Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Snapshot

I find that the longer we have been married, the more things blend together. Did we do that when we were married? Engaged? Before or after we had kids? So I wanted to start a new tradition on my blog for the purpose of record-keeping. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, just more like a snapshot I can look back at and remember the big things we did in 2012.

March-Took a fun (surprise!) trip to Moab
May-Took our last trip to Des Moines, IA and Elmwood, IL (by next summer all of our family that lived out there will have moved to different places)
July- Delaney was born
        We hit the one year mark on owning our duplex
September- Cheyenne was a little crazy. I had a hard time adjusting to two kids.
October- Ben turned 30!
November- Spent Thanksgiving in Montana
December- Spent Christmas in Horseshoe Bend

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Peace

Just like each of our relationships with Jesus Christ, I think the message of Christmas would be different for each individual. This is the one I have learned this year. With two little girls ages 2 and 5 months and things can get a little crazy around our house. My husband, Ben, is an electrical engineer and Cheyenne is just like him. She wants to figure out how EVERYTHING works, so our house is constantly torn apart. Our neighbors can surely attest to the fact that our life is very LOUD with lots of crying, and very messy. It’s probably not a surprise to you that one of my favorite parts of the day is naptime. Not only is it actually quiet, but this is the time of the day I have chosen to read my scriptures. I know that if I don’t get that quiet time in during the day that my day is ruined.  It means I haven’t connected with my Heavenly Father, and I haven’t made a resolve to be better that day.

However the Lord tells us in John 14:27: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The world tells you that in order to have peace you need to have a peaceful environment. To commune with God you need quiet and calm in your life. I had mistakenly thought quiet was synonymous with peace. But one of the most holy experiences on this earth happened in a messy environment. It was dirty and unkempt and definitely not quiet. But there, in spite of the physical environment, Mary and Joseph communed with God and Jesus Christ entered the world.

Someone else also experienced this other worldly peace in an unexpected environment. In fact, we celebrate his 207th birthday today. Joseph Smith cried out for comfort when he was in the depths of Liberty Jail. It was dirty, cold, and unmistakably gloomy. However the Lord told Joseph, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121:7: My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

So for me the message of Christmas is peace. Not as the world giveth, but as Jesus Christ gives. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I want to add my testimony to Joseph Smith’s that is recorded in section 76:

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

Although I have not seen him with my own eyes, I too know that he lives. And I know that I am a daughter of God. I know that Jesus Christ has grown and developed just like me. He started out as a tiny baby in his mother’s arms and became the Savior of the world. I love the little-known last two verses of the hymn Once in Royal David’s City. They read:

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

I pray at each of us can make it back to live with our Father in Heaven again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A few recent photos

Momma's boots

I have discovered my toes

They really do actually like each other

Get ready Grandma because here I come!!

I tried to take a picture of her rolling over but this is all I got.

Some people work too hard

We are festive around here. (More about those stockings later)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Human Experience

Nobody is perfect. And that's the way it's meant to be. Each of us go through something that makes us realize this is a "human experience." When one of those experiences is tied to how you define yourself, what you consider your role in life to be, it can be particularly trying. I want to share one of those experiences I have had with you.

As I have stated before, I have always wanted to be a mother. One of the things I was really looking forward to was nursing. I was excited to be my baby's source of comfort, her only nourishment, and feel incredibly connected to her even after birth.

Cheyenne, circa May 2011
When Cheyenne was born, she had low blood sugar. Any medical complication with a newborn is scary, and she actually spent a few days in the NICU where they fed her sugar water and formula to try and correct the situation. By the time we got home my milk supply was still too low and could have possibly led to a relapse in her low blood sugar condition. I remember coming home from the lactation specialist bawling my eyes out, all of my hopes and dreams of being a nursing mother having gone out the window.

With Delaney I was determined to get it right. After delivery things were pretty textbook, and we actually left the hospital 24 hours after she was born. I nursed her constantly. I pumped. I took supplements. This was something I really really wanted. My calling in life is a mother, a nurturer. This is part of who I am.

Delaney circa July 2012
But sadly, after another trip to a lactation specialist, I found out that despite all of my efforts, I was still not able to produce enough milk. I decided not to give up. I continued to nurse and bottle feed. At 5 months, I'm not "done" yet, but it is readily apparent I am not her main source of nourishment.

With Cheyenne, when we went straight to bottle feeding, I remember being so concerned about the social aspects of it. People will judge me, think I chose this. I won't fit in in the mother's lounge. I won't be "in" with all the mastitis and soreness stories. I won't really be a "mother." Anyone could comfort my baby, not just me. I felt so incredibly alone.

When the problems started happening with Delaney, I poured my heart out to the Lord. "Please! Heavenly Father! Don't let this happen to me! I just want everything to work out. I want to feed my baby! I want to do the middle-of-the-night feedings. I want to. I really do. I will do anything! Just take this away" But the answer I received was not the one I wanted to hear.

He told me, this is a human experience. And you are not meant to be perfect. 

I've come to terms with this answer. I wouldn't say I've embraced the fact that I'm "broken." I don't think that's expected of us. But I have accepted the fact that we are mortal, each of us has something that is less than ideal. It's a way to remind us.

It's to remind us of where we are headed, what we are striving for. When we are resurrected, we will have PERFECT bodies, that perform perfectly. And already inside of us, we have perfect spirits, because we have a perfect Father. And that's who Heavenly Father loves. He loves me despite what may be outwardly defective. We are not defined by our faults. My Heavenly Father knows who I really am. 

I want to be that person, His daughter, who follows His teachings and lives her life so I can return to live with Him again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Be the Good

I've been really upset by this news all day. Senseless violence as I see it. I know there are going to be a lot of new barriers put in place to protect us: stricter gun laws, more security, physical barriers at school. And then people are going to delve into the "whys" look for "trigger points," "Why did he do this?" How can we prevent this in the future?" "Can we pinpoint societal pressures? Violent video games? Too much t.v.?" The researchers will hash it out, figuring out what kinds of things are leading to our demise.

One thing I know is clear.

The problem is not violent video games or psychoanalysis or the availability of guns. The problem is what we allow to go on inside of ourselves.

You know that time you did something mean, and instead of feeling sorry about it you laughed about it with your friends. Or the time someone made a mistake and instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt you mocked them and wouldn't let them live it down? Remember that time somebody stole your parking spot at the mall, or cut you off, or construction slowed you down and you were mad about it all day?

What does all this have to do with senseless violence, do you ask? We all make choices everyday. Every decision we make shapes how we view the world. I know that Satan is powerful enough, if we are not trying our hardest everyday, he can make with us as he wishes. Because if you are not taking control of yourself, you are giving him the reins.

I want to be better. I want to find kindness and joy in this world. I want to spend my time not bringing other people down, even if it's just in my mind. And I want to teach my children to do the same.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Judge Not

When I decided I wanted to be a better person, I knew one thing I would have to get rid of was judging others.  It seemed almost impossible to me. Judging is seen as part of the fabric of our society; it’s totally acceptable to bash someone on tv, to a friend, or even type it out for the whole world to see. It was hard to imagine that something so prevalent could actually be overcome. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that judging had become a way of life for me, how I looked at the world, and how I viewed other people.

My Savior knew my heart, my desire to be good. He knew I was finally ready to change. He let me in on a little secret: it all starts in your mind. That old adage that you crosstitched as a kid was true: sow a thought and you reap an action, sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny (thanks Ralph Waldo Emerson).

It’s been hard, but wow it’s made a world of difference. Instead of seeing someone’s shoes and making a snap judgment, or reading something and drawing immediate conclusions, I try to step back. A couple realizations have really helped me in my quest to be judgment-free. First, the better you know someone, the more likely you are to think kindly of them. I realized that a lot of the judgments I make are simply because I don’t really know the person and was making assumptions about them. Which brings me to the second thing I realized: there’s no one you know well enough (besides yourself) to adequately judge what’s going on inside their head.

To stop saying judgmental things is a good idea, but to actually stop thinking them altogether is going to change who I am. Our Savior Jesus Christ, who knows us better than we know ourselves, who knows our motives and our secret sins, still responds with kindness. He says to us, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” And that’s what I want to do.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Montana Thanksgiving + Cheyenne's Birthday

If you're concerned that the Thanksgiving and Cheyenne's birthday posts will always be combined (like last year), no fear, Thanksgiving is super late next year so it should stop the trend.

We made our annual trek up to Montana to visit Ben's grandparents and it didn't disappoint. Did I mention that two kids means twice the fun?

And SOMEBODY I know turned two! I made her these delicious blueberry almond cupcakes (she loves blueberries and she loves cupcakes). Ben is still dreaming about them.

Love this little girl, despite her trying to run away from me in this pic.

The drive is gorgeous and is one of the reasons I love visiting Montana. 

On top of the mountain, there are trees as far as the eye can see. If I didn't have an incredibly lame camera, you might just be able to see the beauty that I see. It really is breath-taking.

I love towns like this, nestled up in the mountains.

We stopped quite a few times to feed Delaney. Cheyenne got in some quality time with her Dad. I loved this view from where I was sitting.

Ben got a gift from his grandpa-- this elk skin coat. It is totally awesome. He'd probably be embarrassed for me to say this but I think he looks like a rugged mountain man in it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Grateful

Despite the hard days, the days when I want to pull out my hair, to scream or more likely cry,
Despite the 9 months of uncomfortableness, of tiredness and sickness,
they are so worth it.

Have I mentioned how much I love love love having a little baby around the house again?

I love it. I love babies. I love being a mother. So grateful to be here right now. In this phase of life. Tiny feet, tiny hands. Chubby fingers, handprints on mirrors. Words that aren't quite right and clothes that don't match. Baby kisses and baby smiles. This is where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brother Dillon

What does a good leader look like?

A good leader is someone who is in the trenches. Someone who does the work right along with the rest of us. Someone who inspires others by being the best "ordinary" worker there is. Then when I'm wondering how to best do my own work, I can look to the leader and say, "Hey, I can do what he does."

My brother Dillon is one such leader. He has initiative. He jumps right in. He does what is right. I would want him to be my leader because he's ordinary. Not ordinary as in boring, bur ordinary as in, he's exactly what all of us should be. What I should be. The world would be a better place if more people were like Dillon. Going out there, doing what you know to be true, doing it every day and not slacking. No hesitation when called upon. No dilly-dallying (although we like to call him Dilly Bar). Putting in the hours, doing his best.

I hope I can follow Dillon's example in my own life.

Happy Golden Birthday, little brother. You're my favorite brown-eyed sibling, and the best 20 year-old I know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It Was Fall Today

It was Fall today.
It wasn't too hot it wasn't too cold,
The leaves were crunchy,
The wind was blowing.
The next day it was winter.
I pulled out my furry vest
and stayed inside.

1. Saw this scene (below) when I went to get Cheyenne from her nap. She was obviously busy!
2. Cheyenne made this face when I said, "Cheese." If you can't tell, she's really into picking out her outfit these days.
3. Outfits like this are why you have baby girls.

1. Daddy and his girls hanging out Sunday night (ask him about his blue shirt...)
2. All bundled up for a walk in the snow!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Family Pictures

We happened to luck out on the most beautiful fall day ever in Utah. 
With the light filtering through the trees, it was a breathtaking sight down by the lake. 
So glad we were able to capture our little family of four on a perfect day.
And thanks for shooting us again, Caitlin Sheffer

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I Believe

I know these things are true. I know they are true because I have lived my life in such a way as to test out their validity.

I know that God lives.

I know that he has a son, Jesus Christ, who died for us.

I know that this life does not end at death.

I know that God and Jesus Christ have a plan for each of us.

I know that the most important part of this life is family.

I know that how we spend our time is a reflection of what we know.

I know that we are not supposed to just have good ideas about how to be better, but actually live those ideas.

And I absolutely know that the way to return to live with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ again is through his true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ben's Iphone pics and Halloween

Our date nights lately have been going for drives. It's the easiest way to keep two kids contained, and Ben and I get to have some great talks. This particular date night we went to check out the construction on the Payson Temple.

We love having my younger brother live so close and having him over for Sunday dinner. Unfortunately our ceilings are a little....short here in the basement for my 6'3" brother. Cheyenne loves Uncle Derek!

At Ben's work dinner, three of us wives all had babies in July.
Here they are showcasing the "fruits" of our labors har har!

Cheyenne is a bit of a bruiser sometimes, so we thought it only fitting that she be Nacho Libre for Halloween. Delaney was the cutest kitten! I took Cheyenne around for her first time trick-or-treating. The weather was perfect and she loved it!

Our pumpkin carving was a little basic this year, we opted for a simple luminary design. We used a drill to poke the holes.

Carving our pumpkin

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sister Cassidy

Cassidy is an amazing girl. We all love her. She's easily the sister with the most natural beauty. Soft green eyes that speak kindness, light brown hair the perfect thickness, beautiful complexion with a smattering of freckles, amazing skin that is naturally clear, a pretty smile, and a model oval face-shape that never carries any weight.

She yearns to be good. She want to know how to get there and always wants to make the right choice.

She's competitive at sports. Trying to beat a personal best or giving a girl a bloody nose in basketball :).

She loves babies. Being the youngest of 11 siblings, she's done her share of babysitting. She's what I think of when I think there is a little bit of "mother" in all women.

She's incredibly bright and a deep thinker. She's interested in how the mind works and processes things. The stuff she has figured out on her own are written in college textbooks.

She's compassionate for the outcast. She's happy to put her arms around those who are left out or alone.

She's an amazing friend and sister. She consistently reaches out to us, her siblings, connecting to us and keeping relationships strong. She's always the first one to give out positive reinforcement, write a missionary who is lonely, or start a conversation.

She's incredibly organized and clean. An anti-hoarder. I always thought it was kind of cute, but I would do good to learn from her. We don't need as much stuff as we think we do.

What a special sister we have. I'm always excited to spend time with Cassidy!

Happy Birthday Cassidy!