Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Right to Not Say Anything

I have been trying to avoid Facebook today, as the barrage of negative posts have been flowing in from my Liberal Facebook friends, who have continued with vigor to weigh in on their disappointment and disgust with last night's election results - basically attacking Trump's supporters with accusation of bigotry, sexism, racism, etc . . .

I told myself last night, after learning of Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, that I was going to refrain from commenting on or engaging in any political commentary throughout the day today, as I knew emotions would be heightened, and tensions would be magnified - and to be quite honest, it's not worth losing friendships with people I've known for years because of a difference of political opinion.

There were several times throughout the day, however, that I saw a post and almost could not refrain from defending myself and my choice of candidate. I just don't understand the hypocrisy that I've been seeing all over social media today; to call ALL Trump supporters bigots, racists, sexists, etc. is to engage in the very same behavior that these people claim to have been oppressed by. Type-casting works both ways, my friends, and it does nothing to build bridges, mend fences, or to extend an olive branch. Besides, do these people not realize that I am someone THEY know in real life? Come on, friends, let's sit back and think about what we're posting on social media.

I, for one, did not chose to oppose Clinton because she is a woman. Just like I didn't choose to oppose Obama (four AND eight years ago) because he is black. Their race and/or sex had NOTHING to do with my disdain for their policies, nor my decision to rally against them . . . and I could have chosen to stand from a rooftop (or on my Facebook soapbox) and shout my disapproval of these facebook posts, continuing to stir the pot and perpetuate the anger and outrage, but what would that have accomplished, really?

In the end, I decided that it was best to simply utilize my right to not say anything, and chose rather to unfollow a few people for the next week or so until emotions settle and the hype of this election dies down. This choice was not made with the intention of cutting anyone out of my circle of influence on a permanent basis. I just need to separate myself from the dissention and the hateful posts to maintain my own sanity. So yeah, today I am grateful for the right to not say anything.

I voted. My voice was heard. My candidate won . . . and I have a sense of peace that we are headed in a direction that will make America great again. So, why would I need to get on social media and say anything about yesterday's election results, perpetuating the discord?

I know there are many who disagree with my choice of candidate, and that is perfectly okay. After all, this is America, and I choose to continue to respect those who disagree with me all the same; otherwise, I would not be friends with them - on Facebook, or in what we like to call "the real world."

So, here's to hoping that Trump comes through with the promises he made to make America great again. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for him and for the healing and unification of this great land. God bless the U.S.A.  

Photo Credit: The Purple Lady

He doesn't love me the way I want him to

Today is my husband's birthday, so I would be remiss if I didn't express my gratitude for him today. I have been struggling with how much I miss my mom lately, and how alone I have felt since her passing . . .  combine this struggle with crazy unpredictable pregnancy hormones and I feel like I have been a little hard on him, as a result. Sometimes I get frustrated because I don't think he appreciates me, or loves me the way I think I deserve to be loved, and I allow these misconceptions to fester inside and create a bitterness that perpetuates contention and a lack of charity.

Now, we all know that's a bunch of malarky . . . that my husband does, in fact love me and appreciates me, and I was recently reminded (again) of such as I came across one of my favorite quotes:
"I've learned that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have." -Unknown
I've been praying a lot lately for revelation on how I can be a better wife - how I can better communicate my needs, while still being compassionate toward my husband and finding ways to foster acceptance and forgiveness in our relationship; to be more loving and supportive toward him, that I might gain a better understanding of how I can strengthen our relationship and perpetuate love instead of resentment . . . and as I came across this quote again, I was reminded to reflect on all the ways he does show his love for me. It's just amazing how in the course of a few short days, my attitude has changed to one of gratitude, and I actually find myself at a loss for words at how lucky I am to have him in my life.

So, here is a list of 10 reasons why I am grateful for my husband:

1. He recently revealed to me that he has a playlist that he listens to regularly, which he titled, "Love My Wife Better," and it is filled with songs that encourage appreciating what you have, and loving the ones in your life more fully. This may sound silly, but I thought it was one of the greatest romantic gestures he has ever shown me;

2. When I express my frustrations with him, he rarely ever lashes out at me, or gets angry. He just takes it all in, as if to process what the problem is and how to fix it. I often mistake this for failing to communicate with me, or shutting down emotionally, but I've come to realize that just because he isn't outwardly giving me the validation I seek in the moment, it doesn't mean he isn't internalizing the problem, trying to think of ways to improve, and make my life easier. I love him;

3. He is not too prideful to admit when he is wrong;

4. He honors me and our commitment to each other with his integrity, and by being loyal in thought and action;

5. He values my happiness;

6. He loves our children unconditionally, and though he often comes across as being the tough disciplinarian (especially with our teenager, and our son), he is usually the first one to show them an increase of love.

7. He is always telling our children to respect and obey me, and to act when they are told (by me) to do something. This may seem like a simple thing, yet to me it is huge. I have seen first-hand how some parents undermine each other in front of their children, but I feel like I have his support and respect 100% in this area.

8. He values physical intimacy. Let's get real for a minute . . . when you've been married almost ten years and you've got four kids (with one on the way), This. Is. Huge.

9. He makes me laugh; and

10. He is genuinely good, and he seeks after righteous things for me and for our family.

I truly am grateful to have this man in my life, and I am committed to focusing on his goodness as I thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me with such a devout eternal companion.

I love you, Babe. Happy Birthday.

Photo Credit: The Purple Lady

Monday, November 7, 2016

Playing Catch-up

I have been a little bit of a slacker the last few days, and have been remiss in posting for the 30-days-of-Gratitude Challenge, so here is my attempt to reconcile this shortcoming:

Day 3: I am thankful for date night. Because of our fun, little birthday perk email from Fogo de Chao in Downtown Summerlin, my hubby took me to a nice dinner on Wednesday night to celebrate our birthdays. This place is absolutely amazing. Their food is delicious, the service is incredible, and they made the night super special by writing, "Happy Birthday" on my dessert plate (and on Hubby's to-go box that he ordered his dessert in). They even lit a candle for me, and comped both of our desserts. We went there for our anniversary back in April, and they comped our dessert then too. And did I mention their food is insanely delicious?

Anyway, with my husband's crazy schedule, we aren't always able to spend a lot of time together, so date night is one of my favorite things. Date night isn't always as fancy as dinner at Fogo de Chao; sometimes, we escape for a quick meet-up between Philharmonic rehearsals. Sometimes, it's not even on a weekend (like our Wednesday night birthday dinner celebration). Sometimes, date night is something as simple as a quick trip through the drive-thru, and a night of playing Pokemon Go - but it gives us an opportunity to unwind, and to spend one-on-one time together. I truly love my husband, and I am grateful that he has always placed value on something as important as date night.

Day 4: Today, I am thankful for power. We had an outage on the 4th, and it quickly became evident how often we take something as simple as electricity for granted. We had no access to the internet, the tv, and couldn't even turn the light on to use the restroom. It was a "fun" few hours with all the kids home (and no power), to say the least.

Day 5: A competent, teenage-daughter. This girl saves my life some days. She is usually the one that helps me out around the house, and often steps in to help with the kids when she can see that I am feeling overwhelmed. There were a few nights this last week when the hubby was working late and she offered to take the kids while I went out for some alone time. I didn't take advantage of her offer at the time (kids needed baths and had homework to do), but she did watch the kids a few times last week while the hubby and I went on our birthday date, and ran some errands another day. I don't know what I am going to do in a few years when she leaves the nest and starts on her own adventure into adulthood. I am truly blessed to have her in my life, especially with a new baby due in January.

Day 6: The sacrament. I read recently in the Book of Mormon about the time when Christ visited the American continent after he was resurrected, and how the multitudes of His disciples waited in reverence as he touched and blessed each one of them. I've read this story plenty of times before, but this time, I found myself reflecting on my own relationship with the Savior, and how I treat the time that I have to partake of His Atonement every Sunday when I take the sacrament.

With three small kids to keep our hour in sacrament ever-so-interesting (along with a few other primary aged children that usually sit with us during sacrament because they live with their less-active aunt, and come to church alone with their 13-year-old sister), I often find it difficult to maintain reverence while the sacrament is being passed, and usually feel like it is nearly impossible to feel the spirit. This scripture story has helped me to truly reflect on the importance of that time honoring our Savior, though, and I have actively started looking for ways to keep the kids engaged in activities that remind them of the Savior, allowing me to think of Him during that time as well.

It's a work in progress, but I am truly so grateful for the opportunity that I have each week to partake of the sacrament, and renew my covenants with Him.

Day 7: Tomorrow is Election Day - so today, I am thankful for the ability that I have as an American (and as a woman) to vote. I think of all the men and women who sacrificed so that I could have this freedom, and I feel it is truly my duty to let my voice be heard. It probably sounds cliche, but it's something I take very seriously.

My husband and I voted early this election, and there were a few issues on the ballot that are very important to us. So, even though I was not 100% satisfied with the candidates we have to choose from this election, I still have a great sense of pride knowing that I participated in such a meaningful event, and that I did my part to honor our forefathers in their mission to make this country great.

Photo Credit: The Purple Lady

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Birthday Perks

Today is day two of the 30 Days of Gratitude, and today, I am grateful for birthday perks. As a kid, having a birthday on Halloween was always so awesome because here in Nevada, we celebrated Nevada Day on October 31st, so we always had the day off of school. Now, if that isn't a birthday perk, I don't know what is. It probably spoiled me to a degree, though, because as I became an adult, I always felt like birthdays were an excuse to have the day off from work. Unfortunately, not every boss I ever had always agreed with me, and I was denied the request for the day off on more than one occasion. Boo. This was the beginning of the birthday disillusionment, I believe.

Shortly after I graduated high school, the party-pooper bureaucrats in the school district decided to change the day the holiday is observed to the last Friday of the month, so while having a three-day weekend at the end of October is fun, it only falls on my birthday once every seven years or so.

Being a stay-at-home mom of four, with three of my kids already in school, I always think it would be much better if the kids didn't have to go to school at all on Halloween, and we could just stay home spending the day carving pumpkins, watching corny Halloween movies . . . and maybe baking and frosting some halloween-shaped sugar cookies, while frolicking in our costumes until the time came to go trick-or-treating. Is that really too much to ask for on a girl's birthday? Hehe.

So, let's get real for a minute. Growing up is hard to do. Some days, it just plain stinks. Being an adult isn't all bad, though, and it definitely has its perks too. My husband, whose birthday happens to fall eight days after mine, messaged me today asking if I got a birthday email from our favorite (not so cheap) Brazilian steakhouse, that we usually reserve for special occasions - like birthdays and/or our anniversary.

I checked my email, and sure enough, I did in fact have an email from them for $25 toward a lunch or dinner. The best part is that Hubby got one for his birthday too, so he totally gets to take me there for a belated birthday dinner with a $50 discount toward our meal. Score. Now, that is a birthday perk that I can get behind.

Photo credit: The Purple Lady





Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thankful for Tender Mercies

Since my mom passed away last February, I have really been dreading this upcoming holiday season, and with the official kickoff of the holidays this week (the festivities start with Halloween around these parts), and my birthday yesterday, I have been feeling her absence something fierce these last few weeks. I knew that this holiday season was going to be a particularly difficult one for me - it being the first of many without her, but as my birthday approached, I started to feel myself dipping into a depressed emotional state - one that I know has been affecting my ability to be a good wife and mom. 

I am not going to lie . . . I’ve been having a little pity party lately, entertaining thoughts that since my mom is longer here, there is no one left that understands me like she does, no one who loves me like she does, or takes a genuine, sincere interest in my happiness like she does. I don't doubt that pregnancy hormones had a role to play in all of this emotional chaos, but I also know these negative thoughts have been contributing to my unhappiness lately. 

My sister-in-law, The Purple Lady, recently extended an invitation for me to join in on her traditional 30-days-of-gratitude challenge, and I knew it was a message from the Lord that I needed to focus on the things in my life that I am thankful for, and that doing so would bring me joy this holiday season. So, here it goes . . . 

Today is day one of the challenge - and today, I am thankful for tender mercies. Just tonight, I attended my daughter’s Young Women in Excellence program at church, and I was reminded by a special guest speaker that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who knows ME, who understands my struggles, and wants me to be happy. 

During the speaker’s talk, we read 1 Corintians 10:13, which says:

“There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

I think in this scripture, it’s safe to say that we can also replace the word, “temptation” with “trial” or “suffering,” and it still holds true, and reflecting on this scripture tonight reminded me that this IS true in my own life.

I know the Lord allows us to endure certain trials because they are meant to strengthen us. I can’t tell you how much my testimony of the Savior’s Atonement has grown since my mother passed away - because I have seen first hand how the Atonement applies in my life - and I know that I HAD to experience this trial for that growth to be achieved. Despite that knowledge, however, the trial has not always been easy to bear, and I am grateful for the simple reminder I received tonight that the Lord is on my side, and that with his comfort to fortify me, I can and will get through this too. 

When I got home from the program tonight, I hopped on Facebook and soon found myself reading an old post that I wrote a few months back, where I spoke about a tender mercy I had received regarding a playlist I had put together after my mom’s passing - how listening to it that day brought such a tremendous feeling of comfort and peace, and how I was also reminded then of God’s love for me. 

It was almost as if by reading this post, the Lord just wanted to remind me (once again) that He has always been right there beside me . . . to guide and comfort me in my sorrow, and to strengthen me when I think I can’t possibly bear the weight of it all on my own.


I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who does hear and answer my prayers. I am grateful for my knowledge that because of His perfect Plan of Happiness, I WILL be together with my mom again, and I am grateful for the tender mercies I receive daily to remind me of His love for ME. 

Photo Credit: The Purple Lady

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Ode to Poop . . .

Okay, so this isn't really an ode in the traditional sense, but it’s just too good a story not to share. Let me first put this disclaimer out there (in case it wasn't made obvious by the brazen title. Hehe) that this is a post about poop. So, if you get a little uncomfortable with this topic, or if you still have yet to be exposed to the less glittery parts that come with having children, then this post may not be for you. I know, I know . . . children are beautiful, wonderful angels, sent from our Heavenly Father to bless our lives and bring us immense joy - and I am so grateful to have four of my own - but let’s be real for a second . . . being a parent is messy. I am sorry to dampen the illusion here, but any new parent will come to this realization the very first time a newborn poops on them. lol. 

I know that this is still somewhat of a tabu topic, but come on, Dinosaur Train has an entire song dedicated to the subject, and I think it’s time we all get a little more comfortable talking about poop. That being said, can I just state the fact that I am not a fan of potty training! I will even go so far as to say that I LOATHE the topic completely, and I have plenty of logic to justify my rationale here, but this experience takes the cake . . . or should I say, the poo! 

My two-year-old has been potty training for a month now, and for the last few weeks, I have had to leave her completely “butt-nakey” while at home because she’s gotten to the point where she will go pee pee in the potty when she doesn’t have any clothes on (from the waist down), but will pee in her pants if you put the even slightest piece of clothing on her (even a pair of panties). 

So yeah, we’ve had a little nudest in our midst for the past few weeks, and she has been doing really well during the day in the potty area. Still, she refuses to sit on the toilet and go poop, so I’ve been a little nervous to take away the Easy-Ups at nap time and bed time, or any time when we happen to be out and about running errands - for fear that she might have an accident when a clean bathroom and/or shower are not readily available. Then, she started doing something super naughty. She would continuously tell me that she did not have to go poop (in order to avoid a trip to the toilet under my supervision), but then would sneak an Easy-Up out of the nursery, put it on all by herself, then proceed to poop in said Easy-Up.

I finally got to the point where I felt like her over-all progress was at a stand-still, and if she was becoming aware of her need to poo to the point that she could put an Easy-Up on to relieve herself, then she was definitely just as capable of telling me she had to use to restroom so I could take her to the potty. 

Anyway, at this point, I was completely fed up with the whole process, and I suddenly had an epiphany: I had been allowing her to use the Easy-Ups at nap time/bedtime, etc. to avoid an accident, but what I was really doing was enabling her to use them as a crutch to avoid any real accountability in the #2 department, and It was stalling her progression. As long as I made the Easy-Ups available, she knew that she had them as an option.

So, a few nights ago, I decided to take away the Easy-Ups (altogether) cold-turkey. The first night, she did really well and actually slept through the entire night without a single accident. She woke up the next morning completely dry, so I took her right into the bathroom and she went potty (Yay!). I was feeling so proud and even posted about our victory on Facebook. 

She stayed dry pretty much all day - even when we were out and about running errands. I thought to myself, “Yay! Maybe taking the Easy-Ups away finally did the trick. Maybe, since she no longer has them to lean on (or pee in), she has realized that she HAS to go in the potty . . . all she has to do now is figure out the poop part." Right?

Then came the night. It all started when she wet the bed (in MY bed, mind you) in the wee hours of the morning. I was lying there one minute, all cozy under the covers, having a nice, comforting dream, I am sure, about something warm and dry . . . and then I rolled over onto the pee-soaked sheets. Now, those of you with children have probably encountered something delightfully similar to the pleasurable experience of being ripped from your sleep only to realize that you are suddenly lying in someone else’s urine, so I am sure you can totally relate to the gaggle of thoughts that raced through my only-partially coherent mind. It was only pee; though (I  can assure you that as a parent, I have come into contact with much worse), so after my initially annoyed reaction of, “REALLY?!?” I just got a towel and laid it down underneath her. Don’t judge. lol. I figured that if she could sleep through lying in her own pee, then there was no point in waking her up to change the sheets. Besides, the baby was also in the bed, and I didn’t even dare risk waking THAT beast. There’d be no getting back to sleep for sure. 

Now, before you get too concerned about our lovely, new-ish, EXPENSIVE mattress, please take comfort in the fact that the mattress protector WAS on the mattress when all of this went down. So, at least I can praise the heavens for that little saving grace. That mattress protector, my friends, is seriously one of the best purchases we have made to date. You cannot survive parenthood without one. 

So, after all of that was said and done, I had nothing but hope for a more productive day on the potty-training front. B-Boo slept for a few more hours, then woke up dry and went straight to the potty. She even did really well throughout the morning, notifying me when she had to go, and she didn’t have any accidents - but then came the terrible, awful . . . 

Not long after lunch, she started to complain that her bum was hurting, and from past experience, I had come to realize that this usually meant she was cooking up a nice #2. I asked her several times if she needed to go “poopy", but she kept assuring me that she didn’t. I even tried to get her to sit on the potty at one point, and she absolutely refused, so I figured maybe her bum WAS just hurting. After all, she had been a little constipated, so I thought maybe she had a mild case of hemorrhoids, poor thing.

I should have just followed my instincts and MADE her sit on the potty; though, for just as I allowed myself to get preoccupied with putting away some laundry (heaven forbid I try to be productive while my child is potty-training), she walked into the room with a look of discomfort on her face, stopped a few feet away from where I stood, distracted, and sort of bent her knees awkwardly, reaching down between her legs. I thought at first that she was just trying to convey that her bum was hurting again, but instead, her expression turned to one of repugnance as she stood upright and held out a handful of poop. 

She then stood there wailing, “Ew ew ew ew ew ew,” as if she hadn't realized previously that pooping in her hand would be so repulsively grotesque. After my initial exclamations of shock and horror, I marched her to the bathroom and made her dispose of the abomination in the toilet, then proceeded to wash her hands profusely and made her sit on the toilet until I was absolutely certain that she had vanquished the stuff completely. 
Afterward, when the reality of it all sunk in, I just sat shaking my head, thinking, “WHY?!? Why does this have to be so hard?” I hear all these stories about how easy it was for some parents to potty-train their kids. Why can’t I have ONE child that just gets with the program without a long, drawn out procession of potty-training drama?

Maybe someone with a background in child psychology can apprise me of what it is that I'm doing wrong, or can at least give me some tips on how to make the process less painful? In the meantime, heaven have mercy . . .  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thoughts on Repentance . . .

I recently started reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for a book club in which I participate, and I have to say, my mind is blown. I have always loved C.S. Lewis for his deep, thought-provoking insight on Christianity - ever since I first read about the Lion/deity figure who sacrifices himself on an "altar" to redeem the sin of another. It left me in awe over the brilliant, beautiful parallels between Aslan's sacrifice, and that of the Savior, and Lewis continues to inspire and amaze me in this book:
"I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists of being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it can not 'develop' into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, 'with backward mutters of dissevering power'--or else not. It is still 'either-or'. If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost . . . "
What a beautiful illustration of the importance and simplicity of repentance. It's all about "The Mighty Change of Heart (an excellent talk by President Ezra Taft Benson, by the way)". There is so much to ponder on in those few, short sentences, and that's just a snippet I took from the beginning of the preface. Haha. 

Seriously, though - for someone who was not a member of The Church, I feel like C.S. Lewis really had a solid testimony of our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, and truly understood the purpose of our time here on the Earth. After reading something so simple, yet so acute, I can't help but feel affected by his depth and creativity. 

His writing has inspired me to reflect lately about the kind of writer I aspire to be. I want to write things that move people; things that provoke deep, stimulating contemplation. But how do you get past the fluff in your writing and write about stuff that matters? That is the question, my friends. That is the question . . .