Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pregnancy

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it on the blog or not, but I am pregnant with baby #2. I think I finally officially announced it on Facebook, but I don't remember when. It was sometime after 20 weeks. I am just over 35 weeks now.

I don't know if this baby is a boy or girl. In fact, I haven't had an ultrasound at all. It's not really my preference. It's just how things have worked (or not) out so far. I have no intuition about the sex of the baby. Robbie is sure it's a boy. We'll see in 5-7 weeks.

I've had a lot of worries this pregnancy about life in general, so I haven't really been able to enjoy my pregnancy as much as I would have hoped. I hoped I would take more belly pictures, but old habits die hard. I've never been good at taking pictures, and well, that hasn't changed.

I've really been lamenting the fact that I will have to take a break from doula work. I mean, I have moped and cried about it. I love being a doula. I'm just a little bit insane because I am planning to meet with a mama who is due on Christmas Day. That's just 15 days before me. But anyone who has been pregnant before knows that is a LONG 15 days! The beauty of this one is she is planning to deliver at the hospital that is super close to my apartment. We'll see if she likes me!

I am practicing the Hypnobabies material for this birth. If anything, it makes me sleep very well. I observed a Hypnobabies course earlier this year, and what would you know? I got pregnant.

I've been asked if I will have a doula. The answer is yes. She is the first one to respond to me when I reached out to the doula community back when I was just starting out. She ran my first 5K with me and she's just been an all around great friend. I picked her as my doula long before I even thought about getting pregnant again.

Tomorrow a couple of my doula friends are hosting a Mother Blessing Ceremony for me. I am really looking forward to it, and it really means a lot to me that they care enough about me to do that.

I have another friend from church who wants to throw me a shower in a few weeks. I think it's really sweet of her to think about me. She's one of those people I admire from afar but don't really have the courage to ask, "Hey! Wanna be my friend? I think you are cool." Because I do that sometimes. There have been a few people that I have told them I am in their fan club and am trying to weasel my way into their group. It kinda worked, but I have had several of my friends move away. It's been a lot harder on me than I would care to admit. I haven't really had the courage to reach out to make new friends. I just sit and admire people from afar.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All Pretty

You just never know what matters to a 2 year old....

I've always suffered from dry skin. No matter what I ate or how much water I drank, I have had dry, flakey skin. One of the first words I remember learning were, "Hydrosone Cortisone Cream! Hydrosone Cortisone Cream!" I'm totally not making that up. I thought it had a neat rhythm and really had no idea what I was saying. As I grew up, I slathered all kinds of icky things on my skin to try to cure it. I thought, "Surely no man will ever love me and want to marry me with my dry, rough and hideous skin."

Thank goodness I was wrong. I am married to a man who loves me flaws and all. He even thinks that I have soft skin. I guess I do since I slather myself with lotion every single morning!

As part of my getting ready for the day routine, which usually happens in the morning, I will brush my teeth, shower, apply lotion to my body and face, fix my hair and get dressed. Lily usually either participates or keeps me company. When I brush my teeth, she brushes hers. When I shower, she gets one too. When I apply lotion to my face, she gets a little dollop on her nose. That's how we get "all pretty," you see? So any time I am putting lotion on my face, Lily says, "All pwetty? All pwetty? Aaaaaalllll pwetteeeeeee?" She'll repeat that until I put a little dollop on her nose. She loves it!

Well, this morning I completely forgot! I think she did too because she was distracted with something else as I was getting ready. As I was walking out of the bathroom, I heard these potter pattering little feet chasing after me? "All pwetty?" she asked. Her sweet little face looked so heartbroken that we forgot to do "All pretty." I asked her, "Does it really mean that much to you that we do all pretty?" She shook her head and said, "Yes!" So of course we girls went back to the bathroom so Lily could have her little dollop of lotion on her nose and be "All pretty."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend and Vehicle Troubles

At the beginning of this weekend, we had a bit of a challenge in which we did not know how we were going to be able to keep our commitments during the weekend as well as have Robbie make it to work on Tuesday. Let's just call them...vehicle troubles. It's much deeper than that, but for the purposes of this post, vehicle troubles seems to work.

Robbie told me about our vehicle troubles Friday night and said, "I don't know how we are going to make it to (fill in the blank with commitment A) in the morning." I think I pretty much told him we'll make it because there is really no other choice. Sometimes I get like that. You know, "It just HAS to work because there really is no other choice," kind of mood?

I'm not sure why Heavenly Father saw fit to bless me with faith this weekend but I am thankful He did. Most of the time I struggle to have faith, but this weekend I had this sneaking suspicion that Heavenly Father would send angels to help us. And He did. He always pulls through.

Did I ever share the story about how I was freaking out in the shower? Sometimes when I am really stressed out and freaking out over something, I'll just go stand under the running water and ponder and try to sort things out. Maybe that's why I am so drawn to water when I think about giving birth. Other than the fact that it helps A LOT with the pain, I just can't imagine not being able to immerse myself in water during labor.

One day a few months ago I was having such a day. Just fa-REAKING out over something and letting the water just wash over me. Of course there were tears. Lily was napping. I was worrying about something, and I was worried that Heavenly Father, for a lack of better words, was going to abandon us or basically leave us out to dry. I worry about this a lot, and it is something that I struggle with often. I'm always worried that He is going to abandon me. But at this time, when I was worrying about it, five little words in the form of a question came to mind.

"When has that ever happened?"

The answer is easy. Never.

I guess I am worried that there could always be a first time, but so far, that hasn't happened. It was such a teeny little experience, but I have thought back on that just about every day since then. When I catch myself freaking out, I remember that question. "When has that ever happened?"

This isn't to say that I've learned some great lesson or something. I still struggle with this whole faith thing. I think Robbie and I are learning together. Most of the time, he's the really strong one when it comes to faith, especially the action aspect of faith. I think this weekend he was starting to get a little worried, and thankfully, I wasn't. I just knew God would send angels.

So commitments A and B worked out on Saturday. However commitment C didn't, but it wasn't a necessity. Commitments A and B were.

We planned not to make commitments D, E and F, but thankfully there were some awesome people willing to help out. We made all the rest of them.

And Robbie's car made it safely to work this morning. We're still not sure what's wrong with it. We've had a really sweet man from church come take a look at it, so we are trying something to see if it helps. You know what really helps? Prayer. I'm not kidding. Now I have one of those stories. You know the ones. The ones where the car wouldn't work if you didn't pray but would work if you did. Yeah. It's pretty cool. I've been telling everybody about it.

A few updates:

I'm thinking about taking a break from doula work after this next birth I have to attend. I am so very sad about this. I can't really convey how heartbreaking it is for me to think about putting doula work on hold. It's just too much for us to juggle right now with both of our cars having problems and we're not sure when/if they'll work when they need to. I had a light bulb moment with the last family that I worked with and I realized just how much it takes to serve a family in that way. It's not just me. There is so much behind the scenes that goes into serving a family. I've decided that it's time to raise my fees.  I probably won't get any clients for a long time, but I really have nothing to lose if I am planning to take a break anyway. If they are willing to pay the fee that I am worth, then I'll attend them. If not, I just can't do it anymore. I really wish I could help everyone, but I just can't. Not right now.

I have made some really great friends in this ward. I mean really great. I have never felt so at home in a ward before. It was in this ward that I finally understood what it meant to be a "ward family." I am sad to say that there are several families moving out of the ward soon. Lily's bestie is driving far away tomorrow. It's so sad.

I'm always the one that is leaving. I'm the one that moves away. I've never been the one left behind. I don't like it. I've sort of enjoyed moving because it gives me a chance to wipe the slate clean, to have a fresh start. I guess I always have this hope that I won't make a goof of myself at the new place, but I inevitably wind up making a goof of myself. I'm going to miss these friends that I've made.








Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breastfeeding in the Old Testament

I have been studying the Old Testament for several months along with my Alma 5 studies. The past few days I have been touched by Hannah's story in the First Book of Samuel. As you may recall, Hannah was unable to conceive a child for the longest time. This weighed heavily on her, so much so that she would weep and couldn't eat. Have you ever been in a situation where you just had no appetite and all you wanted to do was cry? I know I have.

Like they did every year, Hannah and her husband made a trip to the temple. While there, upon seeing his beloved wife weeping and not eating, Elkanah, her husband, asked her, "Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?"

It made me chuckle a little to read what Elkanah said to Hannah. "Am not I better to thee than ten sons?" That sounds like such a spouse thing to say when another spouse is grieving something. "Aren't I good enough for you? Don't I make you happy?"

I couldn't help but feel so sad for Hannah. "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore." Have you ever been where Hannah was? I know I have.

While she was at the temple, Hannah made a covenant with the Lord that if He would bless her with a man child, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life. And the Lord heard her, and she conceived a child. A little boy.

Photo Credit: LDS Old Testament Institute Manual
When it came time for them to make their yearly trip to the temple again, Hannah did not join them. "But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever."

I thought her husband's response was sweet. "And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him." How wonderfully supportive Elkanah sounded.

"And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young."

I figured the way that the scriptures were phrased that this wasn't an infant that she brought to the temple. I wondered how old her son was when he was weaned. I didn't think that this question would be answered, but I pulled out my good old Institute manual anyway. It says:

"Weaning took place very late among the Israelites. According to (2 Maccabees 7:27), the Hebrew mothers were in the habit of suckling their children for three years. When the weaning had taken place, Hannah would bring her son up to the sanctuary , to appear before the face of the Lord, and remain there forever, i.e. his whole life long." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:26)

Although I don't think weaning at three years old is very late, it is a lot later than most people wean nowadays. Being the birth junkie and breastfeeding advocate that I am, I love seeing when birth, midwives and breastfeeding are mentioned in the scriptures.

After reading this story about Hannah's amazing sacrifice (I couldn't imagine giving Lily up like that), and then her ability to sing praises unto the Lord after giving up her little boy (even though that's what she promised) is amazing to me. If I had made a promise like that, it wouldn't be very easy for me to keep my end of the deal without at least being somewhat pouty about it. What strength that must have taken!

































Saturday, August 18, 2012

In which I talk about poo

I'm feeling mully grubby today, and you know why? It's really dumb. Because someone on the internet was mean to me. Someone...on the INTERNET....someone I will never meet....a STRANGER...was MEAN to me...and it cast a shadow on my entire day.

So dumb! Why did it make me feel this way? Why do I even care? I've tried to distract myself and what not, but seriously, I feel pooey because some meanie head was mean to me. So here I am, trying to find an outlet for my hurt feelings.

Of course it was birth related. Of course it was NATURAL birth related. The horror! And of course it was a turd trying to poo poo all over some woman's plans for a natural birth and poo poo all over everyone else's encouragement. This woman seeking advice, due to previous back surgery, and other problems, CAN'T have an epidural. She really wanted one. Her entire birth preferences have changed, and she really doesn't have much of a choice other than a natural birth or a cesarean under general anesthesia. No needles in the back! Yes, there are some IV narcotics, but she faced her dilemma and chose a natural birth. Didn't mean she wasn't nervous. So she sought encouragement.

And there are lurkers out there who like to jump on any bit of encouragement anyone says to anyone who desires a natural birth. I know this. It shouldn't have surprised me. But so far I have been able to be pretty neutral and I think non-offensive about the way I say things on the internet to where I have mostly been able to avoid the doo doo heads. But not yesterday! This lady was out to get people. No one escaped. I guess I had my first experience with a troll. It wasn't fun.

I guess a part of me cares because I get very little social interaction in real life. I miss having lots of friends. I don't get to see the ones I have very much. So I get lonely and seek out "friendship" and camaraderie online. Silly. Silly. Silly. As hard as I have been working to lessen my time spent on the internet, I still get lonely for some sort of interaction with other people during the day. Even if it is through a screen. With strangers.

So I guess I have talked about this enough. I don't really have anything else to say about it. My feelings are still hurt, but oh well.

So to change the subject, I finally got called to the birth I mentioned the other day. I was there a little less than three hours when she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Seems like things started really happening once I showed up. The dad said, "I don't know what those tricks were that you did, but once you got here, things went fast." I don't really think I did much. It was probably mostly mental on the mom's part. Maybe after nearly 36 hours, she was ready to be done with the induction process. AND she did it without pain meds. I'm always so amazed and impressed with women who can do that. Gives me hope that if for whatever reason I might ever need an induction, maybe I can do it without the epidural too. She used Hypnobabies as well, and I am planning on doing the home-study version of Hypnobabies. In fact, Robbie and I started our first practice last night and it was nice.

Oh, ha ha! I forgot to mention. I'm pregnant! I'm a little over 19 weeks pregnant and the baby is due sometime in January. I've been a little turdy about announcing it for some reason. I don't know why.

I have a cute story. This morning I was really moody. I guess I explained that in detail at the beginning of this post. But after that person was mean to me on the internet, it put me in a bad mood. Robbie had meetings all morning so it was just me and Lily. I wasn't being as patient and nice to her as I should have been. So after a little bit, I got eye level with her and said, "Lily, I have been in such a bad mood today and not being as nice as I should to you. I am sorry." So then she said, "It tay Mommy." (It's ok, Mommy) So then I asked, "Do you forgive?" And she kissed me. It was a sweet little heart melting moment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forever indebted

As I am waiting for one of my clients to call me to her side, I have had a lot of time to think about the wonderful people in my life who have made the doula venture possible for me. There's my husband who drives his car to work when it is behaving sort of iffily during the past few days since I am unable to nail down exact times that this baby stuff is supposed to happen. Birth is unpredictable! There is a certain wonderful family that is on-call with me right now who is so amazingly patient and understanding of this whole birth process. There is my mom who watched Lily during a long birth process when I helped a friend at home. There are the wonderful families who watched Lily for me during flute lessons. Sometimes, they would let me pay them back with money. Most of the time, it was service. Or, dessert. There are the hugs and kind words when I feel like I am just losing my mind with this whole motherhood thing. It really hasn't been easy for me to adjust. Maybe I am trying to do too much. I love Lily to pieces. She is amazing. I am so impressed with her. But some days are just hard. There's no getting around that.

So, I keep thinking about how I will ever repay all of the people that have helped me so much during this season in my life. And I've come to the conclusion that I just can't. It won't happen. Ever. This leaves me feeling humbled to say the least. Maybe a little ashamed or embarrassed too. A little frustrated. I really do wish I could pay them all back. I wish I could return the favors somehow.

But this is my season of life. We are in the childbearing years. I am a young mother. My child can't take care of herself, so I need all the help I can get from the older, wiser mothers in my life. I am thankful for the women who have acted as my big sister, or cool aunt, or even mothered me when my own mother is far away. I guess this is what it's all about. Finding your tribe. Yes, it should include young, new mothers who are in the same place as you, but there should also be older, wiser women included. Women who have been there. Women who can say from experience, "You'll make it."

I am glad for the Relief Society lesson we had recently on charity. I remember that at some point I made the comment that at this time in my life, I am the recipient of a lot of kindness and charity from wonderful people, and I need to learn to be okay with that. Would I refuse help from the Savior if He were offering it? No. So I shouldn't refuse the help of His angels here on the earth who offer or are willing to help me when I need it. Another sister commented after that and said something to the effect of, "We have all been there. We are all indebted in some way and have all needed help." I remember our Relief Society president ending her lesson by saying that sometimes we feel like we have to return the favor, to repay everyone that has helped us. But we just can't do that. What we need to do is to help the next person when we can. So hopefully, one day, I will be able to help the next person.

It makes me think of the Savior and how much He has done for me. I will never ever ever be able to repay Him for what He has done for me. Ever.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Anxiety about the future

This morning I woke up feeling anxious about our future. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of steps in the dark we are about to have to take. There are some things that I just don't know how we are going to handle or get through, and with these things, there is not much I can do about any of it...except wait and see. Wait and hope. Wait.

When it comes to our future, I just can't stop feeling anxious. Try as I might to have faith, it's a real struggle for me. If faith equals pressing forward and being obedient even though I might still feel anxious, then I guess I have it. Try as I might, I just can't completely rid my mind and heart of anxiety. It's been a weakness of mine for as long as I can remember.

Recently I pulled out my Old Testament student manual to help me to gain a better understanding of what I am studying. I studied Joshua 24 today and didn't particularly get very much out of it because my mind is wrought with anxiety. However, as I was reading the "Points to Ponder" section at the end of the study guide I came across a quote from President Benson (at the time still Elder Ezra Taft Benson) that seemed to be written for me today. I felt compelled to share the quote, so here it is.

"Elder Ezra Taft Benson used two passages from the book of Joshua to counsel those who feel anxiety as they contemplate the future.

"'Now during this critical period, and it is a critical period that we are passing through, I hope that we will keep ever burning in our hearts the spirit of this great work which we represent. If we do so we'll have no anxiety; we'll have no fear; we'll not worry about the future because the Lord has given us the assurance that if we live righteously, if we keep his commandments, if we humble ourselves before him, all will be well. I turn to two passages of scripture today which I'd like to read:

'...Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.' (Joshua 1:9)

"'This was the Lord's admonition to his son, Joshua, encouraging him to trust in God. Joshua answered that admonition in counsel to his people in these words:

'...choose you this day whom ye will serve; ...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' (Joshua 24:15)

"'Embodied in these two passages of scripture are the two principal essentials for security and peace: first, trust in God; and second, a determination to keep the commandments, to serve the Lord, to do that which is right. Latter-day Saints who live according to these two admonitions-trust in God and keep the commandments-have nothing to fear.

"'The Lord has made it very clear in the revelations that even though times become perilous, even though we be surrounded by temptation and sin, even though there be a feeling of insecurity, even though men's hearts may fail them and anxiety fill their souls, if we only trust in God and keep his commandments we need have no fear.'" (In Conference Report, Oct. 1950, pp. 145-46)



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

The last question in Alma 5:14 is, "Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" 

My answer: "I'm not sure about this one. I have always had an inclination to be good and be obedient. I have always wanted to follow God, but it took me awhile to find the place that felt right. I still make mistakes. I still sin, but my desire is to do good. So for me, my change of heart must have happened a long time ago, though I feel like I need a change of heart on a daily basis sometimes."

I guess that day I wasn't having any huge spiritual experiences! I had a very short entry. And ya know what? That's ok. 


When I first started this project, I had two goals in mind: 

1.) To re-establish a habit of daily scripture study and 

2.) To free myself from my internet addiction. 

Yeah, I'll just go ahead and call it what it is. An addiction. I spend way too much time playing around on my phone, especially on facebook. I will say I have seen improvements in my computer use, as evidenced by the fact that I studied and pondered this question back on March 1st and I am just now getting around to sharing what I wrote. However, I still spend a lot of time on my phone. If I have a spare minute, I like to check my facebook. Usually I only have short spurts of free time and I don't want to just sit there. That's boring. So I play on facebook, read a blog post here, or laugh at a silly thread there. I think I just need to find a good book to read during my down time. Like...the scriptures. 

I know I am completely getting off topic of what I originally wanted to write, but I wanted to share something I noticed a few Sundays ago. I was sitting with a few of my favorite sisters in Relief Society, and another of my favorite sisters (yes, there are quite a few women in the ward I call my "favorites." They're awesome!) turns around and asks the other sisters if they have their scriptures. They both look up and present their iphones that they are using to read their scriptures. Then she turned and asked me if I had mine. And I did. I still bring my old paper scriptures to church. It was just very interesting to me to observe the rows of brothers and sisters sitting in Sunday School and Relief Society that all had some sort of electronic device in their laps instead of paper scriptures. Young and old, male and female, lifelong member and recent convert, it didn't matter. There was no shortage of iphones, ipads and other devices in the crowd as I looked around Sunday School and Relief Society. 

Call me old school, but I feel like I can't feel the spirit very well if I am reading my scriptures electronically. This is in no way saying that my way is better and that reading paper scriptures is superior to reading electronic scriptures, but for me, I feel better when I use the paper scriptures-especially if I have a choice in the matter. There have been times when I am just waiting around somewhere without my scriptures or that I have accidentally forgotten my scriptures in my rush to get out the door where I have been very thankful to have my handy dandy phone with my scriptures on there. Reading electronic scriptures is definitely way better than not reading scriptures at all. But when I have a choice, I will choose my paper scriptures. 

Maybe this counts a little bit as a change of heart. I am feeling the desire to distance myself from electronic devices, which is what I set out to do in the first place. Yay me! 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Just an update

I haven't felt like blogging lately. A lot of my blog posts are rants about things that I read on facebook or Twitter and I have been trying to avoid those things for awhile. I've been really tired and not feeling very well lately, and I just don't have the energy to think very much. Even now, I am having a hard time formulating exactly what I am trying to say. Basically, I'm tired. I don't feel well. I don't feel particularly sad or anything. I'm just existing. Just trying to make it through each day.

I will confess, though. I've been struggling with feeling guilty about something. It's probably silly, but it's there nonetheless. I feel guilty because I stay home with Lily. Because I can't really put into words why I feel this way or even how to describe it, I think I will talk to Robbie about it first. He always has this amazing way of helping me to put words to my feelings and finding out why I feel the way I do.

In the meantime, here is a cute picture of Lily.




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goodbye Primary...Hello ????

April 8, 2012

Last Easter, after performing at a Vietnamese Easter Mass, I made it to church and discovered I had been officially called to be the Primary Secretary. I was somewhat excited about receiving this calling, and I was definitely humbled by it. "What in the world????? I don't know anything about kids!!!" I also struggled with wondering what I did wrong with my previous calling. "I was just getting the hang of it! I had some really cool ideas for this year. I'm going to do a better job, be more organized, etc. Did I suck so bad that the had to take me out?" Yes, Negative Nancy was truly coming out. It took me a long time to process and get over those feelings. It took me a long time to finally feel like I belonged in Primary, to feel like I was getting the hang of being in there. And when I say a long time, I mean, about a month ago the feeling of "I think I might actually be getting the hang of this and belong in Primary," washed over me. Not a week or two later did I find out that I was being released from this calling. And finally, on Easter Sunday, I was officially extended the release. I fully expected to be told my next calling at the same time, but that didn't happen. I am officially without a calling.

Of course Negative Nancy  reared her ugly head again. "Why don't they want me? Why don't I have a new calling? Do I suck? What did I do wrong? I was just getting the hang of this!" The member of the bishopric who extended the release told me not to get too comfortable because I'll be put back to work soon. The Negative Nancy says that it's just something they say to everyone who doesn't have a calling.

So this coming Sunday I am curious to find out what will happen. The entire presidency was extended their release on Sunday though the other sisters have new callings already. I am curious to find out where we are all going next. I had a good time getting to know these sisters better, and I hope that they did too. I'm not really supposed to talk about this kind of thing until it becomes official, so I won't publish this post until things become official this coming Sunday. This will be my last Sunday to serve in Primary, and then it will be to show the new secretary the ropes. I might even just let her take over during Senior Primary and go sit in on Relief Society. It's been a long time since I've been in there.

April 15, 2012

Today I was officially released from the pulpit and served my last Sunday as Primary secretary. I was able to train the new secretary a little before she needed to take her sick little baby home. The new Primary president is one of my favorite people in the world and I know she'll do a great job. I'll miss working with the sisters I worked with in the Primary presidency for the past year. Hopefully our paths will cross again.

I'm not sure what my new calling will be, so I think I will wait to publish this post until I find that out. Next week I'll be able to sit in Sunday School with my husband and go to Relief Society for the first time  in a year. Before I was called to be the Primary secretary, I did not get to just sit and enjoy my meetings very much because I was tending to Lily. I felt like I spent most of my time in the hallway or in the Mother's Lounge.

We almost got asked to speak at Stake Conference in May, but both Robbie and I will be out of town. Bummer! Ha ha!

May 22, 2012

A few weeks ago I was asked to meet with a member of the bishopric to discuss my new calling. It's the Relief Society Chorister. Yay! Apparently they announced my name from the pulpit on Mother's Day, but I wasn't there. This past Sunday was the first Sunday I was able to serve in my new calling, and it was also the first time I attended Relief Society in over a year. It was weird. It feels like it was longer than that since I spent so much of Lily's first year of life in the mother's lounge nursing her during Relief Society.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another visit home

Lily and I went to my mom's last week for several days so that I could perform with the Rapides Symphony for our last concert of the season. Lily always loves going to see Mimi and Pyran, and she's always just a little bit sad when it's time to come home. Of course if I got to do things like play in bubbles, I'd probably be sad about going home too.


Going to my mom's served a dual purpose this time. Robbie had his first ever business trip at the same time that I was supposed to play in the concert. Because I don't really like staying here all by myself, I decided to let my mommy take care of me. I also discovered that Lily gets all the chocolate milk that she wants from Mimi, so that could be one reason why she has such a great time over there. Plus they have a nice big yard and dogs and she gets to help out with all kind of activities such as washing trucks and playing in the garden.

In my last post I mentioned an opportunity that came my way that I was hopeful about. Try as I might, I couldn't shake the feeling that this wasn't the right thing to do. I prayed and prayed, consulted with trusted people, and prayed some more. I secretly hoped that the family hated my guts so that I wouldn't have to make the decision that I knew that I was going to have to make if I was going to do the right thing. Unfortunately, I had to put on my big girl panties and do the right thing. After praying one more time, I had to let that opportunity go. As soon as I did that, I felt instant relief. I knew it was the right thing to do. Kinda sad, but right. I also felt that assurance that things will be okay and that other opportunities will come along.

In other news, I finally mailed of my DONA Birth Doula Certification packet. I'm so happy to have reached that stepping stone in my doula journey. It says in the packet to allow two months for processing, so hopefully in two months I'll be able to put the letters CD(DONA) after my name. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Angels Among Us, Part II

Last week was a busy week. It was supposed to be my "off" week, but that only means I did not have to teach flute lessons last week. It's not as if I teach very much, but it weighs on me throughout the week. Last week I was free!

Monday was free day. I cleaned, sent a note out to friends in desperation, and applied for some jobs online. (Nothing has come of that.) I went visiting teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and really enjoyed the opportunity to visit with those sisters. Although I really enjoy spending time with my visiting teaching companion, I really enjoy having the opportunity to visit the sisters alone every now and then. It's so nice to be able to have them all to myself! I feel like they teach me and help me more than I could ever help them, and it's funny that the lesson was sort of about that very thing.

We all need each other in order to be successful visiting teachers. I had an "Aha!" moment while visiting one of the sisters that confirmed that this is true. I can't be a successful visiting teacher unless the sisters I visit allow me to come visit them and share with me any needs they have. However, I have to visit them enough to build a friendship with them so that they honestly feel like I care and that they feel comfortable sharing with me. We all help each other to be successful at visiting teaching. It's hard for me to describe how how I felt that day, but I think it was finally confirmed to me that visiting teaching is truly a divinely inspired program. I used to think, "Yeah, yeah, I know we're supposed to go visiting teaching, and I know we're supposed to make friends, blah blah blah. But I just don't feel like I have a place in this. I'm no good at this."

Since attending this ward, I have had amazing visiting teachers show me by example what visiting teaching is all about. They've since moved on to other wards, or visiting other sisters, but I'll never forget their loving example of what it means to love, serve and just be friends with their sisters. I have some amazing sisters on my route and I look forward to visiting them. I really really do! They are all amazing women.

Not only are the women that I visit amazing women, but there are just some other fantastic families in this ward. They have opened their arms to our little family, although I think that that is totally thanks to Lily's cuteness than anything we have done, but they have truly taken us in. I never ever ever felt that I was a part of a ward family until we moved here. Not even in my home ward.

One of my friends let me babysit her little girl for a little while to earn a little extra money. Another friend paid me way too much to help her out at her home, and another Christmas Angel in superhero fashion helped us out anonymously at church yesterday. There is way too much generosity in our ward, and though I will never be able to pay it back, I hope one day I can pay it forward to another young family when we are in a position to do so. So what looked as if it was going to be a very-scary-not-knowing-how-we-are-going-to-survive (ok, that's dramatic, maybe we'll survive but will we get evicted? get our lights turned off? eat?) turned into we-barely-made-it-but-we-still-made-it sort of week thanks to some very amazing people in our lives. It's not quite over yet, but it looks like we will be okay for the next two days until Robbie gets paid again. And hopefully, there will be a babysitting job coming my way that will help us out a little, or at least help me to feel like I am doing all I can to help our family.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Economic Hardships

I suppose it's not a huge secret that we're experiencing some economic hardships right now. Actually, it seems as if our entire marriage has been a huge economic hardship. Robbie says we have to pay our dues. Yes, I suppose we do.

So...I've been wracking my brain as to what I can possibly do to help our family out. I've been teaching flute lessons, but I haven't been as successful at that as I'd like. I've been working as a labor doula, and I am nearly ready to submit my paperwork for certification. But I am in a huge dry spell right now. No births on my calendar and no inquiries. I can't really say that I am not as successful as that as I'd like because I am way more successful than I thought I would be. However, now that I am here, I want more! Moooooooooooore!!!!! 

It's summer. Summer is always hard. Summer means that most of my students take off and travel the globe. (or just visit parents in other states) Two summers ago meant I had a baby. Last summer I started attending births. What do I have on my calendar for this summer? Nada.

Sigh.

Discouragement is weighing heavily on me right now.

I sent out a note to all of my local friends to let them know that I have a very free calendar for the next few months. I'm hoping they'll let me babysit or something so that I can earn some extra money for our family.

And because I am impatient, I applied for several jobs today. Online. I am not confident that online applications really work. I feel like it's their way of weeding out the people who are serious, i.e. those who are bold and actually call, or show up, or know someone who can hook them up, or whatever, from those who must not be serious because they're spending all day applying online and completing assessments, i.e. stay at home moms whose toddlers are taking a nap so they finally have a chance to sit down with the computer without grimy little hands pressing this key and that key...

I applied for a few evening/nights housekeeping jobs at two local hospitals. I also applied to be a receptionist and a labor & delivery floor secretary. Hey! I can dream right? Maybe they'll see the word "doula" on my resume and think, "Hey, I bet she can learn quickly and would enjoy this job."

I also applied for a summer teacher's aide job with the local school district. I don't even know what I think about my decision to do that, but I just need to try....something....I hope Heavenly Father at least sees I am willing to do what I need to do to help our family. Hopefully something will open up.

I will try to apply for some other stuff tomorrow. I'm not sure what else to apply for. I'm running out of ideas of somewhere to work that kind of works with me being a stay at home mom. 

And something else weird happened. I'm not really into celebrities or their business, but I wrote a post about Jessica Simpson's elective Cesarean decision that is getting passed around. I've never had that much traffic in one day. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sometimes life ain't no picnic

But that doesn't mean we can't have a picnic!

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I really wish I could say that life is all hunky dory and that I handle every challenge that comes my way with grace and ease. But I'd be lying if I said that. I actually don't handle challenges very well. Not even the littlest challenges. 

It's no secret that we are a family of modest means. We are trying to make this lifestyle of me being a stay at home mom and Robbie being the provider work. Robbie really has a testimony of this kind of family organization-where one parent works outside of the home to be the primary bread winner and the other parent works inside of the home as the caretaker of the home and primary caregiver of the children. He's determined to make this work, and I am thankful that I have a husband that works his behind off to make it work. I wasn't raised this way, so I am quick to feel like giving up. "We're just not the kind of family that gets to have that luxury," I say, lament, whine. I think about trying to get a job and then I think about daycare costs, and any job I could possibly get would only be used to pay for daycare. I feel trapped in this situation. I don't know what to do more than what I am already doing. 

Finances and money and this whole "creative budgeting" thing that one of my midwives taught me really get me down. I wish that the amount of money our family can pull in didn't make me feel like a worthless person. I wish I didn't feel so ashamed when I must ask people to do me favors. When I really need people to do me favors. I really truly, honestly need the help of those that have been kind enough to do so. I wish it didn't make me feel embarrassed and ashamed to need help. I wish that the gratitude I feel for those wonderful people in my life wasn't stained with those negative emotions. 

So, bright and early yesterday morning, I was saying my morning prayers, and the electricity went off. This was right after Robbie left for work and before Lily woke up. I immediately thought, "Uh oh. That partial payment that we made on the electric bill didn't buy us any time." Then I thought that maybe it would come back on after a few minutes, because it did the same thing last week. Only it came back on after a few minutes. Thirty minutes later, I realized it wasn't coming back on. Because I just wasn't in a really good frame of mind for calling people to tell them I suck at life and can't pay my bill, I just texted Robbie and he said he would handle it. Being stuck in the house all day with no electricity really sucks. My mind just started reeling with all the things that I wouldn't be able to do that day. No Backyardigans for Lily. No laundry. No cooking. No a/c. All the food in our refrigerator was going to spoil after awhile. I had been so very careful to buy exactly what we needed for two weeks until Robbie got paid again, and it was all going to spoil. Our food money was gone, so if it spoils, then what? I just couldn't force myself to do anything but sit on the couch and worry. I was immobilized with worry. I felt like crying, running away, jumping out of a window, something, anything to get out of the situation. I contemplated jumping in my car with Lily and going home to my mama. But that wouldn't fix anything, and I don't want to leave Robbie here to deal with "the suck" all by himself. 

I'm not sure in what order everything happened after that. I think I situated Lily in her playpen with a bunch of toys, came in my room, curled up in a ball on my bed and moped for awhile. I know that accomplishes nothing, but sometimes I just need to mope and feel sad. I just need to go through it and get the moping out of my system. It sucks having the lights cut off, not really because the lights are cut off, although that in itself does kind of suck, but the feeling of "you suck at life" that washes over me when we're doing our best and it just doesn't work sometimes. 

And this isn't the first, or second, or even third, fourth or fifth time that I have been stuck at home and our lights have been cut off. Once that happens, we scramble to try to get the money together to pay the bill and get our lights turned back on. Sometimes we have to make a phone call to Mommy or Daddy or Father-in-law or someone to help us. Sometimes we shuffle things around and can come up with the money ourselves. Sometimes I have just gotten paid from flute lessons and need to make a bank run. I remember a couple of years ago, when I was newly pregnant with Lily and worried that I was experiencing a miscarriage, our lights got cut off. It was a scary moment in my life, and it was getting really hot in our apartment. I was home all by myself. Our lights had gotten cut off that morning, but I didn't know as I was at school that morning. When I got home, it was really hot in there. I called to pay the bill after shuffling some things around, and just waited. I didn't know how long it would take for them to turn the lights back on. I just went in my room, curled up on the bed, and moped and cried and prayed, "Heavenly Father, if I have to go through this (meaning the miscarriage), please at least let me have some light and some air." It was a really sad time for me. 

Thankfully, when the lights came back on, I breathed a sigh of relief. And the good news is that I wasn't experiencing a miscarriage, just some weird unexplained bleeding, and Lily was born safely, wonderfully and healthy seven months later. 

Since I am an overly emotional person, something like my lights getting turned off isn't a simple little problem that can be fixed really easily. My mind makes it into something bigger than it really is, because to me it is a bigger problem. My lights getting turned off isn't just the fact that I was late paying my bill, it's that this bill has to wait so we can pay that bill, or all the food that we have for the next two weeks is going to spoil and we have no money to get more. 

Since of course just merely calling and paying the bill once we got the money to pay for it isn't enough, I had to get my debit card declined. What? Yeah. So Robbie called the bank and they told him that there was some sort of security issue with the cards and the credit won't work. Debit will, but credit won't. And awesomely enough, our electric company doesn't have that option. So anyway, after awhile, I figured out how to pay the bill, and that got accomplished.

Now in the middle of all that, I went for a walk with Lily to the mailbox to see if we had received our new debit cards, since apparently they were mailed last week. Nothing of importance was in the mailbox, but Lily and I discovered it was gloriously beautiful outside. There was a wonderful breeze and the temperature was perfect. I decided when we were walking back that we would have a picnic. So we went inside, made some sandwiches that I cut up into quarters to make it fun, packed our little sock monkey Easter basket with goodies, grabbed a blanket, and headed back outside to have our picnic under a nice shade tree next to the pool. I loved it because the pool has a few fountains in it and I like the sound they make. It was wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze against my skin. Sunshine really does wonders for my soul. I'm glad we were able to go outside. 

After we made it back to our apartment, we discovered that our electricity had been turned back on while we were outside enjoying the beautiful day. Yay! I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, and for some reason, I'm not really all that worried about having to live on next to nothing for the next week. At least not at the moment. 

There are a few reasons why I am sharing this less than flattering information about our family. First, I need to get this out of me. I can't keep this to myself. It makes me feel better to finally just reveal that I'm not the best at handling my challenges. I'm not happy and smiley all the time. I am hopelessly imperfect, and I just don't feel like putting on a happy face all the time. Second, I vented my frustrations on Twitter yesterday because I figured no one would really notice. But a few people did notice and seemed to appreciate that I dropped my facade and revealed that things get hard sometimes. I try to maintain this image that I am happy all the time, but that's just not true, or realistic. Maybe it is for some people, but I just can't do that. Sometimes I get mad, sad, discouraged and any other emotion besides happy. And I suppose I need to understand that just because I am feeling an emotion other than happy, it doesn't mean that I am a bad person, or that I lack faith, or fill in the blank with some other negative quality that I often accuse myself of having. Yesterday was just a crappy crappy day for the first half because ya know what? Sometimes people have crappy crappy days. Cuz like my title says, sometimes life ain't no picnic. And ya know what else? That's ok. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have ye received His image in your countenances?

First, I need to define what his image is in order to answer this. Mosiah 7:27 says that Christ would take upon Him the image of man, which is the same image after which man was created. So when it comes to my physical appearance, well, I suppose I look similar to Him. But do I look...Christlike? Do I portray the image of someone who is Christlike?

Alma 32:31 says, "every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness." I wanted to be a Christlike seed and grow and learn and be more like Him!

Sometimes people have the reputation of being Christlike and having lots of faith. They just embody it. They give off this special light that I would say is having the image of Christ in their countenances. Remember that General Conference talk "The Light in Their Eyes?"

If someone was meeting me for the first time, knowing nothing about me, would they see a light from my eyes? If asked to describe me, would they describe me using some of the same qualities Christ has? Do I look like a Christian? Do I look like someone who is truly working to be like Christ?

I don't think I have His image in my countenance. I used to, but I've lost it. I've gotten too bombarded with challenges. My faith has taken a beating. I've sinned. I am in the process of repenting, and it's a long, painful, scary, nerve-wracking journey back. In some cases I haven't sinned but made unwise choices. That's even more aggravating. At least when I sin, I feel like I deserve unpleasant consequences. When I don't sin, it's harder to understand.

I feel like my challenges and hardships are more visible in my countenance than the image of Christ. I'm not sure what I can do about that right now, but at this point, the purpose of this evaluation is to take an assessment of my current spiritual well-being. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to receive Him image in my countenance as I go along.

How about you? Have you received Him image in your countenance? What do you do to receive Him image in your countenance? How do you maintain that image even when life gets hard? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter Y'all!

One of my friends invited us to attend an Easter Egg Hunt at Discovery Green last week. It was Lily's and my first time to visit Discovery Green.

I think it was a little overwhelming for her to be around so many kids and needing to move so quickly to catch all the eggs. I was mostly worried that she would run off and get lost in the crowd. I tried to get her to smile but she was all seriousness.


At the end she started putting eggs in some of the other kids' baskets, and I thought that was really sweet. Always the generous little kid.


While we were waiting in line for the Easter Bunny, a woman actually did lose her kid. My heart just fell into my stomach. See? I'm not completely paranoid! It happens! They found him after what seemed like and hour but was really only about five or ten minutes.

After we took a smile-less picture with the Easter Bunny, we went with a few friends to play at the play ground. Lily discovered the splash pad while we were there and got soaked. I hope we can go back at some point and let her play in the splash pad with her swim suit on. We stayed and ate lunch and then went home. It was a fun day!

Easter morning I ended up playing the flute at the same Catholic Church in Houston that I played last year. I didn't understand a word of the mass, as it was in Vietnamese, but I enjoyed the music anyway. Here it is over 48 hours later and the music is still in my head. After the mass was over, I hurried to my church to enjoy Easter Sunday among my friends.

After we made it home and the sun started to set, I decided that I needed to have an Easter Sunday photo shoot with Lily. I'm no photographer, and all I have is my phone. We decided to just let her do her thing, snap about a thousand pictures, and then hope for the best. Who am I kidding? We tried posing her a little, but once I got a few posed pictures, we'd let her play around until we found a new place to pose her. It was a fun little photo shoot session/Easter egg hunt.


Robbie and I each took a picture that turned out to be two of my favorite pictures for this Easter. Mine is the next one, and Robbie's is the cute and adorable one at the end. Saving the best for last.




Happy Easter Y'all!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Having the image of God engraven upon your countenances

"Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?" Alma 5:19

I am slowly but surely going through each of the questions in Alma Chapter 5 and searching my heart to find my answers to these questions. I have been writing my thoughts down in my Scripture Study Notebook, but I haven't had the opportunity to share everything on my blog yet. I do want to share all of my answers eventually. They're nothing amazing or profound or anything, but it's my blog, and I wanna share. So there!

This isn't the first time I have pondered the topic of "the image of God engraven" upon my countenance. I already have a much longer response written down, but I haven't been able to share it. Today my response was shorter, and then it seemed to change topics completely.

What I wrote:

"I surely hope that I have the image of God engraven upon my countenance when it is my time to meet Him. I'm not so sure with my gloomy and downtrodden and negative countenance anyone would actually see the image of God anywhere when looking at me now. Life is really hard, and I feel our burdens are really hard to carry. I feel really weighed down by them. I don't really understand the concept of giving it over to God. I'm sure He's already made them as light as they can be.

So as I am writing this, these words come to mind:

"'Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?'"

So it continues...

"'Count your many blessings; ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by."'

Sometimes I need a reminder to take a minute to ponder my blessings.



Sometimes I do take the time to ponder my blessings. I'm not always a Negative Nancy! Here are just a few examples in no particular order:

Lily's Birth

My friends who supported me during my breastfeeding journey

I know Heavenly Father loves me.

Lily

My friends who give a poo

My sweetie peetie husband

Angels among us

All those who have supported me on my doula journey

There are so many more!!! I have made list upon list upon list when I have needed to take the time to remind myself of my Heavenly Father's blessings for me. Every time I do this activity, I usually come up with over 100 blessings. No kidding!!!! I'll have to dig some of those old lists up and post them one day.

What are some of your blessings that you are thankful for? Do you ever feel that you sometimes need a reminder to count your blessings? Do you feel like the image of God is engraven upon your countenance?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have ye spiritually been born of God?

Have I spiritually been born of God? I'm not sure. Alma asks a lot of questions! Fifty to be exact. I think it would be interesting to ponder of his questions one by one. It would take awhile, but I think it would be worth taking the time to really examine what is in my heart.

Have I spiritually been born of God? There has always been something about me that has sought to do good. I remember wanting to be baptized as a little kid. I would ask everyone around me if they had been baptized. Before I was even baptized, I would pray to my Heavenly Father. Somehow I knew who God was and that if I prayed to Him, He would help me.

Finally, when I was 13, I was baptized in a baptist church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was "saved" a few days or weeks before then. I don't remember much about it except I had the best night's sleep ever and I was unbelievably happy the next day. I finally felt like I was in a good place.

When I moved to my mom's I tried going to a baptist church, but it just didn't feel right. Over the next few years, I decided to take steps to become a member of the Catholic Church. My mom is Catholic, my grandmother is Catholic, and a whole bunch of my family is Catholic. I figured I should be Catholic. I took my first communion at 15, and I was able to take communion at mass after that. I felt like I belonged there. I was confirmed when I was 16, but shortly after that I sat in on a missionary discussion. Long story short, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 17 and I haven't looked back.

I don't recall a specific moment where I can describe as being "born of God." My spiritual life has been a process. I worry sometimes that I only do right, or try to keep the commandments, because I want stuff. I want the promised blessings. I'm not sure that I would be so willing to be good if I got absolutely nothing for it. Sometimes it feels like I get nothing, but I know that's not true. I can be worthy of a temple recommend if I keep the commandments. I have been sealed in the temple to Robbie and Lily is sealed to us for eternity because she was born in the covenant. 

So what does "born of God" mean? I hear this phrase in other churches too. I hear the term "born-again Christian." What does this mean? According to Mosiah 27:25, born again, or "born of God" means to be changed from one's "carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters, and thus they become new creatures."

When Lamoni's father asked Aaron what it would take to be "born of God" in Alma 22:15 he also asked how he could have that, "wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy." This part concerns me because I feel like I have a little wicked spirit of my own sometimes. I refer to is as "my darkness." I have my own little darkness that takes root in my heart and mind that I have to fight. It's this little thing that makes me feel unhappy sometimes. I asked one of my former Relief Society presidents once if it was normal to have to fight to be happy sometimes and she said, "No." Oh. Great.

So, I am interested to find out what Romans 7:18 has to say about this little root. This is confusing, but what I think it says is that my flesh wants to do bad. If left to my own devices and without trying to control it, I would do bad things. So maybe that little wicked thing rooted in my breast is my natural man. My little darkness is my own little natural man that I have to overcome. So this verse takes me back to Alma 22:15.

Does it mean that I have to completely overcome my natural man to be considered "born of God" or does it mean that I need to be on the path of overcoming my natural man to be "born of God?" There are plenty of people content to never try to overcome their natural man. They can't possibly be considered "born of God." But what about those of us, though always falling short and horribly imperfect, who are always striving to overcome our natural man? Are we "born of God?" Is this what it means? Where we start a life of trying to be like God? Trying to be good? Trying to live righteously? If that's the case, then yes, I have been "born of God." 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can't stand being in my own skin

I can't stand being in my own skin sometimes. I can't stand that I spend most of my day sitting at home, feeling completely useless that I can't help our family financially. I just have no idea how to get my name out there any faster and any better than I am doing. And then I have to sit and wait once I have done that. For example, today I mailed letters and business cards out to 12 area band directors to offer their students a complimentary flute lesson in hopes that a few will ultimately decide to continue taking lessons with me. I have emailed area theatre companies and churches to let them know I exist. I wish I knew how to find other performance opportunities in this area, but I am just stuck. I can't very well sit on the side of an intersection somewhere playing my flute because I have Lily to take care of. How can I be both a stay at home mom and take care of my baby and also help supplement our family's income? My husband says it's not my job to help supplement our family's income, and I know it grieves him to hear me say stuff like this. I just don't think of it that way. He thinks it's a reflection on him, and a failure on his part. But I think of myself as a mooch and an additional burden on him and our family.

I have also offered a giveaway of my doula services this week so that I can hopefully help a family in need. Maybe a perk of doing something like that is to spread my name a little further and to say, "Hey! I exist!"

Ugh. Houston is a really BIG city. I am having trouble with the, "Hey! I exist!" part.

But you know what else? The skills I have and the services I offer are perks. They are extras. In an economy where everyone is struggling and everyone has to do without, what are the first things to go? The flute lessons. The doula care. The mani-pedis and the Starbucks.

I won't lie. I'm discouraged. I can't conjure up a strong enough word to describe what a burden debt is. It is huge. It is heavy. It is discouraging and it feels hopeless. I have had thoughts that I never thought I would have when I think about the mountain of student loan debt that is constantly hovering around in my brain. I'll never forget what a stupid choice I made to waste my free education on a completely worthless degree. They told me. "You won't get a job," they said. Yeah, well, I did well in undergrad. I did well in graduate school. But at the back of my mind, I always knew that I would be a stay at home mom.

And yes, I made the choice. And you know what? Even when we make what we think is a right choice can suck sometimes. You know? Like those parents who choose not to vaccinate and purposely expose their kids to chicken pox? It really sucks when their kids actually get the chicken pox. And they complain about how much life sucks for them during that time. But it doesn't change the fact that they are doing exactly what they wanted and things are going how they planned them to. Sometimes it just gets discouraging and just plain hard anyway.

So we know that me being a stay at home mom is exactly what we want for our family, but when the bills are just crushing us into the ground, it sucks. I can't help but be plagued by the shoulda's and the shouldna's. "I shoulda majored in something else. I shouldna gone to grad school. I shoulda never played in band and fallen in love with flute in the first place."

I wish I would have had wisdom in my youth to know that being a musician doesn't pay! My best friend in the 8th grade told me I'd be eating bologna and crackers for the rest of my life and she was absolutely right. She was blessed with wisdom and I thought, "I'll prove everyone wrong! I'll work hard and it won't happen to me."

Ugh. Can't stand being in my own skin right now.

So then I worry about people thinking, "You should just get a job." Right. Get a job. Maybe when I have one kid daycare won't completely eat my paycheck, but as we add to our family? Yeah, it just totally won't be worth it anymore. So what in the world do people do?

And I also worry about people who are judging me, thinking we shouldn't have had a baby. Really? Have you met Lily? She's the most awesome little girl I have ever met. I can't imagine my life without her, nor do I want to. But I won't lie. Sometimes I just hold her, my shoulders just shaking because I am crying so hard while I verbally abuse myself, "I'm not doing right by her. This poor kid deserves so much better than me."

Ugh. Do you ever wish you could take your brain out of your head for just a little while to give yourself a break from all the mental garbage that goes on in there sometimes? I do. Sometimes I just want to get away from my own self, and give myself a break from all the grief I give myself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Springtime Fun

This morning we woke up on schedule for once. I felt really energetic and productive. Must be the sunshine. We decided to go to toddler time at the library, which we never do when I teach flute lessons. I guess I am quite the overachiever today!

We left the library a little earlier than I wanted to because Lily was being...a toddler. I'm not sure what it is about being in public, but she kind of acts like she's embarrassed to be seen with me. I thought they didn't do that until they were teenagers!

Before coming home, we decided to stop by the Duck Park and enjoy some sunshine. Dark Park is not the official name, it's just what we call it. There is a wonderful area with nature trails and a pond with ducks behind our apartment complex that we don't visit nearly enough. A little deeper inside of the area are a couple of baseball diamonds and a really nice play area for kids. I love it!



It's been a beautiful and productive day today and I am happy that I get to share it with this kid! We made a new friend today at the park, though she was from out of town. I am not sure if we will ever see them again, but Lily enjoyed playing with a new kid today. I enjoyed meeting a new mama.

If you live close to me and you haven't been outside yet, you're missing out! This is your friendly reminder to GET OUT THERE and enjoy some sunshine!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Being Personally Converted

As mentioned earlier, I have been taking the time to ponder each of Alma's 50 questions in Alma Chapter 5. I have been using a study guide that I found on the internet to help me divide the questions up into 8 larger categories. It turns out that I didn't feel prompted to answer these questions in this way until I started reading the verses that fall under the category labeled "Being Personally Converted." The questions in this group are as follows:

1. Have you spiritually been born of God? (Alma 5:14)

2. Have you received his image in your countenances? (Alma 5:14)

3. Have you experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)

4. Do you exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? (Alma 5:15)

5. Do you look forward with an eye of faith and view this mortal body, to stand before God to be judged, according to the deeds, which have been done in the mortal body? (Alma 5:15)

I know my posts have been a little "churchy" lately, but it's because I really feel like I do not have very much else to talk about right now. I have been trying hard to do better at reading and really studying my scriptures. I have been writing down any and every thought that pops into my head as I study. My hope is to look back over the past few months and see if I notice any trends. I learned, or rather, I was reminded recently, that that is what I need to do in order to discover what the spirit is trying to teach me. I need to keep notes, write down any impressions, and after awhile, go back and notice any trends in my impressions.

I admit, some days are better than others in my scripture studies. Some days I am lucky to just read through a chapter of the Old Testament. I finally made it to Numbers yesterday! Woohoo!

I also admit that I am not very good at the scriptures. I have a terrible memory when it comes to locating certain popular scriptures. I have tried memorizing the Scripture Mastery verses but that takes work! I mean, really, I feel like I am trying to lift weights with my brain when I try to memorize something. I suppose I would get better at remembering verses if I practiced remembering. But, ugh. I'm not a fan of memorization.

Wish me luck as I discover things about myself and as I take an account of how I am doing on my journey of being personally converted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A quiet Sunday

Yesterday I went to church by myself, and I almost don't want to admit this, but I really enjoyed being able to feel the spirit to the extent that I did yesterday. Because it was ward conference, we had the opportunity to sustain our church leaders. I particularly enjoyed being able to do this. It was very neat to be able to raise my right hand to sustain our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, after his name was read. I allowed my mind to wander and think about what it really means to sustain someone. What am I doing when I raise my hand in support of someone? I thought about the things I have learned as I have served in Primary. I thought about the people I have gotten to know better. I remembered that people are not perfect. I remembered, even though people are not perfect, the Lord chooses these people to serve in these callings. As I was raising my hand in support of my church leaders, I thought, "The Lord has chosen these people to fill these callings. I feel honored to be able to raise my hand in support of the Lord's decisions." I feel a special something in my heart when I am able to sustain our prophet. Every. Single. Time. I can't say the same for anyone else. I admit, I sort of go through the motions and sometimes I don't even know what they just said up there before my hand just goes up automatically. However, yesterday I really thought about what I was doing. When the man who was reading started to read out our bishop's name, it was confirmed to me that our bishop truly was called of the Lord. At the same time, it must have been confirmed to the person reading because he started to get a little choked up as he was reading our bishop's name. I thought that was really cool. I thought that was a really neat moment because I have honestly never felt anything like that before. I've heard people bear testimony of the bishoprics in various wards and I always knew those people were called of the Lord, but I just didn't think about it like I did yesterday. I never sought to know, and I didn't really seek to know yesterday. I suppose the Lord decided to bless me in that way yesterday.

As always, I can never remember what the talks were about. I wished I'd had a notebook with me to write things down because the talks were so good. Usually there is no point to taking notes in sacrament meeting as Lily would end up ripping my paper away. I have gotten out of the habit of bringing writing materials with me. I remember that the bishop gave a talk that was very similar to a conversation that Robbie and I had over the weekend. He told me of a quote he heard while he was on his mission from Elder Quentin L. Cook (I think that's who he said it was) before he became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It seems that Elder Cook was late to arrive to that meeting because he was given the wrong directions. When he stood to give his talk he said something like (and I am probably getting it all wrong), "It doesn't matter how well you follow the wrong directions, it will never get you where you want to go." I thought that was really cool and it really impressed Robbie at the time. The bishop's talk yesterday made me think of that. In his talk, he said it is not enough just to know how to do something, such as pay your tithing, it's in the doing. I can know that I am supposed to study my scriptures all I want, but until I actually do it, I really won't be able to gain anything from that knowledge. I can know that I am supposed to pay my tithing all I want, but I really won't be able to gain any blessings until I actually do it. I can know I am supposed to go to church all I want, but it doesn't really matter how much I know it until I go to church every Sunday.

I remember the stake president gave a good talk too, but I just can't remember anything about it. I just remember how I felt, and I loved it!

Because it was ward conference, we had guests from the stake primary presidency visit our primary. As I was passing out rolls in the hallway, I saw a woman walk in and thought, "She belongs in primary." She looked at me and said, "Do you know where the primary room is?" I said, "I do! I had a feeling that you would be looking for that room. You just exude primary!" We had a fun little conversation on the way to the room. I'm usually kind of shy when I meet new people, but not yesterday. I suppose it helps when you obviously have something in common.

I also realized yesterday that I finally feel like I belong in primary. It took me a long time to feel this way. I thought for sure I was in the wrong place when I was first called to be the primary secretary. I don't know anything about kids! I think it is a really good place for me because I only teach sharing time once a month, so it's just enough to get my feet wet a little. I am learning the songs and kids' names and that's great. I finally feel like I am getting used to being there. I no longer look into the Relief Society room with longing as I walk past there during my rounds of passing out rolls to the primary teachers. In fact, I felt like it would be weird to be in there.

Speaking of doing my rounds, as I was passing out folders, the former Relief Society president stopped me in the hall to tell me about one of the sisters in our ward who is getting ready to have a baby soon. I didn't put two and two together as to why she would stop me to tell me about a pregnant woman. It seems as if they were talking together and the mama asked her if she thought I would be willing to attend her during her birth, but she was too afraid to ask. I told her, "Of course! I would be willing to doula for any woman in this ward. I just never approach them about it. They have to approach me. All they have to do is ask and I'll say yes." I also told her that money isn't an issue. We could trade whatever and it would be fine. Doulas are cool like that. Lots of us are willing to barter. Hopefully she'll pass the word along to that sweet mama.

Just a note to my local friends: if there are any of you, my local friends out there, that feel like you want to have me be your doula, don't be afraid to ask. I'll say yes. We'll work it out. I'm just not going to approach you about it. Boundaries, ya know?

After I came home, Lily was taking a nap. I started making some chili for us and used fresh garlic for the first time. I was afraid that I had used too much by the way it smelled, but I used as much as the recipe called for. Usually I use one of those little jars for my minced garlic, but Robbie bought me some fresh garlic cloves when he stopped by the store last weekend. I spent the rest of the evening smelling the chili cooking in the slow cooker and worrying that I used too much garlic. I really can't stand a lot of garlic.

After Lily woke from her nap, we just spent a quiet Sunday together. I enjoyed giggling and cuddling with my little girl. She's such a cutie!

After we put Lily to bed, the chili was ready. And it was WAY TOO GARLICKY. Yuck! Robbie liked it though. I ended up doing a Cincinnati special and boiling some noodles and grating some cheese and we had some of what we call chili spaghetti. That made it tolerable. I was disappointed because the last time I made chili it was amazing. I had my palette all set to have chili and what I had was garlic with a little bit of chili.

So all in all, we had one of the best weekends we have had in a long time. We really needed it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A happy Saturday

Today was a great day! I am so happy that we were able to have an enjoyable Saturday just being together as a family. It has been such a long time since we've had a day like today.

We spent the morning lounging around for a little while and then got ready for the day. When I first got up, I noticed that one of my friends, whose  Hypnobabies course I will audit over the next several Saturdays, was called away to a birth early this morning. From what I could tell, there would be a good chance that class would be postponed again this week. Such is the life of a doula! I wasn't sure because we decided that if I didn't hear from her, class was still happening. It got close to time for me to leave and I decided to send her a text message just to be sure. Turns out that she needed to cancel class again because the baby was not born yet. Once I got confirmation that class was postponed, we decided to leave and go get a little bite to eat.

After we were done eating, we decided to drive around town looking at houses. We are not even close to being in the market to buy a house, but we decided to look and dream. Our lease is supposed to be up at the end of the summer, and it would really be nice to be able to find a house to rent. We decided to look around to see if there are any houses for rent that are in our price range. We did not really have very much luck, and it was time for Lily to take a nap anyway. We drove home so she could take a nap.

Because dishes and laundry don't ever end, I spent Lily's nap time working on stripping Lily's diapers, folding laundry, catching up on dishes from the company we had last night and just trying to tidy up and maintain the "breathable" condition of our apartment at the moment. I've been stripping Lily's diapers with blue Dawn and I also boiled some inserts today. They really needed it.

Once Lily woke up from her nap we headed out to have dinner at Pappasito's. This was a rare treat for us! I had the sweetest clients recently give me a gift card to the Pappa's restaurants because they said, "You're right. You don't charge enough." The only reason they said that was because I like to let potential clients know that what I am charging isn't really typical and that I am charging a lower fee because I am in training. I say this with the hope that when they see a typical price that they will understand that doulas have value.

Lily was so cute and sweet at the restaurant and ate a quesadilla all by herself. A woman came up to us on her way out and complemented us on how beautiful Lily is, and I couldn't agree more. She gets prettier every day. And so smart! I am so impressed by how much she is growing and learning.

After dinner we went and looked around Target for a little while. Lily needed a few things, so we picked them up and ended up getting a box of brownies. Yummy. After we came home, we put Lily to bed and baked some brownies. Well, Robbie baked the brownies. He's really good at making sure the brownies come out perfectly, and I somehow tend to ruin them every time I attempt to make them.

And because I didn't take any pictures of our outing today, please enjoy a picture of Lily's socks that I sent to my mom to tease her.


When I was growing up, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom would fold her socks together like this and then put them in the laundry basket. It grossed me out because I'd have to separate her nasty ole socks as I was putting them in the wash. Now that I have all these teeny tiny baby socks to try to keep up with, I now understand why she did that. I suppose I never noticed that my mom never had any stray socks. They always had their partners. My mom sure is a smart cookie!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alma Chapter 5

I started reading Alma 5 a couple of weeks ago and decided that I wanted to take each question by itself and really ponder the message in each question. I've read this chapter many times and thought, "Man, these are great questions!" but I have never actually taken very much time to truly ponder these questions. I was prepared for this to take awhile, especially since I do not always have the opportunity to sit with my scriptures for long chunks of time. It has been interesting to see the ebbs and flows of spiritual moments. Some days I really feel the spirit and can tell I am learning, and some days I am lucky to just go through the motions. I have decided to not feel bad on those days that I am "just going through the motions" because I am trying to reestablish a habit of reading my scriptures daily as well as take an inventory of how I am doing spiritually.

A quick google search led me to this list of Alma's 50 Questions. I particularly appreciate how the author divided the 50 questions into 8 larger groups.

1. Remembering God's Acts for His People (Alma 5:6-9)
2. Knowing the Essential Logic of the Gospel (Alma 5:10-11)
3. Being Personally Converted (Alma 5:14-15)
4. Imagining the Judgement Day (Alma 5:15-24)
5. Assessing One's Spiritual Condition (Alma 5:26-30)
6. Being Identified with a 'Fold' (Alma 5:39)
7.Obtaining spiritual knowledge (Alma 5:45-46)
8. Refusing to repent (Alma 5:53-59)

I started my studies with section 3 and have just finished the last question in this section. Some days I do not have the opportunity to spend time with these questions, so I will read a chapter or two in the Old Testament. I also have a goal of reading the entire Old Testament. I just made it to Numbers today! I have read every other Standard Work in its entirety but not the Old Testament. I have tried several times, but this is one daunting work! One day I will finish. I am determined.