Wednesday, October 30, 2013

turns out getting out of your comfort zone can be kind of addictive

I did something out of my comfort zone last month.

Like way, way out.

And it was empowering.

And once I tell you what it was, you're going to laugh - laugh because most of you could have done it with one hand tied behind your back.  But that's ok.  I'm proud of me.

I repainted a wall sconce.

If you don't know what that is, it's ok.  I wouldn't have known what it was had it not been handed down to me.  When the sconce came into my possession in 2011, it looked like this:

And pre-painting, it looked like this:

Let me tell you something about this sconce.  It is sharp and it is heavy.  A lethal combination.  I know because I've almost been killed by it a few times.  And it meant that sanding it down was a bit like sanding down a porcupine.  A very deadly porcupine.

I used steel wool to sand it down, and I spray-painted it over the course of two days.

At first, I was disappointed.  It turned out a lot darker than I'd expected, and I wasn't sure I liked it.  But it's grown on me, and now I kind of love it.

It's darker than it looks in that picture, but you get the idea.  I've already considered repainting it a white weathered look, but then I remembered what it did to my hands and realized that I prefer when my hands don't look like raw meat.

Maybe someday.

For now, I just want to repaint everything else in our house.

No big deal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

temple trip

Last Saturday, Tim and I were able to go to the LDS Temple in Logan, UT.  We'd only been to the temple once since Ellie was born, and between the morning sickness and incessant peeing during pregnancy, it'd been more than a year since we'd been able to do an endowment session.

Luckily, or perhaps I should say blessedly, we have family nearby to watch Ellie while we go.  We might be are paranoid, and the idea of having anyone other than family watch her right now is paralyzing.  Jeremy and Ali watched her on Saturday, and they are our heroes!  They have three kids, including a little three-month-old, but they graciously agree to watch her whenever we need them to, including a couple weeks ago when we tried to go to the temple but realized it was closed...once we got there.  That was cool.

Despite the usual nerves when we leave Ellie, it was wonderful to be able to go.  The feeling inside the temple is just incredible, and I found myself so immersed in that peaceful feeling that I completely forgot about my worries for a little while.  Not to mention the fact that I knew Ellie was in very capable hands.

Got this studly picture by accident while I was trying to set the self-timer.  Though come to think of it, he was probably smiling because he already knew that was going to happen.  He knows me pretty well.

Feeling like we'd just gotten married yesterday.

When we got back to see Ellie, Ali told us that she'd been really happy for the most part, playing with their toys, and kicking her feet and bouncing up and down to the beat of the music.  She said Ellie also loved looking at Talon (their three-month-old), which didn't surprise me a bit.  I was so happy that she'd taken pictures of the two of them, because I always forget!

That first picture just cracks me up every time.  Such cute cousins.

And then we ate chips and homemade salsa with their family.

Pretty much the best day ever.

seven month pictures

Let's just assume from here on out that I will not be posting Ellie's "birthday" pictures on time.  Or anything
for that matter.

Ellie's 8 month "birthday" is on Sunday.  Isn't that crazy?  It feels like she changes almost every day.  She sits like a champ, has perfected the slow army-crawl, and frequently enjoys playing by herself for minutes at a time.  Yesterday at church, she sat on my lap, reading books and playing with toys, for an entire hour.  It was lovely.  And it's getting more and more common.

She is still shy with strangers, but smiles occasionally at a select few.  The rest of the time she just buries her face in my shoulder.  But she is always happy to see babies and children.  And dolls that look like babies.  A couple of weeks ago while we were grocery shopping, she squealed happily at the baby boy ahead of us in line for about five minutes straight.  He was a few months older than her, but he looked very intimidated by her brazen overtures.  One can only hope it isn't foreshadowing for her teenaged future.  I shudder at the thought.

Her favorite "words" are still "babba" and "dadda," but she occasionally delights me with a rare "mama," though usually it's only when she's upset.  My favorite are her excited squeals.  I feel like I should probably be more embarrassed when she does it in public, but it always just makes me giggle, which makes her giggle, which makes me get the idea.  I should probably repent or something.

She eats almost all the purees at this point, except for peas or green beans or really anything green.  But have you smelled green baby food?  Can't say that I blame her.  We're still too chicken to give her the typical finger foods, but we started letting her gnaw on steamed carrots and judging by her vice-like grip, she thoroughly enjoys it.  I also gave her a piece of avocado to gnaw on, but she ended up just smearing it everywhere.


I'm still having nightmares about it.  Well, ok, maybe not.  But you just wait and see if I try that again in the near future.  Tim thought it was hilarious.  Of course.

We tried a modified version of the "cry-it-out" method the other night, where you go in and pat them on the back after 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, etc., but after 20 minutes total, Tim and I were about ready to cry-it-out ourselves.  Needless to say, her sleeping is still erratic and leaves something to be desired, but we are very consistent with her bedtime routine, and we tell ourselves that it might be making a difference.  Maybe.

Ellie has become my little bestie, and we have the best time hanging out all day.  She follows me around from room to room and sits on the floor with her toys while I get things done.  Until, of course, she gets cranky and needs to either eat or sleep.  But, barring those two events, she has become the happiest little girl, and every day, I feel so lucky that I get to be her mom.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

on receiving answers to prayers

I grew up in the Mormon faith.

My parents were Mormon, my grandparents were Mormon, my great-grandparents were get the idea.

I'd always believed the church to be true.  Always.

But in high school, I started to wonder.  I'd tell the boys in my classes about Joseph Smith.  About how he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees when he was just fourteen years old and learned that none of the churches on the earth at the time had all of God's truths.  I saw the incredulous looks on their faces.  The bewilderment that I could believe something so preposterous.

And for the first time in my life, I realized that that's exactly how it sounded.  Preposterous.

I wanted to believe it, but I just wasn't sure I did anymore.

I took a release-time class called Seminary with a teacher named Brother Johnson.  Basically, it's a class hosted by the LDS Church (but available to anyone) that teaches about the scriptures.  It was in the fall, and the air was getting colder, which always meant that it was getting closer to General Conference.  General Conference is something else put on by the LDS Church that claims to have living prophets speaking to the world.  You know, like the ones in the Bible, except that they are alive today and still receive revelation from God.

Brother Johnson introduced a program to help us prepare for General Conference called "Fast From the World Week."  It involved reading your scriptures for at least 30 minutes every day, abstaining from watching television, wearing your Sunday best (even to school), carrying around your scriptures, and a whole host of other things that sounded like a lot of work to me.  But then Brother Johnson said something that caught my attention.  He said that if we did these things, and then sincerely listened to the prophet during General Conference, that we would receive answers to any questions that we might be having.

I figured that if I were going to find out whether or not this church was true, this would be the time.  I decided to put all of my effort into this "preparation" week, hoping against hope that I would receive answers to my questions.

And I felt nothing.  All week.

Nothing during my prayers.  Nothing during my scripture reading.  Nothing. At. All.

I started to feel discouraged, but I knew the week wasn't up yet.  We hadn't even had General Conference yet.  So I kept going.

We drove over to my grandparents' house to watch it that Saturday morning (since it's broadcast live on TV a couple of times on Saturday and a couple of times on Sunday), and I felt a distinct heaviness in my heart.

Maybe this wasn't really true after all.

The opening song played, and again I felt nothing.

But then a frail, 90-something year old man hobbled across the platform and over to the podium.  I knew who he was.  I'd known of him for years.  He has since passed, but at that time, he was the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.  I don't remember what he said, but I do remember what I felt.

As soon as I saw him, I felt an almost-tangible peace.  There were no lightning flashes, no angels, no voices from heaven, and yet...somehow I knew in my heart that this man truly was a prophet of God.  And because I knew that, I knew that the LDS faith really was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.

But perhaps even more importantly, I knew that God had answered my prayers.

General Conference is this weekend.  I am always excited to hear the prophet speak, but this conference especially feels significant as I am searching for answers yet again.  Nothing as monumental as that experience in high school, just answers to simple questions about my life right now.  I am doing my own modified "Fast From the World" program, though to be honest, I suspect that answers will come more because of the sincerity of my efforts rather than because of the specifics of what I am doing.

If you are searching for answers this lovely fall season, let me promise you that God wants to answer your prayers.  He loves you.  If you will just put forth some effort with the sincerity of your whole heart, you will get answers to your questions.  Maybe your questions aren't about which church is true.  Maybe they're about why your life is hard right now or why a loved one died or what to do next with your life.  But no matter the question, if it is important to you, it is important to God.

I know because He answers my prayers all the time.  Not always the way I want or in the way I expect, but He always does.  And always in the best way possible.

And this weekend, if you want to hear some reassurance from a man who talks to God all the time, listen to the prophet during General Conference.  You can watch it live here or here.  I promise it will bless your life.

P.S.  The most remarkable part about that preposterous-sounding story is's true.  And you can learn more about it here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

she's talking about sleeping AGAIN?

The very first song I ever sang in a vocal competition was a little number my voice teacher picked out.  I liked it, but I didn't really understand it.

It was called "Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me?"

Oh, how I understand it now.

I have a feeling that if I could go back and sing it now with the feelings and emotions that I have now experienced, I would have gotten first place.

Let's just say Ellie's sleeping has only made slight improvements so far.  We're still trying different things, but I have a feeling this will require patience.  Lots and lots of patience.

It helps that she's the cutest thing I've ever seen.

That little smile undoes me every time.

Every morning on our walks, I get to look down and see that face and hear her cute noises and I have never been more motivated to exercise.  Plus, Ellie and I are rather fond of the view:

Those mountains awake in my heart an almost unquenchable ache to grab our tent and our sleeping bags and just go camping.  Forget that Tim has work for a few days and just go.

Unfortunately, I don't think Tim's work would appreciate the old "I forgot I have a job" excuse.

Now if I could just convince the weather to stay warm for a few more months.  Or for forever.  I'm not picky.  Sadly, the cold snap we had last week wasn't our first.  And it certainly won't be our last.  But I guess this Arizona girl could use some toughening up.

Last Sunday, we had just finished up a movie and were listening to the song that plays during the ending credits.  I stood up and started dancing with Ellie, and before very long, Tim got up and started dancing with us, too.  We laughed and giggled and probably looked so silly, but in the midst of all that silliness, Tim and I made eye contact.  It was one of those moments - those precious, fleeting moments - where you realize that everything you could ever want - everything you could ever dream of - is right there.

It doesn't matter where we live or where we end up or how our life plays out.

As long as I have them, my life will be a good one.

[The good news?  I get them forever.]