as much soda as you wanted, and chips. We rolled away from the tables and decided to stay away from the intense rides while our food digested.

Havelock and my sister decided to try bumper cars while we took Kevin on the Twirl a Whirl. It was approved for all ages, so we assumed it would be pretty tame.

I thought Kevin was laughing in this picture. Actually, I don't think he was.
It wasn't. However, Grig and his brother thought that Kevin had been laughing at the end, so I decided to go on the ride with him again. He wasn't very excited about the idea and he wanted to sit on my lap. I wasn't sure that was allowed, so I made him sit on the seat just before the ride got started. 

This picture was taken before I removed him from my lap. He might have been okay if I had left him there. 

He screamed nearly the whole time. Afterward, we decided we needed to stick with tamer things, like the merry-go-round. First though, we took turns on the bumper cars. First, Havelock and my sister went.

Then, when they finished, Grig, his other brother, and I tried our hand. I wasn't very good at it, but it was fun.

 After that, we went to the merry-go-round. Kevin had some trepidation about riding on it, but eventually he started to enjoy it. He liked the lion that he rode on.

After the merry-go-round, we wanted to ride on some roller coasters. We decided to start with the tamest one, and really old white one. Havelock didn't want to join his brothers at first, but they "convinced" him to go with them. That turned out to be one of his favorite rides.

Havelock's brothers talking him into going.
While they were riding that, my sister bought some cotton candy and shared it with Kevin and me. It was really good. At first, Kevin didn't want to eat it. He found the consistency to be strange. Eventually, he tried it, and then he couldn't get enough of it.

Kevin is angry that she's not sharing.
About this point, it became too dark to take pictures, so we just enjoyed ourselves and put the camera away. We rode on a lot of different rides, but we were waiting to go onto one called "Wicked" until the end, because we were hoping the line would be shorter. Compared to normal, it really wasn't bad, but we didn't want to wait if we could help it.

By the time we finally went on it, only Grig and I were able to go. My sister was nice enough to watch Kevin, but they closed the line before Grig and I finished. We felt bad that she and Grig's brother hadn't gotten to go (Havelock didn't want to), but I think everyone had a really good time.

Kevin sure did. He didn't even make it to the car before he passed out on his father's head.

We had a fantastic time, and we can't wait for next year (as long as Grig is still working at the same job). We'll probably invite different family members so more people get a chance to come with us. It's fun to do things with family, and roller coasters are exciting!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mormon Monday: Getting Casual with our Religion

Yesterday, we had a fantastic stake conference. For those of you who don't know what that is, let me explain.

The church is separated into congregations called wards. Each of the wards are made up of so many members within a designated area. If there are fewer members in a city, the ward boundaries (or the area that makes up the ward) is much bigger. If there are more members in a city, then the ward boundaries tend to be smaller. My current ward is made up of about 10 or so blocks.

So wards are basic congregations. Stakes are groups of wards within an area. To quote from the answer to this on
A group of wards forms a stake, and the leader of a stake is a stake president. “Stake” is not a term found in the New Testament, but is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2). 
Thus, when we have stake conference, it is a rather large group of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have gathered to listen to the words of the stake president, his councilors, and other men and women whom he asks to speak.

Yesterday's meeting was incredible! The Spirit was so strong, and as the stake president got up to speak, I could tell that he had a message that he was very sincere about.

He started off by telling us that he had known what he was supposed to talk about for the last few months. He was a little scared to talk about it, and he pleaded with us to not take offense at anything he had to say.

Whenever someone starts their talk that way, you know they're going to ask you to repent in some way.

He then went on to talk to us about not being casual with our religion. He told us that in this day and age, it is easy to say things like, "It's not on the outside that matters, but what's on the inside." If you adhere to this philosophy, then it doesn't matter what you wear to church as long as you are living the gospel internally.

He disagreed with this and told us that what you do on the outside tends to make its way to the interior.

As he spoke to us about ways that we could take the gospel more seriously, some words from a scripture came to my mind. It was from 2 Nephi 28:21, and it said:
 21 And others will [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
I thought about how we begin to think that we're doing just fine and we stop moving forward. I began to think about ways that I had become casual in my religion. He talked to us about the importance of reading and pondering the scriptures, saying deeper prayers, and giving more time to the Lord.

I used to use an analogy on my mission. I would tell people that this life is a fast-moving river and we are always being dragged downstream. If we want to reach our Father in Heaven, we have to be continually paddling upstream with the tools that he has given us. If we ever stop paddling, we begin to get dragged back downstream. If we are not moving toward Heavenly Father, we are moving away. It is impossible to stay in one spot.

Often times, instead of deeply pondering the scriptures, I simply skim or do a casual read. I've tried to read them every day, and just recently, I've been trying to read for half an hour first thing in the morning. However, that doesn't mean that my scripture study can't be greatly improved.

He asked, "What would our church service be like if we each gave just two hours a night over to the Lord?" He stated that we could use that time in any assortment of ways, like serving our neighbors, doing family history, and preparing lessons. He then posed the question of how that time given to the Lord would change the way we fulfilled our callings.

You see, the LDS church does not have a paid clergy. It is ran by the members doing all of the jobs because they are called of God and want to serve Him. Even the stake president was simply a good man doing his best to fulfill his calling.

I am currently in the primary presidency, which means that I help take care of the children in our ward. I wondered how much more effective I would be if I was able to give two hours a night to my calling. I felt that the spiritual promptings that I could receive would be greatly amplified.

I feel that the stake president wasn't necessarily asking us to put aside two hours a night for our church. Instead, I feel that he was asking us to consider our lives and try to discover where we could increase the time that we give to the Lord. Out of a twelve hour day, we can probably find a couple hours to give service to our neighbors, ponder on the scriptures, or prepare lessons.

I agree with the stake president. Sometimes I take the gospel way too casually. Sometimes I don't maintain an eternal perspective of events and I allow little things to distract me from doing what is right.

I want to work on taking my Savior and my Heavenly Father much more seriously and listening more intently for their instructions. A lot of times, I don't listen long enough, I only ask for things when I'm praying. If I don't stop to listen, how will I know if I've received an answer?

two people talking on the phone
They used to give a lesson in church about calling people on the phone, talking the whole time, and then hanging up before the other person can say anything. If I pray to my Father in Heaven and never listen for his reply, it is just as bad.

I know that He does answer prayers. He has answered a multitude of them for me. Sometimes it takes a while for the answer to come, and sometimes it isn't the answer that we want. However, if we sincerely pray, and have real intent to accept and do the answer no matter what it is, then we will be given the answer that will bring us the greatest peace and draw us nearer to our Heavenly Father.

I know this is true. Sometimes the answer you don't want is the one that brings you the greatest happiness. I know that the stake president is called of God, and as I follow his council that I will be blessed both temporally and spiritually,

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Fish Story

On the fourth weekend during my time in Idaho, I was trying to figure out what to do. Grig and I didn't have enough money for him to come up for the weekend, which really stunk because it was Labor Day weekend, and Grig didn't have work on Monday. I hated for him to be home all alone on a holiday.

It turned out that my parents were going to Utah for the Ogden Temple open house, so they offered to give me and Kevin a ride. They were going to Utah on Friday, and back to Idaho on Saturday, so I was expecting a short visit with my husband.

However, after really enjoying being home, I was reluctant to leave. I called my brother on the off-chance that he had come down to visit his in-laws and I could hitch a ride with him. He told me they were visiting in Utah, and wouldn't be heading back to Idaho until Monday. He told me that I could ride back with them! That was fantastic news!

My parents dropped by before they left, and they brought us a house-guest. They found a random monarch caterpillar just cruising along the sidewalk, so they brought it in. I knew where some milkweed was, so we fed our hungry little caterpillar. He ate about two of these huge leaves a day. He is currently in a cocoon turning into a butterfly. Hopefully it happens soon.

We had a few really busy days. Saturday afternoon we agreed to watch my husband's friend's kids while he and his wife went fishing. They were supposed to be over by 2:00 p.m., but as the minutes ticked by and they didn't show, we began to wonder if they were coming.

Finally, we got a text from his friend. He told Grig to come out because he had something to show him. Grig went out and when he walked back in, I was pretty surprised.

Grig was carrying three very large catfish. Evidently, Grig's friend and his wife couldn't wait for us to finish the other things we had to do that morning. They had already gone fishing. That meant that instead of spending the rest of the afternoon watching kids, we spent the rest of the afternoon gutting fish.

Two of the fish were still very much alive, and we had a very small kitchen sink. So we decided to stick the two live fish in the tub until we could get to them.

They were pretty fun. Kevin was taking a nap when they came over, but when he woke up he was pretty excited to find some huge fish in his tub.

I hadn't brought my camera back with us because I'd only been expecting to stay for two days, but we borrowed a camera from a friend of mine and were able to take some pictures.

Kevin kept waving at the fish and saying, "Hi!" He would reach down and pet them too. They were pretty chill about it, and by the time that Grig had finished cleaning the first one, we were having second thoughts about killing the next two.

However, they weren't our fish, and we couldn't let them live in our bathtub. So, I made Grig kill the biggest fish for me, and then I gutted it. That was nice of him to do that for me. He also really liked them, but he grew up on a small farm, so he's better at killing things than I am.

After I had gutted the last fish and their heads and entrails were in the trash, Kevin came walking up. He looked in the trash, and I wondered how he would react when he saw his fishes' heads.

My funny son surprised me. He took one glances, lifted his hand in a wave, and said, "Hi!"

Good kid.

We haven't eaten the fish yet. We are waiting for a good time to get with the friends who caught them and eat them together. Hopefully next weekend. Meanwhile, they're cooling in our freezer.

Crazy fun times.