Friday, October 31, 2014

Check Your Boots

In some places, it is advisable to check your boots or shoes in the morning before you put them on.

In places with scorpions, such as Mexico, I've heard that it is advisable to check your shoes before you put them on. They are a perfect place for scorpions to seek shelter, and shoving your foot into a the little guy's face can cause him to sting you.

In Australia, they warn people that white-tailed spiders (a venomous variety) sometimes climb into people's shoes. Another good place to knock out your boots before you put them on.

A few months ago, one of our neighbors found a bunch of baby mice in her shoes. Luckily, that isn't something that has been a problem for us, yet.

This morning, we found out that we have a different kind of creature that we have to worry about.

Grig went to put on his heavy, steel-toed boots for work. Everything seemed normal, until he had almost pulled the entire boot on, and then he made a surprised noise.

He took his left boot back off and reached inside of it.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

He held out his hand and showed me the following two items.
Aw, Schleich. Well, at least it was well-made toys.

It didn't take much deduction to figure out who put them in there. We had a good laugh, and joked about the dangers of not checking your boots before putting them on, especially with a Kevin in the house. 

Then Grig went to put on his other boot. He got it all the way on, before he had to pull it back off. 

"What's wrong?" I asked, "Another one? What is it this time?"
"A turkey," he said. 

Kevin's a turkey! Crazy little kid.
I went over and looked. It was an old, female, turkey toy that I've had for years (thus they didn't have any pictures of it online). We laughed again and he finished getting ready for work. 

I don't know when Kevin put the toys in Grig's boots, but it was pretty hilarious. We definitely weren't expecting that this morning. It made for a fun surprise.

From now on, we'll have to be more careful to check our footwear. You never know what you might find in there.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Next month is National Novel Writing Month, or as called by those who participate, NaNoWriMo.

Last year, I attempted it, and I just barely didn't get the required number of words written. This year, I'm hoping for a different story.

When I write, I have an idea for a story in my head, but I'm pretty vague on the actual details. I usually have the main character created, and a few major events.

However, this time, I'm trying something different. I've been creating characters beforehand, and story-lining to make sure I know where my story is going. It's been rather enjoyable, and it's been helping me feel ready to write a novel for real this time.

I've noticed that one of my greatest weaknesses when I write is having too much focus on the main character. So much so, that my other characters tend to be two-dimensional. As I've matured a bit, I've realized that books I really enjoy reading have a plethora of characters that I enjoy. I've been working on that lately, and it has really changed my writing. I'm starting to enjoy writing about more than one person. I've also been learning that stories, even more than plot, are about people. The growing, changing, and trials that people go through really are what making the story interesting. A good plot is also important, but if everyone is flat and boring, the plot can't save the story.

 I plan to write between 4-7 in the morning and during nap times. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. Divide that by 30, and you have about 1,666 words you need to write a day. I don't like to write on Sundays, so subtract 5 days. Thus, my goal is 2,000. Totally doable. Especially is I have three hours a day. I type fast and I have the story lined out.

I'm going to do it this year!

Now, for a funny Kevin story.

The other morning, Kevin woke up. He kept saying the same thing over and over, and to my surprise, I understood what he was saying.

"Nana," he said.

"Oh," I realized, "you want a banana?"

He nodded his head enthusiastically and repeated, "Nana."

"We don't have any bananas," I told him. "How about an apple instead?"

He thought about it, and then enthusiastically said, "Apple!"

It is weird when you can start understanding your kids. Suddenly, a whole new side of the personality to revealed.

Also, Kevin has started trying to stare us down when he's grumpy. If you tell him no, he'll put his arms down at his side, and give you a hard glare. It's adorable. However, every time I try and grab the camera, he instantly drops it and says, "Cheese!" and gives the cheesiest grin you've ever seen. This is one of my attempts to get his glare:

His dad tried to help me out. 

No success.

Just for kicks, here's a picture of Arkhon and me.

He sure is growing, and my hair is messy. ;)

Finally, a beautiful picture of our old girl, Dakota.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Arkhon's Greatest Talent (To Date)

Yesterday, Arkhon and I were playing ball in the house.

Our apartment isn't very big, and half-way through I decided to try to play the game outside. Jacob was home playing with Adam, so I left them to their fun.

Kevin loves his daddy.
We are facing a pretty busy street, but Arkhon already knows not to run into the road. He also doesn't run away unless he's chasing someone he knows (we're still working on that). He's a pretty good little pup.

He was really enjoying chasing the ball down the sidewalk. He was bringing it back to me and we were having a great time.

Then, we heard a dog bark from the next apartment down. He came running back, a little nervous. I picked him up and we walked toward the sound. As we approached, we met one of our neighbors and our dog. In the past, this particular neighbor has told me to remove my dogs when she brings hers outside, because her dog is dog-aggressive. Her dog's name is Milly.

We talked for a little while, and Milly's owner told me how her dog used to be really dog friendly until they lived in a scary neighborhood where dogs tried to attack them all the time. The frequency of dog fights had made Milly's owner nervous as well, and now Milly was always aggressive to dogs.

It reminded me of how I had felt when Dakota used to be dog aggressive. It was hard to let go of that fear and tension whenever a dog approached you. However, I had finally been brave enough to risk the dog park, and as no fights had occurred, my confidence in myself and Dakota grew. Dakota is now fantastic with every dog we meet and I am not worried at all anymore. I know my own tension is what caused half of those fights. It made Dakota feel likes she had to protect me.

So, I suggested maybe Arkhon and her dog could meet. Milly is an 80 lb border collie/german shepherd cross. Cautiously, the owner allowed them to sniff noses. When that seemed to go okay, I put Arkhon on the ground.

By watching Arkhon's reactions, I could tell how the other dog was feeling. At first, Arkhon was pretty nervous and submissive. He wouldn't come too close, but he expressed interest by sniffing her nose occasionally. After a little while, he ignored her until she relaxed a bit.

A few minutes later, to the owner's surprise, both dogs were playing. Milly, her dog, was still on the leash, but she would paw at Arkhon when he came in reach and she had relaxed completely. He showed that he was no longer worried about her either by dashing around and coming in close. Once he assumed the play position to her, I knew that we were past the worst part. I told the woman that Arkhon was used to dealing with grumpy old ladies (i.e. Dakota).

Arkhon and his grumpy old lady.
At that moment, another dog friend of Arkhon's came down the sidewalk and Milly and her owner went back in their house.

However, before she left we discussed having a play-date with the two dogs. That really excited her owner. We discussed allowing Arkhon to come play in her house so she would feel really secure. We're playing on having that play-date sometime soon.

As we left, Arkhon ran to pay with Petunia, the neighborhood basset hound. They are also great friends. The kid who owns her told me that Arkhon was Petunia's first friend too. Usually she didn't make dog friends either. I watched the basset hound romp with my pup, and I felt pretty proud of him. He handled the situation like a champ.

Arkhon is really good at making friends, be they people or animals. He loves everyone. I've thought about training him to be a therapy dog. I think he would be quite good at it.

He still has some things to work on, but he's making great progress. We are now a week and two days since an accident. This last week we made a great step in not having anymore. He ran to the door, stared at it, and then stared at me until I noticed where he was. Then I took him outside, and he went. I took that to mean that he knows exactly where he is supposed to go now.

Kevin is also doing really well with the pup. He tells Arkhon to sit and go down. He still gives him strong hugs, but Arkhon lays really still until Kevin lets go. Kevin also is letting go when we ask him to. Hooray for progress!

Puppies sure grow up fast. It seems like only yesterday, Arkhon was this small:
About 6 weeks old
At almost ten weeks old
Now when he stands on his hind-legs, he's taller than Kevin. 
15 week old Arkhon
Time sure does fly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mormon Monday: Primary Program

At one point, I thought, perhaps comically, that once Kevin went to nursery, that I would be able to hear the Relief Society lessons. This is another sign that the Lord has a sense of humor. As soon as Kevin was put into nursery with the other 18 months - 3 years, I was called to work with the children.

My current calling (thing that the Lord has asked me to help with in the church) is the 2nd councilor in the primary. I absolutely LOVE my calling. I love working with the children and I love teaching. I do sometimes miss going to Relief Society, but it is worth the sacrifice.

This last Sunday (yesterday), was the primary program. That is when the children perform the songs that they have learned and teach the rest of the congregation what they have been taught the whole year. This year our theme has been families.

One thing that I really love about primary is how simple everything is. Sometimes in classes like Sunday school, priesthood, and relief society, the basic truths of the gospel are not discussed because we are busy focusing on the little things. In primary, all we talk about is the basic truths. You have to keep it simple because the children are still learning to feel the spirit and don't know everything yet.

Often though, they know and understand more than I think they do.

The program went really well yesterday. The kids were adorable and they did a great job. Most of the things that they said were easy to understand, and the microphone only squeaked a few times.

The spirit that was there was beautiful as well. I really enjoyed seeing the kids share their testimonies.

There was a baby blessing yesterday as well, so our chapel was packed! That was exciting. We love it when our brothers and sisters come to church.

The primary helps remind me to keep things simple. There are aspects of the gospel that I don't fully understand yet, and that can be challenging. However there are some things that I know. I know these things because the Spirit has testified that they are true to me. It doesn't matter what anyone else says. When God has told you something is true, fallible opinions from humans don't matter as much.

I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and appeared to Joseph Smith. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's church on the earth today, and that He speaks through his prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. The words from the prophet are for everyone on the earth, not just for Mormons, and I know that if we listen and heed his council we will be protected and find peace on this earth.

I know that Jesus Christ lives today. I know that God still cares what is happening on this earth, and He loves His children. I also know that the Lord chastens us because He loves us. It is difficult to grow and become more like our Father in Heaven if we already think we're perfect.

I know that we are all children of God. I want all my brothers and sisters to return to heaven, and the only way that they are going to do so, is if they keep the commandments of God. God's commandments don't change. They never will. People that wait for God to change are going to be waiting a long time, and then they're going to realize that they have wasted a lot of time.

Simplicity is important. Truths can anchor us when doubt threatens to pull us away.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christmas in the Stores

A few weeks ago, I walked into Sam's Club, and to my horror, I saw that they were selling Christmas trees.

That really surprised me, though it probably shouldn't have. I said to Grig, "What happened to Thanksgiving?"

He remarked, "What happened to Halloween?"

"Oh yeah," I remembered, "that does come first."

It makes sense logically. Christmas is the most lucrative time of the year for stores. Why wouldn't they have their sales last as long as possible.

I was talking to some kids the other night, and they also told me about how they had turned on Christmas music the night before while they were cleaning and they were jamming out to it.

I thought it was pretty funny, but I also fondly remembered us jamming out to "The Monster Mash" as we prepared for Halloween.

So many things have changed since I was a kid. When I was younger, they didn't have Trunk-or-Treats. There was only trick-or-treating. I LOVED trick-or-treating. Now, because it's so dangerous in some places, they provide trunk-or-treating so kids can still have the experience without possibly walking into danger.

Wasn't he adorable?

We took Kevin trick-or-treating last year. We're going to take him again this year. It is a tradition I want to continue as long as possible. We try to only go to people or neighborhoods that we know, but who knows?

Halloween was a big deal at my house. My father had dozens of monsters that moved and made noise for Halloween. He also had a lot of monster bobble-heads. Maybe it was a little unusual, but I really enjoyed it. My aunt would also make a haunted house out of my grandma's basement, and it was really impressive. I liked helping with it.

Thanksgiving is also equally important to me. I have a lot of family, and it was always a time of talking, playing basketball, and eating. The food was always amazing. Now, we also have Kevin's birthday to look forward to around that same time in November. It's crazy that he's turning two soon.

Even though I understand why stores do it, I probably won't be concentrating on Christmas until we're done with the two holidays that come before it.

I like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I want to enjoy them while I can. I think half the fun of  holidays when you're a parent is watching your kid(s) learn to love them.

I'm excited this year. Kevin's going to have a lot of fun.

I am too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Booster Shots

Yesterday, Arkhon got his three-month boosters. It's hard to believe that he is that old. It seems like just yesterday we picked him up.

He is an excellent puppy. Now, when Kevin hugs him, he'll just sit there and lay still until Kevin lets him go. Occasionally when they're both getting too tired and a little crazy they'll still end up biting and hitting each other, but I think the worst of it is behind us.

He goes weeks between accidents now. He still occasionally will mess up, but he's a baby, so what else can you expect? He definitely is holding it longer, which is a wonderful thing.

He's also learned to sit and lay down. He's starting to learn to stay. This is what happens every time I feed them:

Dakota is doing okay. She's stiff and old, but still happy. She enjoys life, eats her food well, and can get around pretty well. We try to go on hour long walks every day, and I think that's helped her stiffness a bit as well. None of us are up to a half hour jog yet.

The reason we're pretty excited about these boosters, is that it means we only have one set left. Also, our vet told us that two weeks after the second booster that Arkhon could go to the dog park. I think he's going to love it. He gets along well with everyone.

The vet told me something interesting yesterday. She said that if the mother dog has had all of its shots, it will actually take longer for the vaccines to take effect. The immunity that they inherit from their mother will actually impede the vaccinations. Thus, the puppy has to have three booster shots. However, if the dam doesn't have her current vaccinations, the puppy only needs two boosters.

Unfortunately, with Arkhon, we don't know if he mother was current on her shots because she showed up at my aunt's house, and had a litter of pups. Arkhon's ears are a little long for a border collie, so it is most likely that he is a mix of some sort. We'll probably be able to tell better when he's full grown.

We like mutts though. They tend to live longer, have fewer health problems, and cost less money in general.  Dakota is a cross between a border collie and an Australian shepherd/border collie. She's been a great dog and turned 14 this August. I think it's safe to say that she's been pretty healthy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mormon Monday: Temple Garments

A lot of people who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have heard about Mormons' temple garments. Some people refer to them as 'magic underwear,' which is completely inaccurate and somewhat offensive.

The church actually just came out with official video entitled "Sacred Temple Clothing" to explain to people not of our faith a little more about these garments. Please watch this video if you've ever wondered about our unusual clothing.

For more information, there is also the following link:

They express it much better than I ever could. Please if you are curious, investigate these things from the source, not from people who have only 'heard about it' or who have left the church.


Friday, October 17, 2014

My Darker Side

I was sick yesterday.

It wasn't terrible, I felt like I was going to vomit a few times, but those moments came in waves. It was the worst Wednesday night. I was up until 3:00 a.m. because every time I laid down I felt really bad.

However, yesterday, I only felt like that occasionally. Mostly I was low on energy and somewhat grumpy. Sometimes I think I've mastered the temper thing, and then I've only gotten three hours of sleep, I feel sick, and my baby is yelling at me.

Not much fun.

Last night was awesome though.

Kevin went to sleep without a whimper. He's really getting this going to sleep without nursing thing. He woke up once in the middle of the night, but he came to our room, climbed in our bed and went right back to sleep. It was beautiful.

I feel refreshed and well-rested. It is an amazing feeling. I haven't felt this way in a week.

Grig and I were talking last night. We watched an episode of Smallville where a young Lex Luthor was split into his good and evil side. It was well done, and it got us thinking.

We wondered what our evil sides would be like.

Grig said that his would probably be kind of wormy. He told me that when he isn't doing what's right, he's kind of a coward. I thought that was pretty interesting, because normally he's a pretty brave guy.

I thought about it for a moment. Then I said that my evil side would probably be pretty selfish. After I said that though, I kind of laughed and said, "But isn't that the essence of what evil is? Evil is selfish by its very nature."

I then went on to say that I couldn't see myself out there trying to rule the world. Most likely, I would hole up in my home, rarely go outside, and just do what I wanted to do. I might have a job, but only enough to fuel my own addictions. I'd probably watch t.v. or play games all the time and do nothing for anyone else.

You never know though. Sometimes our darker side can surprise us.

I just don't think I'm motivated enough to make a good super-villain.

Either way, the thought is kind of scary. I don't think I'd like it if my darker side took over. I like helping other people, and I really love my family. It makes me happy to do things for them. I don't really like it when I get mad or lose my temper. It doesn't happen much anymore, but I feel pretty bad about it when it does. I've been told that I can be kind of scary.

My goal is to push that darker side back until the good side wins out. It's not always easy to do what is right, but it is definitely worth it. I like who I am when I'm not selfish. I don't like the selfish part of me.

What would your darker side be like?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Counting Blessings

Thanks everyone who read and commented yesterday!

Today, I'm feeling much better. Last night, Kevin still woke up twice, but he went back to sleep (fairly) quickly. As for me, it only really hurts today when I run or if I get kicked (by Kevin). Other than that, it feels a million times better. Thank you for all the suggestions.

I'm feeling really blessed today.

We have been given so much, and it's hard not to feel grateful. In the place where we live right now, there are a lot of people who are struggling financially and with other matters. The more I learn about other people's lives, the more that I feel overwhelmed with the blessings that we have been given.

I have an incredible husband. Yesterday, I was reading a blog written by a woman where she was complaining about how her husband would call her while she was at the store. She could hear her baby crying in the background, and her husband asked her what he was supposed to do. She talked about how it was a manipulative move to try and force her to come home sooner.

I've never experienced that. Grig is an incredible husband and father. We aren't perfect, and neither is our marriage, but we're both committed to working things out. He loves Kevin and spends time with him. Their relationship is unique to them and is completely different from the relationship that I have to my son.

We have two wonderful dogs. Dakota is old and sweet. She's still happy and wants to be with us. The flesh is weak, but her spirit is willing. Sometimes we have to leave her behind because her ailing, arthritic body simply can't handle it, but she still really wants to come. She loves Kevin and Arkhon, though sometimes she also enjoys breaks from them.

Arkhon is quickly learning his boundaries. He rarely comes in the kitchen, and (for the most part) stays off the couch. He rarely has accidents anymore, though we're still working on that. He has learned to leave a lot of toys alone, and he doesn't chew on shoes or clothes much anymore. He and Kevin are best friends, and they love to play together.

I also have an incredible son. Kevin is really starting to talk now. Somewhere he learned how to say "mine" recently, and that is currently his favorite word. He loves to sing and dance. He's really into "Silly Songs with Larry" from Veggie Tale recently. He loves animals and can make almost as many animal noises as his parents. They're pretty impressive, actually.

He is a very happy, sweet kid. Occasionally he likes to hit, but we're working on it. At least he's not biting anymore. He runs really fast and he loves to play with toys. His favorite game currently is throwing balls for the puppy. Kevin also loves to grab the puppy around his waist and just hug him. Arkhon is learning to allow it. He kind of goes limp and waits for Kevin to let go. He's a good puppy. Kevin is learning to be gentle with him, but it is a process.

We have a sweet (but dumb) snake. He takes little work, and Kevin loves to gently pet him. He's getting bigger all the time. I'm going to have to post a new picture soon.

We also have a wonderful place to live with great neighbors. Grig has a great job, and I've been able to stay home with my son.

Our church is within walking distance, and we have a great ward.

I also am really grateful for my family. I have great relatives and in-laws. I don't think I could have picked better people if I tried.

There are trials and hard things that we go through, but compared to the things we have, they don't amount to much.

Life is pretty great, and I'm pretty grateful.

Thanks to everyone for being great friends and family. We are enriched by having you in our lives. Even if I don't talk to you much, I often think of you, and am grateful for the things that I have learned from you and am learning from you. I wouldn't be where I am today without you.

Today is a good day.
What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Cold Turkey

This post is probably TMI, but if it helps somebody else, I'm glad to share it.

Everything I've read tells you not to do it.

Every professional says not to wean cold turkey.

Most sites recommend gradually stopping the mother's milk supply by eliminating feedings. For the last few months, we've been trying that.

The problem is, Kevin is a stubborn boy. If he knows there is a chance that he's going to get milk, he won't quit until he gets it. For the last few months he's woken up every 3-4 hours demanding milk. I'm tired. Some nights it's easier not to fight and it's hard to be consistent, especially when I don't wake up when he comes in (I'm a pretty deep sleeper).

Sunday night was the last straw though. He'd gone to bed early, but thirty minutes later he woke up, nursed for forty-five minutes, and wouldn't go to sleep. For some reason, that was the last straw.

We decided we were done. It also just so happened that Grig didn't have work Monday (they are working Tuesday-Friday this week). Timing seemed perfect.

A new tradition we're starting. We had a lot of fun making this poster.
The first night was miserable.

It took two hours (from 9-11:30) to get Kevin to sleep initially. However, he finally settled down in his own bed and went to sleep.

At 1:30, he woke up again. He screamed for another two hours until he finally curled up next to me in his bed and went back to sleep. We repeated the process one more time at 7:00 a.m., but it was much shorter this time.

It was a long night, but we felt pretty successful the next morning. We were worried that nap-time was going to be just as bad, but Kevin, like us, was very tired. After a little bit of rocking and singing, he went right to sleep.

He had a fairly short nap, but he woke up happy.

Last night went much better. It only took about 40 minutes for Kevin to settle down and go to sleep. He was out by 10. He slept until about 1:05 again, and then after a bit of rocking (an hour's worth this time), he settled down.

At 6:30 a.m, he came into our bedroom and without trying to nurse, went to bed pretty quickly. This is the most improvement we've seen in months.

As for me, I'm tired and swollen. Evidently I've been doing everything wrong too. I took a warm bath this morning, and tried to massage the swelling down. Not a good idea. Evidently that's exactly what you're not supposed to do. I kept trying to find help on the internet this morning, but most sites don't tell you how to help, they simply tell you not to go cold turkey.

Thank you, but I already am, and I'm not going to reverse the progress now.

Finally, I found some suggestions. They recommend putting cold cabbage leaves on (after using a rolling pin on them), taking ibuprofen, and using cold compression. Also, sage tea. I don't have cabbage, and we're out of grocery money for a few more days. However, we do have frozen vegetables. Those seem to be helping.

Yes, it is painful, but I'm pretty confident that we're doing the right thing. Kevin will be two next month and he and I are bonding in a new way.
Kevin loves his puppy

We're pretty excited that he's sleeping by himself and putting himself to sleep.

If you can gradually wean, that is much better. However, if you have a stubborn kid like me, know that sometimes you have to go against recommendations in order to help your kid.

He needs more sleep too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Family Friday: Picture Walk

I didn't want to do much talking today (since I'm not blogging until fairly late at night), so since I decided to photograph our walk yesterday I decided to make a photo-blog.

Here are some images we took.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words right? (Though I may add a caption or two).

This is how we walk. Dakota on the left, Arkhon on the right, and Kevin in the middle. Usually, I push.

Stopping for a water-break for the dogs.

Autumn is beautiful here.

Kevin likes to eat a few snacks on the way. This day's food of choice: cookies and plums.

This is an awesome photo of Arkhon.

There are always ducks on the path. Today we fed them crackers.

Dakota in the stroller while Kevin plays on the playground. 

He knows how to have a good time!

I like the way this picture turned out.
Sorry I'm not in any of them. I don't really like selfies usually.

We had a great time yesterday, and today we took Grig with us to show him where we usually walk. I think he really enjoyed it.

Today I was told by a kid that Arkhon doesn't have a dog's nose because his nose is pink. Who knew that dogs had to have black noses?

What kind of nose does he have then?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Donating Double Takes More Time

A couple nights ago, Grig got a call from the Red Cross. They wanted him to donate blood on Wednesday night. He agreed to do so, and they asked if he knew anyone else he could bring with him. (Grig later commented to me that they seem to be hiring return missionaries.)

He asked me if I wanted to go donate blood too, and I thought, "4:30? Sure I should have time before my meeting at  6."

Last night we drove a few blocks to donate and took Kevin with us. The idea was that I would donate first, and then if I had to leave for my meeting, I could leave if I needed to. I was hoping to be done by 5 so I could get home and bake a cake for refreshments.

We got to the church where they were doing the donations at about 4:32. We quickly skimmed through the materials (we've read them a number of times), and I got into a booth. Things seemed to be going swimmingly.

However, while the man was checking my vitals and such, he said, "We have doubles available today. Would you be interested in doing that?"

I'd never heard of it, so he explained that when you do doubles, they take twice as many red blood cells and put the plasma and other non-essentials back in. You can't donate again for four months instead of two because red blood cells take twice as long to regenerate. He told me my iron had to be at 13.5 in order to do so, but wondered if I would be interested.

I asked him if it took longer to draw, and he told me that it was about 20 minutes. I thought that would be good to do, if I could and he tested my iron.

When the machine beeped, he looked at it and said, "Huh. 12.2."

"Too low, huh?" I asked.

"Too low to donate at all," he replied. "It has to be 12.5. I can test you again, and it may go up or down. Do you want to test again?"

I agreed and said a quick prayer in my head that went something like this: "Heavenly Father, if I'm supposed to donate doubles tonight, please help my results to be higher. Otherwise, I'll know that I'm not supposed to donate tonight."

I waited with bated breath while the man put the second test in the machine.

"13.9," he announced. "Would you like to do doubles?"

I agreed, thinking that was my answer.

I finished answering all the questions, and then they took me over to the newfangled machine. The nurse there explained that it would draw 3-4 times, the machine would spin the blood and remove the red blood cells, and then put saline and plasma back into me. It was kind of fascinating to watch.

This isn't me, but this is what my machine looked like. The yellow bag is where the plasma is stored until they can put it back.
The needle was smaller than normal, and I learned that though I have great veins on both sides, my right vein is much easier to work with.

She told me that sometimes when the saline solution is going back in, people will feel a tingling in their lips. She said that if I felt that, I could take a tums and it would go away.

It was a strange sensation when the plasma was put back in. It felt kind of like a buzz under my skin. My lips tingled a little, but not very  much. This happened four times. The last time, the machine took too much blood, so it had to put some back in.

It was pretty fascinating, though I know some of my friends will find the post abhorring.

Anyway, it took a lot longer than it was supposed to. I didn't get done until 5:50. I quickly grabbed Kevin, then kissed Grig good-bye so he could have his turn. I ran to the store and grabbed some cookies for refreshment and then I raced to the church.

I ended up being 15 minutes late. It was okay though. Things worked out. I just felt really bad for leaving my primary president hanging that long.

After that meeting ended at about 7:45, I called Grig and asked him where he was. He had just done a normal donation, and then he had begun to walk home. He had already walked eight blocks. Kevin and I drove over to pick him up, and then we all went home to a quick dinner of hotdogs. (I was going to make lasagna, but it would have taken too long. Guess I have dinner planned for tonight.)

Crazy evening. Grig was supposed to have a meeting at 7, but it cancelled, and we're pretty glad because I don't know how that would have worked out.

The moral of the story is that donating doubles takes more time.  A lot more.

If you're in a hurry, you probably shouldn't do it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Best Compliment Ever

Okay, so this was something I was thinking about this morning that I felt like I should share. Hopefully this is taken the right way. Please don't find this offensive.

I don't wear make-up.

At least, I very rarely wear make-up.
 Click on picture to go to original source
Click on picture to go to original source

When I was a kid, I found out that when I did wear it, I usually got a ton of compliments, but if I did it very often, the compliments stopped coming. So, being the attention-seeker I was at the time, I would only get dolled-up if there was a really good reason. Then people would really make a big deal out of it, hoping that I would get the hint and wear it more often. I enjoyed the compliments, but it didn't change the fact that I enjoyed getting ready for school in under ten minutes.

My sisters begged my parents to buy them make-up. I couldn't care less. Finally, my parents bought me make-up and said, "You should use this sometimes."

I learned how, but usually I couldn't be bothered.

Luckily for me, I seem to have some pretty good color in my cheeks and people don't seem appalled by the look of my face without make-up.

In fact, when I was dating Grig, we were discussing make-up at one point, and he suddenly turned to me and said, "You know, I don't think I've ever seen you without make-up on."

I laughed and said, "I'm not wearing make-up right now."

He was a bit embarrassed, but I told him it was the best compliment ever. It meant that I didn't really need to wear it to look okay.

I think I look pretty good anyway, and so does Grig. That's all that really matters to me. Kevin doesn't care one way or another.
Sometimes I think our society is too dependent on make-up. I think the best kind of make-up application is when you can't tell that people are wearing make-up. I've seen it done masterfully by sisters and friends where they use make-up to accentuate their beauty instead of creating a mask that looks nothing like them. It is pretty scary when someone takes their make-up off and you don't even recognize them.
Click on the picture to see the original source
I don't think I personally know anyone that I would call ugly. Everyone is beautiful for different reasons. Even if the exterior doesn't exactly shine, the light from inside seems to permeate the shell and the beauty from within can transform plainness into magnificence.

Sure it's cheesy, but everyone I know is incredible and beautiful in their own way.

There are some people that society would consider beautiful that I find kind of awful. When people do terrible things, it doesn't matter what they look like on the outside. The ugliness inside seems to eat away at any external looks that they were given until they look pretty horrible.

For me, the more I get to know people, usually the more beautiful they become. The more I grow to love people, the less I see their looks and the more I see the person beneath the looks.

Let's worry less about our external features, and spend more time fixing our internal ones.

That's not to say that we shouldn't adhere to the basics of hygiene. I sometimes went too overboard when I was younger. Showering is good, and so is doing your best to look good. However, I learned from a friend that you take the time to look good for yourself, not for anyone else. If you feel good about the way you look, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks.

Make-up is okay, but it shouldn't be the basis of our self-esteem. We shouldn't hate the way we look without it.  This life isn't about covering up who we are, it is about discovering who we are and transforming into the wonderful child of God who we were meant to be.

God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

This life is all about breaking us apart and discovering our weaknesses, and Christ is all about helping us to learn how He can help us put ourselves back together to be an even more incredible person.

The only make-up we should care about is the deep cleanser and purifier that comes from our Savior.

With that shining up our souls, the flesh on the outside can't keep our beauty contained. People will see your light and they will know you are someone amazing...even without make-up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dog in the Stroller

I've been walking a lot lately.

During the morning, Kevin, Dakota, Arkhon, and I will go out with the stroller and go on 1-2 hour long walks. It's been really nice, because the weather's been wonderful, and I feel really good when we're finished.

This has nothing to do with what I'm writing about, but it was a beautiful sunset the other day, and I wanted to share it.
Kevin and the dogs really enjoy our walks too. Usually they all take a nap when we get back, and I can actually get a few things done. However, a two-hour long walk is too long for a puppy Arkhon's age, so usually after a few blocks he takes a break in the basket of the stroller. We try to take frequent rests, and frequently take drinks, but sometimes I feel really bad for Dakota.

She's pretty old and I can tell that by the end of the walk she is finished. Kevin usually gets finished with riding in the stroller by that time too. So, yesterday, I did something unusual.

Arkhon was riding in the stroller already, Kevin wanted out, so I said, "Okay." I took him out and said, "Dakota, it's your turn." I then placed her in the stroller. She sat sideways with her bum in the seat and her paws resting on the lip. She got this really happy look on her face, and Kevin helped me push the two dogs in the stroller.

We went that way down the sidewalk for a while, until we came to some playground equipment, and Kevin wanted to go play. We moved toward it, and I saw a little boy watching us. It turned out to be someone we knew. He was looking at our stroller, and suddenly his eyes got really wide and this big grin spread across his face.

I asked him if all dogs should ride in stroller, and he nodded his head yes. It was pretty funny.

Dakota enjoyed the break while Kevin played on the slide and swings for a while. Arkhon doesn't like breaks very much, but he is taking them better. I think he likes them more than he thinks he does.

I wish I could have taken a picture, but I didn't have the camera with me. Maybe I'll have to bring it today, just in case it happens again. I'm planning a shorter walk today though, because I have a lot of things to get done in my house. We're running out of clean clothes.

Our washer's been acting strangely lately, and the apartment is supposed to be sending someone to fix it, so we haven't been using it, because we thought they were coming soon.

They're probably going to come today when I have it full of clothes.

Dakota and Arkhon are becoming pretty good friends. She's old, so if he gets too rambunctious, she'll bark at him or snap a bit. I think in our language it would sound like, "Shut up and sit down!"

Unfortunately, it just makes him excited because he thinks she's playing. So, then we'll call him over so she can have a break.

Sometimes this happens though, and it's too cute for words:

Arkhon and Kevin love each other. They play pretty well, unless they're getting tired. Then hitting and biting ensues, but Arkhon is beginning to learn to walk away if Kevin is getting rough. That's a wonderful improvement!

To top it all off, we've had wonderful weather lately. Last night, Grig, Kevin, and I went out to eat for Family Home Evening. We had a coupon for a restaurant, so we ate there, and then we went on a walk together. We ended up at the library, where we checked out a few books and then walked/ran back to the car. One of Kevin's favorite things to do right now is say, "Run, run, run," and have all of us run (or speed walk when we're being lazy) down the sidewalk with him. It was a nice evening, and we enjoyed spending the time together.

Grig gave an excellent lesson on spiritual preparedness. He talked about ways that we can improve ourselves as individuals and as family members.
Arkhon chasing Kevin. He loves him.
We've got a lot to work on, but we're moving as a family, and that's what's really important.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mormon Monday: What is General Conference?

This last weekend was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When I was a kid, I loved conference weekend, perhaps not for the right reasons. During conference weekend, we would sculpt clay, draw, and paint while we listened to the prophet. Even if my listening wasn't the best sometimes, it still set a precedent of sitting still and listening to the prophet and the twelve apostles.

As I got older, I grew to really love conference. It was a time of spiritual illumination and peace. Now it seems far to short, and I wish it could go on all week.

For those of you who might be wondering what General Conference is, it is basically a large meeting with our entire church across the world where we listen to our leaders tell us what the Lord would have us know.

One talk in particular I wanted to share. Elder Bednar addressed his talk to those who are not members of our church. I wanted to post that online for anyone who is interested. He answers a lot of great questions and explains why members of our church are always so eager (or at least try to be eager) to share what we believe with others.

Here is the talk:

You'll have to follow it to the LDS site, or you can watch all of conference on youtube.

In the old days, after Christ was crucified, the apostles had to be constantly moving. When there wasn't an ordained leader of the church in an area, it seemed that often false doctrine would creep into the church. We often see Paul in his epistles trying to correct the misconceptions that Satan would orchestrate.

In our day and age, we are so blessed to have modern technology that makes it easy for us to hear the voices of the apostles and prophets. If the original Christian church had the same technology, it might not have become so corrupted. We believe that as the apostles were killed, many of Christ's teachings remained, but they became mixed with the philosophies of man.

This is why things like the Nicene Creed were created. Different leaders of different congregations no longer had a prophet on the earth, and so they began to argue and vote on which doctrine was God's doctrine. In our church, we believe that if it doesn't come directly by revelation from God, that it is man's doctrine.

We believe that during this time, after the apostles were killed, there was an apostasy, or a time where Christ's church was lost from the earth due to wickedness and corruption. This was followed by the dark ages.

When the dark ages concluded, the Lord opened the way for his church to be restored upon the earth again today.

We don't believe that our church is the only church with truth. Many truths survied and are perpetuated amongst the different religions. Buddhism, Islam, and other religions also have a lot of truth mixed into their teachings. There is good in all religions. However, we do believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church with ALL the truth, because we believe, and I know, that it is Christ's church restored in its original form to the earth. Christ is the head of our church, and he communicates to us through his prophets and apostles and he did previously.

God never changes, so why would he cease to communicate using prophets and apostles? He wouldn't, and he hasn't. If you haven't listened to General Conference, here is an opportunity to listen to the servants of the Lord. If you don't believe, but want to know if what I'm saying is true: listen and pray.

I can promise that the Lord does communicate to us in this day and age. He will answer your prayer, especially if you are willing to do what He asks when He answers. God will not just give you the truth and allow you to go on with your life. If this is truly His church, He wants you to be a part of it, so you can be a tool in His hands to bless those around you.

I know that this church is God's church. I have received a confirmation from the Spirit that this is true, and I know you can receive that confirmation as well.

The Lord wants us to be happy and at peace. However, the only way to peace is to follow the path that the Lord sets for us.  Each day, I am trying to find out what that is for me, and when I'm in the right place, I feel whole.

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

Family Friday: Hanging in There

When I was a freshman in high school, my sister and I decided to join the soccer team. At the time we joined, there were A LOT of girls on the team. My sister (who was a year older) and I, both made the team.

I love soccer.
The practices were super-intensive. We ran a lot, alternating between sprinting and jogging. By the end of the training, I was probably in the best shape of my life.

However, because there were so many talented girls, and quite a few of them were seniors, I ended up riding the bench quite a bit. For the first two games, I don't think I even got to play at all. That was very frustrating for me.

I'd played basketball for the past two years, and I rode the bench quite a bit in that sport, but I knew I wasn't that good at basketball, so that didn't bother me. However, I LOVED soccer, and it was difficult for me to just sit on the bench when I just knew I could make a difference.

It was so challenging for me, that after the first two games I really began to wonder if I could spend the whole year on the bench. It made me want to cry with frustration and I talked to my mother about quitting.

She and my father told me to hang in there. They said that being part of a team often meant that you didn't always get to play, but they reminded me that I was a freshman, and I still had four years to go. If I could just endure and not quit, I would be given the opportunity to play. It was important to be there to support the teammates who were playing and show the coaches that you were dedicated enough to keep coming.

I decided not to quit the team.

Shortly after that, I began to get more playing time. In fact, in many cases I was playing nearly the entire game. Many of my friends (and sometimes my sister), continued to ride the bench. I always really admired them, because I never heard them complain about not playing. They never quit. They came to every game and eagerly played when they were given the opportunity.

I look back on those feelings that I had, and I feel like a real pansy. Yes, I loved soccer, but I don't think I struggled any more than any of the other girls. I was really blessed to be given the opportunity to play, and I think when it occurred I kind of took it for granted. That year we ended up going to state and placing third! I was able to play in the state games, and I really enjoyed myself.

After my freshman year, the number of girls dropped dramatically. We barely had enough for a full team. We usually got to play the entire game.

I often think about what would have happened if I had quit. I wouldn't have been able to play at all, and it would have set a bad precedent for my life. Maybe I would have learned to quit when things got tough.

As it is, I've learned that if you hang in there, things will get better.

Everyone has challenges, but if we stop when things get difficult, we will often miss out on the best experiences of our lives. Sometimes, because we struggle, it makes overcoming those challenges that much sweeter.

I loved playing soccer in high school and I think back on my teammates with fondness. I have a special place in my heart for those girls who sat on the bench my freshman year.

They did what I don't know if I would have been able to do.

So, whatever your situation, hang in there. It WILL get better.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I've had Dakota since 2000.

At the time, we had a crazy Labrador named Meg. Meg was my first dog. We'd adopted her from some neighbors that moved into a rental next door and couldn't keep their dog. She was a very sweet girl, but she had a hard time staying in the yard.

We hadn't been planning on getting a second dog. We actually went out to a friend's home to glean potatoes. (We lived in Idaho.) As my parents collected the potatoes, we enjoyed playing with the resident litter of puppies. They were 1/4 Australian Shephard and 3/4 border collie.

They were so cute! One in particular stood out. She was brown with almost husky-like markings. Some of my siblings preferred a yellow male, but I fell in love with the brown pup. The thought entered my mind, and I, half-jokingly, said, "Can we get a puppy?"

My parents, probably expecting a negative response said, "Would you trade cable (television) for a puppy?"

Thrilled at the thought, I quickly said, "Yes!"

I don't think my parents were anticipating that, and soon after, we came home with a puppy. I named her Dakota, which my sister didn't like because she said it sounded like a boy's name, but since it was my dog, I got to name her.

A three-month old Dakota

She and Meg quickly became friends. Meg taught her a few bad habits, but Dakota was usually obedient. She and I enrolled in Dog 4-H, and I learned how to train dogs. She always placed really well in the obedience trials, and we ended up going to state a few years.

At the county fair

When she was two and a half, I bred her with a male purebred, unregistered border collie. She had eight pups, and that was the only year of high school that I didn't enter her in the 4-H obedience competition. I had a great time raising and selling the pups, and last I heard, they were pretty good dogs. It's weird that they'd be eleven this year.

One of Dakota's pups

If she has any failings, it is the fact that she is terrified of thunder. As her hearing has gone, she hasn't really been bothered by it inside of the apartment, but the flash of lighting can still send her into a panic. She actually ripped off the siding from my parent's house in the years that I was in college.

She would also run away when left alone, which she learned from Meg.

She stayed with my parents from 2005-2013. I would take care of her when I was home, but for the most part, that task fell upon my younger siblings. In 2013, we realized we were able to have a dog in our house, and we began to think very seriously about Dakota coming to live with us and Kevin.

She's been a joy ever since. She's so patient and kind with Kevin. She and he are good friends (and he's always sneaking her his food). He wishes she would play a bit more, but she's old and lazy. She just likes to sleep most of the time.

We noticed the lumps on her breasts a few months ago. They were already pretty large when we noticed them. She turned 14 in August. It's hard to know if she'll see another birthday. Chances are she won't.

At this point, I know that she's going to die sometime. At least, I know it on a superficial level. It hasn't sunk in, and I'm pretty sure it won't until she actually passes away. Then, we'll see how I'm doing.

Arkhon and Kevin love her. She's been a good example to both. She's taught Kevin how to be gentle with dogs, and she's teaching Arkhon how to be calm and polite.

She's been a gift in my life, and I'm a better person because I knew her. We plan to fully enjoy the time we have left.

That's the hard thing about dogs: they just don't live long enough.