Thursday, July 31, 2014

Imminent Separation

Starting next Monday, Dakota, Kevin, and I will be traveling to Idaho to work on apartments for a month. These are apartments that my grandparents own, and I have been working on them since I was eleven.

We'll return in September. Grig will, for the most part, be staying in Utah to continue working at his job.

The current plan is that he will stay here Monday-Thursday, and then come and spend the weekends with us. Even though it will only be a few days a week, it will be difficult to be separated from him for so long.

When I'm stressed about something, I have a tendency to try and avoid thinking about it by being busy or getting sucked into things. I have found myself doing that this week. I am not worried about leaving Grig. We trust each other completely and I'm sure he'll be just fine without me. We will miss him a lot though.

We always have a lot of fun.
My mother has kindly agreed to watch Kevin while I'm working. It will be difficult to be apart from him so much as well. I'm not worried about him either. My mother is an expert at child-raising.

I think the next month will go quickly, but I still am not looking forward to being apart from my family so much, though I am excited to work on apartments. I have a good time working with my family, and I haven't been able to spend as time with them as late.

This weekend we have another reunion, and I'm pretty excited about that. It's with my paternal side of the family. We usually have a fantastic time.

I don't know when the next video will be published. I won't have access to my video editing software, so we'll see.

I'm sure everything will work out, and it will be nice to be able to put money away to savings.

I'm sure Kevin will enjoy playing with his cousins too. There is a lot to look forward to.

Hopefully Grig doesn't get too lonely during the week. We plan on skyping every day, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Kevin's going to miss his daddy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Money Miracles

Lately, our money's been a bit tight.

Grig had a week or so off work due to a lack of parts, and that has really affected us. We used up most of our savings on our vacation, so we've barely been able to pay the bills.

However, I have had continual feelings of peace on this matter, and the feeling that things were going to be just fine.

I've desperately clung onto that feeling as we've avoided buying groceries and used the food that we had on hand. We've prayed for miracles, and we've received miracles.

I've had very generous relatives who have given us things that we've desperately needed. We have tried not to ask anyone for help, but these wonderful people have given it to us anyway.

We also had an air-conditioning miracle. Our home has been really, really hot. We haven't had any air-conditioning, and we had a total of two fans, one of which only half worked.

We've been enduring, hoping that we would be able to afford another fan at some point. However, the other day we went to see our manager and she randomly asked us if we wanted air-conditioning. Evidently, a previous tenant had been trying to sell hers when she moved. It was nearly brand-new. Other than that, she said we could install it now and pay her for it when we were able to.

It has made a huge difference in our home. We keep it up at 75, and it still feels incredibly different in our home. The dog is much happier. I think she was overheating before, and I think that was causing some digestive problems.  

There have been many other small miracles that have occurred, and we've seen the hand of the Lord in our lives.

Grig had his birthday this last week, but we didn't have any money to buy presents. We are holding off on those until we can afford them, but I've felt really bad about it. I gave him some homemade presents, and he received some from family. He's been really patient about it. I really love him.

We had a small party with family a couple of weeks ago. Then, last Sunday we invited a few friends and family members over and had a small party. Mostly we just had cake, brownies, and pudding because that's what we had on hand. It was a fun party, and it was good to see Grig's brothers.

We have enough, and we're grateful. After this week, things should really pick up at work. I'm also going to work for my grandparents on apartments for a month. That means that we're going to be separated for a little while, but the extra money should really come in handy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Highlights From the Family Reunion

As I'd mentioned a few days ago, last weekend we spent with family at a reunion.

This particular reunion was my mother's mother's family. It was a celebration of my great-grandparent's hundredth birthdays. My great-grandpa's birthday was last year, and my great-grandma's birthday is next year. So, they chose the year between to celebrate. Both of them have already passed on, but I'm sure they were there in spirit.

One of the most exciting things that happened, was that my sister gave us her old Nikon. It is an awesome camera! It isn't brand new, in fact she's giving it to us because they're upgrading to a new one, but it is a much nicer camera than any I have ever owned before. We were super excited to try it out. We have been so blessed as we've been trying to live within our budget. This is just one of the incredible blessings we have received. Thanks, sis!

I haven't been camping in a while, so I'd forgotten how hard it can be to sleep in a tent. Kevin did really well, but I had a really hard time sleeping the first night. It was pretty cold, and I was worried about Kevin getting too chilled. However, the second night was much better.

On the first evening, we had a good time pulling kids around in handcarts and taking pictures of deer. There were quite a few close to camp, and they really didn't seem to mind when we got pretty close.

My sister, who had to come home off her mission for medical reasons, was there, and we decided to get in the handcart and let Grig pull us. Both of us got into the back of the cart, and before we knew what was happening, the cart began to tip backward with both of us in it!

We ended up with our backs in the dirt. People came running over to see if we were okay. My sister, who was still struggling to walk because of pain in her knee, hurt her back a bit. I was fine. It was pretty funny. Lesson learned: don't put all your weight in the back of a handcart without a counter-balance on the front.

This is how Kevin fell asleep that night. It was pretty adorable.

The next day, we helped make breakfast. While we were waiting for clean up, my sister braided my hair while we were exploring the area with my father. That was really nice of her.

After that, my sister, Grig, my grandpa, and I went fishing. We saw some cougar tracks and some raccoon tracks while we were trying to find a good spot.
Racoon back paw print
Cougar track (toes are pointed down)
That was neat. For a while, I was the only one who had any luck. I caught two rainbow trout, but they were fairly small. We were going to stop fishing at noon, and just as noon hit, a fish struck my grandpa's line. It turned out to be twice as large as any fish I had caught. That was a nice end to that fishing trip.
However, as we cleaned up, we hit a snag. We had walked a fair distance to get to the spot where we went fishing, and we decided instead of walking all the way back, we would just go straight up the mountain to the road. My poor sister with her bum knee and my grandpa had a harder time getting up the mountain. We eventually made it, but it was quite the hike. Both of them did really well. I gave my sister a piggy-back ride back to the truck once we reached the road.

We spent the rest of the day talking to family. We ended up taking a nap with Kevin and when we woke up, everyone was swimming. We got ready and started driving down to meet with everyone, but when we got there, they were all leaving. So, we ended up getting the whole reservoir to ourselves. The person who gave us a ride wanted to return too, so we told them that we'd just walk back.
 We were walking back to the camping ground and we were almost there when my parents drove up. People had been worried about us, and so they came to make sure we wouldn't miss dinner. Kevin was pretty happy that we didn't.
After dinner, there was a presentation. We learned how to access stories about our grandparents online and my parents showed us a video that they had edited of my great-grandparents giving them a tour of their homestead. They did a fantastic job.
We had a good night's sleep. The next morning we went back out to go fishing again. Grig had the largest catch of the day. Here's what he caught:

There were garter snakes everywhere. We had a good time chasing them. Grig also took this phenomenal picture of a giant ichneumon wasp. It's pretty neat. 

We didn't have any luck fishing, and after we finished we packed up and went home. We had a good time, and it was really nice to be outdoors with family. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mormon Monday: Why I Went on a Mission

The other day, I was talking to my cousin who had just received a mission call to Mexico. I asked her if she was excited, and she admitted that she was pretty nervous. I then asked her why she wanted to go on a mission.

She said she didn't know, and turned the question back onto me. Why had I decided to go on a mission?

Here is the story, and the reason that I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Even as a missionary, I really connected with people through their animals.
In 2007, I was beginning to rethink my life. I had begun to doubt my decision to go to vet school. For a long time, I had been planning to become a vet "if" I didn't get married. However, as I worked for a vet, worked at the zoo, pet-sat, walked dogs, and worked with livestock, I began to realize that there are many other things I could do besides be a vet.  Really, I just wanted to work with animals.  However, I was becoming pretty sure that I didn't want to deal with other people's sick animals my whole life. It could be pretty depressing.

One experience that really affected me was one time when I assisting with a cat spay. The cat was very fat, which wasn't unusual, but as we opened her up, we realized that she wasn't fat after all. She was pregnant. We called up the owners to make sure that they wanted us to continue, and when they gave us the go-ahead, we aborted those kittens. I could literally see the moment when the life left those tiny bodies. It affected me very deeply, and make me rethink what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

I also had some strange tremors in my muscles that occurred randomly and seemingly without cause. With the shaking in my hands, I wondered if I would even be capable of performing the needed surgeries. I loved my jobs and the experiences and lessons that I was learning, but I just wasn't sure in which direction I was supposed to go.

About this time, my dad had suggested that I think about serving a mission. I was considering this as well, and was starting to feel pretty good about the option. I was also contemplating switching to English major, when I received an e-mail from my zoo supervisor.  He told me that he wanted to meet with me.  I agreed and Friday afternoon, because I got off the vet job early, I went to the zoo to talk to him.  He informed me that one of the full-time workers was leaving and he wondered if I would like his job.  I was deeply honored, especially when he told me that he really liked the way that I was so willing to do whatever was needed, and how hard of a worker I was.  I told him I didn't think it would work with my school schedule, since I was taking 16 credits this semester, and I was thinking of going on a mission next summer.  He told me he would like it more long term, but he would like me think about it since it was a life-changing thing.  He suggested I could also go down to 6 credits a semester.

I went home feeling pleased but nervous.  His praise had made me feel really good, and it was a job I definitely wouldn't mind doing.  The huge money increase wouldn't be bad either.  However, I would have to quit my other job, and less credit hours of school meant more years of school. It also would effectively erase my social life, since I would probably end up taking evening and night classes.

I struggled with this decision for the rest of the week.  I called Dad as soon as I got home and told him what had happened.  Mom called that afternoon and I told her as well.  They both reminded me that it was fast Sunday and I needed to pray about this decision.  Dad seemed a little unsure about the idea, while Mom seemed pretty enthusiastic about it.  Its good to have parents with different opinions.  I prayed and read scriptures, trying keep myself in tune so that I could hear and understand the answer when it came. While I was praying about it, Dad suggested that I pray about going on a mission too. I thought, "Sure, I'll just throw that in there as well."

I worked that weekend at the zoo and the idea of working there full-time was constantly in my mind, making me slightly stressed and also excited.  Pro’s and con’s jumped at me from every direction and I knew that this was a huge moment in my two decades of life.

During lunch, I randomly opened the scriptures and it fell to D&C 88:74-86, which reads:
 74 And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
 75 That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.
 76 Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth.
 77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
 78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
 79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
 80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.
 81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
 82 Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads.
 83 He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken.
 84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
 85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.
 86 Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.
As I read over these scriptures, I felt like I had received my answer. I need to go on a mission. I continued to read and study the scriptures, and every time I randomly opened them, I landed on a verse about missionary work. I also received some other counsel on how to prepare before I left.  I became positive that I was supposed to go on a mission.  I also felt that the time wasn't right for me to take that job.

Leaving those two jobs and my schooling was a large sacrifice. I love my employers and my duties. I enjoyed every aspect of work, and the experiences I had while I was there helped me to mature and grow into a much better person.

However, I wanted to do what the Lord wanted me to do. In my case, that meant that I was supposed to leave my family, friends, school, and work for 18 months to serve my Father in Heaven.

Not everyone is meant to serve a mission, but I needed it. The mission did something incredible for me. The difficulties I faced ripped me apart, showed me my weaknesses, and then showed me how Christ had made it possible to fix them. I am so grateful for the inspiration that I was given at that time that guided me to the next step of my journey through life.
This is the time I dented the curtain at the church when we were playing soccer. That's a story for another time.

All the things I had learned before the mission became useful. I made incredible life-long friends, and my testimony of Jesus Christ flourished and grew.

It was on my mission that I was given inspiration to know where I should go to school when I returned and what I should study. Thanks to that, I met my husband and am now happily married with a degree in elementary education. I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, and I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. That's a comforting thing, and we've been so blessed because of it.

The miracle is, this doesn't just work for me. The Lord wants to guide all of our lives, and He introduces us to people that will help us to make decisions that will bring us happiness and peace. I testify that these things are true, and I am so grateful to have His guiding light in my life.

The Lord has missions for all of us, and it is our responsibility to figure out what we are supposed to be doing. It's a life-long journey, and though it isn't always easy, it is totally worth the effort.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Better Than a Stuffed Animal

I was telling Grig this story the other day, and he told me I should share it.

The other night, it was in the middle of the night. He was crying, and I was trying to figure out how to help him get back to sleep.

You have to understand, Kevin is stubborn.

Like, really stubborn.

I don't know where he gets it, but our son never seems to give up. Later in life I'm sure this will be an outstanding quality, but for now, it can be fairly aggravating.

Anyway, I was praying about it, and I decided I was just going to lay in his bed and pretend to ignore him. I climbed into his bed and put my arm over my face. At first, Kevin remained where he was, but gradually (still crying) he began to make his way closer to the bed. After about a half an hour, he climbed into it and finally allowed me to touch him. I began to rub his shoulders gently and he slowly began to relax and stopped crying.

However, I found that he was no longer empty-handed. In his arms he was cradling a plastic diaper wipe box.
I knew that couldn't be very comfortable, but I also knew that if I tried to take it from him, it would rekindle the screaming. I allowed him to hold it, until I thought he was asleep.

Then, I gently extracted the plastic container from his arms and put it on the floor. He promptly flopped over so his arm was hanging over the bed and his hand was resting on top of it. Worried that he would fall out of the bed, I decided I might as well put it back on the bed.

As soon as I did, he rolled back over and snuggled with it.

Who knows why we bought him any stuffed animals. We could have just gotten a diaper wipe container for him to sleep with. It's a different story every night. He just likes to be holding something, and it can't be the same thing two nights in a row.

Even at three in the morning, I found him snuggling with the plastic container rather adorable.

I probably won't blog tomorrow. We have a reunion starting tonight, but I might be able to post a video Saturday night. We'll see.

I'm excited to go camping. We haven't done that in a while. Our new bird neighbors are doing well. The male is getting less scared of us all the time. I hope they're still here when we come back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our New Neighbors

Recently, we had some new neighbors move in.

They're fairly quiet, and they built their own wing to our apartment. They are quiet neighbors and they help keep the insect levels down. They were pretty shy at first, but they are getting more used to us.

Here's a picture of our new friends:
Here's the mother

Here's the father
They are barn swallows. It's been really fun to see them build their nest. The mother usually sits in the nest all the time, while the father catches bugs during the morning and evening. During the hottest part of the day, he'll sit on our door frame and sometimes he doesn't even fly away anymore when we come in and out.

We really like the company and we love watching them. Kevin gets super-excited whenever we walk outside and he points up at the nest and says, "Bird!" We couldn't ask for better neighbors.

We might name them, but we haven't yet. If you have any suggestions, let us know.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jump Park Adventure

Yesterday, we were invited by my aunt to go with them to a Trampoline Park.

I'd never been to one before, and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was part of a promotional event for families with children who have Type 1 Diabetes. My cousin was diagnosed recently.

We had a lot of fun with her and her family. Basically, the whole area is set up with trampolines. You can jump from one to another or jump off them onto a rope swing. The rope swing propels you over a bunch of soft square foam blocks that cushion you when you land. There was also a rock wall, which, to my shame, I wasn't able to climb. My arm strength needs to be built up again evidently.

An example of what it kind of looked like. We didn't bring a camera, so this one I found online to demonstrate. This one is in Cedar Park.

Kevin had a great time playing with his cousins and aunt and uncle. There was a kid area, and so my aunt and uncle watched him while Grig and I played with my other cousins. We had a great time with minimal injury.

At one point, I was jumping off of the tramp runway, and I was trying to go really far. I decided to jump on the very edge. I was expecting it to be bouncy, but when I hit that area, it wasn't soft at all and my knee jammed a bit. That kind of hurt, but it isn't too bad.

There were also some areas where the trampoline would be up the wall a bit. You could literally jump up the wall. At the end, we were jumping up the wall, and then spinning to land on our back and sliding down. It was quite fun.

This is an example of what it kind of looks like. This particular one is in Dallas. 

They also fed us dinner and told us about the walk for diabetes that would be taking place in September. We'll hopefully be able to participate in it.

A great mile-marker also occurred last night! I decided that Kevin won't get to nurse anymore during the night. (I know I've probably said that before, but this time I was serious.) Kevin's been waking up every 2-3 hours, and I decided it was because I was letting him nurse a bit before I put him back to sleep. Last night, it took two hours, but when he finally fell back asleep at 2:00, he slept until 8:00 this morning! That was a great thing. If I hadn't woken up briefly with Grig, I would have gotten nearly 6 hours of undisturbed sleep!

Things are going pretty well for us. We have a couple of family reunions coming up, and we're looking forward to them.

Money's a bit tight right now, but it's good for us to continue to learn how to budget and learn to live within our means. I'm sure the lessons we are learning now will serve us well throughout our lives.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mormon Monday: Being Born Again

When I was serving a mission in San Antonio, Texas, I ran into many Born-again Christians. They were always very nice to me, and I often had incredible conversations with them. From what I understand from talking to these strangers (and please correct me if I'm incorrect in anyway, because my intention is not to be insulting, but loving), Born-again Christians are generally people who didn't believe in God or Christ, but had a deeply spiritual experience where they felt the Lord's love for them and have now accepted Christ as their Savior. Most of them seem to believe that by accepting Christ at that moment, He saved them for all eternity.

That is a beautiful thought, and one that does contain truth.

However, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we believe that a one-time repentance of your sins is not sufficient.

As members of the LDS church, we believe that Christ is the literal son of God. We believe that He descended from heaven, took on a mortal form, lived a perfectly sinless life, suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, died on the cross, and three days later was resurrected.

We believe that through Christ, we can become cleansed of our sins and live with our Father in heaven. We believe that God has a specific plan for us, which we call the Plan of Salvation. (I spoke about that in more detail in a previous blog post.)

Like many other Christians, we do believe that we need to be "born again," but we view this phrase a little differently.

I wanted to discuss the 3rd Chapter of John for a moment. This chapter begins with a leader among the Jews approaching Christ to clarify a point of doctrine. The chapter states:
 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
This is a fair question, and it mirrors what many people say today when they are mocking those who believe that they can be born again. However, Christ addressed his question with love and answered simply:
 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
In our church, we have been taught that here Christ is referring to baptism. As we are symbolically immersed in the water, we bury our old selves behind and are born again as children of Christ. We take his name upon us and covenant with him that we will keep the commandments, take his name upon us, and always remember him. In return, those with the priesthood (the authority of God) are able to give the gift of the Holy Ghost, and as long as we are doing our best, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. In this sense we are literally born again in Christ.

 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
 14 ¶And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
 16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
 18 ¶He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
I love this section. It states that Christ came because God wanted to save his children, and as we accept and believe in him, we can be saved and have everlasting life.

We believe that after you are 'born again' through baptism, you also have to endure to the end. You have to continue to make and keep those covenants that you made through baptism and continue to progress to become more like Christ. Unclean things cannot enter heaven, and the closer we can become to our Heavenly Father in this life, the easier it will be to enter his presence.

We believe that we are saved by grace. We do our best, but without our Savior it will never be enough. However, with His aid, we can accomplish all things. We believe grace to be the enabling power of God. With grace, we become capable of reaching heaven and living with our Father again. Without grace, we are filthy from our mistakes and nothing we do can ever remove that filthiness.

I recently read an article by an ex-Christian who stated that they had put aside their 'childish beliefs' because they found inaccuracies in the bible. As a evangelical student studying the Bible at Yale, they found many inaccuracies and contradictions that destroyed their faith. I quote from the blog here:
We evangelicals, with our infallible view of scripture ripped from our hands, were left gasping for air. If you crumple and toss out a literal reading of the Bible, then what does it mean to talk about Jesus literally dying for your sins?
I can understand why many Christians would feel this way. As Latter-Day Saints, we believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.

We recognize that the Bible is an incredible work of scripture, but that over the centuries, things have been changed, sometimes by accident and sometimes maliciously. We believe that Christ was truly the Son of God, by our faith is not only sustained by the words of the Bible. We believe that God still lives today and we have living prophets and apostles. I know this to be true through my own experiences and because I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm the truth of it. I know that Christ did come and suffer for my sins and that baptism is essential for salvation. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Family Friday: Cross Country Blues

(This is a story written by guest author Grig Tank)

Eww...I just saw a colon.
High school is a fairly unpleasant time for most kids, and for me this was no exception. OCD and a particularly bad set of social skills helped me feel both more isolated and more mentally unbalanced than I really was. Everyone has their own magical solution for the unhappiness that is teenage life, and for me, that was a girlfriend. I had somehow come to the conclusion that a girlfriend would make my loneliness, obsessive-compulsive neuroticism, and general, teenage-related pains instantly transform into the golden, quirky life I dreamed of. In retrospect, my failure to know what to do or say around a girl may have saved me a great deal of trouble, since a girlfriend was the one thing I couldn’t seem to get. At any rate, I looked down the hall at the rows of lockers and milling students one day, and thought to myself: if something doesn’t change, I will go mad.
My solution was a simple, if poorly thought-out one: since school failed to properly distract me from my hormonally charged frustrations, I would use shock and confusion to do the job myself. I began hiding bones found in the woods and other oddities in my backpack, then donning them or using them as props to disturb others (a favorite game of mine was finding a circle of girls so focused on their conversation that they wouldn’t notice the deer skull about to perch on their shoulder until it was too late. I thought I was pretty funny.).

The feelings of isolation began to dissipate when I joined the cross country team. Along with the endorphins that running provided, the pleasure of being accepted into a group was a welcome change. I never actually thought about it in much depth, but the knowledge that I now had peers that enjoyed doing things with me made all the difference. That, and the fact that there were some very pretty girls in the female section. I was hardly any better at being social than before, but there was less time to pity myself now, and at least one of the girls seemed like a possible match. Hazel was quirky, short, curvy, and lived on a farm… all big bonuses, in my eyes. I began talking to her when I could work up the guts to do so, and even interrupted some kids playing a prank on her, once… the charity of the love-smitten teenager knows no bounds, after all. At one point, I went so far as to suggest that, if she ever broke up with her boyfriend, that she should consider me as an alternative. What happened a few weeks after that suggestion was one of the strangest, least-welcomed miracles I have ever experienced.
I had taken to talking to Hazel every week on the phone, perhaps several times a week, and things were going smoothly. One day, during our discussion, she abruptly said, “So, I broke up with my boyfriend.” Expectant silence followed. This was the moment I had been waiting for for years. I would take the place of my unfortunate successor, and all would be made well. Now, however, a wave of inadequacy and fear poured over me out of nowhere.
A car. She would expect her boyfriend to have a car to drive her around in. I understood that girls liked that sort of thing, but I had no money, which brought me to problem number two: I had no job. I wanted no job. I would have to buy Hazel things, to boot, and I imagined myself failing in all these regards and more, fear after fear hammering me with unexpected force. After what may have been thirty seconds of silence, I found myself saying, “That’s nice,” and then bringing the conversation to as amiable and abrupt an end as possible. The moment I hung up the phone, those fears vanished, and I literally kicked myself with frustration at how close I had been. Where had all that emotion come from?! I had ruined my chances beyond repair, as I thought, and I nearly screamed with fury.
Sometime after my tantrum, I came to realize that it might have been the Holy Ghost protecting me. I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Hazel was not. I had seen what happened to people who married outside of the Church: often, they went inactive, but even when they didn’t, it was very rare for their spouses to become members, themselves. Worse still, their children often fell away from the Church when they began to be independent… why worry about a testimony in a God that Dad or Mom wasn’t interested in? In addition, I honestly think I wasn’t ready for the insanity that courtship can bring with it. Make no mistake, it is a pleasurable experience, but it’s also a frustrating one. Women can be difficult to read and anticipate, and the interest some of them have in mind games became a pet peeve of mine later on. I doubt that my teenage brain, which was still flailing about wildly, trying to handle its own problems, could have handled Hazel’s on top of everything else.
Later still, I would come to wonder about her reaction: was she heartbroken? Angry? Doubtless, she was confused, and I can’t help but think she may have dodged a bullet as much as I did. The final results of that bizarre event (and the rest of high school, for that matter) will probably only become truly clear to me after this world’s impending Endgame.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kevin and the Bee

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved bugs. His name was Kevin.

His parents, who held no fear of them (for the most part), had taught him at a young age that all bugs say "Bzzz" and that it was okay to pick them up. As the boy grew older, he loved to watch ants, rip apart beetles (including cockroaches), and carry roly pollies in his hands. The roly pollies were probably his favorite. He loved the way that they rolled up into little balls. If he found one, he would carry it along for all his outdoor adventures until finally it would drop into the grass, uncurl, and walk away.

However, one day (yesterday) while at his grandparents' home, he finally met the source of the "bzzz" noise.

It was a pleasant furry creature that was playing around beautiful flowers. It had gorgeous yellow and black stripes and it buzzed peacefully through the air. Kevin was thrilled. His parents warned him not to touch them, but Kevin was fascinated by the creatures and he kept trying to catch them.

His parents finally decided that the only way he was going to learn about bees was to let him get himself stung. His mother, in painful suspense, waited in horror for the moment when Kevin would impale his tiny fingers on the stinger of the bee.

Kevin finally caught a bee, but to the shock and amazement of everyone who watched, he grabbed it in the perfect place: right around the thorax. The bee was trapped with its head hidden inside Kevin's fat, chubby fingers and its abdomen (with the dreadful stinger) sticking out. It was the only part of the bee that was visible, and it swung wildly around trying to attack whoever held it. Kevin had the protection of angels that day as he kept pointing at the stinger and drawing near to it and saying, "This?" but never actually touching it.

He was excited, and wanted (as he always did) to show his prize off to his parents. How could he know that his mother was somewhat terrified of flying insects with stingers?

As he proudly held out the bee stinger-first to his mother, she surprised him by darting away and running as he chased her around the yard. This wasn't normally how she reacted when  he handed her bugs and he found it confusing.

"Give it to your daddy!" his mom said as she kept out of his reach. Everyone was laughing at the spectacle of the toddler chasing his mother around with a live bee.

Kevin decided to do what his mother said. He turned around and walked over to his daddy, who dutifully held out his hand, expecting to get stung by the sweeping barb. His dad wasn't afraid of flying insects with stingers.

However, as Kevin released the insect into his father's care, instead of landing in his dad's hand, it flew into the air and resumed its buzzing around the flowers.

Relieved that no one (including the bee) had been harmed, Kevin and his parents decided to return to their home.

And they all lived happily ever after...until the next time.


I have been handed some pretty interesting things by Kevin. One day he had something in his hand that he wanted to give me, so I held my hand out and he dropped a spider into it. I was a little surprised. Usually he gives me pieces of paper he finds and not living creatures. I let the spider go outside.

Another day, he came over and I found that he had caught a cockroach. The head and thorax were pinched between two fingers in his left hand and the abdomen was in his right fingers.That was a very dead cockroach. I told him he could do that to every cockroach he found.

Funny, funny boy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why I Like Fishing

It happens, that I struggle with being surrounded by civilization occasionally. I begin to feel a bit claustrophobic, and there is a part of me that just wants to get away from people in general.

It's not because I don't like people. In fact, I really love them.

There is just this part of me that occasionally wants the walls and rigor of society to just go away for a while. When that used to happen while I was in college, I would go drive out to a park along the river. Sometimes I like company, but just one or two people. Anymore than that, and it isn't nearly as relaxing.

One of my favorite things to do is to go fishing. People have told me that they don't understand the appeal. For them, they find it boring.

One person told me, "You go out and sit there for hours. Sometimes you don't even catch a fish!"

Usually this statement is followed by a declaration of the fact that they don't like the taste of fish anyway, which I can respect.

However, for me, the fishing isn't really about catching fish.

Don't get me wrong, I do love that part too. The adrenaline rush when you finally get one on your hook can make up for hours of sitting still. However, it might be the sitting part that I enjoy the most.

For me, sitting on the banks of the river with very few people around (aside from maybe my husband or grandpa) is very therapeutic. I love listening to the sound of the river and thinking. A quiet conversation is

also appreciated. Mostly, I love getting away from everything and just feeling nature around me. Without the many distractions of society, I can often contemplate my goals and desires in peace.

I probably sound like a hippie.

Fish are one of the few animals that I have killed regularly in my life. It can occasionally make me feel bad, but we always eat what we catch, and I learned from the best how to cook rainbow trout so it tastes pretty good. My husband, who didn't think he liked fish before we were married, LOVES trout. Especially how we cook it.

Fishing is a family tradition as well. As long as I can remember, my mom's dad would take us fishing. When I went to college in Utah, I lived with my grandparents for a while, and my grandpa and I would often go fishing. It was a way that I really bonded with him, and that has also made it something precious to me.

Grig likes fishing best when we catch fish. He loves to explore nature, so it is harder for him to sit in one spot for a long time. If he gets bored, he'll go climb rocks for a while, and then come back. That's fine with me too. We all connect with nature in our own way.

Kevin has been fishing with us a few times. So far, he's still more interested in throwing rocks in the water, but I think he'll like to fish when he's older too.

It's a tradition that I'm keen on continuing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Large Bruises and Head-Diapers

On Saturday, it was super hot in our apartment. So, Grig, Kevin, and I decided to go and wade down the river nearby our home.

We had a great time. There are a few really deep bends in the river where the water is over my head, so we could walk and carry Kevin through the shallows and then take turns watching him and swimming in the deeper water. He really enjoyed himself. He loves water, and his favorite game right now is to throw rocks in and watch them splash. He's pretty careful about the water's edge, and he doesn't really like being in the cold water too long, but we still watch him very carefully. All it takes is a moment.

At one point, Grig was swimming in a deeper pool and Kevin and I were playing a game. Kevin would stand on a rock (holding my hand) and then jump off it into the water. It was only waist-deep on him. At first, he would wait until I had put him back on the rock, but by the end he was walking against the current to get back on the rock himself.

As I was just thinking about that, I thought that was pretty applicable to life. At first, we generally can't handle the force of the river (or our trials) on our own, but as we grow stronger and more used to the current, we find that we can struggle and succeed even against the most powerful of forces. Eventually, we can even try to stand on our own. By the end, Kevin was able to stand on the rock and jump into my arms. He loved that.

After that, he started splashing me, which he thought was hilarious. We sat there and laughed for quite a while. I love my little boy's laugh. There's nothing quite like it.

We made it all the way down the river and made a few new friends along the way. A lot of other people had decided to go inner tubing that day as well, and we enjoyed watching them pass us. Sometimes they'd stop and join us in swimming in the deeper water too. A couple of young men in particular started jumping off the shore line with Grig into a deeper pool. They had a good time.

When we got home, I was surprised to find that my calf kind of hurt. The next day, this beauty showed up:

Beautiful colors, no?
Isn't it pretty?

Who knows when I got that. That happens a lot, actually. I don't always notice pain until much later. It must take a long time to travel to my brain. Either that, or my legs were numb from the cold. 

It's probably one of those two.

Yesterday, Kevin came running out of his room with a diaper on his head. I'm not really sure why, maybe he was worried about his head leaking. 

Here's a bit of Kevin-cuteness for you.

Our camera is officially not working. Luckily, Grig has an older camera from before we were married, and we've been able to use that. I'm pretty sad though, I loved my camera. We're planning on saving up for a really nice one. Canon or Nikon? What's your opinion on that?

And finally, for those of you who are wondering, Kevin slept much better last night. Grig got him to go to sleep about 9:30 p.m., but when I went to move him to his bed, he woke up. So, I got him back to sleep (without nursing!) and he slept pretty good until much later in the night. I had been praying that when he came in, I would be awake enough to take him back to his room, and my prayers were answered. It was still tough to want to get out of bed, but I was able to do it. He's still asleep in his room!

Pretty exciting. Hopefully this is where it starts getting easier.