Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Are You Smiling Yet?

I'm still reading a book I commented about a while ago (had to turn it back to the library before I was finished) called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell. Because it is a little complicated to explain, I'll just quote a little bit of the background as well as what the research showed.
"A few years later, a German team of psychologists conducted a simliar study. They had a group of subjects look at cartoons, either while holding a pen between their lips -- an action that made it impossible to contract either of the two major smiling muscles, the risorius and the zygomatic major -- or while holding a pen clenched between their teeth, which had the opposite effect and forced them to smile. The people with the pen between their teeth found the cartoons much funnier. These findings may be hard to believe, because we take it as a given that first we experience an emotion, and then we may -- or may not -- express that emotion on our face. We think of the face as the residue of emotion. What this research showed, though, is that the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process."

What can we learn from this? First, if you want people to think your jokes are funny, make them hold a pen in their teeth! Second, if you're feeling down, make yourself smile anyway. A smiling face creates a happy emotion in your brain. Putting yourself into situations where you are forced to smile no matter what will actually help you to really feel happy. Don't mope around and hang out in your room by yourself. Get out there and get smiling!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Please Update Sherrie's Address Book

Please fill out and submit the form below, unless you already did it on Lee's blog. Thanks!

Monday, November 5, 2007

What's your flavor?

I was my favorite flavor! This is what it had to say about me:
"Your personality is as friendly and appealing as strawberry ice cream (especially the kind with chunky bits of real fruit). You've got a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, and you rarely stress out or take things too seriously. You are cute and sweet, but with a mischievous side. You are a bit of a troublemaker, but only because you're determined to avoid a plain vanilla life. "

What do you think? Sound like me?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mysterious Monitor

My dad bought a little spy camera for his house, but found it difficult to use for his intended purpose as a security camera. So it was just in the house, not really doing anything. Before we moved we stayed with my parents and we used it as a video monitor to check up on the baby when she was asleep downstairs and we were upstairs. It was super nice to be able to see and hear her without having to go downstairs. My dad was generous enough to let us take it with us and use it in our new house. It has been great to be able to see why she's crying before making the trek all the way upstairs to her room now. But the other day, something odd happened.

When I turned on the monitor one night, I noticed that it had moved. It was no longer directly facing the crib, but was moved slightly to include the rocker that is off to the side of the crib. This has happened before and my theory was that Lee moved it to check up on us. I often do the morning feeding in that chair and sometimes other feedings as well. Lee is pretty groggy in the morning and so in the past we've thought that maybe he moved it to see us, but was too groggy to remember. One time he was sure he hadn't touched it, so I created a new theory that I bumped it somehow while turning it off and it was dismissed again. However, this particular night, it was certain Lee didn't move it because I had checked it later after Lee was up and awake and it was still on the crib. I tried out my second theory by seeing what happens when the auto button is bumped. It immediately began to scan the whole room. It didn't stop. Even when I turned it off, it started scanning again when it was turned back on. That means that I would have had to accidentally bump it twice while in the act of turning it off in order to stop the scanning and not realize it. That was impossible.

Earlier that day I had been with Annalee in her bedroom. I was playing with her and had set her down in the rocker. She loved it! I have a vague memory of thinking that I heard the monitor move while we were there. You can't really hear it move, so the thought never made it completely to my consciousness. But it must of been close because it came back to me when I saw that it was in fact moved to include the rocker. I must have somehow perceived of it moving from the corner of my eye or something. The scary thing is that Lee didn't do it and obviously neither did I. So who moved it??

Since it has a wireless signal, we wonder if the channel is being picked up by someone else who is able to control it somehow. The interesting thing is that a few days previous to the incident, I was talking with my neighbor and she asked about something red I'd had hanging in our bedroom window which is seen only from the backyard. She would have had to really be trying to see them from her yard! She also mentioned that her father was a spy for the US.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Annalee Update

She's moving! She's been able to roll to get around for a while now and she could push herself backwards or around in circles. But this week she has finally started to go forward. She began to push her whole body off the ground in a push-up position. She also started to get up on her knees. Yesterday, though, the real progress came when she learned to push herself and actually get somewhere going forward! She still tries to do it on her knees, but mostly ends up in a face plant! So for the most part it's just scooting around and not really crawling. She is taking off though and is getting faster by the second!

Annalee just finished trying to put her foot in her mouth, but since she appears to have her mothers flexibility, she was unsuccessful so she gave up! Now she's just rolling around making a constant motor-like noise. She is capable of babbling, but prefers the other noises instead. She is getting really good at "bah, bah, bah" and also at the "P" sound as she blows a little from her mouth. She can also say the sounds for M, D, and probably a few others when she babbles. Often we hear a very distinct "hi" from her, though she probably doesn't really know what she's saying. It's still fun to hear!

Monday she was on her tummy and I was encouraging her to come to me. She became fascinated with my hands as the fingers curled in toward the palm in a beckoning motion. After watching awestruck for some time, she began to copy it herself. When we tried to show Papi later, she refused to show off. Then to our surprise, we were on the web cam with grandparents Anderson and she began to do it to them! I don't know if she was waving, or asking them to come to her, or simply showing off her new trick but it was super cute! I'll catch her doing it every now and again intently watching the movement of her fingers. It's the best when she says "hi" while waving as if she actually knows what it is she's saying!

She has also picked up head banging somewhere! Mostly when on her tummy,
she begins to bob her head up and down and gets a kick out of it when we copy her! Hanging upside down is a fun game for Papi and her. Oh yeah, and she really does not like peas!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To Change or Not to Change

Last night as I was waiting for my brain to shut down so I could go to sleep, some of my twisting and twirling thoughts snapped into place like pieces of a puzzle, revealing an epiphany hot off the press. The purpose of church just clicked to me. How long have I been going every Sunday and the real objective of it has seemingly passed me by? Yes, I know it's to feel and to share the Spirit, to instruct and to be instructed, to serve and to be served, and most importantly to renew our baptismal covenants as we remember the sacrifice of Christ for us. So what have I missed for all these years? Change.

According to the Bible Dictionary, repentance involves change. "The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." Taking the sacrament isn't just a time to remember Christ or our covenants, but to repent, or to change. How do we know what to change? Well there are a series of talks and lessons during the three hour meeting that give us plenty of suggestions! When was the last time you heard a talk and then acted on what was taught to you? Too often we go to church just to feel good and be fed, then we go home and life continues without a change. Christ has promised us water that we will never thirst again. But when we are fed at church, how long does it last? How do we drink so that it will "be in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life"? (John 4: 14) I believe that the way to never thirst again is to repent by changing our lives to fit the principles we learn about each week.

So we go to church, listen to talks and lessons (or give them) and we feel good because we have felt the spirit. But have we changed? Here are some examples. I gave a talk on visiting and home teaching a few weeks ago. I discussed the importance and purpose of the callings as well as other specific aspects necessary for us to be effective. Yet, I am seeing no change. My first thought was that I must have done a poor job in my talk as I was obviously unable to convey the specifics that I had learned in my own study. While this may be true, I began to think about the last time I had listened to a talk and changed something I was doing to be in accordance with what was taught. I couldn't think of anything recently. Just last Sunday a talk was given about Zion and how to make wherever we are be Zion. I thought it was a great concept. But did I change anything about how I was living so that I could do what was taught? I'm going to have to go with no on that one. Not too long ago the lesson was on the Sabbath day. How many of us committed to a higher level of Sabbath day keeping and how many of us just kept doing what we've always done?

Church is not just to make us feel good for a few hours, but to teach us how to feel good every other day as well for the rest of our existence. In order to progress in the gospel and truly use Christ's atonement, we must take what we learn and do it. Every single week. One step at a time. Can you imagine how close to perfection and God we could be if we just worked on one attribute each week? That's 52 things in a year alone that we could improve in our lives. In the next 5 years that would be 260 specific and conscious improvements! (Assuming of course that we continue doing all the past ones when a new one is learned). This is progress. This is using the atonement in our lives, not just remembering the sacrifice. This is the purpose of going to church every week: to change.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Am Brain Damaged!

I am sure that some of you may have been aware of this fact for some time now, but I am just now beginning to come to grips with it's reality. What has caused this sudden realization after 25 years? A book called blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I am only just beginning, but Malcolm Gladwell is explaining how your subconscious mind can figure things out faster and sometimes more accurately than your conscious mind, allowing us to make decisions in the blink of an eye instead of thinking things through in a logical and rational manner. Sometimes something "just feels right." He is careful to explain that there are ways we can blind even our subconsciousness, though, so it's not like our subconscious mind will always "tell the truth."

As many of you know, I have struggled with decision making my whole life. It is quite difficult for me to decide even the simplest thing without first weighing out the pros, cons, and consequences of any given choice. Gladwell talks about the research of a neurologist named Antonio Damasio who studied patients with damage to a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which lies behind the nose.
"The ventromedial area plays a critical role in decision making. It works out contingencies and relationships and sorts through the mountain of information we get from the outside world, prioritizing it and putting flags on things that demand our immediate attention. People with damage to their ventromedial area are perfectly rational. They can be highly intelligent and functional, but they lack judgment."
That pretty much sums me up! Highly intelligent (j/k!), mostly functional, rational, etc. So the reason why I have to look at every menu item before making a selection or why it takes me hours (or days) to play a game of chess (think of all the options and consequences associated with each move!) is simply because I am brain damaged!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Becoming Extraordinary

"..and we hope you'll never change..."
"...Oh, but we simply must change--mustn't we?...If we aren't changing and growing every day--if we aren't always becoming instead of just simply being--well, wouldn't that be a terrible thing?"

"But let me tell you a little secret...Even the ordinary people are extraordinary. They just don't know it."

--Enchantress of Crumbledown by Donald R. Marshall

The Morning Inside of Us

"...what dear Henry David once said is so true: morning is the most memorable season of the day, the awakening hour. That's the time when we're most alert to sounds, to smells, to tastes--to the world around us. There is something awake in us then that sleeps all the rest of the day--and when we're most awake, then, of course, that's when we're most alive. We must always remember to listen to the morning inside of us."

"No more words tonight, please. There are little night demons who can appear from nowhere after midnight to twist our words and warp our thoughts. Wait, please--wait until morning and see how different everything will seem. Bombs bursting all around us at midnight can be transformed, in the clear light of day, into nothing more than delicate little bubbles vanishing into the air...Please, little dove. Please...Trust the morning."

"Always, dear children, always remember to keep the morning and the springtime in you."

--Enchantress of Crumbledown, by Donald R. Marshall

Friday, August 17, 2007

Question 41

Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire; after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Unity in Marriage

For background and context, read Lee's Blog first.

The most important thing to remember whenever this situation arises is that righteous unity in a marriage or companionship involves three parties, not two. I recognize three possible scenarios concerning the unity of the three involved parties and unity with the spirit is directly related to unity between spouses.

1: Spouses not united. Result: no unity with the spirit

2: Spouses united in an unrighteous cause. Result: no unity with the spirit

3: Spouses united in a righteous cause. Result: unity with the spirit

Of the three scenarios, only one will allow the spirit into a marriage. The odds are against us. From my experience in the mission, there were two contributing factors to the threat of unity.

1) Culture/background: affecting our individual perspective on ideals such as work, obedience, study, etc.

2) Language: affecting our ability to have clear communication

In a marriage, these two components apply. We have all been brought up in a unique family culture and may differ from that of our spouse. Anything from how to load the dishwasher to Sabbath activities has potential to cause discordance in a relationship. The only way to overcome these differences is through communication. This, however, can also be a barrier. I have found that even though we both speak English, misunderstandings still exist. We must patiently, prayerfully, and with the spirit strive to overcome these road blocks. We must take their hand and follow them to their viewing point.

On my mission there were times when I just could not see what my companions saw. I had little to no knowledge of their background and culture and I just couldn’t make the leap to their side of the mountain to see what they saw. Through various experiences, I learned that I needed to love them and trust them, knowing that they had the same righteous goals that I did and if their actions were best for them to accomplish our righteous goals, I needed to be willing to accept that and support them. When they felt that trust, they were much more careful about the decisions they made, sorting between what was necessary and what wasn’t. I too did the same. When I felt strongly about something, influenced by the power of the spirit, I was able to effectively explain my feelings with the help of the spirit and prayer. Because it was done with the spirit, it touched my companion and testified to her what was right. Because they had the same righteous goals, the righteous path was always accepted and unity resulted.

Lee mentioned something about assuming the best in your spouse. To me this means assume that they are also looking toward a righteous end. For whatever reason, what they are doing is their way to meet that goal. We need to trust them and support them. If we truly feel that what they are doing is not taking them to the righteous end, it is important to communicate. We cannot support them in an unrighteous cause or else the spirit will not be with us. But first, we must assume that it is a righteous cause and try to understand how their actions are leading to the righteous end. If it isn’t, the spirit will testify of the right path and since both are seeking righteousness, both will feel and accept the teachings of the spirit. We will know we are doing right because the three-fold unity will result.

As President Hinckley has counseled: Be grateful. Be smart. Be involved. Be clean. Be true. Be positive. Be humble. Be still. Be prayerful. I add: Be united in righteous causes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Teaching Reverence

Today in church the lesson was on Reverence. The sisters shared some ideas of how they have taught or helped their children learn reverence, particularly at church. I thought I'd share them here and ask for any other tricks and ideas that others have tried or heard of.
  • One mother kept Tabasco sauce in her purse at church. The misbehaving child would promptly receive some on their tongue! She said that she rarely had to use it; it was more of a threat.
  • If reverence was not practiced at church, then it was practiced at home. The children sat on fold-up chairs with arms folded listening to church music until the parent felt the kids had enough practice to remember how to do it the next week!
  • Avoid sitting by children's friends! Having a friend near encourages talk and play.
  • Holding the kids on you lap helps soothe them and feel loved.
  • Sitting on the aisle keeps them more easily contained!
  • Too much stuff makes for more noise. One mother allowed only one Friend magazine for each child. No pencils, toys, etc. They could only sit quietly and look at their magazine, beginning after the sacrament.
  • Lee's family would have three scoops of ice cream Sunday evenings. If a child decided to misbehave at church, mother would simply tell them they were down to two scoops! (Apparently it rarely went much further than that).
  • My dad would rack us! He would take us in the hall and sit us on top of the coat rack so we couldn't run around and enjoy being free of the service. He made our experience inside more enjoyable than the one outside so we weren't rewarded for poor behavior.
That's all I can remember right now. There are some pretty good ideas. I know that there is not one sure trick to this since every child is different and responds to individual consequences. The real trick is continual guidance and practice, the parents being the example.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Help us decide please!

Go to Lee's blog; he has a new poll. We want a little help in deciding which comforter to keep. It will determine the colors we use in our bedroom (specifically the curtains we get). Your vote is anonymous, but don't feel bad if we don't choose the one you vote for! (And we won't get our feelings hurt if you don't like either of them or think there are better colors for the room). We probably won't make our decision based on the outcome of the poll, but it will be fun to get some input. Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Happy Quote

"Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you, but on what happens inside of you. It is measured by the spirit with which you meet the problems of life."

--President Harold B. Lee

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Book of Questions

A friend of mine gave me a book called " The book of Questions" for my birthday. He really is a genius of questions and getting to know people on a deeper level. (For all I know he had this book the whole time!) That's exactly what this book does. It has 200 questions and follow-up questions that make people evaluate their opinions and values and gets beyond the "what's your favorite color?" questions. There is no right or wrong answer (with the exception of some that can be backed up with scriptures of course!) Some are just fun and others are serious. They are quite useful whenever there's down time at a social gathering, on a date with someone you don't know too well, or to better understand people you already know. It kept us busy and inspired great conversations on our long drive between Mexico and Salt Lake! So I thought it might be fun to put one on my blog every now-and-again and see what everyone's responses are. Sometimes the answers are not ones you want everyone to know, but otherwise, feel free to comment with your thoughts!

Question 123:
When you do something ridiculous, how much does it bother you to have other people notice it and laugh at you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do You Want to be Happy?

"Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend our efforts to helping people. Cultivate a spirit of forgiveness in your heart against any who might have offended you. Look to the Lord and live and work to lift and serve His sons and daughters. You will come to know a happiness that you have never known before if you will do that. I do not care how old you are, how young you are, whatever. You can lift people and help them. Heaven knows there are so very, very, very many people in this world who need help. Oh, so very very many. Let's get the cankering, selfish attitude out of our lives, my brothers and sisters, and stand a little taller and reach a little higher in the service of others. As Browning said, 'A man's reach should exceed his grasp.' Stand taller, stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down."

--President Gordon B. Hinckley


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Annalee's Update

July 12, 2007
4 Month Appointment in Houston

Height: 24" 5o%
Weight: 14 lb 7.4 oz 75-90%
Head: 41 50%

We have been so blessed. Annalee is just as healthy as always and so far I really like the doctor we randomly chose. Although phone conversations with people have not gone well for me, actual interaction with people has been great here in Texas. I was a little nervous, but everyone was really nice. The doctor is from Colorado but did his Residence...or whatever it in Houston and met a nurse that wouldn't leave here! So here he is. He was really impressed with her head control (Annalee's, not the nurse!) and said she should be rolling over any day now (the one milestone she hasn't reached yet for her age). She got lots of shots so she might be a little fussy, but she handled them like a trooper! It was a little pricey because we don't have insurance yet, but we were told we just have to make a claim as soon as we have the information and it will all be covered. I sure hope so because it may have been less expensive to fly out to Utah and be covered under mine!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Snapshot Memories

Memory can be a very unreliable resource. It can, however, make for some interesting stories. I thought that it would be fun to record some snapshot memories of mine. They may or may not be exact history, but this is how they exist in my brain as of the time written.

The Meeting: Part 1

We had but one chance. Luckily, we both rose to the occasion. I had only been home from my mission 2 1/2 weeks. The Young Women leaders asked me to teach the lesson that Sunday for them since the topic was missionary work. I decided to give a basic Visitor's Center presentation complete with referral cards and an invitation to refer somebody to the missionaries. I spent some time explaining to the young women the importance of getting out of their comfort zone in order to make missionary work simple. Things we say and do on a regular basis can spark questions and inspire conversations that lead to opportunities to share basic gospel principles. It can be as easy as sitting next to someone we don't know. Sometimes they start the conversation and it's a piece of cake from there.

The presentation went very well and I even received one referral! It felt good to be teaching the gospel again with confidence. My boldness was short lived, however, as I entered my Sunday School class. It was for young single adults in our ward and was taught from the "Preach My Gospel" manual, which I had grown to love on my mission. That was basically my only reason for attending the class. Everyone in there was much younger than I was. They had all just graduated from high school, the boys preparing for missions. I had already graduated from college and just completed my mission. We were totally opposite, including that there were several of them and only one of me.

Since it had taken some time to gather my materials from the previous class, I wasn't the first one in the room and was now faced with choosing a seat among the few youngens already there or entering with me. In a split-second decision I jumped back to the old me and sat off to the side by myself. I was content being separate and different from all of them. As I began to pull my manual out, a twinge of guilt knocked me on the side of my head as my own words penetrated my ears. Hadn't I just exhorted the young women to leave their comfort zone? Hadn't I specifically mentioned sitting by people you don't know instead of alone? My eyes darted nervously around the room, landing on three girls who had just been in my class. What a hypocrite I was! Could I not practice what I preach? Desperately I searched for someone who was not involved in their group conversation with whom I could talk. Hopelessness began rising in me as I realized they were all in the same discussion. There was no way for an outsider like me from a different world to jump in late.

Suddenly, my eyes depicted a form. A boy who I had never seen before. He had snuck in somehow, unnoticed by me in my distress, and had sat down behind me. My mind raced as I tried to identify him. Was he someone I knew from the ward before but had changed so much in my time away at school and the mission that now I did not recognize him? Had his family moved in and I had never seen him before at all? Could he be like one of the other kids in the class so young and so different from me? My eyes darted back to the chattering girls from the young women's class and I decided that I needed to teach by example, whether they noticed or not. Without a second thought I flipped my head around and introduced myself.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Just so you know, you can comment on the blogs by clicking the comment link at the end of the post. Feel free to do so. It will encourage me to post more often. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Question of the Day

It's about time I put something on this blog! I'm not really sure what I'll write on this day by day, but for now, I have a question. I was thinking one day about our new baby Annalee. Everybody's favorite game to play when they see a new baby is, "Who does she look like most, mom or dad?" I never know. I mean, she looks like a baby and her features change so much how can you tell?? But one day I was trying to figure it out anyway and I suddenly thought about the pre-existence. I know, it's kind of random, but welcome to my brain. So as far as I understand it, we were created spiritually before physically...meaning that our spirits existed and then we came to earth to get a physical body. Supposedly our spiritual beings look the same as our physical bodies, right? So here's the question: How did God know what we would look like physically? Yes, yes, I know that God is Omniscient. But take a minute to think about the implications.

When a baby is born, they take on physical traits of the parents due to genes. The baby is bound to inherit genes from both parents, hence the game I spoke of previously that people like to play. Children often look like their parents. That makes sense physically. But what about spiritually? Hasn't it been said that there is not a "one" person you could marry? But if there isn't, how did God know how to create your children spiritually, keeping with the assumption that your spirit looks the same as you do physically. Ok, ok, once again the answer is that God knew who we would choose so He was able to do that. Wouldn't that mean then, that since our children have already been created spiritually to look a certain way, that there really is only one person we could marry? I wonder then if the people who have kids that look nothing like the parents, married the wrong person! Or is it simply that the people we are attracted to all have similar traits and genes that will produce the correct child no matter which person we choose? Hmmm...interesting.

I do know that I'm so glad I married Lee and he is the perfect husband for me. Annalee is our beautiful daughter, even if we can never figure out who she looks like! Besides, it's not really that important to our eternal salvation...right?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Random Realization

How startling the realization that the person you've been striving all your life to become is the very person you swore you'd never be like.