Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ooh, We're Halfway There!

...livin' on a prayer!

That's right, it's almost the halfway point of Lent. I can barely believe it! A wise lady once told me to think about our goals in terms of adding rather than subtracting. Instead of worrying about not being able to eat desserts, I've been adding better foods to my daily snacks. Some of my favorites are whole wheat bread with a little butter (real butter is the best!); apples with either a sprinkle of cinnamon, cheddar cheese, or peanut butter; carrot sticks with homemade ranch, and soon to be homemade yogurt. :) Hmm...that's making me hungry.

I found a quote in the Book of Mormon manual that I really liked:

"It is not natural to the natural man to remember yesterday's blessings gratefully, especially when today's needs of the flesh press steadily upon him." (Neal A. Maxwell)

Reading quotes like that make me super excited for Conference this weekend! It's so true in my life. I often forget to think about all the wonderful things that I have. I guess that's the purpose of Lent. In "lending" my love for sweets for 46 days, I've come to appreciate those wonderful foods that have been around since the world was created. This has helped me realize that I can live without those foods that are basically creations of men. (Not that they're all bad. Take chocolate, for instance. :) ) Anyway, Lent has been such a good learning experience. I had no idea that this would happen, and I doubted my own sanity at first. It's definitely been worth it.

Monday, March 28, 2011


At this point in my life, I'm not really sure what my favorite type of music is. Back in high school, I liked the normal "pop" stuff that everyone did. I never loved hearing it a billion and a half times, however, and I never loved rap or country. I enjoyed some punk rock, alternative, and even a dash of heavy metal (gasp!).

I think there is a time and place for pop music. It's great for working out if you're all alone. It's nice to listen in the car when you're zoned out and not thinking about much of anything. Most of the time now, I don't listen to a whole lot of music. Most of what I hear is what I play on the piano, so it's either a hymn, a Primary song, or something classical. I have a much greater appreciation for this kind of music. Pop music is about entertainment, but hymns uplift and inspire, no matter how simply they are written.

I think I've figured it out, though. The teenage years are the junk years of one's life: junk food, junk attitude, and junk music. That's because the brain is going through a lot of junk, so naturally ingesting junk seems to make sense. I definitely had lots of junk moments.

All that junk really doesn't make sense to me anymore, so I guess that means I've grown up...or something.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Birthday

I had a pretty good birthday. For starters, James made me a delicious breakfast which included nice, crispy bacon. :) I love bacon. I never get tired of it.

I took a day off of Lent so I could have birthday cake. It was delicious, as was the ice cream. I chose a Reese's cake, just like last year. For dinner, I picked Indian curry. It was also very yummy. (We ate downstairs with the family.)

I got a package in the mail from my parents. They sent a quart of hot sauce, some lotion, peanut M & M's, and some pretty earrings. Lotion is definitely a necessity in this desert! James got me all the Harry Potter books (used, from different places) plus a couple of other books. I can never have too many of those either! I also got a Children's Songbook (so no more making copies!), some colorful yarn that I can't wait to use, a pretty red scarf, and some gardening tools for the near future. Well, in two months, I guess...if it ever stops snowing!

We went to Savior of the World after dinner. It was a very moving performance. I cried a little. I don't know what's gotten into me, but I never used to cry about anything of consequence. Oh well, I guess times change.

Speaking of crying, Joseph has been a little bit fussy this week. It turns out that he's getting two more teeth, which means he will have 6. He's starting to climb up on things more. He can't climb stairs or get into standing position, but he can pull himself into a kneeling position. It's only a matter of time....

Well, I guess it's back to business. No more treats till Easter, but I know I can make it. Eating all those treats on my birthday gave me a headache, the first that I've gotten since my week of withdrawals. I can't believe how fast the time is going by. James only has 2 weeks left in this semester. 3 semesters to go! I registered him for the GRE and his Praxis tests the other the tune of 290 dollars. The GRE was even half price! Those people sure make lots of money off of us, but I guess that's business.

I can't wait to see what the future brings. Grad school is creeping up on us and applying will happen before we know it. Who knows where we'll end up? All I know is that I really want to be near some family.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Most Trying Experience

I think that would definitely be moving while I was in high school. I had made lots of friends at Pace High School, but I never did in Apex. At Pace, there were a lot of kids who had things in common with me. At Apex, everybody had tons of money and did drugs on the weekends. Okay, I know I'm overgeneralizing, but I never got invited to anything unless it was with the LDS kids. Even then, they were really involved in school activities and I was involved in my job, since I had to pay my way through college.

I could go on. But I think it's enough to say that I disliked high school, even though I learned a ton and had many great experiences. Nobody could pay me to go back. :) I don't mind moving anymore, besides the pain of actually doing the packing. I will always have my best friend with me, and besides, there's always Facebook.

I Spoke too Soon...

Just yesterday morning, I was talking to my father-in-law on the phone as he was coming back from Ecuador. "Joseph might have a little cold," I said, "But I've been lucky and am the only one in the house not to get sick this year!"

Boy, was I in for a surprise. Turns out that James's food poisoning was a contagious stomach bug. I had a headache during church but didn't think much of it. I always get one from dehydration. I felt unusually tired when I got home. After dinner, I felt terrible. I went upstairs to talk to my family, and soon I felt like I was going to throw up. (Worst feeling in the entire world!) I ended up doing just that twice before I went to bed. If only I'd been able to sleep...

Joseph woke me up about 4 times. The only problem is that I didn't fall asleep at all until 4 a.m. Needless to say, it was a very long night. Today, I'm just sitting on my behind and doing nothing. That's hard for me to do, but I am very dehydrated and am still nursing a baby. Even on a good day, it's tough to get enough to drink. I haven't been hungry at all, so I've just been drinking and lying around. No shower even, because I feel really weak and don't think I can stand up that long. But nobody get worried! I'm already feeling much better and expect to be back to normal tomorrow.

We went to Guitars Unplugged on Saturday, and it was very enjoyable. The show was entertaining. I always love the commercials in between. They showed lots of clips of things from the 90's when we were kids. Fun stuff.

And a random fact: Most roses in the US are shipped from Ecuador. When I woke up this morning, there was a huge bouquet just for me! I would take a picture, but I'm feeling too lazy. But seriously, I have about 50 bucks worth of roses sitting on my counter. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wealth and Health

I love the Gospel Principles book. It's amazingly simple, yet profound. I am touched by every chapter. I miss going to Relief Society and being edified by these lessons (or teaching them), but I love my calling as a Primary teacher. I still have some time to stop and read what I'm missing. I loved this quote from the chapter on service,

"We should never fail to help someone because we are unable to do great things."

Every act of service counts, even if we think that we don't have much to give! This service includes sharing our talents to bless the lives of others. Never has the Lord said that we should wait until we are perfect, when we have enough money, energy, or time. The time is now. The more we share, the most rich we become as we see how much we truly have. Those who wait until they have the means never end up sharing, and those things eventually get taken away. What's the point of a talent that's buried in the ground? Faith, not fear, leads to growth and eventually perfection.

The next chapter focuses on the Lord's law of health. In my youth, I never thought much of the old adage, "early to bed, early to rise." Now, I love it! Joseph gets me up every day around 7:15, and I've found that my mind is clear and I'm ready to face the day. After a good breakfast and workout, I feel awesome.

These bodies aren't perfect, but we've been given such excellent advice on how to take care of them. My own body didn't matter as  much to me until I was pregnant and trying to support another little body. I still don't know how I survived years of choosing candy bars over apples, skipping breakfast, choosing mindless entertainment over sleep, and being idle instead of exercising. Right now, I think I feel better than I ever have. Though this body doesn't technically "belong" to me, I'm happy with what I've got. I think we are given imperfect bodies to remind us that we are imperfect and cannot become perfect without the Lord's help. Only a perfect spirit would be able to take care of a perfect body. We'll make it there eventually!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yes, I'd Love One

A vacation, that is.

Ironically, I hate travelling. I don't mind an hour or so in the car, but even the trip to Utah seems way too long now.

Our last 2 Christmases, we were in the middle of moving. I was also pregnant for one of those. Yuck. Luckily, I know that we will not be moving this year. Yay!

If I could visit anywhere, I'd love to go to a place where they speak Spanish. No specific country in mind, I'd just love to see if my Spanish skills are actually holding up. A place with tasty food would be preferable, and one where I wouldn't get mugged by guerrillas. Just sayin'.

The more I travel, the more I love to just be home. A trip to Idaho Falls is enough right now. Our weather is also incredibly sunny and beautiful, so no need to pine for spring. It's here! The snow is melting! I'll admit, there's not a lot that I LOVE about winter. Or maybe nothing at all...I get so tired of it after a month. How about a white Christmas, and then boom, all the snow can just melt away. For all the people who insist on farmers needing the water, there's a wonderful thing called RAIN. It's like snow, but it's already melted when it comes out of the sky. Imagine that!

My sugar cravings have been constant. Not all the time, but it seems that the times I used to eat the most sugar (like at night), I crave it the most. There's no ice cream or chocolate in my house, but I had to say no to ice cream at my in-laws' last night and cookies the night before. It's tough. I get a headache almost every day, but I'm sure that it's partially from dehydration. It sure is tough to keep up with a nursing baby.

Other than the headaches, I feel really good. Since I've been eating better, I've noticed that my energy level is much more constant throughout the day. My hair is also softer and my skin has cleared up. It's pretty sweet.

I'm giving up wearing makeup, because I don't like to just because society says it makes me look good. No more. I'm tired of having to replace my mascara every few months just so it doesn't get flaky. I bet someone is making a lot of money off of us by not using a better formula that won't do that. Plus, we only started wearing makeup because women of ill repute did it first.

Although, it's really funny to talk about "society" when I live in a Mormon bubble. I don't remember what it's like outside of it until I go there. It's so much different. But for now, I really like this bubble. I don't need to travel far away while abdicating my familial responsibilities just to say that I've had a rest from life. The best things in life happen right here, at home. I'm glad to be here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I am...

an introvert.

I don't know how I just came to this discovery or why I didn't know it sooner. I love to be around people, but it's my nature to need a break from that. People = stress. Alone time = refreshing.

I've gotten into a habit of doing my studying in the morning. When I don't get that peaceful time (relatively) alone, I suffer. I really need it. It makes weekends a little more stressful, because it's harder to get away from everyone.

When I have more kids, I will probably have to wake up early to get any time by myself. But I'm okay with that.

As for now, my little boy needs some attention.

Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength

I decided to get myself in gear and work out in the mornings. As fate would have it, on my first day of doing that (yesterday), James and I went to the i-Mazing Race on campus. It was super fun and we got to go around and find clues (and do challenges, just like the show), but boy am I sore today. I am terribly out of shape. It's time to make a change and do some real working out so this doesn't happen.

There is such a big connection between the body and spirit. From the scriptures, we know that we should strive to overcome the natural man, that is, we should let our spirits rule over our appetites and passions.

I've been reading a few books on nutrition, and it's astounding to see the role of advertising in what we eat. Because of evil people that want money, we are sold foods that look good on the outside (and claim to be healthy) but are actually laden with addicting ingredients and carcinogens. D&C 89 warns us of this in verse 4: "In consequence ofaevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts ofbconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—"

We have been told so many things about nutrition that it's hard to know what's real and what isn't. We know to avoid drugs. But what about trans fats, MSG, HFCS, and all those long, weird ingredients?

I guess we have received counsel on that. The prophets have urged us to save money, for moms to stay home, that we eat dinner as families, and that we grow gardens. To me, that means more home-cooked meals and less eating out of boxes or in restaurants, which really helps to avoid all those processed foods and huge restaurant portions. And when we grow our own stuff, we know exactly what went into it and that it's as fresh as possible.

We are so blessed to have this law of health amid all the confusing advice of nutritionists, scientists, and people that just want lots of money. The Lord's guidance is needed now more than ever.

Just a side note:

I think that nutrition can be taken on so many levels. I read a book about raw foodism, and it was really interesting. I can certainly envy the author and her excellent health. We aren't required to do such an "extreme", natural, uncooked, organic diet. I think that those who can and do should be commended, but for the rest of us, we just do the best we can. These are mortal bodies, imperfect in many ways. No matter how perfect (or imperfect) the food is that we put into them, they will die eventually. So...I might as well have some ice cream while I'm here.

I highly recommend this website: It has lots of really sensible advice without getting too scientific about stuff.
And this book: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan. He goes into the history of nutritionism and why America's diet doesn't work for us. He also gives simple recommendations that follow this motto: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. It was a fascinating book to read.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Miraculous Story

It seems that everyone who does family history has an amazing story to tell. I've had many experiences, but none that has been so amazing as finding my great-great-grandmother.

I have never known most of my great-grandparents. They died either before my parents were born or when my parents were still young. (To contrast, my son has 6 of his 8 greats still living.) We have all the family lines traced pretty far, at least, all but Robert Ylitalo's. He's my mother's mother's father. I asked Grandma what she knew about him, but it wasn't much (her parents were divorced), just that he was adopted. She didn't know who his adoptive or biological parents were.

I've been halfheartedly looking for him for years, not really knowing where to look. The other day, I struck gold. I found his biological mother. I had done a search on his name but never really looked on the partial matches. My eyes scanned the page and found someone born on the same day, in the same town, and with the same middle and last name as him. From there, I learned that he was born with a Finnish first name, Sointo (unless they spelled it wrong on the record, which is possible.) His mother's name is Ida. From a census record, I learned that she immigrated to the US from Finland in 1909 and lived as a boarder and worked in a factory. Robert (Sointo) was born in 1912 (she wasn't married), and she died in 1913 from a disease (can't remember off the top of my head). How sad is that? I can't think of a more heartbreaking story.

I can sort of fill in the blanks. For now, what I think happened is that he was adopted once his mom died. He would have been a year old at the time. On Ida's death record, it mentions that she has a sister that lives on the same street as her. I don't know, but I kind of hope that it was the sister who adopted him. I can't prove that, but I'm waiting on his Social Security record where it will list his parents' names. I've done Ida's baptism so far, and I know she's pleased. There's no way that anyone else could have found her yet. Her family (minus the sister), stayed behind in Finland. She shows up on only one census. Except for her son, she isn't really connected to anyone.

I am continually amazed in the ways that the Spirit works. I really hope that I can find her family in Finland so she can be sealed to them. I have her father's name, so that's a start.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Am I Turning into a Health Nut?

For some reason, little things keep happening that make me want to eat healthier. I guess it all started when I was pregnant and didn't want to gain lots of weight. I'd wake up feeling sick, and if I went longer than 2 hours, I felt sick. I decided to eat small meals throughout the day. So I did.

By the time I quit feeling sick, sugar started having a nasty effect on me. If I ate something like chocolate or cookies, I felt pretty woozy for an hour after, and I literally had to sit down and put my feet up until the feeling passed. I quit eating as much sugar.

Joseph was born, and I started nursing him. I pretty much backtracked a little bit on my eating habits. Then, at 6 months, he started getting more demanding. I noticed the sick feeling returning if I didn't eat often enough. I was trying to eat snacks, but they were often either sugary or unhealthy in some way. I made a plan to eat certain food groups for snacks. I added different fruits and veggies for dinners every day of the week to give variety and make sure I bought enough fruits and veggies. Our grocery bill went up, but it's definitely been worth it.

My most recent change happened because of Grandma Head's awesome wheat bread. It's soft, chewy, and not bitter. I asked her for the recipe, got the ingredients, and am working on tweaking it exactly the way I like it. It's such a blessing to have a store like Winco where I can get whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, etc. for cheap in bulk. I've never loved whole-grain stuff (besides corn) until now. The FDA recommends at least half of all the grains we eat to be whole-grain. My goal is to only eat whole-grain pasta, waffles/pancakes and bread products (bagels, English muffins) and for my kids to like them.

So what's my next step?

I really doubt I will ever go much beyond this point. I'm not thoroughly convinced that buying "organic" is much better, and it's expensive. I'm not going to buy low-fat cheese or sour cream, because James really needs that. I do plan on trying to cook brown rice and maybe mix it half and half with white rice. I don't think I will ever give up my white rice, because I love it too much! Same with white flour tortillas. I just don't love making tortillas from scratch like I do other breads. It's very time-consuming.

I am going to give up sugar for Lent. When I say sugar, I don't mean ALL types of sugar. I really mean sweets, such as cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate. I don't eat syrup, so that's not a problem. And I'm not going to buy a new kind of peanut butter. I still plan on putting that on my waffles.

I'm not crazy, even though James thinks I am. I really want to see if I can do it, because I have loved sugary treats my whole life. I've heard that withdrawals can be hard, but I have support from Cindy!

P.S. I felt really out of place when I walked into the health store to buy lecithin. Not to mention, I never though I would go and buy something called lecithin.