Monday, February 28, 2011


My favorite animal is the plain old cat. Yes, I am a cat person. I think I could go on all day why I think cats are better. I've heard the other side as well, because James is a dog person.

I don't really get attached to animals, though. They are a little more important than the furniture in my house, but much less than the other people. Maybe that's cold, but I never really had pets when I was growing up. Children can eventually take care of themselves, but pets can't. Nobody is allergic to children either.

Some cats have really annoying personalities. I like cats that live mostly outside but are around enough when you really want to pet them. And ones that don't meow loudly or incessantly.

I have a baby, and I think that's much more fun than having a cat (or dog.)

Just sayin'.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cooking :)

Since I've been married, I've developed a greater appreciation and love for cooking things from scratch. I will never ever go back to buying certain convenience foods, and here's why.

1. It's healthier. I have no doubts of what's going into my food, and it's not preserved with a bunch of weird, long-named chemicals.

2. It's fulfilling. It's so satisfying to pull a loaf of fresh bread out of the oven--much better than sticking something in the microwave that came out of a box. I can truly take credit for my creations.

3. It's fun. There are certain foods that James and I enjoy making together (or I make while he reads to me.) Plus, it's so fun to knead bread or just be creative with things I have on hand. There are so many possibilities!

4. It cheap. Need I say more about that?

5. It tastes better. I have tasted some things from cans/boxes that I used to think are good, but I love my own version so much more now. Homemade bread products are THE BEST! especially fresh from the oven!

6. It saves space. A shopping cart and freezer fill up very quickly when they're stuffed with boxes and cans. That's not the case with fresher ingredients. Plus, I love seeing all that fresh stuff and thinking about what to do with it. Boxes just don't inspire the imagination in the same way.

What can I say? Cooking is definitely my passion. If you didn't know about my recipes blog, here it is.

Sister Beck is Awesome!

I had the opportunity to attend a huge Relief Society meeting in the BYU-Idaho Center yesterday. Sister Beck was the ONLY speaker for the 2 hours (with a musical number thrown in.) It was set up as a question and answer session. And it was awesome. I've never known Sis. Beck to look scared, but she sure did yesterday as she stood up to speak to us. It's one thing to give a talk, but it's completely different to open the floor for questions, I mean, you could have to talk about any number of things! She was definitely prepared, and I think the questions were all inspired and relevant for all Relief Society sisters.

These are the things I liked the most. Some are kind of direct quotes, but some aren't because I couldn't write that fast. :)

1. We should have no greater goal than to help the Lord with His work.

2. Random fact: The RS worldwide is composed of 1/3 to 1/2 single sisters. (I thought it would be much lower.)

3. We live in difficult times, and the Lord isn't apologizing for that.

4. Lessons from the story of Mary and Martha: Invite the Savior into your home, serve Him, and accept His invitation to be part of His work. That's what the Savior was doing when He asked Martha to stop and listen.

5. Prepare to serve a mission, and you will be prepared for any life event.

6. Everything we have belongs to the Lord, so He can help us manage all the things we need to do. They are either essential (scriptures, prayer), necessary (household chores), or just nice (developing talents, hobbies). Prioritize.

7. Don't ever assume that a person you're talking to doesn't need something too. Serve them, and your problems will seem much less great.

8. Our talents have been given to us to help build the kingdom, not to be selfishly used.

9. Having a family is not a lifestyle choice, it's a Gospel choice.

10. We don't have to be worried, we just have to be faithful.

11. We expect to have children that are kind, obedient, and always loving. That's not going to be the case when we are being sent some of Heavenly Father's strongest spirits! They need examples of strong leadership from us.

12. My personal favorite: All of you can find issues with Visiting Teaching. The Lord doesn't care about your issues! Get over it! :)

I love her strong testimony of the family and the Gospel in general. She isn't afraid to be bold in telling us what's right (as seen by no. 12). :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lessons Learned

A few things I've learned from piano lessons that have to do with life...

1. Have patience with the faults of others.
How many times in Church have I been a little critical of the imperfect playing of someone else? I couldn't even play the piano at that point, so that was really unfair of me. Now that I'm able to play (and will probably one day in Church), I have a little more patience with an imperfect player, since I know that I am and always will be.

2. Keep on developing talents even though others are better.
We are commanded to develop our talents, even if we won't be the best at that particular skill. I think that's tough to remember in a competitive world sometimes, where only the best can get the world's recognition. We also have a commandment to be perfect, but we shouldn't give up on that either, just because somebody else is closer to that goal when we are.

3. Practice makes perfect.
...but only if it's perfect practice. We learn to walk before we run. Starting off slowly, but without mistakes, will guarantee that we still "play" perfectly once we are up to speed. In the beginning, it's a big struggle to get all the notes just right, but when they are, they become natural over time.

4. Learning the big picture
We learn valuable principles in music theory that help us understand the big picture. The Gospel is the same way. The only way to truly understand the principles is to act and apply them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

James is the Best!

Valentine's a year ago
Yes, I was pregnant, hence the swollen face.
I was going to write this post for Valentine's Day, but oh well. I love James every day! I just wanted to spotlight him since I spend so much time talking about Joseph. James is amazing at serving me. He does so much for me! Some of these things include...

giving Joseph baths

cleaning up after Joseph's meals...or otherwise

cleaning up the kitchen after I've made a mess (aka a meal)

not complaining when he has to take lame leftovers for lunch (like rice and cheese)

randomly buying me treats

setting up baby-sitting so we can go on dates

serving the ice cream (We have a constant, playful battle over whose turn it is.)

going to work at a job he doesn't like so we can sustain ourselves

helping get Joseph back to sleep (Thankfully he hasn't had to recently!)

making popcorn while we watch movies

making me breakfast and letting me sleep in

teaching me new stuff and being patient about it, even when I'm not

getting Joseph ready to go before we go out in the cold

always saying thanks

Now it's my turn to say thanks! I am married to an amazing man. They say that the guys marry up, but I don't think that's true in my case. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Embarrassing Moments

I think the question of my most embarrassing moment is a funny one. I've never been able to define one. However, I can classify some of my life's most humiliating moments into a few categories...

1. Being wrong or messing up in front of lots of people. That applies to anything. If I know I'm going to mess up (or even suspect it), it's very hard to get me to do something in the first place. (I can do okay at public speaking if I can read it!)

2. Being made fun of for something I care about. In the 6th grade, I had pretty dorky hair. I liked it just fine until a girl in my class pointed and laughed at it. It wasn't to my face, but I could tell that she was pointing at me. It still embarrasses me to think about it.

3. Being the center of attention. Even at graduation, I hated walking across that stage. I didn't like being the center of attention for even 5 seconds. It's just not me.

4. Getting really gushy compliments. I'm okay with someone telling me I look nice or whatever, but I hate it when  random strangers make a big deal about something I'm wearing or exaggerate. C'mon, I'm in jeans. I do not look "absolutely gorgeous". (Husband excepted, because I know he truly believes that! :))

I want to hear from everyone who reads this. What embarrasses you?

Long Weekend

Sometimes long weekends just seem...long. They remind me that I never take a vacation from my job. However, this long weekend was MUCH better than the last, since everyone was sick last time.

Saturday we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa Head in Victor. James made me try out cross country skiing. I will admit that it was pretty fun, easier than I thought, and not nearly as embarrassing as going ice skating and falling down in front of a bunch of people. To quote a song, "Falling is easy, it's getting back up that becomes a problem." Yup. Luckily, I never had my skis crossed, because that would've been really difficult!

Grandma Head, as always, cooked the most delicious food. She is such an awesome cook, so I got her whole-wheat bread recipe. So excited! It's the softest, most awesome wheat bread I've ever had. I can't wait to make it. I just need to get the ingredients when I go shopping next.

We had a great Sunday, as always. James let me sleep in today by getting up with Joseph. When I get the chance to sleep in, I usually end up sleeping 9-10 hours. It feels awesome. Joseph is still getting up twice a night, but at least he's going to sleep on his own without much fuss. He has a predictable schedule during the day too, since I can put him down for a nap without waiting for him to fall asleep! It's so awesome! I'm pretty sure he's gaining weight from all this solid food he's been eating, but he chows down on whatever we give him.

We went outside and built a snowman. Is is bad that I've never built one before? Yes, I know I've lived in a winter wonderland for 4 1/2 years now...I had no idea how heavy a ball of snow can be! That probably sounds silly, but seriously, I had no idea. Shows how much I know!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Reunions

Throughout my life, I have been to many family reunions. Just a little bit of what I remember...

Durden family reunion: We are related to the Durdens through my Grandma Phenix. The reunions took place at this little church in Georgia with a cemetery attached. Dad has a lot of gravestone rubbings/pictures from that cemetery, because several of our ancestors are buried there. There were always a lot of old people at the reunion, 3rd and 4th cousins who knows how many times removed. Old people bring weird food too. Haha. My siblings and I had fun playing around in the cemetery. We went to a couple of those reunions, but I guess the person in charge died.

Phenix family reunion: We've had one of these with my dad's dad's family a couple years ago. It took place in Connecticut near Hartford. All I remember is that it was a hot, sweltering day with no AC in the church where we met. My dad's aunts and uncles have mostly passed on, but those who are still alive were there, as well as some cousins. We don't know them too well. They made us a cake that said, "Y'all come now." I guess they think that Southern influence has taken over the Phenix family. :) I'm not sure when the next one will be. My dad put it together, though. It's too bad we never really had one when his parents were still alive (not formally or that I remember).

Schillemat family reunion: This is more informal,  but my mom is the only one of her siblings that doesn't live in New Hampshire. When we go to visit, the family generally all gets together. That's not happening quite as much, because there are 5-6 kids in college and several married (like me!) who can't always be there. I have fond memories of July 4th's spent together and Christmas Eves eating "grinders". Yum. We still visit every year, but it seems like everyone is growing up and moving away!

Head family reunion: Wow. I have never seen so big a family as the Head family. James's dad's parents have 7 children, 42 grandchildren, and 17? (or maybe more by now) great grandchildren. Basically, that's 90 descendants. I hope that my posterity is that extensive one day. The Head reunion takes place every summer, and I went to my first one last summer. Loved it. I hope we're always close by enough to go.

After writing this, I realized that I have been to a lot of family reunions. The family I don't see is because we don't have reunions with them, which is really too bad. When James and I are old, we will definitely have reunions for all of our kids. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I find it interesting to see how temptation plays out in one's life. Thinking back to the Gospel Principles lesson on fasting, I realized once again how loving our Heavenly Father really is. He has promised that we will never be given things too hard for us to overcome. Instead of just throwing us out into the world, He allows us to be taught until we are 8 years old before becoming accountable. We have many opportunities to learn right from wrong before we have to face temptations.

Fasting is a huge blessing in that it allows us to resist temptation in a "safe" situation. To eat or not to eat is not a moral issue. Obviously, eating is a great thing, and we need it to survive. However, it can be especially hard to control our appetites and passions when we are weak or vulnerable. Fasting has been provided to help us resist temptation in a situation where if we mess up, it's okay. There are many chances to get better without having to face repentance each time. We still draw closer the the Lord and receive help along the way. Not only do we have the chance for greater communion with Him, we are asked to bless the lives of others by giving fast offerings.

That's a powerful message. We are, in a sense, being asked to practice resisting the temptation of food so that we can apply this self control to other situations. Our bodies seem to suffer as we resist eating those two meals, but being able to control hunger leads to much greater things. Many people in the world have never thought of missing a meal. This same attitude applies to all other appetites that the body has. We could say that the body suffers from the lack of food because of the "pains" of hunger that one feels. However, that example is too easily applied to justify gross sins such as breaking the law of chastity (because abstinence isn't healthy for one's sex drive), anger (which is okay if someone else deserves it), or following any other impulses of the natural man.

All I can say is that self control (especially when it comes to food) is a tough thing for me. I can't fast without fainting right now (since I'm nursing a baby), but I'd like to try something. A friend of mine is giving up sugar for Lent this year. If Christ could fast for 40 days, I think that I can give up the part of my diet that isn't even necessary (or good) for my health. I know it's going to be hard, so that's why I will have support along the way. I have a feeling that a simple "sugar fast" can lead to great things!

A House of Learning

love these boys!
It amazes me how much there is still for me to learn. Thinking about the last few days just fills me with excitement. There is new stuff to discover every day, even though I am a homemaker and a mom. :)

I was in the mood for something chocolate, so I decided to try chocolate pudding. Who knew that it's actually one of the most simple foods on the earth? It was divine as well. I love learning how to cook stuff like that from scratch. It often tastes better and is much cheaper! A box of pudding at the store = 65 cents plus the cost of milk. Homemade = 25 cents (already including milk). Yum! The more I do it, the more I love to make things from scratch. I hope that this summer I'm successful in growing some veggies. It can be tough with such a short growing season.
Valentine's stash

I've learned that I actually LOVE Valentine's Day. It's taken me a few years, but I think it gets better each time. James is just amazing. I never get tired of flowers (even though I manage to kill the potted ones), candy, and the endless service he does for me each day. I don't think that what I do for him even comes close. He's a natural at making me feel loved every day of the year. I am trying to learn from his example.

Mr. Flexible
James really felt that we should go to the temple yesterday, so we did. It was an amazing experience, and I think I learned more yesterday than I have all the other times put together! I don't know what made the difference. I wish I could write it all down! Hopefully, I will remember when I go back next time. It's funny how easy it is (physically) to go to the temple when it's so close, yet it's still so hard. It's just too easy to say that we can go later, and then it doesn't happen. Needless to say, I am so grateful for James's inspiration to go. It was an enlightening experience.

roses I can't kill (as quickly)
I realize a little more each day how quickly babies learn. It's fun to see Joseph exploring his environment in any way possible. Of course, that usually involves sticking things in his mouth, but it's also fun to watch him shake things, drop them to hear what they sound like, and just stare things down. :) I love that goofy little boy. As I speak, he's beating his hands on the front of a book just to hear the sound. The last half hour was spent shaking my car keys and getting himself all tangled up in my purse strap. I hope that he always loves learning this much. I can't wait to see what happens when all the stuff I'm trying to convey starts to click and he develops his own testimony. I can't think of anything more exciting that I'll see in the future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Bit About my Grandparents

I envy James, because all of his grandparents are still living. As of February, my dad's parents have been deceased now for 11 and almost 16 years. Dang, that's a long time. I want to talk about all of my grandparents just a little.

Grandma Phenix lived in Columbia the entire time that we did. I remember going to her house to spend the night, eat junk food, and watch cartoons. For a 3 to 7-year-old, that's the life! I absolutely loved going to her house, because I got one-on-one time, something that was rare at my own house. Grandma moved to Florida after we did, and I'd go help her clean her house or write notes. She loved fried chicken and Diet Coke...A LOT. When she died, Dad and I got started into family history. It's amazing how much stuff she'd collected in her red bag. We have done countless names at the temple because of her hard work.

Granddaddy Phenix was in World War 2 and got a Purple Heart. He drove a tank. I can remember going on walks with him around the block. Dad says that his dad was a funny, quirky guy. I wish I remembered more about him. He was in a nursing home for 3 years before he died due to a stroke, so most of my memories of him are of that.

Grandpa Schillemat loves the outdoors. He still spends his summers at Scout Camp, but now he's the nurse. He has built 2 houses and loves working with wood. He also loves moose. He's a great cook and makes some killer beef stew and chili. He's into coin collecting. We have all the state quarters in mint condition.

Grandma Schillemat loves angels. She has so much angel stuff that there's isn't room in the house to display it all. She always sends us cards for birthdays and Christmas. She used to work at an elementary school in the cafeteria, but she's retired now. She loves going to events that her grandkids are in.

It's crazy that I've spent 10X more time with James's grandparents than with my own in the last year and a half. I love them all, though, and I certainly miss the ones I don't see!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why I (Still) Love Joseph

It's another one of those journal jar questions. I don't have much to say about this week, I guess!

Joseph is amazing little boy. From the moment I first saw him, I loved his bright little eyes. (I would say smile, but he didn't have one yet.) Now, I love his sweet smile and all the cute little things he does.

I love how he cries, "Mamama" when he's hungry and how he giggles when I tickle him.

I love how he entertains himself in the morning so I can be as slow as I want getting out of bed. He talks to himself, gurgles, coos, and I can never tell that he's probably really hungry. I wish I could be more of a morning person like he is.

I love seeing him grow up. He looks like a big boy in his high chair, and his fierce independence has him eating things he can't even chew. I love the impatient little growl he has when he sees us eating something that we're not sharing.

I love his idea of a kiss: placing his open mouth over my nose and slobbering me to death.

practically surrounded by toys, but he chooses this
I love seeing him learn about books and getting excited to read stories. He nestles his head on my shoulder and is the little baby once again. Then, that head pops up and he's looking around the room to see what's going on.

I love all the "help" he gives me when I'm practicing the keyboard. I remember banging on the keys when I was a child.

I love his chubby legs.

I love the fact that he thinks the bulb syringe is a toy. Ew.

I love that he can go to sleep on his own after only 3 days of training (which weren't that bad either.)

There are lots of little things I'm probably leaving out, but it suffices me to say that I LOVE THAT KID!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hand-me-down Talents

I have an awesome mom. Because of her, I have a wonderful example of a woman who loves to be a homemaker and mom. I'm working on developing some of the same talents that she tried to teach me (not always successfully.)

Mom instilled in me a love for cooking. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the challenge. (Bring it on!) Mom always made yummy meals and treats for us. I've learned and use a ton of her recipes. When I make them for others, they always comment on how great they are, especially Mom's famous bread!

Mom is the most faithful visiting teacher I've ever known. I'm trying to be a good visiting teacher as well. I used to think it didn't matter, but I'm getting there. I hope that I will always take the time to contact those who don't let me visit or are hard to get ahold of, just like she did (and does) every month.

Mom loves to sew. It's her passion. I can't say it's one of my passions yet, but I'm starting off small. I regret not learning a little more when I was at home. I don't think I'll ever be designing my own clothes, but I can do something.

Mom has also inspired me to be in the ward choir. She was a member of an advanced choir in high school and still loves to sing. She always sang lots of little songs that she made up while we were babies. I sing some of them to my son now. :)

There are many ways that I'd like to be like my mom, but I'm not her. She is one of the best people in the world because of her service to others, especially her family. I hope to have a fraction of the qualities she has when I am her age.

Perfectionism? No, Not Me!

Perfectionism is a funny thing. I deny that I am a perfectionist and like to say that I've loosened up a bit over the years. Maybe I have, but it still pops up enough to make life interesting. I realized today that my perfectionism started while I was in school. I usually had the best grades in the class with little or no effort, so that led me to believe that I can be almost perfect without trying very hard. Ha! If only that were true. As I'm trying to learn the piano, I get nervous and mess up. My pride keeps getting in the way and telling me that I should be perfect already, but I'm not!

It also popped up this weekened when I was attempting to ice skate with James. If I try something new and it turns out great, I tend to think, Duh. Of course. But if it doesn't, it's infuriating to me that I can't get it right. That's definitely true for ice skating. It was like the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon. I'd start out knowing that I didn't know how to skate and ready to learn. I'd take a few shaky glides forward, start doing better, and then start getting overconfident. Then, I'd fall over, get mad, and earn another bruise. How silly is that? All I needed to do was remain calm, keep trying, and be more willing to make mistakes in front of other people. Unfortunately, I wasn't willing to do that, and I returned home very disgruntled and annoyed at James, who is a very patient teacher.

I guess it's not the end of the world that I can't skate, but I will not give up on learning the piano. I will do better at taking suggestions and not view them as comments that are supposed to hurt me. I will work hard and play those songs until my fingers fall off, and I will not fear when I'm supposed to play in front of other people.

It's okay to fall down. Everybody does. The hard part is getting rid of the pride that makes us care so much about what other people think. For me, it's hard to be teachable when I'm not willing to do the work that is required to master something. I'm still trying to get it in my head that perfection (as the Lord requires) does take a lot of work. It doesn't happen in one night, but that doesn't mean that it's unattainable! We look at people that seem to be so far ahead of us, forgetting how long it took them to get there. It always takes work, and it always takes time.

I had an enjoyable weekend, despite all my bruises. I went to a baby shower for my cousin Juliet. One of the fun games was trying to guess the candy bar that was all smashed up and melted in the diaper. (Yuck!)

I also had the opportunity to go a Women's Conference. It was focused on families and going to the temple more often. I think I'm going to take the challenge, since I will never have this much time to myself until I am 65. I'm hoping that by going more often, I will be able to get answers on where to go in my family history. I'm at a few roadblocks right now.

Sunday, I got a new calling! James and I are going to teach the 7/8 year olds. We have a small class of 5 boys. So fun! I can't wait to get started! Hopefully after they're finished with us, they'll still want to get baptized this year. :)

In Relief Society, we had an awesome lesson about fasting. Although I haven't been able to for over a year, the lesson really impressed me to do better on Fast Sundays. I never though about fasting as a way to overcome weaknesses and temptations, but it makes perfect sense. If you can resist chocolate cake when you're hungry, you can do anything! (At least for me, since I'm such a chocoholic. My single most expensive item last shopping trip was chocolate chips. Haha.) Heaven knows that I've got plenty of weaknesses to work on, so no more excuses for me. I can still have an attitude of fasting as I'm eating. (I probably shouldn't be excited about not being able to fast either...oops.)

I read a book about sleep and solving children's sleep problems. Basically, my goal is to get Joseph to go to sleep at the same time every night, take 2 naps, and go longer in between eating. Also, I want him to fall asleep on his own when nursing doesn't put him to sleep. So far, so good. He's put up a fight at nap time a couple times, but not too bad. I think that sleep training is the toughest thing I've tried so far, because it's so tempting to go and check on him every time he whimpers, but I'm resisting. Believe it or not, he's just fine! He is already showing me that he can go back to sleep on his own in the middle of the night without having to eat again. Yay! More sleep for everyone!

And on that happy note, I'm ending my long and random post. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Greatest Joy and My Greatest Sorrow

I didn't think too long about this question. It's fairly easy to answer.

My greatest joy is having an eternal family: my immediate and extended family, my husband's family, and my own little family that was started a year and a half ago. I feel that it's just barely gotten started. There are other little children waiting to come to this family. Then they will have children, and so on for eternity. I guess that means my family will never really be complete! That's such an awesome concept, because there's nothing more joyous than the birth of a baby, watching that baby grow up, and seeing that cycle keep on going.

My greatest sorrow is that I've made dumb mistakes in my life, especially in my youth. Sorrow might be too strong of a word, because I've moved on. I don't dwell on that period of my life, but I remember the things I did. I'll make sure that I never do them again. :)

I'd be Lying if...

Mr. Independent in his sweet new chair
...I said that this was an easy week. It wasn't for a couple of reasons.

James was gone even more than the past few weeks. When he was here, he was working on homework. It seems that we spent about 2 hours a day in each other's presence. That's not enough!

Joseph has been resisting going to bed at night. I have no idea why, but that's kind of a pain. He used to go to bed at 8, wake up once, and get up at 7. Now, I have to let him cry at 10, pick him up, and let him nurse to sleep (since the paci doesn't work anymore.) Argh! I hate being a human pacifier! I know he will grow out of it. He will have to once he turns one, because I want my body back for at least a few months. Is that too much to ask? I hope not! Both nursing and pregnancy are such a huge strain on the body's resources, and I've been one or the other for almost a year and a half now.

I'm swamped in Spanish grammar right now. James has an old book that I've been studying out of. I can't believe how much I've forgotten since I took a Spanish class, but it's coming back. I decided to go online to get a different overview of all the verb tenses. Nobody seems to have organized them the same way, and nobody agrees on how many there actually are. Oh well. I think I will make my own organization.

I started making a cute newborn cocoon. It's the first time I've ever knitted "in the round", so I hope it turns out all right!

Piano is coming back to me as well. The more I practice, the easier it gets. I still need to work a lot on my technique, but I'm so excited to be learning some new songs that aren't Church songs. I never had a chance to play a minuet before, for example. (Church songs are awesome, but the style is different and easier than a lot of classic music.)

I'm excited to get out of the house today and go on a date. It's been a long, cold week, and I'm ready for a change of scenery!