Thursday, December 31, 2009

Writing Club

I've been thinking it would be fun to do a writing club.  I'm not sure how it would work exactly, so if anyone has ideas that would be great!  I want anyone to be able to participate and we would just communicate electronically.  Until we have a better plan, we can e-mail and use blogs.  So, here is the first prompt:

Write a short story that begins with the phrase: I found it.  It can be humorous or tragic, fiction or childhood memory; whatever.  It could even be a poem.  I am interested to see the various responses to such a simple phrase and the train of thought that it inspires.  What does it make you think of?  What does it bring to your mind? 

Send your response to me via e-mail or better yet, post it on your own blog and let me know it's there with a comment on this post.  Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Should We Learn to Write Well?


"I learned why during a religion class I taught once at Ricks College. I was teaching from Doctrine and Covenants 25:8 [D&C 25:8]. That tells Emma Smith she should give her time to “writing, and to learning much.” About three rows back in the class sat a blond girl whose brow wrinkled as I urged diligence in developing writing skills. She raised her hand and said, “That doesn’t seem reasonable to me. All I’ll ever write are letters to my children.” That brought laughter. I felt a little chagrined to have applied that scripture to her. Just looking at her I could imagine a quiver full of children around her and even see the letters she’d write, in purple ink, with handwriting slanting backwards, with neat, round loops. Maybe writing powerfully wouldn’t matter to her.

"And then a young man stood up near the back. He’d said little during the term. He was older than the other students and shy. He told in a quiet voice of being a soldier in Viet Nam. In what he thought would be a lull, he’d left his rifle and walked across his fortified compound to mail call. Just as he got a letter in his hand he heard a bugle blow, and shouts and mortar and rifle fire came in ahead of the swarming enemy. He fought his way back to his rifle, using his hands as weapons. With the men who survived, he drove the enemy out. The wounded were evacuated. And then he sat down among the living, and some of the dead, and he opened the letter.

"It was from his mother. She wrote that she’d had a spiritual experience that assured her he would live to come home, if he were righteous. “That letter was scripture to me,” the boy said quietly. “I kept it.” And he sat down. You may have a child someday, perhaps a son. Can you see his face? Can you see him somewhere, sometime in mortal danger? Can you feel the fear in his heart, and does it touch you? Would you like to freely give? What sacrifice will it take to write the letter your heart will want to send? You won’t do it in the hour before the postman comes. Nor will it be possible in a day or even a week. It may take years. Start the practice this afternoon. Go back to your room and write, and read, and rewrite that paper again, and again. It won’t seem like sacrifice if you picture that boy, feel his heart, and think of the letters he’ll need someday."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four Cornerstones Upon Which To Build A Home


“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Ps. 127:1.)


Respect for One Another
Companionship in marriage is prone to become commonplace and even dull. I know of no more certain way to keep it on a lofty and inspiring plane than for a man occasionally to reflect upon the fact that the help-meet who stands at his side is a daughter of God, engaged with Him in the great creative process of bringing to pass His eternal purposes. I know of no more effective way for a woman to keep ever radiant the love for her husband than for her to look for and emphasize the godly qualities that are a part of every son of our Father and that can be evoked when there is respect and admiration and encouragement. The very processes of such actions will cultivate a constantly rewarding appreciation for one another.

The Soft Answer
  • It was said of old that “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” (Prov. 15:1.)
  • The voice of heaven is a still small voice; likewise, the voice of domestic peace is a quiet voice.
  • There is need for a vast amount of discipline in marriage, not of one’s companion, but of one’s self.
  • “A father can do no greater thing for his children than to let them feel that he loves their mother.” (President David O. McKay)
  • How much greater the peace in the homes of the people, how much greater the security in the lives of the children, how much less divorce and separation and misery, how much more gladness and joy and love there would be if husbands and wives would cultivate the discipline of speaking softly one to another, and if both would so speak to their children.

 Honesty with God and with One Another
I am convinced that there is no better discipline nor one more fruitful of blessings than for those who establish homes and families to follow the commandment given to ancient Israel through the prophet Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10.)
As you discipline yourselves in the expenditure of your means, beginning with your obligations to your Father in heaven [tithing], the cankering selfishness that leads to so much strain in domestic affairs will go out of your lives, for if you will share with the Lord whom you do not see, you will deal more graciously, more honestly, and more generously with those whom you do see. As you live honestly with God, you will be inclined to live honestly with one another.  (emphasis added)

 Family Prayer
God then will be your partner, and your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source.

A summary of a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley entitled, “‘Except the Lord Build the House …’,” from the Ensign, June 1971.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick Tips: Alot

Alot: a town and a nagar panchayat in Ratlam district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.  (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alot)

Incorrect: I passed through alot of bushes.
Correct: I passed through Alot.  There were bushes.
Also Correct: I passed through a lot of bushes on my way to Alot.

What I hope you remember from today's lesson:

"A lot" is two words.  (Unless referring to the nagar panchayat...in which case it should be capitalized).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grammar Answer

I know it has been forever-and-a-half since I posted the grammar geek quiz on my blog and I apologize to the millions of avid readers who have been biting their nails in anticipation of the answer.  (If only that were true...)  So here goes my sad attempt to explain it. 
"That is one of the many qualities that make him the man we love to celebrate."

It's a simple case of subject verb agreement. You know, "the dogs eats" verses "the dog eats." If you take out all the extra words, you will discover that the subject of the sentence is "one" and the verb is "make." Obviously "one make" sounds funny. It should be "one makes." Right?

Wrong.  If you followed that logic and believed it, then you are equal to me in grammar prowess because that is what I thought to be the case and it is incorrect; we got nothin'.  In fact, the reason it has taken me so long to post an answer is because it really doesn't make sense.  I mean, the subject is really about the qualities, but that appears to be in a prepositional phrase, which often tricks people into thinking it is the subject when it is merely describing the subject.  The average Joe would read that sentence and not even consider it to be grammatically problematic...and Joe would be correct.  That's what I get for over-analyzing everything; problems created out of nothing.

Yes, I am telling you that I lied.  There is nothing wrong with the sentence.  I quote to you from the book ACT 36: Aiming for the Perfect Score.  (Yes, I read such books in my spare time...don't ask).

"Words indicating amount, like the word none [or in our case, one], when used as the subject of a sentence, do not hang out in the Singles Club.  They are married to one word--the word of.  The noun at the end of an "of" phrase [qualities] dictates the verb status [make]."

So there you have it. The sentence is actually grammatically sound. Psych.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Read Me Next Time You Consider Professional Portraits!

Memo to self:
Next time you want to take your kids in for a free 8x10 picture at a studio, I hope you will remember the following things:

  • Remember it's just a ploy to sell you bigger and better products that look even better with your adorable child in them
  • Remember how your daughter wet her pants because it took two hours to sort through and arrange special portrait collections that you didn't want and didn't pay for in the end
  • Remember how your son shook raisins all over the room and was crying from boredom, hunger, and tiredness because he had missed his nap and only stopped when you took him from the stroller so you could make the final decision to stick with the free 8x10 you came in for and nothing else
  • Remember how he screamed when you tried to put him back in the stroller
  • Remember your headache as you left pushing the double stroller to the opposite end of the mall past pesky aisle vendors muttering out loud, "No thanks" while muttering under your breath, "Cranky kids...cranky mom."
Still think it's worth it?

If you've forgotten and still want to go, here are some things to consider for next time:
  • Tell them upfront you only want an 8x10
  • Tell them they are more than welcome to try and sell you other items, but..
    • you are on a budget (make it up if you're not)
    • you aren't good at decision making
    • you only have a certain amount of time (10-15 min should be enough to pick the one pose you like)
  • so you will not purchase anything else until you've had time (without crying children) to sleep on it and discuss it with your spouse
  • Take the kids to the bathroom immediately before the photo shoot
  • Don't bring raisins

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sibling Dynamics

I definitely see stark contrasts in my children's behavior currently. Perhaps it is their difference in age. Maybe it's about the gender. Or maybe, it's all personality.

Child number one (2yr old girl):
Cries and refuses to eat when I don't spoon feed her.
Gets upset when food gets on her hands.

Child number two (1yr old boy):
Screams and refuses to eat when I do spoon feed him because he wants to do it.
Gets upset if I don't let him stick his hands in the food.

To each his own.

Latest Parenting Mistake
Don't feed your 1 year old cotton candy at the circus. He may recognize the resemblance in the green cotton stuffing of the chair cushions.

Sibling Rivalry
There was a small battle concerning Annalee's brush that Luke wanted to play with that Annalee, of course, didn't want him to touch because it's, in her words, "mine!" So I tried to mitigate the issue by having Annalee give him a comb, which she did, after yanking the brush from him. A few minutes later, the episode of the brush supposedly forgotten as the kids seemed to be engaged in different play activities, I suddenly saw Luke take off towards the back rooms like a baseball player stealing home. I had to laugh when I spied in his hand Annalee's brush. He was high-tailing it out of there as fast as his little legs could carry him! Unfortunately for him, Annalee also realized what he was doing and she chased him down, once again yanking it from his hands. No homerun this time.

For the most part they seem to get along quite well. They have taken to hiding in Luke's closet (lights off and door shut). I don't know what they do, but with all the giggling they seem to be enjoying themselves. I tried to accompany them to see what all the fun was about and Annalee promptly kicked me out saying: "Mami, fuera. Shut da door." I can take a hint.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Luke's 12 month Update

Height: 30 in (50-75%)
Weight: 23.08 lbs (50-75%)
Head: 46.2 (25-50%)

Has it been a year already?!! Crazy! I swear this has been the shortest year of my life! He seems a lot younger than Annalee was at a year. He hasn't hit the milestones quite as quickly as she did. He can't really say anything yet...unless you count his "O deh!" when he drops something (translated to mean "Oh dear!"). He likes to repeat "da da da da da...", but it has no meaning for him since we say "Papi" for daddy. He's finally starting to enjoy books a little more and to play pat-a-cake. My favorite thing is when he holds the phone at the back of his neck and starts jabbering! The other day we discovered Luke in the kitchen playing in a pile of powdered sugar! He was shoving handfuls in his mouth! Unfortunately, the camera batteries were dead.

Luke is currently trying to figure out the self-feeding thing. He has made significant progress. It started with grabbing the spoon from my hand and banging it around in the bowl wondering how it magically got to his mouth. Eventually, he stuck his other hand in the food to see if it would help. I showed him how to stick that hand in his mouth to suck the food off. He liked that. After repeating this a few times, it finally seemed to click that he could repeat the bowl-to-mouth motion with the spoon, although he still likes the hand-in-food technique because it's 100% successful. Now all he has left to figure out is which end of the spoon can carry the most food to his mouth!

At his check-up I was shocked to discover that he has an ear infection in one ear and fluid in the other. I didn't have a clue! I took him to the doctor about two weeks ago when he had a cold because he was so miserable and he didn't have it then! Since his cold has cleared up he has appeared to be fine. Whoops! Poor guy. And then four shots and a finger prick was a little traumatic for him (and Mom), but he was so ecstatic about the band-aid on his finger it was all ok.

He is walking now, though still somewhat in the transitional stage. (I hope he is learning that the bathtub is not a good place to practice...that black-eye should serve as a good reminder!). Just two days ago he started practicing standing up on his own (without pulling up on something) and has been so proud of himself! He's a little pro now!

Here's a video of Luke's first year:


video

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grammar Geek: Quiz #1

For those of you who may not be aware, I love English. Not the language necessarily, but the subject. You know, the stuff you'd learn about in an English class...reading, writing, and especially grammar. I could study it for hours (in any language)! One night Lee and I were doing our Spanish study together and he pulled out a grammar book from a class he had after his mission. I was pretty tired to begin with, but the new information on Spanish grammar and diagramming quickly woke me up and I got really into it. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect on Lee and he tired of it far too quickly. I kept reading it while he went to his wake-up help (and my sleep inducer): the computer.

I'm not sure why the study of rules intrigues me so much. Growing up in my house with an English teacher for a mother where you'd be interrupted in the middle of a story with grammar corrections, you'd think I'd detest the subject. On the contrary, it seemed to engender a love for perfection in speech. I'm not sure to what use this knowledge can be put, other than ensuring a little less panic during high-stress tests like the ACT, which are no longer a threat in my life. Lee once sent a link to a humorous article that pretty much described me. (If you follow the link, do not read the comments attached to this article). Here is an excerpt:

Another important thing to know is that when white people read magazines and books they are always looking for grammar and spelling mistakes. In fact, one of the greatest joys a white person can experience is to catch a grammar mistake in a major publication. Finding one allows a white person to believe that they are better than the writer and the publication since they would have caught the mistake. The more respected the publication, the greater the thrill. If a white person were to catch a mistake in The New Yorker, it would be a sufficient reason for a large party.

This is totally me! Finding mistakes in published stuff is guaranteed to make my day. In fact, I found one today. Unfortunately, it wasn't The New Yorker, so there will be no party. Nevertheless, I'm curious who else can see the error. Here's the sentence:
"That is one of the many qualities that make him the man we love to celebrate."
Let's see if anyone else out there agrees with me. Take a chance and tell me what you think is wrong and I'll follow-up shortly with what I believe the error to be.

(Disclaimer: Due to the content of this posting, the author of this blog denies any grammatical errors heretofore and hereafter published and assures the reader they are all typos).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Soccer: Take II

I am way cooler inside my head than in real life. I can always think of the funniest or smartest comments with imaginary conversations. Put a live human in front of me and suddenly I might as well be stuffed and hung on a wall! Even in this weakness of mine, every now-and-again, I surprise myself. Today, I think I made a friend.

My stomach has been on quite the roller coaster ride this week with highs of excitement and lows of twisting anxiety. I found out with only one week notice that Saturday (today) would be a soccer round-up for the summer woman's league. It has been several years and two kids since I last played competitively. My last attempt was pretty much pathetic...to say the least. My brain and instincts were still on par, but my body was definitely not. Remembering the tragedy of my last attempt, I started more conservatively today, not running around like a wild woman the first 30 seconds and then almost passing out. I hung back and made intermittent strategic runs. I passed more than I dribbled so as not to trip over the ball. After a bit, my confidence rose and I did some tricky stuff...successfully! Ok, maybe here's a good place to mention that the teams were horribly lopsided and the other side had mostly players that resembled cones more than soccer players. We pretty much wasted them, though no score was kept. (To give you a better idea of the situation, let's just say I was tempted to volunteer to be goalie for our time after a while...not a good sign for the skill level of our opponents). I'm not sure they really had any shots on goal. But, it definitely boosted my confidence and now I'm pretty much just excited about the whole idea of playing soccer again.

Back to my friend. We're pretty much identical in every way. She played soccer, I played soccer. We both want to play again after a serious hiatus. Her parents are from Argentina, I'm...well...I speak Spanish...and that's really about all I know about her. But I'm sure we'll discover many more things we have in common as we get to know each other! We decided to request to be on the same team so our paperwork got paper-clipped together. Definitely a new BFF. Too bad I thought of all the cool stuff to say in my head on the way home from the round-up. Luckily she had the sense enough to see through the dummy that runs my body most of the time and recognized my inner coolness. I'm looking forward to being her teammate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Luke 9 Months


Height: 28 1/2 (50-75%)
Weight: 20lbs 14oz (50-75%)
Head: 44 1/2 (25%)

Luke is as cute as ever...and into everything!  He gets into stuff Annalee doesn't even know existed!  He definitely keeps me on my toes.  His big sister keeps a close eye on him for me and is quick to say "uh oh, Gucas" (Gucas is Lucas).  He gets a kick out of big sister and is always happy to see her.

Milestones/Quirks
  • pulling up to standing and taking his first cruising steps holding on to stuff
  • Carrots and most fruits go down happily, but watch out for squash, peas, and bananas to come flying back
  • If he's unhappy or doesn't want whatever we're trying to give him then he bats at his ear
  • Beginning to make sounds other than screeching (namely "guh" and "dadadada")
  • 2 bottom teeth are popping through
  • loves to drink from a sippy cup
  • does great impressions of a rooster and a fire truck
  • enjoys "singing" to the hymns at church
  • mastered the ability to bang on his tray for more food or attention
  • Successfully removed his diaper all by himself while waiting for me in the crib

This is one loud and wild, but very happy, little man.



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Counsel from Elder Bednar


Elder Bednar is probably my favorite apostle (is that allowed??)!  I knew he was destined for greatness when he was the President of Ricks/BYU-I.  I sometimes snuck into his Q&A FHE sessions even when it wasn't my ward's turn just so I could hear him!  That is one smart and inspired man.  I was so excited when he was made an apostle (I was on my mission at the time).  So when my cousin's letter this week spoke of Elder Bednar, I read it immediately and thought I'd share her notes with you (I hope she doesn't mind...all I changed was a little formatting for ease of reading).
"Well, i dont have a lot of time, but i wanted to tell you a little about Elder Bednar coming. First of all, it was a question answer session. So that was nice. I got a few main points out of it. 
One, (he gave this answer in all his other firesides too) if you want to know more about anything in the gospel, especially Christ or the atonement, read the Book of Mormon as many times as you can in 6 months and at the end write a one page summary of the atonement (or your topic).  He says hes done this thing over 20 times and gains a bigger and bigger testimony everytime, and promises that it will work.
Another thing he said that we have to master in this life is how to 1)Do everything that we can possibly do but at the same time 2) "Get out of the way"...the Lord will do his work through us, but we have to get out of the way and let our pride down and know that we are simply tools in his hands.  
The last thing he really emphasized is that we must focus our lives on "why?"....which is the doctrine of the church. We too often only focus on/teach our children how or what, which is good, but if they dont know why, they will fall! He prophecied that to us that we will fall, our investigators will fall, and our children will fall if we dont teach the why. 
So i have the same invitations to all of you! Make sure we are asking the right questions in our studies, and teaching the right stuff. Also, work as hard as we can, but also get out of the Lord's way so he can do his work.  
I know this is God's work, and if we just stop and take a look, we will realize that if we weren't here the work would keep going, and we should just feel lucky enough to be used as a tool in His hand, and feel blessed to be able to receive the many blessings He is constantly giving us."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Somebody's Soap Box

The following is a real e-mail sent to all the sisters in our ward as a reply to another sister sending out a link with Conference activities for kids. I was curious what everyone's thoughts were on what she wrote. Here's her soap box:

Great idea Mary Ann! Thank you for providing this to the sisters. It is a fantastic idea to provide something for the kids to keep them quiet for the long sessions.

I never attend conference any more because the children were so noisy and disruptive that I would be mad and frustrated by the time I would leave. If you are in the back of the chapel, that’s the “play area.” When I did try to attend in years past, I was anything but “spiritually uplifted” from attending the conference. What is so frustrating is the inconsiderate attitude of the parents. They are so accustomed to “tuning out their kids” they are totally obvious to how rude and inconsiderate it is to the other adults in attendance. Not to mention how inconsiderate and rude it is to the speakers who took the time to study and prepare something spiritual for us.

I must give credit to the thoughtful parents that do take the time to teach their kids what behavior is acceptable at church and what is not appropriate when reverence is required. I really appreciate the parents who do take out their children when they are being disruptive and noisy whether that is in Sacrament meeting, Sunday School and/or Relief Society. This sets an example to the other children, too. It doesn’t need to be just crying that requires removal, but having a good noisy “happy” time, too is not reverent. I remember spending the first two years of each of my children’s life in the hallway at church. I don’t recall having the speakers in the hallway 40 years ago like we have now. I know it isn’t easy, but that is what parenting is all about. After all, if you can’t control your toddlers, what will you do when they become teenagers and they’re bigger that you???? At least my teenagers were bigger than me! Back in the “old days” we didn’t have “Nursery class” so we had 3 years to teach the kids how to behave at Church while we stayed in the hallway or visited the bathroom for a little more “encouragement”!

It seems as though some of the problems of noise from the children are carried into Sunday School and Relief Society classes, too, i.e. giving them noisy toys to shake and bang. It’s as if the parents see that they aren’t crying they’re not causing a disturbance when they are laughing and banging their noisy toys such as trucks or their mom’s keys. They do make “quiet” toys which would be more appropriate for Church. Again, I’m sure this is because the parents are accustomed to “tuning this noise out.” Also, I think the moms know that most of us have gone though this, too so we should “understand”. However, this is no excuse. Just because we are grandparents now, doesn’t mean that we love being entertained by those happy, playful toddlers and/or fussy babies! Again, the purpose of going to Church on Sundays is to hear and learn the lessons that are presented to us and to spiritually lift us. We did not get dressed and drive all the way to Church on Sunday to be entertained by babies and toddlers.

When we leave Church on Sunday we should be able to keep the Sabbath Day holy. We should be strengthened to the point that we can deal with all the issues that will face us for the next six days as we go about our daily lives. I think of how often I will reflect on a message I received at Church in a lesson or talk that helps me keep in perspective why we are here and what we are supposed to be accomplishing.

I know I’m not the only “Grandma” that feels this way. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt any ones feelings that reads this, but I felt strongly that I needed to express this.

Comments anyone?? Love to hear them!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Live Footage

We've encountered some technical difficulties with the making of this film.  Unfortunately, since it is already terribly outdated due to how quickly these little babies progress each day, this is what you get!  So at the end when there's a black screen, imagine seeing the last shot of the previous scene one more time only in slow motion.  That's what is supposed to be there.  (FYI: Luke is traveling a lot faster and further these days.  It won't be long before he is doing the real crawl on his hands and knees) Enjoy!

video

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let-down Theory

After an intense emotional, physical, or spiritual experience, there tends to be a let-down.  I experienced this when I gave birth without an epidural.  Immediately after and for a few sustained hours, I felt amazing, powerful, and strong.  I was excited for my accomplishment and felt so good.  After a while, though, I become depressed, dejected, and disgusted at myself.  I felt weak and stupid and felt that everyone else saw me in that same way.  Unfortunately, it is the latter that has stuck in my brain.

Recently I had an experience that was so coincidental and such an answer to my prayers that I couldn't help but believe that it really was the work of the Lord in my life and others.  I felt happy to have been of service and grateful to be so trusted.  Only hours later, doubts crept in and I began to wonder if I had actually caused the incident instead of happening to be there at the right time.  I felt that I had compounded the problems more than eased them and once again felt helpless, sad, and disappointed.  

Why does this happen?  I know such is the case with new converts.  They have powerful experiences that testify to them of the truth and they follow that path.  Then suddenly, or slowly, the same wonderful experience begins to turn sour.  Questions and doubts fill their minds.  They begin to feel lonely and rejected.  Instead of strong they feel weak.  Suddenly all their flaws and mistakes are brought to the surface and they begin to view themselves in their carnal state.  

I can see from my own experiences how easy it is to succumb to those feelings in negative ways.  I am beginning to see the great humility and spiritual strength that the people of King Benjamin must have had to be able to turn to the Savior immediately.  Perhaps this is how Peter felt as he was walking on the water and why he began to sink.  But he did not hesitate to plead for help and reach out his hand. And we see that the Lord did not hesitate to lift him up.  Alma 34:31 says: 

 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and aharden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the bday of your csalvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and dharden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.


The let-down appears to be an essential part of conversion and coming to Christ.  The question may not be if it will happen, but rather how we will respond.  Will we harden our hearts and turn away from the only source that can bring comfort?  Or will we be as Peter and reach out our hand and our voices in pleading for the Lord to lift us up again?  

Perhaps this is what is meant in the Relief Society Declaration when it says we "seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Annie's First Year

So I know she just turned 2, but I chose so many pictures that I had to split it into 2 videos.  Her second year will be posted shortly.

video

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stretchy Pants



MODESTY PART II-A:

“Never lower our dress standards for any occasion.  Doing so sends the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval and that modesty is important only when it is convenient.”  (For the Strength of Youth pamphlet)

It is a good idea to ask ourselves what our purpose is in wearing the clothes we do.  There is a fine line between wanting to look our best and wanting to show off our best.   You can look good without completely exposing yourself.  With that in mind, here are a few special occasions in which one might be tempted to lower standards.  

Formal Wear:

It can be very difficult to maintain standards of modesty since not too many elegant dresses come with sleeves and high necks!  This was always a challenge in high school, even in Utah.  Most girls sought out nice jackets to cover bare shoulders or had alterations done.  (Or as Aunt Joyce mentioned in her comment on Part 1, some mothers actually made the dress...a talent I'm afraid I don't have).  

Now I always understood that a sleeveless dress was immodest and never questioned it; thus I’ve been a bit surprised to find out that it’s not as common an idea among Mormon’s as I had assumed.  In the current “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet it is quite clear on this issue however: “Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner.”  Let’s be realistic ladies.  What guy falls in love with a girl’s shoulders anyway? 

Costumes:

Other occasions, like Halloween, require costumes.  Even at these times it is important to remember to be modest and keep the same standards as every other day.  Even when pretending to be someone or something else, you are still the one behind the mask.

Recreational Activities:

Swimming is an occasion that could lots of debate.  There are definitely exceptions to many of the rules when it comes to swim suits, but deciding which rules is the tricky part.  Unfortunately, there is not detailed counsel in the pamphlet on this specific issue. I mean, who would really feel comfortable in a swim suit in front of the Lord anyway??

There are plenty of controversial guidelines when it comes to other sports and hobbies.  Our track and cross country uniforms did not cover the sleeves.  Are they immodest?  Runners’ shorts are often very short. Dance outfits are very often risqué for children of all ages.  Where is the line when it comes to improving performance or required team attire?  What do you think?

My opinions will come after yours.  But for now, keep in mind that we must be completely honest with ourselves and others when we rationalize the tweaking of modesty guidelines.  Is there a real purpose or are we just wearing stretchy pants in our room for fun?

Upcoming: My own opinion on these questions and what applies to babies.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Epidermis is Showing!


Modesty Part 1:

I remember a high school dance where a guy friend of mine took a nonmember friend. She wore a beautiful dress, except that it was sleeveless and low cut in the back. That meant there was a lot of visible bare skin. When we were in line for the group picture, her back was to me and the guy looked at me with a slightly uncomfortable/goofy/questioning look as he tried to figure out where to put his hand for the picture. I just laughed as I recognized how awkward it was for him in not wanting to touch her skin, but not really having a choice.  I was reminded in that moment of the importance of modest clothing for the sake of others as well as for myself.

Modesty has always been a very important issue to me, almost a preoccupation. I have always been taught and tried to practice to the best of my ability the principles of modesty. I remember discussing in Young Woman's class a story about a girl who had to completely change her whole wardrobe after she went through the temple. I made a personal goal that I wouldn't have to change my wardrobe at all when it came my time.

“Someday you will receive your endowment in the temple.  Your dress and behavior should help you prepare for that sacred time.”  (For the Strength of Youth pamphlet)

As strict as I thought I was growing up, I discovered that there is always room for improvement.  At Ricks College, Sis. Bednar gave an awesome talk to all the girls on campus that very directly and frankly discussed modesty issues. After hearing her fireside, I scrutinized myself even more carefully in the mirror each day to make sure all skin from all angles and movements was hidden.  I highly recommend her talk to every female. (Click here to read Reverencing Womanhood).

The "For Strength of Youth" pamphlet gives a clear outline of what constitutes immodesty: “Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire.”  Perhaps the greatest modesty issue, particularly among recommend holders, is tight clothing.  Modesty isn’t just referring to the amount of skin exposed.  Clothing, shirts and pants alike, can be revealing without showing any epidermis.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on modesty including controversial issues of rule exceptions and questions of what applies to small children.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On the Move

It's official...Luke's mobile!!
(footage coming soon)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Annie's Home Remedies

Problem:  She has slight eczema in the bend of her elbow
Solution: Vanilla Yogurt (strongly resembles Hydrocortisone cream)

What was probably going through her brain:

My arm really hurts!  I'll tell mami again.  "Owie here."  My arm REALLY hurts!  "Owie here, Mami!"  Hey, that yogurt Mami just gave me looks a lot like the cream she puts on my owie.  A whole dish of it!  Thanks Mami.  Yep.  Works great!  Why is Mami laughing at me?  "Owie here."

(Sorry, no pictures.  Lee didn't want me to reinforce the fact that she was rubbing her vanilla yogurt on her "owie."  Didn't seem to matter because she has since used applesauce and cookie dough!  Hey, whatever works...as long as she doesn't start eating the Hydrocortisone cream ...)
Who, me?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Little Trolls

I've always wanted to see these two pictures side-by-side because one reminded me of the other and I've thought they each looked like a troll. Annalee more so because of her lovely mohawk that haunted most of her baby-hood. Luckily her hair has since grown and she no longer sports the punk look.

Here are some more recent pictures of the two and you can see that they really are cute despite the previously pictured non-photogenic moment they each have had.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Luke Update: 6 Months







Weight: 19 lbs 14 oz  (97%)

Height: 26 1/2 in (50-75%)

Head: 43 (25-50%)

I realize this is a little late since he's been 6 months for a little over a week...can you believe it's already been 6 months!!  Crazy!  And he's huge!  Well, except for his head apparently, though his chubby cheeks make up for the small circumference of his skull!  He can get all over the floor now simply by rolling, turning in circles, and pushing himself backwards.  He still doesn't go anywhere too quickly, but enjoys finding new things to catch his attention, playing for a bit, then moving on.  

Nights:

Luke started off pretty early sleeping through the night and he rarely cried.  Because of that, I over-reacted to his crying and awakenings and I think I spoiled him too much so that he started not doing too well at night.  I was always afraid he would wake up his sister if I let him cry for too long.  I have since found out that Annie is an incredibly deep sleeper and will not be easily disturbed during the night (though naptimes are a different story).  Anyway, so after a series of rough nights in a row, the last one being the worst of them all, Lee and I unconsciously slept through his crying the next night...well most of it.  We'd hear it and be so tired we'd both fall back asleep!  I guess that taught him  (and us) that he was capable of going back to sleep on his own!  We also decided it was time to start solids to see if that would help (and it has) so he wouldn't need a feeding in the middle of the night and I finally found the night light and replenished the light bulb so if we wakes up he recognizes his surroundings (pink sheets and all!) and feels safe.  

(Ok, so I finally did buy him some blue crib sheets but there was another set I liked better that I wasn't sure would match the nursery and so I might take back the ones I got in order to get the other ones and so in my indecision, my poor 6 month-old baby is still sleeping on pink sheets!)

As you can see from the pictures, we had a photo-shoot the other day and got some super cute pictures of him.  Take note of the classic open-mouth Luke smile.  That means he's super excited.  Isn't he adorable?