Tuesday, January 29, 2008
According to the workout mode calculations on this video game, I "ran" the equivalent of 7 miles. Or was it 14? It might be 14 and I might have just deducted that I could maybe believe that it equaled 1/2 that... Anyway--it was much better than nothing. I had a hard time walking yesterday, and this morning was painful, too. Jillian this morning. Burpees.
I was reading through my posts recently and noticed that on 1.9.2008, I wrote that I have given up on my dreams of running a marathon. Well... Maybe not. Read Christy's blog and maybe you'll be inspired like I have been.
I got a lot done yesterday. Excercise, doctor, prescription, appointments made, appointments kept, forms filled out, dinner made, family night accomplished (sort of), house tidied up, baby (sort of) cuddled. Good for me.
Lucy only had one accident yesterday. Good for everybody!!!
The only thing on my calendar for today is cleaning the kitchen at the church with fellow enrichment committee members. Should be fun.
I made a commitment to myself never to post without a picture. Here is today's. Check out the character (wrinkles) I got goin' on!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
For the first time ever, I quilted yesterday. Hold it. I'm wrong. About 6 years ago, I "quilted" using an old sewing machine my mom had given me and some old shorts of Brian's. I used no iron, no rulers, and no pattern. The resultant pillow was very ... casual looking. If anyone is interested, I'm betting you can still find it at the local second-hand store.
This time I was prepared. I set up everything before I even turned on the sewing machine--ironing board, iron, cutting table, cutting mat. All of this in a space very close to a play area for Lucy. This allowed me to spend about six hours quilting yesterday--which was a little surprising. Frankly, I was a little dubious about whether or not quilting had the power to suck me in like that. I really shouldn't have wondered. I love to make all kinds of things. You name it, I can probably spend a day making it if I'm given a chance.
The pink, white, purple and blue quilt block (stunning, yes???) which you see above (under Lucy's left hand) is the direct product of a "block of the month" (BOM) class that I enrolled in at a friend's invitation. The deal is, everybody pays 5$ to start. If you go to every class and complete every block in time for the next month's class, you don't have to pay a cent more. They give you all of the material for the quilt month after month and after 12 months, you basically get a quilt for 5$. It's a different story if you fail to show up on time with each block completed, on time, to each class. They also fail to mention that in order to finish the quilt, you have to buy material for the backing, joining, etc., but all in all, it sounded good to me. The clincher? If you finish the quilt all on time (using only fabric purchased from the store that teaches the class), you are invited to present it at a "show and tell" class the following January. If all the criteria are met, such as the quilt being 100% finished, quilted (not tied) at least every 4 inches, and label sewn on, then your name is entered into a drawing where you stand a chance of winning a basket full of $300 dollars' worth of quilting schwag!
I gather that this type of class is a fairly common scheme to rope beginners into the addictive world of quilting, but to me, uninitiated, it came off as exceptionally well thought-out and...well... sneaky, too. Anyway--the lovely color scheme (which Lucy prefers to mine) is their doing.
Last week, I went shopping with my sister and found some cheap remnants to practice on. Now I have my very own little blue and brown quilt block. (See above picture.) It was fun to make it up as I went. I especially like the arrows. That was not intentional, by the way, just fortuitous.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes/thoughts:
Yesterday morning, before quilting, Rachel and I subjugated ourselves to Corena Hammer's brutal 8:00 am yoga class while Lucy breakfasted with Grandma and Nan. That class is a killer. Forget waterboarding--Corena would make an excellent "interrogator."
I like to complain just a little bit, but I'll be back to her class for more. She's incredibly good. I don't think I'll understand how she can give instruction so steadily while she does the same things she asks everyone else to do. I was fighting so hard yesterday not to suck wind and she sounded fine. (To understand this better, if you've never tried yoga, try to do 40 - 50 push-ups very slowly with impeccable form while breathing in and out as thoroughly and as slowly as humanly possible. Now breathe slower. And push more air out when you exhale. I didn't put a lot of thought into this experiment, but I bet it really would give you an idea of what it's like.
Another aspect to this class having been so hard is that I haven't attended for...oh, about 4 years. It's bound to get better. Her class isn't even "hot yoga," but I sweat so much I have to have a towel on hand to wipe up the mat so it's not too slippery to continue. I had forgotten that this is a usual thing in her class for me. Before Lucy (BL), I drove to Salt Lake to take the 90 minute long hot yoga classes at Bikram. They were really good. Each class is the same. Well, same routine. I had expected to hate doing the same sequence every class, but I ended up liking it quite a bit.
It's kind of like having the same thing for dinner every night. If it's good food, it's not bad. I only know this because when I was in college, I spent nine months in Senegal. While I was there, I lived in dorms in St. Louis for a few weeks and the menu was the same every night. Rice and fish and a roll. When I lived with my host family, my host mother had a fixed menu too, but it changed according to the day of the week. Monday -- Yassa Poulet, Tuesday -- Ceebu Jen, Wednesday -- Mafe, etc. I found that it was nice knowing what to expect. It was easier to just eat my fill rather than eat too much. ...And eating too much was a serious danger--my host mother was a ferocious cook.
Check out this article featuring a study that shows that the more mundane your meal plan is, the less you are likely to overeat. Sometimes I want to confine the menu Chez Nous to 7 meals--one for each day of the week. I'll let you know if that ever happens. Don't hold your breath.
I finally took the time to look up the rule on its and it's. Somehow I got confused about whether the apostrophe was used in the possessive or in the contraction. I have intentionally avoided using either its or it's for a month because I was not sure of its proper usage. No more!
I feel liberated. Now: How long will it take me to go back and edit those pesky its and it'ses from the rest of the blog? Maybe I won't even do it.
Can you handle that cliffhanger closing?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Why not Wahoo! instead of Wahoo.?
I also made a chart for Lucy. It features the DoodleBops. Don't know them? Here's a peek.
Lucy LOVES this show. I have used it shamelessly in my efforts to potty train her.
The sticker chart I made is working really well. When she fills up all of the squares with stickers, we will go defile her ears with piercings. (Just one on each lobe.) She's pretty cute. See for yourself.
By the way, I would never sit her against the wall like this. I've noticed a pattern, though that may explain it. When Lucy wants to sit by a person (or a thing), she wants to be physically touching it without reaching. Maybe she'll grow up to be our very own close talker.
Lucy and I have put a lot of effort into the potty thing, but the other half of Lucy's day is spent coloring. Grandpa and Grandma gave her a fantastic easel that she loves. We also roll out a whole length of paper on a long, low table sometimes. Here she is coloring. (She dressed herself this afternoon while I cleaned the garage. It's not as neglectful as it reads. She was just inside the door and the door was open. Geez.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Nah. It won't be possible. I already sent in everything. You're too late!!!
In case anyone is wondering, my birthday is months away. I just like to say "for my birthday, I want" ...then add whatever I think will be impossible to procure.
Soon, I will have a new passport in my hot little hands. That is, relatively soon. 6 weeks or so. This will be useful when I go to Costa Rica, I think. Brian and I are going on a week long surf trip. It should be pretty great--beach house, good friends, ocean. You get the picture. This year, Brin and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and I am calling this trip an anniversary trip. It's not really. It's just a trip with friends. But you have to admit that it is much more interesting to say that for our 10th anniversary we're going to Costa Rica than .. oh, I don't know.. Usually we end up celebrating our anniversaries at a local restaurant then go see a friend or go home. A couple of times I think we've arranged for massages for both of us at the same time. That usually works best if one plans ahead, by the way. This is not a strength of mine. I can either say we're going to Costa Rica or dinner. Can you blame me?
I got up at 5:30 this morning to exercise. That's right. You may congratulate me when you see me next. Ha! This will be the third week of consistently waking up too early to exercise. This morning Rachel and I did a DVD by Jillian of Biggest Loser fame. It was hard. I liked it.
Then we broke out Dance Dance Revolution. Rachel had never played before. Because I haven't played in more than a year, I had forgotten about it. However, when 4 of my (insert superlative here) nieces and nephews spent Saturday with Lucy and me, we resurrected DDR and in order for Tayler and Suzanne to complete a song, they needed someone who had played more. So, I danced a few songs and remembered two things: it is fun, and it is actually a very good workout. I am so glad Rachel didn't laugh in my face and say derisive things when I tentatively suggested that we play after doing the Jillian thing.
So it was her first time playing that game. As for me, I had never done "burpees" or "mountain climbers" before this morning. Fun.
Lucy just woke up. The first thing she said, "Mom, let's go sledding. I'll get my snowboots."
Time to find snowboots!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Thank heaven for husbands. My husband.
We have been all about potty training today, and Lucy is doing great. Brian came home early and is taking the dog and Lucy for a run. Now I get to focus on getting things done. This is why I am really just posting pictures right now.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
My apologies to anyone wanting to read anything with depth or wit. My goal with this blog has been to create an outlet. (Period.)
There is a reason that this disclaimer has been posted now. My expectations for today are pretty low. I just want to write--something.
Yesterday I got all of the laundry done and the entire house clean. It took all day (literally). Its a good feeling when it happens--sort of like an eclipse happening right before your eyes. You can sense that there is something special happening and that you may not witness the likes of it again. Ha.
Funny thing is--as good as it is to get the whole house as I believe it should be (almost).
I'll try that again. As good as it is to get the whole house almost as I believe it should be, in order, that is... I'm not sure its great for anyone else. I get a little manic and obsessive when everything is so well stowed and in it's place. I don't like to see it disturbed. This would be fine if I lived alone.
I do it for the stereotypes. I do it in pursuit of my ideal of womanhood. I do it for sanity. I must have control (sporadic control is still control) over my home and it should be clean and tidy.
Now this: Someone please address the oracle to find out why I’m so ravenous. The only explanation I'm coming up with is that raising my heart rate a lot makes me want to stuff my face. That is, when I complete a hard session of “cardio,” like I did this morning, I turn all hungry-hungry-hippo some time in the following 24 hours. I do not like it.
This is why, incidentally, I have given up on my vague dreams of running a marathon. I would much rather do yoga every day for hours to train for fitness than run every day. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good runner’s high just as much as the next guy. It’s just not as good as yoga.
1: After yoga, I feel drained yet invigorated, just like running. I like it.
2:The day after yoga, all of my muscles can be sore, but my overall flexibility has increased, not decreased the way it does after running.
3:Yoga has never caused me knee pain or shin splints.
4:The more yoga I do, the less I weigh and the stronger I am. With running, the more I run, the better I can run more. I don't exercise just for the way it makes me feel and perform, I want to look better, too!
5:Yoga makes me want to eat more grapefruit. The more I run, the more processed food I want to eat.
6:Yoga skills can increase personal worth in at least two ways. First, if a person is particularly adept at a certain asana or type of asana or yoga move which some people think is impossible or unlikely, this person could wager that they could compete such a feat—and could theoretically increase his or her bank balance. Second: Sometimes at a very boring party, yoga tricks substitute for entertainment. Running? Running increasing my personal worth? This is is almost too dry for me to even work up enough enthusiasm to consider. I guess if you happen to be Kenyan you would have a good argument for this one. And you could still bet people if you were a really fantastic runner. But running can NOT substitute for intertainment at a slow party. (That was for you, Rob.)
Now after writing this, a wave of sleepiness has hit me and I remember that I woke up not only at 12:30, 3:30 and 4:30 am this morning, I also got up to exercise at 5:30 am.
I desperately want a nap but I just had a snack of cookie dough. ☹ Not a good bedtime treat—even if it is a nap. Cookie dough bloat:
Lucy has been sleeping for about 1 hour and if I let her sleep longer, I will regret it tonight. She fell asleep on the way home from the store. I let her pick out her own plastic toilet. I am hoping that she is thrilled with it enough to get over her porcelain toilet stage-fright.
Hopes and dreams. I'm going to sign off with that one.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Tonight, Lucy helped me make dinner and then cookies (yes, I made cookies just two days ago). We only made a half batch this time because the other cookie dough didn't hold up that well in the fridge. Lucy loves to cook and whenever the Play-do comes out, she makes dinner.
Here is Brian threatening me. He does not like beets and he does not like me to take his picture (supposedly).
Lucy with her Grandpa Putnam, sledding. This was taken in December 26, 2007 when Lucy and I went sledding with the Stakebakes and Grandpa P.
Lucy asked me to take pictures of her and her daddy this morning.
And this is the picture I was taking out of our bedroom window that prompted her to ask me to do the daddy/daughter photo shoot.
A few days ago, there was a snowstorm after that windy night. I wrote about the wind... Maybe it was the 4th of January? Anyhow--hundreds of birds came and perched on the wires behind our house. I manipulated this picture to make the skies blue. Below you'll see the original palette of the day.
“Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you. Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here; yours is the part of cherishing them”
Brian and I were asked to speak on the subject of Elder Eyring’s conference talk “O Remember, Remember” from last month. In one of the talks I read to prepare for my own, a talk by Steven E. Snow, was a story about how we often fail to appreciate our own blessings and wish instead for others.
It was a story about his brother, Paul, who worked at a gas station in St. George, Utah—which happens to be 170 miles from the Grand Canyon.
He tells how one summer day, a customer driving a car with New York plates pulled in the station and asked for a fill-up. The driver asked him how far it was to the Grand Canyon and Paul told him that it was 170 miles.
'“I’ve waited all my life to see the Grand Canyon,” the man exclaimed. “What’s it like out there?”
“I don’t know,” Paul answered. “I’ve never been there.”
“You mean to tell me,” the man responded, “that you live two and a half hours from one of the seven wonders of the world and you’ve never been there!”
“That’s right,” Paul said.
After a moment, the man replied, “Well, I guess I can understand that. My wife and I have lived in Manhattan for over 20 years, and we’ve never visited the Statue of Liberty.”
“I’ve been there,” Paul said.'
How often do we ignore our own blessings and accomplishments while we yearn to be in someone else’s place? How often do we look at someone else’s talents and wish they were ours instead of cherishing and using our own?
One talent that I find myself admiring in others is the ability to tell jokes well. This is not one of my strong points, but I hope you will bear with me through this one:
A bishop and a lawyer were in car accident and showed up at the pearly gates together. The lawyer was ahead of the bishop in line. When it came time for the lawyer to go through, St. Peter siad, what’s your name? The lawyer said, “John Smith.”
“John Smith, the lawyer?”
St. Peter takes john Smith by the hand and leads him forward through confetti and balloons to a parade and his escorted through the gates with a cheering heavenly host.
The bishop is next and he is pretty excited, because he knows he lived a good life. St. Peter greets him and asks his name.
“Joe Thomas,” says the bishop.
“Joe Thomas, the bishop?”
The bishop nods his head.
St. Peter says, “Glad to have you, Joe. Now you’ll want to take your first left and keep on going until you see the arches. From there, take three right hand turns and you’ll be set.”
The bishop is puzzled. He says, “I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but did I miss something? Did I do something wrong? The guy before me got a parade!”
St. Peter says, “Oh! I’m sorry. That must have come off wrong. You see, we get bishops here all the time. That lawyer was the first one ever.”
In his talk, Elder Eyring suggests that we ask ourselves “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch me or my family today?”
I was a little surprised at how difficult it has been to think of personal stories to share to make this talk more interesting—not because I haven’t seen the Lord’s hand in my life, but because so many of these blessings—maybe some of my greatest blessings—are so personal. It has been a challenge to figure out how to put them in context properly. The Lord blesses us in so many ways that in order to simplify this subject so I could talk about it, I decided to narrow it down to just a few.
I first thought about blessings that come through people: our families, our friends, our acquaintances and some times even strangers. I am convinced that our Heavenly Father is a master delegator. If the Lord wants to send brownies and a kind word, he will send a neighbor or a friend. We also learn from each other’s mistakes and each other’s successes. This first category is blessings through People.
The second category is Service. It is a blessing to function as the Lord’s hands, to speak the words that he would have us speak—whether on a mission to an investigator or as a Primary teacher to a child. We’ve technically been living in our home since September first and I have already been asked to serve as a member of the enrichment committee. In this short time, by meeting together to plan enrichment activities, I have been blessed by my association with some wonderful women. In my experience, service is one of the best ways to get to know people.
There are other times when events align so precisely that they can’t quite be explained by just calling them coincidence. These are the deeply personal ways that our Father in Heaven lets us know that he knows and loves each of us. These are the “tender mercies of the Lord” that Elder Bednar spoke about in 2005. I’m calling this category “Tender Mercies.”
I thought of the last category in Relief Society last week when Cherie Sebring talked about how sleep-deprived and exhausted she had become caring for little Anna. She said that she knew that as tired as she was and as much as she wished Anna would sleep instead of cry, she knew that it was a blessing, not a punishment. How often do we mistake blessings for punishments? The third category is “Adversity.”
Last of all—and maybe this is because our two-year old daughter, Lucy has started to use this word--I also want to talk about why we need to remember our blessings. In an Ensign article called “Gratitude As a Saving Principle,” James E. Faust wrote: “The Lord has said, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21). It is clear to me from this scripture that to “thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7) is more than a social courtesy; it is a binding commandment.”
In the September 2001 Ensign, Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “the Lord has given us others with whom we may associate and thereby build up our spirits and strengthen our courage—disciples of like mind, of like heart, of like spirit.”
The Lord has blessed us through our families, friends and associates. While we were waiting for our home to be finished, we lived with Brian’s mom, Judy and his sister, Suzanne. I gained so much from that few months in her home. From how to clean my sink without wasting so much water, to great ways I can interact with Lucy that I never dreamed of. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with her brilliant example.
There is a study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 357) a few months ago that has been popping up in the news lately. When I started thinking about how the Lord blesses us through our association with others, I thought of this study and its findings. The title of the study is “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years.” It was co-written by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University’s Department of Health Care Policy and James Fowler from University of California, San Diego. In this study, it was found that obesity appears to spread across social ties. After controlling for other factors, it was found that the strongest patterns of weight gain existed among friends.
By compiling records that had been kept for 32 years, they found that a person's chance of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if that person's close friend became obese. If it was a sibling or a spouse, the person's risk went up by more than one-third. Next-door neighbors, however, had no influence at all. Conversely, if a person decides to make better lifestyle choices, this tends to affect his or her friends positively.
I’m not here to talk about health—but to me this makes absolute sense. When we associate with people, we may share meals, but more importantly, we end up sharing ideas and views with one another. I, unfortunately, haven’t found any studies on how being good friends with a person of good character increases our chances of becoming better by 57 percent.
When we associate with people with good values, traits and habits, it makes sense that we are more likely to adopt these positive attributes to make them our own.
I have been blessed with good friends throughout my life, and because I have stayed close to my roots in Centerville and Bountiful, I am able to get together with friends that I have known since grade school. A few weeks ago, I was visiting with one of these friends and I started to tell her about going to Wheeler Farm with another good friend of mine. Suddenly I realized that these two wonderful friends of mine had met each other at a baby shower, and I said, “Oh, you know her—she’s the one that reminds me so much of you.” My friend then gave me a great compliment when she told me, “That’s funny, she reminded me a lot of you.”
I am grateful to be blessed with friends and family members who are an excellent example to me in so many ways.
Like each of these categories, service is a broad title. Service can take the form of planting trees for a community to holding a child for a frazzled parent to serving a mission in the later years of life.
Gordon B. Hinckley in his First Presidency message Aug 1992 entitled “I Believe” wrote, “ I believe in the obligation and blessing of service. I speak of that service which is given without expectation of monetary reward. Most of the troubles of the world come because of human greed. What a therapeutic and wonderful thing it is for a man or woman to set aside all consideration of personal gain and reach out with strength and energy and purpose to help the unfortunate, to improve the community, to clean up the environment and beautify our surroundings. How much greater would be the suffering of the homeless and the hungry in our own communities without the service of hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and substance to assist them.
James E. Faust gave a wonderful example of service when he told about a flight he took in Mexico with an overburdened mother who traveled with several small children.
“Soon the children were being lovingly and tenderly comforted and cared for by the other passengers. They were passed from one passenger to another all over the airplane. The result was an airplane full of baby-sitters. The children settled down in the caring arms of those who cradled them and before long went to sleep. Most remarkable was that a few men who were obviously fathers and grandfathers tenderly cradled and caressed the newborn child. The mother was freed from the care of her children most of the flight. The only thing I felt bad about was that no one passed the baby to me!
In his article, “I Believe,” President Hinckley said this about our place in the world. “Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from hand and mind. I can be one who works with respect for my associates, for their opinions, for their beliefs, with appreciation for their problems and with a desire to help them should they stumble. I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small. But it will count for the greater good. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.”
I have a deep testimony of the blessings that come to us when we choose to serve our fellow man. I know that the Lord holds many blessings in store for us which can only come when we willingly put our hands in his to do the work he has asked us to do. I also know of one sure way to improve my day – any day. This is to find a way to be of service to someone.
When I graduated from high school, I enrolled at Southern Utah University. I spent two good years there then decided to spend my junior year in Senegal, West Africa. During my summer at home in Centerville I decided that I would serve a mission when I turned 21. I decided to enrolling at Utah State University as a senior in order to be closer to home so I could meet with the bishop from my home ward in Centerville in order to file my mission papers.
In retrospect, there was no good reason for me to do this. I had a lot of very good friends waiting for me in Cedar City, not to mention a scholarship and plenty of options for jobs. Any bishop could work with me to file my mission papers. I could have been even closer to home by attending the U of U in Salt Lake. I hadn’t even thought about applying for a scholarship at Utah State, I didn’t know anyone in Logan but a cousin.
Now for the interesting part. My cousin happened to know a group of girls who had a spot open up in their apartment. This group of girls happened to know a group of guys who also had a single spot open in their apartment. Brian had been pursuing his education in Salt Lake. One of his good friends talked him into enrolling at Utah State, and the rest is history. I didn’t go and a mission. I got married right after I graduated from college.
My decision to prepare to serve a mission put me on a path which the Lord directed to marriage to my sweet husband instead.
A recent example of the Lord’s tender mercy that came to mind was the process of moving that we completed in September.
More than a year ago, Brian and I knew that we had a big decision to make about our home. We were very happy there and knew that we had come to the point where we needed to decide whether to plan to stay in our home for the long haul or to start looking for a new home. It wasn’t an easy choice, but we felt good about the decision to stay.
We started on the remodeling projects that we would not have undertaken otherwise. We gutted and redid our two bathrooms and redid the kitchen. We recarpeted and repainted. Those of you have experienced remodeling understand how relieved and pleased we were to have all of these projects come to completion. It meant an end to constant messes. It meant returning what seemed like hundreds of things, big and small, to their rightful places, it meant a return to normalcy. As the tarps and stepladders and tools and dust were purged from our home one last time, we began to realize how great it looked. We had agonized over these small decisions—what tile to put in the bathrooms? What shower? What cabinets? What finishes? For me, it was a true exercise of faith. I was worried that what we had chosen would somehow be wrong. But we were utterly happy with the results. We did not want to move.
And one day, my wonderful mother-in-law happened to mention that there was a beautiful house under construction and it wasn’t far. If I remember right, she just mentioned it, just told me where it was and that there was a phone number I could call. I didn’t tell Brian that I was going to look at the house because I didn’t want to make it an issue. I was sure I didn’t want to move.
I walked through the house and loved it. I didn’t expect to love it. I expected the house to confirm how perfect our house was for us. Instead, I recognized how perfect the new house was for us. It was still overwhelming because I had been so focused on staying put—I had been so sure that I hadn’t even have considered a new house.
All the new homes I had seen were on tiny lots or on streets I didn’t want to be on, or were too expensive, faced the wrong direction, or were the wrong layout. This one wasn’t. I went though the mental list I had of all of the things I didn’t like about other houses. My list evaporated when I considered this house which was still under construction.
I talked to Brian and we arranged to have a tour of the house. During this tour, we were astonished by the coincidences we found. Tile, stone, doors, the proposed finishes of the builder were exactly or incredibly close to those we would have chosen. So many things fell into place. To me, the numerous instances of recognition and affirmation were not coincidence, they were the Lord’s tender mercies assuring me that this was the place for us. I have no doubt that this is where we should be right now.
This description of tender mercies at work in my own life doesn’t begin to cover half of the experiences that contributed to the peace that I felt when we decided to buy our home. Like most of the tender mercies with which we are blessed by a loving Heavenly Father, they are powerful for whom they are meant, but may mean nothing to anyone else.
The Lord is a tender and merciful father to us, providing numerous opportunities for us to witness his hands and his love in our lives. He is also very good at tough love.
Edmund Burke defined the role of adversity well when he said: “Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by [one] who knows us better than we know ourselves, and he loves us better too. … He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This … conflict with difficulty [makes us acquainted] with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial” (“Reflections on the Revolution in France,” in Edmund Burke, Harvard Classics, 50 vols. , 24:299–300).
To me, this is not much different than a loving parent who, with the knowledge born of years, suffers a child to practice piano day after day, despite complaints and rebellion from the player.
When I was growing up, one of my dad’s favorite hobbies was gardening. Each of us five children were expected to do our share of weeding every week. I remember being less than thrilled about this chore, but I am grateful for the experience. I now have my own yard to weed and I hope to have a garden.
Lucy is still at the point where she thanks me for clipping her nails and thanks me for brushing her teeth or doing her hair. I know that there is a good chance that she will reach a point where she will regularly complain about the things I ask her to do. This year, by spending time outside playing with Lucy and doing yard work, I had the opportunity to observe a family with teenagers while they were also outside. These were pretty normal teenagers. They did their share of complaining. I couldn’t help but overhear a loud conversation between a teenager and his dad. It went something like this, “Son, you need to do the things your mother asks you to do.”
“Dad, she’s always asking me to do stuff. I don’t want to do what she says all the time.”
If I knew this kid better, I might have taken him aside and given him some advice, but I didn’t, so I’m going to give this advice to everybody between the ages of 10 and 20 in this congregation.
If you can discipline yourself to listen to your parents for just a small amount of time each day, and be respectful of them…If you can sacrifice an hour or two of your time to do your duty to your family by cleaning your room or raking leaves or helping with dinner, I really, really believe that you will find that your parents will treat you more like an adult by respecting your decision to skateboard or read or play Guitar Hero or talk on the phone or hang out at the mall in your free time. You see, when you act like an adult, you get treated like an adult.
For better or for worse, there are much more difficult challenges in life than doing chores or enduring conversations with our parents. At times, we are pushed to our limits by trials we never could have imagined.
About enduring trials and lasting hardship, Merrill J. Bateman said this, “Adversity comes to everyone, including the righteous (see Ps. 34:19). Trials and tribulations take many forms: the death of a loved one, a marriage that is different than expected, no marriage, a divorce, a child born with a disability, no children, losing a job, parents who make mistakes, a wayward son or daughter, ill health. The list is endless. Why did God make allowances in His plan for disappointment, pain, suffering, and death? Is adversity necessary for one to build a Christ-centered life, to receive the image of God in his or her countenance?”
“An understanding of the plan of salvation, of premortality, earth life, and life after death provides perspective that helps one endure. As stated in the scriptures, the earth was created by God as a testing ground (see Abr. 3:24–26). Mortal life on earth is a probationary period (see Alma 12:24; Alma 34:32). Opposition, disappointments, pain, suffering, and death are necessary to protect agency and provide for spiritual development (see 2 Ne. 11). On the other hand, if life were limited to our mortal experience, adversity could not be understood and life would be unfair. Without an understanding of God’s plan, it is natural to define moral standards in terms of the natural man. Without an eternal perspective, there are no meaningful explanations for man’s inhumanity to man or for earthquakes, floods, or children with disabilities.”
I have been through some trials. These were ordeals that I never would have imagined I would face, and certainly with my limited mortal experience, never would have chosen for myself; but I have developed strengths that would not have been mine if I hadn’t been though these difficult times. Because of adversity in my life, because of these times of heartache and pain and loss, my testimony has grown and I have more to offer those around me.
I know that the Lord permits us to suffer because he loves us. He wants us to gain depth and strength and resolve. Like James E. Faust wrote, “I am persuaded that there can be a necessary refining process in adversity that increases our understanding, enhances our sensitivity, makes us more Christlike.”
Anyone who has spent enough time with young children to hear them ask “why” again and again will be acquainted with the perplexed feeling of trying to explain the seemingly inexplicable or trying to explain what seems obvious. Fortunately, explaining why we should earnestly seek to remember how our Father in Heaven has blessed us is not unexplainable. It also may not always be obvious. It is a common folly for people with many blessings to take their blessings for granted. I think each of us is guilty of this at least some of the time.
In D&C 88:33, it says “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?”
When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” (2 Tim. 3:2). He was talking about our day. James E. Faust wrote that “These sins are fellow travelers, and ingratitude makes one susceptible to all of them.”
One story that has a lot to teach us about gratitude is the story of Christ healing the ten lepers. These men, forbidden by law to approach anyone who was not also afflicted with this loathsome, terrible disease, called to Jesus and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.
“And fell down … at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:12–19).
Can you begin to imagine yourself in this story? Can you imagine yourself stricken with this flesh-rotting disease? Healed? And only one of the ten returned to Christ to thank him. Of this, James E. Faust wrote, “It is difficult to understand why they were so lacking in gratitude. Such ingratitude is self-centered. It is a form of pride.”
He then goes on to make a less obvious point, saying “What is the significance of the fact that the one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan? As in the story of the good Samaritan, the point seems to be that those of lesser social or economic status often rise to a greater duty and nobility.”
In “O, Remember, Remember”, Henry B. Eyring said, “the challenge to remember has always been the hardest for those who are blessed abundantly. Those who are faithful to God are protected and prospered. That comes as the result of serving God and keeping His commandments. But with those blessings comes the temptation to forget their source. It is easy to begin to feel the blessings were granted not by a loving God on whom we depend but by our own powers.”
So, besides being a commandment, why is gratitude so important? Why should we “confess His hand in all things” and “thank the Lord in all things?”
In the 1996 December Ensign, James E. Faust gives a good answer, “It seems as though there is a tug-of-war between opposing character traits that leaves no voids in our souls. As gratitude is absent or disappears, rebellion often enters and fills the vacuum. I do not speak of rebellion against civil oppression. I refer to rebellion against moral cleanliness, beauty, decency, honesty, reverence, and respect for parental authority. A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”
How can we find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness if we aren’t already doing this? How can we do this better? In his talk, President Eyring counseled us that “seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost.”
He reminds us that, “The key to the remembering that brings and maintains testimony is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion. It is the Holy Ghost who helps us see what God has done for us. It is the Holy Ghost who can help those we serve to see what God has done for them.”
In Moroni 7: 19, we are advised to “search diligently in the light of Christ” to “lay hold” upon “every good thing,” and that this will certainly lead us to become children of Christ. I testify to you that when we search our lives for our Father in Heaven’s benevolent hand, our relationship with him will be strengthened. We will be blessed and our loved ones will be blessed.
I close with another quote from James E Faust, from Gratitude as a Saving Principle, “As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. President J. Reuben Clark, formerly a First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you. Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here; yours is the part of cherishing them” (Church News, 14 June 1969, 2).”
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Friday, January 4, 2008
The briefest history of SLC you'll find:
Construction on the Mormon temple began in 1853, but the capstone of this magnificent structure was not put into place until 1892. The temple was built with granite blocks which, until a branch railroad line was run into Little Cottonwood Canyon, were individually hauled by ox and wagon from the canyon to the building site.
In 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed by the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, some 80 miles northwest of Salt Lake City. Utah was thus connected to the East and West. Many people traveled by rail to see the "City of the Saints." Some stayed to make and to lose their fortunes in mining. From the 1860s to the 1920s hundreds of copper, silver, gold, and lead mines were opened in the nearby canyons, including Bingham Canyon. Gigantic smelters were later built to refine the ore. Some prosperous mine owners constructed large, gracious homes along South Temple, once known as Brigham Street.
The 1890s were a decade of change. The Mormon Church officially ended the practice of polygamy. In 1896, Utah became the 45th state and the third to extend the vote to women. Salt Lake City was its capital. "Great" had been dropped from the name in 1868.
Salt Lake began to assume its present character in the early 1900s. The State Capitol and many other historic buildings were constructed. Electric trolleys, garaged at Trolley Square (now a popular shopping mall), were installed to transport people living in the Avenues, Capitol Hill, Liberty Park, and Sugar House areas to downtown. The trolleys were gradually replaced in the 1930s by buses. The last streetcar line was discontinued in 1941.
Eagle Gate, which had served to mark the entrance to Brigham Young's estate, was reconstructed to allow traffic flow. City parks were built, sewer systems and street lighting were installed, and streets were paved. Between 1900-1930, the city's population nearly tripled.
The Great Depression brought construction to a standstill, but the boom sounded again during World War II. War industries and military installations revitalized the economy. Workers and soldiers spent their money in the city's restaurants, shops, ballrooms, and theaters.
(The 1920 census found Lucille Leonard living at 869 S. State St. in SLC when she was 10 years old.)
When the pioneers first came to the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847, one of the first places considered for settlement was the winding green strip of land that flanked what they soon called Millcreek. While the primary settlement was on the north end of the valley, Millcreek was soon settled as irrigation ditches were dug and some of the valley's finest farms, orchards, and dairies were initiated. The plan for Salt Lake City's blocks ended at 900 South, and the area south, to present-day 2700 South, was referred to as the "Big Field," where the pioneers cultivated crops. The land just south of the Big Field was called Millcreek, after the creek that runs through the area to the Jordan River.
The area continued to be sparsely populated agricultural land, with parcels allocated in five- to twenty-acre units, until about 1870. Around that time, local businesses began to develop; they included Husler's Mill, built about 1865 on the bank of Millcreek on Territory Road, which is today's State Street. Other private, noteworthy developments of that era include Winder Dairy and Calder Park. Winder Dairy is still a prominent name throughout the area today, but it has long since moved to the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.
Calder Park soon developed into one of the finest amusement parks between the Missouri River and the Golden Gate. The soggy swampland created by a spring was cleared to form a small lake for boats and amusement. Other attractions developed over time and included a merry-go-round, bridges, a large dance pavilion, a bandstand with a suspended acoustical shell, a racetrack for horses and later motorcycles, bowling lanes, a roller-skating rink, a log flume-type waterslide, and traditional playground equipment. The park passed through different ownerships including the Rapid Transit Street Car Company which ran the park from 1891 to 1902 and extended streetcar service to the park along 700 East and installed electric power throughout the park. At its peak, the park was attracting over 100,000 patrons per season. The LDS Church Granite Stake assumed ownership and changed the name to Wandamere Park. "Wanda" was claimed to be of Indian origin, meaning "beautiful place," while "mere" is Anglo-Saxon and signifies "little lake" or "clear pond." By 1921 interest in the park was diminishing and it was sold to Charles Nibley, who donated the land to Salt Lake City on the condition that it would always remain open park space. That condition was met by transforming the park into a nine-hole golf course which Salt Lake City still operates.
William Miner (Clarence) Leonard b. 1 Oct 1879 (UT) d. 15 Oct 1936 (UT)
Lucy Ann Hall Leonard b. 18 Oct 1880 (UT) d. 23 Jan 1957 m.7 Jun 1905 (UT)
In 1920 Census, Clarence is working as a Pressman at a newspaper office
the number 408 was noted in the margin beside the Leonard Family's names but place of abode was listed as 869 S. State Street.
William Miner's Parents:
John Miner Leonard b. 12 Nov 1834 (OH) d. 30 Dec 1891 (UT)
Ellen Marinea Matthews b. 22 Jun 1847 (EN) d. 12 Nov 1908 (UT)
John Miner Leonard's Parents:
George Francis Leonhardt b.a. 1808 (GER)
Helena Howe (Houck) b.a. 1812 (GER)
Ellen Marinea Matthews' parents:
Thomas Matthews b. 1804 (EN) d. 12 May 1857 (EN) m. 4 Sep 1836 (EN)
Sarah Wooden b. 1818
Lucy Ann Hall's Parents:
Timothy Hall b. 12 Dec 1832 (EN) d. 25 Mar 1919 (EN) m. 19 Apr 1863 (UT)
Elizabeth Thorn(e) b. 13 Mar 1844 (EN) d. 25 Jul 1910 (UT)
Timothy Hall's parents:
John Hall b. 9 Jul 1786 (EN) d. 23 May 1852 (EN) M. 27 Jan 1830 (EN)
Mary Bates b. 22 Feb 1802 (EN) d. 22 Jan 1885 (UT)
Elizabeth Thorn(e)'s Parents:
Thomas Thorne b. 1807 d. 23 Feb 1846 (EN) m. 12 Apr 1829 (EN)
Mary Ann Downman b. 16 Jun 1804 (EN) d. 2 Jun 1848 (EN)
Lucille Ellen Leonard's Siblings:
Clarence William Leonard b. 3 Jun 1906 (UT)
Richard Miner Leonard 6 Mar 1908 (UT)
Lucille Ellen Leonard 1 Jan 1910 (UT)
Grant Hall Leonard 5 Feb. 1912 (UT) m. Ida Rosina Reichmann b. 9 Feb 1914
Another sick day. No fun at all. At least Lucy’s feeling better. Hmmmn. There are lots of things on my mind. Recipes that include beans. Geneology. Friends with whom it’s hard to be friends because of their gender. Friends with whom I'd like to spend more time. New friends. Blogs. Boring blogs. YouTube. This *badword* blogger editor that changes all of my double spaces (between sentences) to single spaces. }:L
I could go on forever.
Brian has taken Lucy to a party in Oakley. I would have gone, but I am sick. (Did I mention that I’m sick?) This means that I have the night to myself. Its a relief, frankly, to have no one to take care of but myself once in a while.
I am sitting here typing and taking great bites of salad. (See Resolutions)
Hmm. It just occurred to me that I haven’t mentioned Flowrider. It was lots of fun and it was too short and I am old and it made me extremely sore. In a nutshell. There was one thing that I was disappointed with last night, and that was that James and Jami weren’t able to participate fully.
I guess James got off work late and this pushed back their schedule enough that they got to Ogden late and little Alex wasn’t having the hang-with-Dad-while-Mom-rides bit, much less the sit-with-this-non-mom-while-both-parents-have-fun-without-you-bit. Jami tried the Flowrider 2 times. And James got in for maybe 30 minutes. Call it selfishness, I really, really wanted them to be able to "play" with all of us...
…I guess if having a child means anything, it means sacrifice. It should mean sacrifice. …And it depends upon the child and his or her parents as to what sacrifices end up being part of child rearing. **If anyone happens to read this and has kids and determines that she or he has not made any sacrifices, best not let me know. I might just think you are maladjusted or less than intelligent.
It’s funny, when Brian and I let our good friends know that we were pregnant, one comment we got was that our friends were afraid that our friendship “wouldn’t be the same.” Brian and I didn’t quite know what to make of that. To Lucy’s credit, our lifestyle hasn’t really changed that much. We take her most places with us, excepting movies, and she does great. Sure, she requires lots of attention, so we don’t get many chances to get deeply involved with other things while she’s with us, but that’s what babysitters are for, right? We are hoping that Lucy won’t be our only child and fully expect things to get more complicated and difficult if we do have more, but for now, things aren’t too different.
It is windy tonight. Its dark out, but I can still see the shadows of the trees silhouetted against the backdrop of valley lights. Its like there are three angry men standing at the base of every tree, shaking them for all they’re worth.
Reality check: I worked before we had Lucy, I was not at home all day reading books to her, changing diapers, feeding, bathing, dressing or cleaning up after Lucy. Things have changed a lot for me. Who am I kidding?
She is fantastic, though. This afternoon she suggested that we make cookies for Daddy. Smart and altruistic. She knows very well that making cookies involves butter, sugar and chocolate—all things she loves to eat—and that the cookie dough is more than just edible.
We watched part of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this afternoon in French. After a while, she looked at me with a smile on her face and started speaking French to me. Of course, these were not intelligible phrases, but the sounds that she was stringing together were distinctly French. We have some books around the house that happen to be in French and she’s not shy about trying out the different words. The last one I read to her was a translation of “I Love You Forever.” In the book, one repeated phrase is "grew, grew, grew." In French its “grandit, grandit, grandit…” It took me a second to realize that she was quoting this with gusto after a few pages.
Its crazy to watch her grow so fast, and fascinating to watch her language skills develop.
Enough typing today. I’m going to go be sick.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
So, to celebrate Brian's birthday, we went out to dinner at the Mandarin (where they mix addictive substances into everything) with his mom, Judy. Lucy perked up when we got her a V. pina colada and she actually ate some rice.
When we got home, I presented him with his two presents (a framed poster/map of Snowbird--which he got from friends last year, and swanky headphones, which he says he already has). Bah.
I told him that I felt bad, but he's a good sport. He said his birthday was fine.
I went to a yoga class at 6:00 this morning. I am very proud of myself. I went to bed early last night (see resolutions) and despite 5 disruptions of my sleep last night, I actually dragged myself out of bed! I'll be tired later, but I'm 100% happy with myself.
Tonight Brian and I are planning to go play on the Flowrider in Ogden. We decided that we could bring along some friends and that could be our Christmas present to them. I'll give you the lowdown tomorrow or tonight if I have time.
For now, here's a video from YouTube.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Brian wanted to know why the dog's stocking is the longest one. I added it to the other stockings this year. I didn't have a satisfactory answer for him. All I could say was that it fit the tree theme and the colors were right. I'll be boxing it all up tomorrow while Brian's at work so that he has a birthday free from the taint of Christmas...
Ever notice that Christmas is a complete hog when it comes to peoples' birthdays--that is, when people have birthdays that fall too close? Don't get me wrong, I really like Christmas. But she IS a diva as far as holidays go.
As usual, I have been left reeling in Christmas' wake. What can I do when my husband gives me way too much for Christmas then his birthday comes a week later? He has given me more camera than I hoped to ask for, and now it's time for his birthday (tomorrow), and I never know how to spoil him the way he does me.
It's hard to balance spoilage and being responsible.
I already know the answer, but it doesn't do me any good now. I need to plan ahead. Oh well.
For New Years, our Betters Ball went off well, if less successfully than last year. It's a tricky thing to throw a party for people who are responsible parents of young children who go to bed early. It was still lots of fun. The grand prizes this year were a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble, a SWEET pair of white Smith sunglasses, and a gift certificate for a massage. Trish Hartle left with the book card, JD Buxton with the glasses, and Rob Phillips made off with the massage. We're already thinking ahead to next year. A word on the Betters Ball, in case anyone cares: This is a poker game, but it's not a poker game. Brian and I collect gifts throughout the year and they are the prizes, but nobody pays anything. We did this because we think poker is fun, but it is also verboten and no buy in means everybody plays.
We've had lots of people over during the holidays and I am very proud to say that Zoe has been an extremely good dog. She's nine this year in human years. Because the whole dog-years theory is a little controversial, I'll leave any further calculations up to you.
Now, for the real business of the day.
*eat more raw food (salad...not carpaccio)
*get more sleep (go to bed earlier)
*write in a journal or blog frequently (frequently being at least once a week)
I would also like to have another child in 2008. But I'm not sure about making that a resolution, since it's sort of out of my hands. Oh, and I have lots of plans to be a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, etc... but I need to keep this list simple.
Now for a picture of actual human members of our family. This picture was taken after my sister-in-law, Suzanne, gave all the grandkids their PJs and books. Lucy mistook hers for a smoking jacket--walking around with her little hands jammed in her pockets luxuriously. I didn't get any pictures of her with her hands in her pockets, though. Shame.