Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Traditions

In my family, Halloween is a BIG deal.

On my dad's side, one of my aunts was born on Halloween, and so they always had a big celebration for it. Ghost stories and scary movies became favorite pastimes. My dad always had a lot of decorations, and many of them moved, roared, or danced. He also had a lot of bobble headed monsters from old monster movies.

So, it's safe to say that we grew up loving Halloween.

We lived in a pretty small town. Trick-or-treating was safe. We knew all of our neighbors, and they knew us. They didn't have trunk-or-treats until I was out of high school.

Grig, on the other hand, only went trick-or-treating when he was very young. His younger siblings have never gone, and his mom was telling Kevin to always let his parents check his candy before he eats it.

We never did that. We knew everyone we trick-or-treated too, so there was no need to worry about it. Our parents only told us not to eat too much at one time.

It is interesting how different family traditions and circumstances can affect our perception of holidays.

We bought a house in a small town, and once again, I know most of our neighbors. I'm so excited to take Kevin trick-or-treating! I love Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and I'm really stoked that he's old enough to really understand what's going on this year. We've been watching all sorts of Halloween cartoons in preparation for Saturday.

People have been asking what Kevin is going to be for Halloween. A lot of them have assumed that Kevin is going to be Superman, but I told them that there was no way. Kevin is Superman every day. So, he has to be something different for Halloween. Next year, he'll pick his own costume, but this year, we helped him pick it.

Here it is:

He dressed up tonight to go to a Halloween party. He had a great time with his cousins.

This will be his third Halloween. Here are the previous years' costumes:
It's hard to believe how much he's grown!
As Grig and I learn from each other, we have to decide which traditions we want to keep from our parents, and which ones we want to form. It's a fun journey, and we're so grateful to be making it together!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015!

As some of you know, and many of you don't, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

I am super stoked to begin next week.

I am going to be working on the second draft of my story. I'm hoping to complete the book by the end of November and start asking some people to read/edit it for me. If you're interested in doing so, please let me know. I already have a few people who have volunteered.

I have started looking forward to this every year. I've done it the last two years, and it's been really fun for me. I enjoy setting goals and achieving them. The first year, I barely didn't make my goal, and last year I did. I'm hoping to finish the whole draft this time.

I've been trying to finish prepping for my second draft while I wait for November to start, but I'm chomping at the bit. I want to get going. Grig told me I could, but I told him I didn't want to mess up my word count.

If you are interested in writing at all, you can go to the website, and set up an account. It's not necessary to do so in order to participate, but they help you keep track of how many words you write a day. If you're the kind of person who likes to write and talk to other people who are interested in writing, you can also find out who else is in the area and when they're meeting.

Personally, I don't go to any of the meetings, because my husband is the best writing buddy I could ask for. We bounce ideas off of each other for our various stories and we have a pretty good time. We usually both end up getting excited about each other's stories and ideas.

However, if you don't have a spouse or friend who enjoys writing as much as you do, my cousin, who hosts these meetings in her area, find them very enjoyable.

So, yeah. I'm pretty excited about it. It might mean I miss a blog here or there, but I'm hoping I can do both. I mostly am planning on writing late at night or early in the morning. It's very difficult to write while Kevin is awake. He tends to demand my attention and he doesn't take naps.

We'll see how it goes.

This is the official NaNoWriMo logo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Potty Training

So, I know I mentioned this on yesterday's blog, but I am so stoked about it, that I had to talk about it some more.

A few months ago, I started feeling like Kevin was "almost ready." He was starting to go into the other room when he needed to poop, and he would tell me when he was wet.

We tried him in underpants for a night and a morning, and he was dry all night, used the potty in the morning, and was dry until about noon. Then, after noon, he had three accidents in a row.

After the third accident, I decided he wasn't quite ready. I told myself that I would wait until he could tell me that he needed to go to the potty.

Three days ago, he decided it was time.

Since then, he has only had one accident. He is not wearing diapers during the day anymore, and he's been doing really well. He even told me that he had to use the potty at church. I was super impressed!

Hopefully this isn't TMI for anyone, but I am really proud that essentially he is potty-training himself. It has been his idea, and he's been doing a great job.

It will be super nice to not have to buy diapers for a while. Our son is awesome and we love him. We are discovering that Kevin is the kind of kid who fights if you tell him to do something, but if it's his idea, and you encourage him, then nothing can stop him. We've tried to make a big deal out of it when he does something right, but we're really trying not to push him or make his experiences negative. We just praise and reward him when he does good things, and correct him immediately if he does bad things, and then afterward show him an increase in love. So far, it seems to be working just fine, but we're new at this and we're still figuring things out.
Arkhon was potty-trained before he was a year old, but he is a dog, after all. 
It's taken until he's almost three for him to be potty-trained, but that's just fine. Hopefully the next child learns sooner, but with Kevin as an example, there's no reason why he/she shouldn't.

We hope.

Monday, October 26, 2015

MM: Hushing our Fears

We are officially down to the last week.

Grig's job ends on Saturday. If we don't find a new job before then, we are unemployed.

Though we have had many reassurances throughout these last few month, we are still becoming somewhat stressed. It's not so easy to have peace and faith when a deadline is looming on the horizon.

That's not to say that we're doubting the Lord, or the feelings that we've had. Instead, we just aren't sure about His timing. His timing is often not the same as our timing.

When Grig ends this Saturday, he will get 2 weeks worth of severance pay for sticking it out to the end. He will also receive his unused vacation time in a monetary form. Add all that to the fact that this is a three pay-period month, and we have a bit of extra money to live off of.

Personally, I've been hoping and praying that having this extra money will mean that we can have a baby soon, but the fear inside my heart is saying that it just means we'll use it all up while Grig is looking for a job.

While speaking about this to my mother today, she reminded me of a talk from a General Conference a few months ago. It was given by Elder Bednar, and it was titled "Therefore They Hushed Their Fears."

In his talk, he says:
An example from the Book of Mormon highlights the power of the knowledge of the Lord (see 2 Peter 1:2–8;Alma 23:5–6) to dispel fear and provide peace even as we confront great adversity.
In the land of Helam, Alma’s people were frightened by an advancing Lamanite army.
“But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but … should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.
“Therefore they hushed their fears” (Mosiah 23:27–28).
Notice Alma did not hush the people’s fears. Rather, Alma counseled the believers to remember the Lord and the deliverance only He could bestow (see 2 Nephi 2:8). And knowledge of the Savior’s protecting watchcare enabled the people to hush their own fears...
...But can we hush the fears that so easily and frequently beset us in our contemporary world? The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. Three basic principles are central to receiving this blessing in our lives: (1) look to Christ, (2) build upon the foundation of Christ, and (3) press forward with faith in Christ. 
 I really appreciated this reminder from my mother. These last few months have been a series of trials. However, they have also been a series of miracles. Each trial has in some way also been a blessing. We have learned so much and grown quite a bit.

One of the biggest miracles that we received today was when Grig's job has offered employees to work in the line next week. Grig volunteered. If you work even one day in a month, the insurance covers you for that entire month. That will mean that we have insurance in November as well. Hopefully by the end of November, we will have found a job.

Despite these miracles, I am still struggling with my faith. It is hard to wait for promised blessings. As I look forward to Christmas and realize that we may not be able to afford much this year, I feel strange. Though my parents made little and were never rich, we never wanted for anything. I've never had to worry about not receiving Christmas presents.

Honestly, I don't know that I have to worry about it this year either. We've already had kind friends and family step in and tell us that they will buy Christmas for us if we can't.

As I am writing this blog and trying to talk about my fears and stress, I keep having all of the wonderful blessings that we have received come into my mind and push away the worry. Perhaps writing this blog was what I needed after all.
An orange background with text quoting Elder M. Russell Ballard: “Remove any of your fear with faith.”
One of the biggest blessings that I personally have received this week is that Kevin has been potty-training himself. Last weekend, he woke up and randomly said, "I need to go potty." He has had very few accidents since. He has yet to poop in the potty, but he hasn't had any kind of accident in two days. That's been really exciting for me, and for some reason, I am just bursting with pride with how he's doing.

I feel like I'm one of those random mothers who wants to yell, "My son's using the potty!" in the middle of the grocery store because I am so proud of him. I never thought I'd want to do something like that.

I haven't yet, but I want to.

So, despite the fact that we're a bit stressed and worried, we are trying to turn to the Savior and allow Him to hush our fears. We have had quite a bit of peace, and when I focus on that, I can feel the stress dissolve. That doesn't mean that it is gone, but it certainly helps.

We know the Lord told us to buy this home for a reason. We also know that He will provide as we do what He asks us to do. We have been trying to be obedient and charitable. I know that Grig will find a job, and it will be the job that the Lord wants him to have.

Things will work out.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pink Room of Death

Ever since we bought this home, there has been one room that I have rather strongly disliked.

I call it "The Pink Room of Death."

Obviously, it wasn't a deal breaker for me, but I definitely wanted to change it. As you can see from the pictures below, the walls had been painted a rather interesting shade of pink. If that wasn't bad enough, the door, random rain gutter (who knows why that was there), and shelves had been painted a deep red.
This is a picture from when we first moved in. It's a pretty grainy picture, but I'd already removed the rain gutter in the other pictures I took. 
Then, on top of the clashing pink and red, the trim near the ceiling had been painted black with gold spotting. 


These pictures were taken right before I began painting. 

I started painting before everything went crazy, and I had been hoping to have the room painted for Grig's sister before she went back to Virginia. However, after her first surgery, I decided she didn't need the added distress of the paint smell, so I left it alone until she was gone. Then, while the room was cleared out, I spent the next week slowly working on it before Grig's brother moved in.

Here is the completed project:

I really like the way the closet turned out.
I think it looks quite nice. Part of the reason we chose the teal was to cover up the black paint. We knew we could do that with fewer coats if we didn't use white on the trim. I really like the color.

I finished painting Friday night, and one of Grig's brothers moved in the next day. They now each have their own room, which is a lot better for them. They were pretty crammed with all their stuff in one room.

Well, that's one more project off my list. Now on to the next thing.

We're doing pretty well. Kevin woke up yesterday morning and wanted to use the potty, and that was pretty exciting. So, he got to wear his underwear most of the day. He didn't have one accident, but when we went outside to play, we thought we'd better put a diaper back on. Hopefully he wants to use the potty again today.

He and Arkhon are adjusting well to Dakota being gone. I think they miss her sometimes, but they are both exuberant and things don't keep them down for long.

We are thinking about getting another dog, but until Grig gets a new job, we can't take on any more expenses. So, we wait and enjoy the dog that we have.

Isn't he handsome?
He is quite a good dog. He's been digging in the backyard, which drives me crazy, but I finally caught him at it yesterday, and was able to tell him off. Dogs, like kids, need to be caught in the act. You can't chastise them for something that they did hours before. They won't know why they're in trouble, and so they'll associate the correction with something else. I need to catch him a few more times, and then I think he'll get that he's not supposed to dig.

Other than the digging, he has very few foibles. He does tend to get over-excited when people come into the house, but we're working on that.

Kevin has learned to ride a tricycle. He's finally tall enough that his feet touch the pedals.

He was willing to wear this shirt, because he thought the treble clef was an "S" for superman.
He's growing up so fast! In just over a month, he'll turn three. That's pretty crazy. Where did my baby go?

This has been kind of a crazy year. There have been some pretty major trials, but also some major blessings. Who ever thought that we'd already own our own home?

We're pretty grateful for our many blessings, and I'm super glad to have that room painted. It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


As many of you know, we had to put down our sweet old dog yesterday.

I've had Dakota since 2000. We went to a neighbor's farm to get potatoes, and we came home with a puppy.

She looked like a husky pup, though she was 3/4 border collie and 1/4 Australian shepherd. I loved her immediately. As I played with her and her siblings, my dad walked up and said, "Well, would you trade cable (television) for a puppy?"

I don't think he expected us to answer yes. We already had one dog, that we'd adopted when a neighbor couldn't keep her, but we were pretty enthusiastic about the thought of bringing home another puppy. My dad and mom finally agreed, thinking that having two would help them keep each other occupied.

She was born on August 19. We brought home the little girl on October 16, 2000.
She was the cutest puppy!
Two years later, she and I went to dog 4-H together. We went to state our first year and she did really well. I learned how to train dogs from an incredible professional dog trainer, who donated his time to help kids learn at 4-H. He really taught me a lot, and I'll be forever grateful to him.

The next year, I didn't take her to 4-H (though I did take Meg), because I bred her with a purebred border collie. We ended up with eight adorable little puppies.

Unfortunately, none of the puppies took after her coloring. they were all black and white like their father.
She was the best mom. She took care of all those puppies, and trusted me completely with them. That was one of the best summers of my childhood.

Dakota wasn't perfect. She didn't like men very much, and we could never figure out why. She also didn't get along with other dogs very well. Toward the end of her life, we got her to get over that, but it took a long time and quite a few visits to the dog park. 

She only bit a person once, and that was when she was a mother. A neighbor girl was talking really loudly and animatedly around her pups, and it made her nervous. She nipped her to get her to stop. 

Actually, I guess she did bite my younger brother one time. He came in crying about how Dakota had bit him, and it turned out that he had chomped on her ear first, so she nipped him back. He wasn't really hurt, and we thought it was funny.

She and Meg (our other dog) were usually great friends. Meg taught her some bad tricks, and sometimes they fought, but usually they had a great time together.
Meg and Dakota
When I left for college, my parents said they would only watch one dog for me. I had to give the other away. It was a hard decision, but Dakota was my baby. I had raised her, and she was the easier of the two to handle. She stayed, and Meg went. 

No matter how long I was gone, Dakota was always my dog. She always greeted me enthusiastically when I returned, and I always looked forward to seeing her. She was aging, but she had a very puppy-like love of life. 

She helped me choose my husband. I wanted her to live until I married, so I could see if she liked the guy I was dating. She was very particular about the men that she liked. I shouldn't have worried. She lived long enough to meet and love Grig, and that was one of the reasons that I knew I'd chosen the right man. 

I didn't know she'd live long enough to meet my first-born son too.
Kevin's first time meeting Dakota
A year later, we moved into an apartment that allowed pets, and she was able to come and live with us. After being an outdoor dog her entire life, she was finally allowed in the house.

She loved it!

Kevin loved his old dog. She was just about his speed.
She struggled with the stairs a bit, and she was developing arthritis, but she could still get around okay. She was always kind and patient with Kevin. Even when he accidentally hurt her, she did her best to be gentle.

In the late spring of 2014, Dakota was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was already large enough that it had most likely become systemic, and so we decided to just take good care of her until her time came. We though she had six months at the most. We weren't sure if she would make it to her 14th birthday.

We decided to get a puppy, so Dakota could teach him to be well-behaved before she passed away. She wasn't so sure about the idea at first, but eventually, he grew on her.
That's one pooped puppy!
A little while later, Dakota reached her 14th birthday, and we celebrated it enthusiastically, imagining that it would be the last one that she would have.

Here's Dakota eating her birthday cake.
Time passed, and though Dakota incremently got worse, I didn't feel like it was time yet. I told my husband, "If she stops eating, if she stops being able to walk, if she gets an infected sore, or if she isn't happy anymore, we'll put her down."

It seemed like that day would never come. She wasn't moving easily, but she was still mobile. She loved food almost too much, and would occasionally do some pretty crazy things in order to get to it. She never stopped being sneaky. Even when she could barely walk, she still managed to break out of the backyard (thank you, Meg). We'd hear her breathing through the front window and know she managed to get out again. She was happy, and seemed pretty healthy for her age.

She had her 15th birthday while I was away working in Idaho, and we didn't ever get around to celebrating it. I kind of regret that.

During the last few months, she began to develop what Grig termed, "Bed sores." He was absolutely right. She wore away the fur and skin on points that were kept in nearly constant pressure with the ground (mostly on her elbows and on her sides). We cared for them, and they seemed to be healing, albeit slowly.

We've had a crazy few weeks, what with Grig's sister's health problems and my husband's imminent loss of job. However, Dakota was kind enough to wait until Grig's sister made it back to Virginia with her parents. Grig's sister made it home Friday, and that's the day Dakota began to go downhill.

She was unable to get to her feet without assistance, and she showed no interest in food. She wouldn't even drink water, and a pretty foul smell began to come from her. She seemed despondent. I hoped she would pull out of it, but something inside of me told me that this might be the end.

We gave her a couple of days to see if she'd get better, but she only got worse. She didn't move most of the day, and when she did, she required assistance. Sometimes she looked fairly alert, but she had lost the joy in her face.

This picture was taken Friday night, the day Dakota started going downhill. My parents got to see her one last time. 
Saturday was a busy day for us, and she didn't show any signs of improvement. She was able to walk some, but she still didn't want to eat or drink.

This picture was taken Sunday afternoon. This was her favorite place to relax outside.
By Sunday morning, I knew it was time. I wrote in my journal, and after I finished, I e-mailed our veterinarian, who is a good friend of mine. I used to work for her when I lived in this area before. I asked her if she could come on Monday to put Dakota down. She was kind enough to e-mail me back on a Sunday, and we figured out a time. 

All day Sunday, I struggled with it, and prayed that I was making the right decision. I commented to Grig that the only thing she was missing on my list was an abscessed wound. A few minutes later, I found one after it burst. One of her bed sores had become infected, and the infection had run under the skin and abscessed right behind her right shoulder. It was huge and deep. I actually edited the above picture so you couldn't see it. She looks much better without it. 

After that, I still wasn't sure. Sometimes she seemed pretty alert, but she still didn't seem happy. Every one of the items on my list had been fulfilled, and I took that as a sign that it was time, but I still struggled with it. I didn't want to end her life prematurely. 

I cried and stressed about it quite a bit that night. I didn't know what our lives would be like without my wonderful companion and friend. She'd been with me for more than half of my life. However, after discussing it with Grig, I became convinced that it was the right decision. He was kind and left it up to me. She was our dog, but ultimately, she was and had been mine. She loved Grig and often greeted him enthusiastically, but she followed me everywhere and never liked me to be out of her sight. 

Monday morning, when our vet showed up, her first words were a huge comfort to me. She told me, "You're right, she's ready." Grig was able to leave work to be there as well, and that was also a huge blessing.

Dakota didn't really even react to the vet's presence. She just laid on the floor. 

This is where she was when the vet arrived. We took these pictures a few minutes before she came.
As the vet gave her sedative, her face relaxed and for the first time, she was free of pain. It was such a comfort to have her euthanized in our home by a dear friend whom I have know a long time. Dakota never made a sound, and she was very peaceful though out the entire procedure.
Once the drug had been administered, she stopped breathing, but it took a few minutes for her heart to stop. I couldn't help but admire what a fighter she was. She never quit, and she always kept going with a smile on her face. I can't even imagine how much pain she was in sometimes, but she never let it stop her from doing what she wanted to do and being with the ones she loved.

After her death, I felt more peace than I had been expecting. I didn't know how I was going to handle it. I'd never had a dog die before.

I wasn't sure how I was feeling about everything. I was sad, but part of me also could see her running, free of her mortal pain. As I thought about that on the ride home from the crematory, an impression hit me very strongly, and the thought popped into my head that said, "She's happy now."

I began to cry with joy. At that moment, it was as though all of my sadness was gone, to be replaced by joy that she was now free and happy. Her body had been becoming more and more of a prison to her gentle, loyal, joyful soul. She could now run with the speed of her youth, and I knew that she was still watching over us. 

Kevin and Arkhon didn't really understand what was happening. When we took Dakota's body to the crematory, Kevin kept saying, "Dakota's dead, dead, dead, dead, dead."

However, the rest of the day, he kept asking, "Where's Dakota?"

I would tell him that her spirit was now with Heavenly Father. That thought seemed to satisfy him, but he also was sad and grumpy for the remainder of the day. 

Arkhon has also been especially needy. He doesn't want us to go anywhere without him. That's not really like him. 

I am still sad, but I am not as devastated as I thought I was going to be. I'm so grateful for the life that I've had with her. She was worth every moment, and I learned so much from her. 

I saw this meme the other day, and I wanted to share it. I'm not sure who said this quote originally, but I loved it:
He might only be here for a part of your life, but for him, you are his whole life | Remember that people. Dogs are forever, not until you get tired of them. They are alot of work, but they give you unconditional love. They deserve the same in return! by delia
Here's a short poem I wrote right before I e-mailed the vet to schedule the appointment. 


Clear eyes cloud and the light slowly dims
Silk-like fur greys and becomes as wire
Energy lessens, and joints stiffen that 
once flew like raging wildfire.
What will life be, without you by my side?
You were there to greet me, each time I returned.
To you, it didn’t matter if it was five minutes or years.
The joy you exuded, could bring me to tears.
You helped choose my husband, 
You listened to my fears.

I learned from you what a dog is, 
and you taught me well.
With you, I learned to be firm and loving.
You trained my son to adore dogs .
You taught my cousins to give up their fear.
You were a comfort on warm, friendless days,
You slept with the cats, on winter’s dark nights.
You taught me responsibility, though sometimes I failed.
You taught me to endure, when I grow old and frail.
I have needed you and you gave me your best.

Thank, you Dakota.
You will be missed.

We thought you had six months. 
You gave us a year.
I’m not ready for you to disappear.
Our home will seem empty without you here.
When you’re free of your body,
Come visit us again.
Come run after Arkhon, 
Come play with Kevin. 
Come sit by my side, and greet Grig at the door.
There’s a place here for you now, and for forever more. 

We buried my dog tonight, under our apple tree. We sang Amazing Grace and had a prayer. It was a nice moment with my family. 

She's happy, and that's the most important thing to me.

Dakota, we will miss you and we love you. You are, always and forever, my beautiful dog. We'll never forget you.
My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.
--Hazel, Watership Down

Monday, October 12, 2015

MM: The Souls of Animals

I love animals. I always have.

One of my favorite truths that we're taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that everything is a creation of our Heavenly Father.

We believe that every living thing has a soul. If you want to read further on teaching of the church concerning this, there is an article about it called "The Gospel and Animals." I took a lot of my sources from this article.

One of Grig's and my favorite stories about Joseph Smith, the first president of the church, happened during the Zion’s Camp expedition in 1834, an incident occurred that allowed a practical application of concern for animal life. As related by the Prophet Joseph Smith in his history:
“In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.’ The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 71–72.)
He goes on to state concerning the resurrection of animals:
“Says one, ‘I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts.’ Any man who would tell you this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true. John heard the words of the beast giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them. The beasts were four of the most noble animals that filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect. They were like angels in their sphere. We are not told where they came from, and I do not know; but they were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God.” (DHC, vol. 5, pp. 343–44.)  
This is especially applicable and comforting to me today.

Dakota isn't doing well. After a lot of prayer and thought, we've decided it is time to put her down. The vet will be here soon to do so.  It's been a difficult few months, but I know that Dakota will be happier when she's free of her mortal pain.

I just know her spirit's going to be running laps in joy and that she'll be waiting on the other side for the time when we join her.

While revising the Bible, the Prophet desired further understanding concerning the four beasts mentioned in Revelation 4:6 [Rev. 4:6]. Section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants contained the response from the Lord. The answer revealed that “heaven, the paradise of God,” contained beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air, and “every other creature which God has created.” (D&C 77:2.)
I know that animals have souls and that God loves each and everyone of them. I know we will be accountable for how to treat the animals and people under our care.

Monday, October 5, 2015

MM: What My Toddler Learned from Conference

Kevin is only two years old.

He'll turn three in a few months, but it isn't very realistic to expect him to sit through eight (non-consecutive) hours  of general conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and understand much of it.

However, I was touched when during one of the sessions, Kevin turned to me and said, "Heavenly Father?" He had heard one of the speakers mention him. When I confirmed what he had heard, he then said, "Heavenly Father loves me?"

I told him that yes, Heavenly Father loved him very much. He nodded, as though verifying what I had said, and then repeated, "Heavenly Father loves me!"

He said this several times during the several sessions. When he would hear the names of Heavenly Father or Jesus, he would perk up and repeat, "Jesus loves me!"
A detail of a painting by Harry Anderson showing Christ with His arm around a young boy with whom He is talking.

I loved it. He even made up a song about it and sang it several times. I was pretty proud of his understanding. He is a great kid, and I am so grateful for him.

I loved conference as well. There were so many talks that seemed to just be targeted at me.

As some of you know, it's been a rough week for our family. Grig's sister who has been living with us, suddenly ended up in the hospital during the beginning of last week. I don't want to include much, because that's really her story, but I will give you a cliff-notes version. She essentially has a tumor in her brain that has been blocking spinal fluid from leaving her head. The pressure built up to a point where she wasn't able to remember the names of normal things, and every thing that she said came out in gibberish. She also lost the ability to walk. We rushed her to the hospital, and they were able to release the excess fluid.

Thank you for all of your prayers and kind words.

She actually is back at our home now (she returned today) and out of immediate danger. This tumor has been growing for years, and she still needs to have it removed, but once she's recovered enough from her first surgery, they are going to fly her back to Virginia and treat her there.

It has been a pretty crazy and stressful week, and I have found great comfort in the words of living prophets and apostles.

I am also pleased that, even though Kevin didn't understand much, he was taught the most important principle of the gospel. It made me feel like maybe we're doing something right.

I am so grateful for my family. Both my own family, and my in-laws. It's been wonderful to get to know Grig's family better and to watch them pull together during this difficult time. I am so grateful that they have welcomed me with open arms, and that they have been so kind to me. I couldn't ask for a better family to marry into.

In my side of the family, it's been a pretty momentous couple of weeks as well. Both of my married brothers' wives gave birth. I now have one new niece and one new nephew. That has been a wonderful blessing this week, though I have yet to meet the two newest members of my family.

Throughout all of these trials and blessings, I do know that Heavenly Father loves me and my family. That theme has seemed to permeate our home this week, and I am so grateful for His love. We saw many miracles as we tried to help Grig's sister and when we took her to the hospital. One thing that happened was the night before when I went and took Kevin's car seat out of the car because I had been going to make salsa with my grandma. Having the car seat ended up being a huge blessing.

I have seen many tender mercies, and I am very grateful for the love we have seen and felt. I am grateful that my son learned something from conference, even at his tender age. I was really surprised to find out how well he was actually listening, and very proud of him and the connections that he made.

I don't think there is a more important lesson that he could learn.