Monday, September 27, 2010

Dad's Visit

It's been really fun having Dad here. It's also really cool how the timing worked out. Dad had some meetings in Salt Lake for work, and Christian reports to the MTC this Wednesday. That meant a gap of 3 or so days that Dad could come visit us!

We had a nice dinner on Friday. Saturday, we hung out and had dinner at Ying Yang. It's pretty cheap for Chinese and pretty tasty too. Of course we had to get some dessert at G's Dairy. I love that place! Real ice cream is the stuff that you have to chew and can only eat about 4 ounces before you're full. The turtle cheesecake is my favorite!

I attended the Relief Society broadcast. I especially liked Pres. Monson's talk about judging others. As an example, he told the story about the lady who criticized her neighbor's dirty laundry when she was really looking through her own dirty windows! I'll admit it--my windows get pretty dirty. Sometimes I just want to shut the blinds and forget about ever cleaning them. :)

We watched a little bit of Bonanza. Talk about cheesy! Yet there's something really nice about those old shows. People are either good or bad. Maybe they can't act, but it's clearly defined that good guys are good and bad guys are bad. There's no flip-flopping or claiming that bad deeds are necessary in order to achieve a good purpose. Many TV shows on the air today have such twisted morals! They suck people in by starting off nice and relatively clean, but they get progressively darker and less wholesome. I hate that. That's why we don't watch TV. We've thought about hooking up our free cable, but it's just not going to happen. It's just not worth it to me.

Sunday was a nice day too. It was James's grandpa's birthday, so we had dinner at their house in Rigby. They gave us some apples, so I'm making an apple pie today. Dad and I are also making a trip to Wal-mart to get some junk food and eating dinner out tonight. It's been a few months since James and I ate somewhere "nice". It sure is fun to eat out, though I can't see why someone would do it all the time. I mean, wouldn't it lose its appeal and make you go broke after a while? Eating out for me means that I don't know how to make the dish at home. I do love figuring out how to make stuff that the restaurant can make. It usually saves a ton of money, and I can modify it to my taste.

It's been a good weekend. I can't believe that Christian reports this Wednesday to the MTC! He's going to be a great missionary, though. He has lots of great Gospel insights, many things that I've never thought about before. We sure will miss him, but we will also be glad to be getting Myles here in January. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wellness

Just a contrast to my last post...I feel so much better! I still have no idea what I ate that gave me such a horrible time, but I'm sure glad that it's over. I had a few very emotional moments this week when I was weak, tired, and stressed from taking care of Joseph, but that all seems so long ago now.

I missed him while we were on our date. :(
James and I went on a date to a RS activity last night. It was great! We got a nice, free dinner of alfredo, cheesecake, salad, and bread. There was also a dance with live music and even fake candles on the tables. I don't remember the last time we went out to dinner, but it was most likely before Joseph was born. That made it extra special. :) We are still such terrible dancers, but we had a great time.

On the topic of wellness: It's interesting how many things come into play for one to be completely "well", or scripturally, "whole". Being physically healthy is only a small part of it, but it definitely has a large impact on everything else. Because I was physically unwell, I was also emotionally unwell (not in the terminal sense, of course). I was grouchy and not myself. That caused me to not be in tune with the Spirit, so my home felt like a place of discord, rather than one of harmony.

As a mother, it's a big job to ensure the wellness of another person. Taking care of a baby requires more than just knowledge of when the baby needs food, sleep, or a new diaper. There is no book comprehensive enough, because every child is so different. I love my little Joseph. I'm so glad that he's my baby. No matter how big he is, he always will be! :)

We are so excited that my dad is coming to visit this weekend. He gets here today, so we're going to celebrate with a yummy meal: BBQ pork, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and peach crisp. I'm hungry already.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sickness

I just want to say that I HATE BEING SICK! Taking care of a baby when you don't feel quite right is hard! There are no breaks unless the baby takes a nap, and that is no guarantee for Joseph at this age. I am so glad that James will be home later this evening to help out.

I realize more and more why children need two parents. I might be the only one to feed Joseph, but James does SO much to help out. Sometimes I'm just too worn out to play with Joseph anymore, but James is always willing to make him laugh. It's the sweetest sound in the world. James is so good at being the goofy daddy. I don't know how single parents do it. There are days that I feel that I'm about to go nuts...and I only have one kid. It's such a sacrifice of time and energy. Joseph has been going through another growth spurt, and it's tough. Combined with being sick, my energy is completely sapped--not to complain, though. I enjoy good health and have a very healthy, cute baby. Days like this make me so grateful to have overall good health.

I think that hardest part of being sick (for me) is the effect on my mood. It's been a stressful few days because of lots of changes that will be coming up. James and I have both received impressions to move in with his family. The apartment upstairs isn't even done yet! The more I think about it, the more sad I am to be leaving this apartment and moving into a smaller one. Yet, we moved a year ago from our first apartment, and everything worked out just fine. There are so many things I'll miss: having 2 bedrooms, a dishwasher, a great ward, and awesome friends so close by. Argh! It's just so frustrating sometimes to get an impression like that. It makes perfect sense to move, but it's not what I want. Not at all. I guess you could say that it hurts my pride, because I said I'd never live with my parents (or husband's parents) unless I really had to. This is one of those moments where I really need to work on accepting the will of the Lord and learning how to want what He wants for me. It's going to take some time, so I'm really glad that this impression came early and not in December. The Lord knows me better than I know myself, and He knew I'd need some time to come to terms with it. *Sigh*

There must be a reason that I heard Pres. Clark's talk about the poison of entitlement twice this past week. I am certainly "entitled" to happiness as anyone else, but that doesn't mean that I won't have to work for it! Happiness is always found in doing the right thing, whether it makes sense or not.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Change

I remember a Hershey's ad from the 90's (I think) that proclaimed, "Change is bad. The Hershey bar: unchanged since <whatever year it was that they said>." Theoretically, there is no reason for that Hershey bar to ever change. After all, why would you want to change something that's already perfect? (Not taking into consideration all those who don't consider Hershey's chocolate to be perfect, though I think it's pretty darn good.)

We need change. Change in itself is a trial. Sometimes, those trials come with us when we're born. Sometimes, we seek them out. At other times, they seem to be randomly forced upon us. For me, I think that change is one of the biggest tests of my faith. I like to be comfortable where I am. I don't like to move. That applies to both the apartment I live in and in my faith. It's all too easy to get complacent and feel that everything is perfect. When we start thinking that, we're always wrong. When life seems too easy, I know that I should expect the unexpected...but I never know exactly what I should be expecting!

There have been several times in my life that the Lord has specifically required me to step outside of my comfort zone. All of these times required big changes: coming to school in Idaho, choosing to go into teaching when I hated speaking in front of people, marrying a guy I had to wait 2 years for, and having a baby right after graduation when I could have gotten a decent-paying job. It would seem that these choices didn't make sense, yet there is no denying that they were the right choices--and changes--to make in my life. I have no doubts about them. I still feel that they were all the right decisions.

The hardest decisions for me are the ones that I don't want to make, even though I feel that they are right. Those are the ones that aren't logical to me in the first place. One such decision I made last summer when I stayed in Rexburg. I had much better opportunities to make money elsewhere, but I knew it was the right thing to do in staying. The job I got? Same thing. It was the last job on earth that I wanted, but it worked out perfectly for my situation.

Now comes the time for another change. What will it be? I guess that remains to be seen. I feel that life is "almost" easy at the moment and that I've gotten a little complacent. But I've been through change before, so bring it on!

It's Days Like This...

...that make me really appreciate the days when I sit at home and have nothing to do! Here's how it began. I woke up, got ready, cleaned the kitchen, fed Joseph, and prepared dinner while he was down for a nap. By then, it was time for James to come home for lunch. We had some wonderful leftovers, cleaned that up, and then I took him back to school. Joseph ate two more times in that time period. I think he's going though a growth spurt. Then, I went with Melodie to run some errands and watch the Homecoming parade for MHS. It was nice. I even got some free taffy, not feeling too weird as I ran into the road to grab it before it got run over by silly, screaming teenagers with spray-painted red and white faces, hair, cars...you name it. (As a side note, Sally Beauty Supply had a sign on the door proclaiming their lack of the aforementioned colors in spray-on hair dye. Lol.)
I'll admit it. I was really happy when this happened.

Joseph had had enough by this point, so he cried all the way home from getting some ice cream. G's Dairy Delights is just that...delightful. People can say all they want about custard and yogurt, but I think there's nothing better in the world than some good, thick ice cream.

I made some cookies to take up to Grandma's tomorrow, folded the laundry from earlier in the day, and sat down for a few minutes. Joseph woke up and ate again. That brings me up to the present. All I've got to do is cook the dinner, deliver it to a girl who just had a baby, eat my own, drop off Joseph, pick up James, and go to the temple with him! Hurray for ward temple night! I don't think the day could end better than that!

I really don't know what I'll do when I have more than one kid, either. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Perspective

Nom nom nom...
It's really quite funny to be a new mother of a 95% perfect baby and to hear all the assumptions that people often have. "Oh, you must be dead tired." "I bet he keeps you up all night." "You must never get anything done." I guess I never realized how much perspective plays in viewing a good night's sleep. A good night, I think, is only having to wake up once. When Joseph was first born, he'd wake up two or three times, but now he's down to once or not waking up at all. A father remarked to me that "sleeping well" is only defined as not waking up at all! I guess that by that definition, I haven't "slept well" more than 3 or 4 times in the last 9 months or so. (Pregnancy in its later stages is NOT very restful, even if you're at home all day and don't already have kids to take care of.) I am grateful that my baby is not even close to what I call the "worst-case scenario" baby that everyone warned me about for months before he was born. When he's all wrapped up in his blanket and peacefully sleeping, the phrase "bundle of joy" runs through my mind. :)

James and I went to our first movie in the theater since Joseph was born! I actually really recommend it. I feel the need to support every good, clean movie that comes out, since there are SO FEW that aren't completely stupid or pointless animated junk. This movie has the typical violence related to magic/fantasy, but that's it. (No swearing, no innuendos, and no junk.) It may be a little predictable, but it has a happy ending and a very likable main character. It's called the Sorcerer's Apprentice (with Nicolas Cage). We are definitely renting it when it gets to RedBox, which will probably be soon.

That brings to mind the whole issue of perspective again. This movie didn't get very good reviews. I don't particularly like movie reviewers. All they care about is some new, breathtaking movie that presents ideas that have never been heard of before, never taking into consideration how much junk the movie has in it. Just because a story has been told before, it doesn't mean that it can't be a good movie. Look at the Gospel. If these movie reviewers were reviewing our magazines and Sunday School curriculum, they would hate every issue or book written after 1835. We need review. We also need good movies that tell the story of good triumphing over evil. Good people really do get happy endings!

So when it comes to perspective...I choose to be optimistic. There's no real point in bemoaning that I still wake up in the middle of the night. There's also no point in complaining about all the bad movies. It would take too long anyway. I appreciate all the good things in life, no matter how small.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gratitude

I can't help but feel grateful for this past week. It's been a pretty normal week, but also one of change. Fall has definitely arrived in Idaho, so that means no more sandals for me. It also means no more leisurely walks to the park in the warm sunshine. Summer this year was but a fleeting moment. Yesterday made me appreciate those 6 weeks of summer even more.

We had planned to take a trip to the park and zoo, but alas, nasty weather greeted us. Along with the chill breeze, there were ominous gray clouds and bone-chilling rain. I am grateful for the rain. It reminds me of those sunny days when going outside took little effort and we opened our windows at night to feel the cool breeze. Now, we hide from the elements as much as possible and turn on the heat. Although our trip to the zoo didn't happen, I am grateful for the day that did. I had James at home almost all day, the first weekday since I don't know when. We had a little picnic in our living room and then went on a drive. Instead of the zoo, we ended up browsing the mall and Ross, where I finally bought myself some some really cheap jeans. I love jeans. I think they're my favorite kind of pants in the world. Plus, I'll never make it through the winter without them. They might be a mile too long, but I am grateful that I know how to hem them, even if I don't have perfect sewing skills.

My pride and joy
James started school today. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to have such an amazing school. I loved going to BYU-I, but I am also grateful to have graduated. Seeing everyone else start school makes me a little sad, like I'm missing out on something, but I know that my time in school is done--for now.

I am grateful for this little baby that brightens my days. I thought I had discovered myself, but I realized that I hadn't until he was born. I know that there are more children to follow. This little family is just getting started. I am ever grateful for eternal families and for my own family that lives so far away. Yet, the light of the Gospel connects us. I do not despair at the distance, and those moments I have with my family are cherished even more than ever.

I am grateful for faith and prayer. Without these two, it wouldn't be possible to know all the things that I do. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is certainly true. There's no way it couldn't be. Even I, as a simple homemaker, find great joy and fulfillment in my life each day that I remember the far-reaching effects of my work.

I am grateful that the Lord has entrusted me with such responsibility. I hope that I may always live up to my privileges.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cressing and Blessing

The beautiful valley
Funny faces for the camera

It's been a very eventful weekend. I didn't even realize how much I actually do sometimes! We went to Cress Creek on Saturday evening. It was a gorgeous day. I love the awesome view of the valley.

Before
I had this giant box of peaches (20 plus lbs), so I made some peach freezer jam. It tastes absolutely delicious! I can't believe how easy it is to make freezer jam. It's certainly cheaper and, in my opinion, tastes much better than the stuff they sell at the store. Mmm.
After: As you can see, I got TONS of jam! We still have a drawer full of peaches in the fridge too.

James blessed Joseph on Sunday. It was beautiful. It's a good thing that Mom sent 2 blessing outfits, because Joseph pooped ALL OVER the first one. The second one fit a little better anyway. I can't believe how fast this kid is growing! He's getting so tall! After church, we had a nice dinner with the family. I do love funeral potatoes (aka cheesy potatoes or hash brown casserole outside of Utah and Idaho).

Great Grandpa, Daddy, Joseph, and Grandpa


All dressed up

Friday, September 3, 2010

Angry Editorial Writers

It's funny what I end up thinking about in the middle of the night while I'm feeding Joseph. Most of the time, it's around 3:30 a.m., a time when any sane person should be sleeping. Last night (or this morning), some thoughts came to my mind that have been circulating around for a while now. What drives people to make the choices they do?

As I look back on my own life, I realize that people don't make choices that they think are really wrong or really bad. A person who lies, steals, cheats, etc. usually feels that the action is somehow justified--or that other people will be better off by that choice (lying, for example, to avoid hurting someone's feelings).

While reading the Scroll (BYU-I's silly newspaper), I realized something else about choices. Those who are making these "not so bad" choices still feel guilty, but they don't quite recognize their feelings as guilt. In the editorials, an exchange often occurs like this.

Person 1: "The prophet has reminded us about X, so everyone should be following this counsel."
Person 2: (angrily) "What makes you think that this applies to everyone? I know a person who, because of Y, cannot possibly follow X. You are a closed-minded fool who doesn't stop to consider those poor people whose feelings you're hurting right now."

Those editorials happen on a weekly basis, and they can be irksome to read after a while. It's the same old thing over and over. Never do the actual exceptions to the rules respond angrily. Nope, it's those "friends of the exceptions" who have a hard time with it.

I have a theory as to why.

Nephi declares, "Wherefore, the bguilty taketh the ctruth to be hard, for it dcutteth them to the very center." (1 Ne. 16:2)


Those angry editorial writers are probably the ones that most needed the reminder of whatever the prophet said. They know they are guilty but almost don't realize it, because it's been disguised as something else: so-called sympathy for "those poor people who can't possibly follow the rules."


The actual exceptions know who they are. All who make correct choices, whether it be following the rule or the exception, have felt the assurance from the Spirit that their choices are right. Therefore, they take no offense at the supposedly closed-minded who don't happen to mention their specific situation. Why would they care? They still know they're doing the right thing, despite what anybody says. The Spirit does not make us feel offended, but our anger at others often offends the Spirit.


I think that the most vehement opposition comes from these "angry editorial writers." I had been married only 2 months when I got pregnant. I had several rude comments from classmates that suggested it was an accident and that I was making a mistake not to seek a job. These comments confused and then almost offended me at first. I thought to myself, Why would someone not be inclined to rejoice with me? After all, I'm having a baby! It's not like I caught some dreadful disease!


I know that I made the right choice, and I have never regretted it! A scripture I read this morning reminded me of that time in my life:


"And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many arevelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen bangels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had cheard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken." (Jacob 7:5)


So what's my point? 


The choices we make are either good or bad. Even the "not so bad" ones are still bad. If you've made a good choice, you will know by the Spirit that it's right. It won't matter if you're the exception or the general rule. When you meet opposition to your choice, take no offense and don't be shaken. If you do, then that's a bad choice! If the choice you've made is wrong, even slightly, it will be harder to recognize. If you meet opposition and feel that you have to defend yourself, you're probably doing something wrong.


Please take no offense at anything I've written, but just know that it certainly applies to everyone...no exceptions.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

This, my friends, is still my favorite recipe for bread in the entire world. My mom used to make it when I was little, and I'd eat it fresh out of the oven. I believe the original source is a book called Easy Basics for Good Cooking. I don't have that book, but it's a good one. It has lots of pictures of each step.

Combine in a small bowl and set aside. Let sit until bubbly.
4 oz. warm water
1 T. sugar
1 pkg. (2 1/2 t.) dry yeast

In a separate bowl, combine these ingredients. Add yeast mixture and stir thoroughly.
2 c. milk (heat to warm on stove)
2 T. oil
2 t. salt
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. molasses (regular, not the really dark kind)

Add 6-7 cups flour and stir. Knead dough on a floured surface until no longer sticky. (You may even need a little extra water if you live in a dry climate...lame high altitude adjustments!) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Let rise until double in size. Punch it down! (I love that part.) Divide in 2. Knead and shape into loaf pans. Let rise again until loaves reach the rim of the pan, approximately. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Butter the tops. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan and even longer than that to slice them. I have found that the cooler the bread is, the better slices I get.

Enjoy! I like this bread with just plain old butter (or margarine). It makes wonderful toast and is also great with jam.

*It doesn't last long, but it freezes well. I like to keep one loaf in the fridge and one on the counter. On the counter, it lasts 3 days in a humid climate but more like a week in a dry climate.

*If you'd like, you can follow the basic directions for this recipe. It will take 1 hour instead of about 3.

Easiest Yummiest Bread Ever! (from Aunt Jenny)

Not an actual picture, but it basically looks like this.

I chuckled when I first read the name of this recipe. I will say that it's not my no. 1 favorite, but it's pretty darn good and works for a lot of things. I still love my mom's recipe the best. I'll have to put that on here too.

Basically, combine these things in a big bowl in the order listed. (You don't need to wait for the yeast to bubble or anything...trust me.)

3 c. warm water
3 T. yeast (Yes, that's a lot, but it's right.)
1/2 c. sugar (or honey, which also tastes great)
3/4 T. salt
1/4 to 1/2 c. oil
about 7 c. flour (white or mix of white and whole-wheat)

Once you've combined all the ingredients, you should have a dough that's a little sticky. If it's really gooey, add another 1/2 c. of flour. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is nice and elastic. It should feel pretty soft and not have any big air bubbles. You can let it rest for about 10 minutes, but it's not necessary. Shape into 2 loaves and put in greased bread pans. Let rise for about 10 to 15 minutes (about the time it takes to clean up your mess!) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Butter the tops as soon as it's out of the oven. Let cool before removing from pans and slicing (unless you really want to snitch the end piece).

This bread has a light, fluffy texture and only takes about an hour from start to finish! (It's because of all the yeast.) If you split the recipe in half, you have the perfect amount of dough for 2 medium-sized pizzas or 1 extra-large pizza with thick crust. I love it as a pizza crust, because it has a slightly sweet taste. It's also good with a little oatmeal (about 1 c.) mixed in.

And just one more note--if you put this much yeast in any other regular bread recipe, it works the same way. I adapted my other bread recipe to include more yeast. It tastes the same and takes a lot less time. You can even make this recipe while your baby naps!

A Hero's Fatal Flaw

Yes, James and I have been reading the Percy Jackson series recently. It deals a lot with Greek mythology, hence, the title of this blog. (By the way, I wholeheartedly recommend the books, but NOT the movie. It's a horrible representation of what the books are actually like).

My little hero showing some school spirit!
I've been thinking about the whole "fatal flaw" thing. In mythology, a hero can do wonderful things, like saving damsels in distress, killing monsters, etc. Only one thing keeps that hero from being perfectly awesome: the fatal flaw. Enemies spend their time figuring out what the fatal flaw is so that the hero can finally be defeated.

 First off, I wouldn't think of myself as a "hero", but if I were, I've definitely got more than one flaw. Yet, as I stop to think about it, there really is one flaw that I feel is worse than all the others: a lack of patience. This flaw is one that I've had as long as I can remember, and it's the reason that all my other flaws even exist. Any time I become angry at someone, including myself, it pretty much comes back to that. I'm just not a patient person.

Does that mean I go on living and let it destroy me? Of course not. That's not why we have flaws. Unlike those heroes, our flaws are meant to test us and make us better. There really wouldn't be a point to life if we had nothing to work on and couldn't make goals that slowly lead us to perfection.

Maybe we don't always see the flaws in ourselves, but that's why there are other people around us to tell us. I'm grateful to those people who've helped me realize my flaws. I am even more grateful that I've been given plenty of trials to test me and help me better deal with them. Will I ever get rid of my flaws? I don't think so. It's more likely that I'll grow an inch taller or find the perfect hairdo.

Without my flaws, I just wouldn't be me.