Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's a good thing they're so cute...

I haven't been very grateful lately - at least, you wouldn't guess it from my blog. I need to get back to doing that. Three more things I'm grateful for:

1. My kids. I've said this before, but I'll say it again: They crack me up.

The other morning I heard a chorus of hello's coming from Ethan's room. I went in there to see what my little monkeys were doing, and this is what I found:

Of course!! Sitting in laundry baskets, talking on their "phones." (Natalie's phone was the only authentic one; Andrea's was a paper cell phone she made at preschool; Ethan's phone was an old blue rag, naturally.)

2. My kids. They say the darnedest things, and in the darnedest ways. Here is a sample:

  • Ethan: It isn't so much what Ethan says, as how he says it. Or yells it. He sounds kind of like those announcers at Eurpean soccer games when someone scores a gooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllll!
    -Ethan, do you want some cereal?
    "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" (which actually means yes)
    -Ethan, where is your bottle?
    -Ethan, time to go.

  • Natalie: If you've never heard Natalie's voice, you must imagine the tiniest, sweetest, most feminine and delicate little voice you've ever heard. Then imagine that sweet little thing say this and tell me you don't laugh: "Sit down Ethan or you'll fall and BUST your head open."

  • Andrea: (holding Ken doll) "This is Ken. I call him Sting!" Wow. Sting, huh? Where'd you get that name? "I just made it up in my head." Cool.

3. My kids. I'm not biased or anything, but I think they're pretty cute, and I'm grateful for that.

And as my sweet Grandma Gagon used to say, it's a good thing kids are so cute, or you'd smash them. I used to be slightly appalled that such a sweet little old lady could ever say such a thing. But she raised 7 children. She knew. And now I have kids of my own. And now I know.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It can't be worse than pregnancy.

This was the thought that got me through my wisdom tooth extraction without completely freaking out.

I'll admit it. I was terrified. The thought of what was going to happen to my poor mouth was too gruesome for me to comprehend. And the fact that there were some possible complications was equally, if not more, disturbing.

But the surgery was Friday, and today is Sunday, and it came to pass that all was well. My face is not paralyzed, and only one tooth (or lack of tooth) is really causing any pain.

And I'm not afraid of pain. I've had three c-sections. Were they painful? You better believe it. I've had doctors try to turn two breech babies. Did it hurt? Like the dickens it hurt. And yet, the thought of those things doesn't scare me in the least.

You know what does scare me? Nausea and vomiting for 6+ months, only to be replaced by constant itching all over, to the point of tears and scratching until it bleeds. Basically, pregnancy in general is my worst. nightmare. ever.

And so having a few teeth removed is really no biggie. The worst part was the IV (I hate hate hate needles), and then I woke up and it was all done. Since the surgery, I just lie in bed, watch movies, read, and sleep. And blog. I enjoy an occasional narcotic. I swish with salt water. I wear frozen bags of peas on my face. I eat yogurt and mashed potatoes with a baby spoon. My husband brings my children in to give me love, but then ushers then out when they get too rambunctious.

I'm beginning to think I should do this more often. Maybe next time we think about having a baby, I should just opt to have some teeth removed. So much easier...

Friday, April 24, 2009

First, the bad news.

The Bad News:
Ethan has pink eye and a cold. Which means I had to take him to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor.

The Good News:
I called the doctor's office yesterday at 4:12 pm, and by 4:30 pm, we were sitting face to face with my favorite pediatrician. She prescribed Vigamox, which unluckily is $25 for a teeny tiny bottle, but which we luckily have a year's supply of (due to the fact that Ethan has probably had pink eye for about 33% of his little life). Also good is that his pink eye never travels far. At least, the rest of the family has never gotten it from him (knock on wood).

My sick little guy with his Bah-doo (sippy cup) and his Shhh (blankie).

The Bad News:
Natalie tripped on the sidewalk and scraped her knee, her elbow, her hand, her cheek, and her foot. This while we getting in the car to go to preschool. And there was "a bleeding," which is always a tragedy.

The Good News:
I have discovered something called Dermaplast, a.k.a. Magic in a Pressurized Spray Bottle. As Natalie sat, screaming on the front steps of our house for all the neighbors to enjoy, I dashed upstairs, grabbed that little bottle of magic, and sprayed a liberal amount onto her "bleeding" knee, elbow, and foot. Instantly, the tears vanished, laughter ensued, and a good time was had by all. Of course, the requisite Hello Kitty bandaids were applied, but this should go without saying.

Natalie, proudly sporting a nice little scrape on her cheek

Disclaimer: You should exercise caution when using Dermaplast. While applying it to Natalie, I somehow managed to inhale some of the residual fumes. My mouth was numb for an hour.

The Bad News:
Today I'm going in for oral surgery. Anders' co-worker recently had the same thing done, and she was out for two weeks. I'm a nervous wreck.

The Good News:
I suppose it would have been good because I get to eat all the Jello I can handle. But I don't really like Jello. I guess the jury is still out on this one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not to brag, but I'm amazing.

So think back to your 6th birthday. Was it just me, or when you were a kid, did it seem like the second you were officially a year older, things magically changed? You know, like you could run faster than you could the day before; you obtained a certain wisdom and maturity that you lacked only yesterday; you had grown 3 inches in 24 hours.

As I've aged, I've come to realize that there is nothing magical that happens on your birthday. Or is there....?

Let me tell you what I did today: made the bed, sorted the laundry, washed the laundry, folded the laundry, put away the laundry (this includes all linens), changed the sheets on all beds and cribs, dusted the entire upstairs (including all knickknacks and lampshades), dusted the ledge on the stairwell, dusted the pictures, vacuumed upstairs, played with my children, made thank-you cards for the children to decorate, actually ate lunch with my kids, chatted with my sister on the phone, filed the papers piled on the table, swept the kitchen and entryway, mopped the kitchen and entryway, scrubbed the boiled-over potato/rice water on the stove, scrubbed the fridge exterior, de-cluttered the nightstands, chatted with a friend, changed 4 stinky diapers, had homemade lasagna for dinner, disciplined my children patiently and lovingly, and painted the living room.

Okay, so I didn't really paint the living room. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. Oh, and I did the dishes. Twice.

This is not typical for me. I've thought about all the possible reasons for having accomplished so much in so little time, including planet alignment and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. But the only logical conclusion is that as of a week ago, I turned all of 29 years old. And while I didn't grow 3 inches this year, I must have obtained a certain amount of amazing-ness that has enabled me to achieve great things.

Watch out everyone. Who knows what I'll do next? Maybe I'll actually finish the blanket that I started for my first baby over 5 years ago. Maybe I'll start flossing my children's teeth every night. Maybe I'll shave my legs!

Or maybe I'll just go take a nap.

P.S. Lest you should fall into despair and think you will never measure up to my level of amazing-ness, you should come over and see my basement. And my bathrooms. And my hair.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friends, husbands, and the Klopeks

1. Today I am grateful for friends - that I have them, and that they add an extra measure of fulfillment and joy to my life.

2. I am grateful for my husband. I know other people have really great husbands, but I have to say I won the jackpot here - I can't imagine a better husband than Anders.

3. I am grateful for the gorgeous weather we had today; we took the opportunity to do a little yardwork.

Our front yard isn't so bad. The grass is growing nicely, the crabapple tree is in full bloom right now, and the hedges need only a slight trim.

But the backyard. How do I describe it? Have you ever seen The 'Burbs? Do you remember the Klopek's yard? The dead tree, the dead leaves, the dead grass, the big ugly crow? And the way the wind would pick up whenever you stepped into the yard, and the creepy organ music that would play in the background?

This is our backyard. It's shameful. It's embarrassing. I feel bad for the neighbors. And so today we did our best to fix it up a little bit; now it looks like this:

Just kidding. But this is the goal, anway. We have great plans to tear out the patio, plant grass, build a few garden boxes, a gated area for the utility box, and maybe a lilac bush in the corner. Any green thumbs out there are welcome to leave their much-needed advice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh. my. goodness.

Three things to tbe thankful for today. Here we go:

1. Yesterday Ethan ate ham for dinner. A lot. And today, he ate half of a chicken enchilada.

Oh. my. goodness.

The kid who never eats meat has just eaten a ton of it in the last 24 hours. Which makes me wonder two things:

a-what his diapers are going to be like tomorrow; and
b-if maybe this sudden boost in protein intake has something to do with his sudden increase in furniture climbing (see exibit A). One can only wonder.

Exhibit A

2. I just spent two hours trying to get the girls to go to bed.

Oh. my. goodness.

You may be wondering why this is something to be grateful for. I will tell you. Andrea had a check-up today and got 3 shots and some blood drawn. Consequently, her arms have been in a lot of pain. And so when it was time for bed, the flood gates opened and the tears came uncontrollably. After an hour of making trips up and down the stairs, I finally decided the best thing to do was to stay in their room for a while until everyone calmed down.

I sat down on the floor between their beds. We sang Primary songs, Peter Paul and Mary, the Beatles, even a little Elvis. And then they started asking questions about Jesus and Heavenly Father. When will we get to see Them again? Where do they live? What do they look like? And then we had a sweet conversation that basically covered the Plan of Salvation. It's not very often that I have their undivided attention for more than 30 seconds, so I was thrilled to have this chance to teach them a little about the Gospel, and most importantly, how much Heavenly Father and the Savior love them.

3. Today is my Andrea's 5th birthday. The poor thing has the worst mother ever - I scheduled her check-up for today, without thinking that there are probably better ways to spend a birthday than getting poked and prodded and stuck with 4 needles.

But it wasn't all bad. She went to lunch with Dad; she got to watch a movie during quiet time; she requested and received chicken enchiladas and "zucchini without salt" for dinner; and there were a few presents to open and candles to blow out. She was so funny because every present she opened got this response:

"Oh. my. goodness."

She never ceases to amaze me. From the day she was born, she has been very observant and eager to take in everything around her. Nothing escapes her notice. I remember that during her first several hours of life, she was so quiet and still, but so alert! She had such an intense gaze; she was such a beautiful baby- and so tiny (she weighed 5 1/2 pounds when we took her home). Andrea, I love you! You bring so much joy to our family!

Multi-tasking: Eating cake while talking to Auntie Melinda on the phone

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Giving Thanks for Basalmic Vinegar

Today I am grateful for the following three things:

1. Basalmic Vinegar.
2. Choices.
3. Natalie.

Read on to find out why...

1. Basalmic Vinegar: So Ethan does not eat anything that isn't sweet or isn't dairy. Forget about breads, vegetables, or proteins. His daily diet goes something like this - Breakfast: Milk, Yogurt (sometimes I can sneak in a few Cheerios with the yogurt. sometimes.) Lunch: Cheesy quesadilla, bananas. Dinner: Nothing.

This is how dinner usually goes - We put something on his tray, like chicken, for example. He screams and waves his arms and writhes in his seat. Then he will either push each piece off with his finger, one at a time, or he will throw the pieces at Anders. Then he screams until we get him down.

Sometimes I give in and give him chicken nuggets. He used to eat those, but recently all he does is put the chicken nugget in his mouth, gums it for about 5 minutes, then spits out the chicken part, having sucked off all the breading.

My only consolation is that the breading is whole grain.

But last night, we had a breakthrough. He actually ate a piece of chicken (1/2 inch x 1/2 inch) that had been dipped in basalmic vinegar. It actually made it to his stomach. I was thrilled! Of course, he didn't eat any more than that. After that he just used the chicken as a utensil to get the basalmic vinegar into his mouth - he would dip the chicken and sucked off the vinegar.

Whatever floats your boat, kid, whatever floats your boat.

2. Choices: So today Andrea woke up in a foul mood. She grumped and groaned and cried pretty much all morning. For the first hour or so, she was such a stick-in-the-mud. And then, all of the sudden, she wasn't. She was happy. She was bright. She was cheerful. She was helpful and obedient. Was this seriously the same child who only 5 minutes ago was sitting on the potty while slamming the cabinet door over and over?

After this dramatic mood swing, we were all getting ready, and as she was helping Natalie get her shoes on, she looked up and said, "Mommy! I'm choosing to be happy!!"

Wouldn't it be great if more people realized they could make that choice?

3. Natalie: Yesterday was my sweet Natalie's birthday. The poor thing is like a door mat - she let's everyone walk all over her. She's quiet and considerate and a peacemaker, and so she often gets the short end of the stick, especially being the middle child. So I was especially happy to celebrate her special day. She got to choose every song we listened to in the car, she had a lunch date with Daddy, she chose dinner (pasta salad), she chose a Belle birthday cake, and all those presents were hers. It was so fun to watch her graciously shine in the spotlight.

Thanks, Grandma Miller, for the awesome Barbie clothes!

I remember the first time I saw her when she was born. She was a c-section, so I couldn't hold her right away, but Anders brought her to me and held her close to my cheek. I just remember how soft those sweet chubby cheeks were. Happy Birthday, Natalie! I love you, and I'm so glad you decided to join our family!

Natalie, sporting her new sun glasses, apron, next to her Belle birthday cake.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


So in honor of Easter, I thought I'd take a few minutes away from the Easter Bunny and focus on what Easter is really about: Jelly Beans.

Just kidding.

Seriously though, I was thinking about what the Savior and His atonement means to me right now - this day - at this stage in my life. Of course I'm grateful for the general things that we usually talk about: that I can be forgiven for my mistakes and shortcomings; that I have the opportunity to try again and again that death will not separate me from my loved ones; that the Savior bore every burden and therefore knows perfectly how to comfort me.

But as a parent, I am grateful for the atonement in a specific way. Let me try to explain: When Andrea was just an infant, I began fretting over everything that I was doing, because I was sure that I was going to ruin her. Was I holding her so much that she was going to be spoiled? Was I not holding her enough to let her know that she was loved? Was I too strict? Was I too permissive? Was I patient enough? Was I doing a good job at keeping her healthy? Was she getting the nutrition she needed? What about the music I listened to when she was in the car with me? How were all these things going to affect her? The fact that I have a degree in psychology made things worse. In psychology we analyze every single behavior, and they teach us that the first three years in a child's life are the most important in developing a child's attitudes and personality. It was enough to drive me crazy with paranoia.

Eventually - and luckily before I went completely nuts - I had the realization that no matter what I did, I probably would mess up my child, at least a little bit. We all either learn or inherit things from our parents that are counter-productive, maladaptive, or unfortunate. Am I right?

But here is the good news - the important part of my "ah-ha!" moment: Part of why we are here on Earth is to overcome our weaknesses and our shortcomings...including those things that were learned or inflicted upon us by our parents. And the way we overcome these things is through the Atonement.

As a mother, this realization has allowed me to heave a sigh of relief and has let me feel like I can just do the best I can and not worry so much about the rest. I still want to do a good job of raising my children. I don't want to be the one contributing to my children's hardships in life. But there will be ways that I fall short, and it's okay, because the Savior is there to pick up the pieces and fill in the gaps for my children. And for that, I am grateful. Happy Easter everyone!
* These were the best shots I could get, okay, so don't judge me on Natalie's pink tennis shoes and her peanut butter and jelly sandwich face :)

Happy Birthday to...me!

Yesterday was the day, the big 2-9. This is my last year that I think I can get away without really having to grow up and be an adult. Once you hit 30, you don't have any excuse. But one more year...I better make it a good one!

I awoke to my girls jumping on my bed and giving me hugs and kisses and wishing me happy birthday. And that continued all day. Everytime they see me, I get a big, "Happy Birthday, Mommy! I love you!" Does it get any better than that? I submit to you that it does not.

Anders took the kids in the morning, and I had a nice several hours to myself. I went shopping, and I was able to make important decisions without being rushed. Like, should I get Reese's peanut butter eggs or Cadbury eggs for the girls' Easter baskets? If I'd had the kids with me, I probably would have ended up with Whoppers (which are disgusting). I would have been pressured into making a hasty decision because Ethan would have been dive bombing out of the cart, Natalie would have been pulling everything off the shelves, and Andrea would have been asking me at least 47 questions.

Anyway, it was a lovely day. I got some time to myself, which is what each mom needs every year or so. Some gifts of note: a new duvet cover for our bed (I have hated our current one from the first day we bought it 5 years ago. It's purple. Need I say more?); a book by Bruce C. Hafen; and a new temple bag (the temple bag was great - the one I have been using was a bag that I got for my 13th birthday. It was from Claire's. It was canvas. It had flowers on it. Yikes.) And Anders did a magnificent job on the chocolate cake - it was layered!

Ethan rather enjoyed the chocolate cake.

Chic-fil-A was for dinner (my request). I could write a whole blog about how much I love Chic-Fil-A, from their real chicken nuggets, to the fresh flowers on the tables, to the cow that comes to visit every Tuesday night. What's not to love?!

Thanks to my family for making it a great day :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

*Yawn* This one's pretty boring

Three great things that happened/will happen today:

1. Elizabeth Jansen (aka-my hero) watched all three of my children for me this morning, and in that 2 1/2 hours, I finished my lesson. It is done. And the best part is that I didn't even cry this time while preparing. Usually, completing a lesson involves lots of stressing and fretting and hair-pulling and a few tears of desperation. (Yes, this calling stresses me out a little. Why do you ask?) But this time, it all went pretty smoothly. We'll see how Sunday goes. And thanks, Yaya, for being willing to read through it.

2. Some friends invited our family to Red Robin for dinner tonight. This is wonderful. This means I don't have to cook dinner. Or do the dishes. Or wipe the dinner up off the floor. Instead, I pay someone else to do all that. Win-win-win.

3. Andrea was invited to play at Abby and Emma's house this afternoon. For a variety of reasons which I will not bore you with, this is what she ended up wearing over to their house:

Pink shirt, white tiered skirt, brown gauchos. Awesome. I'm just glad to have good friends who have been there and understand.

On a separate note, there are now others besides my sister who read my blog. So far I think there are 3. This was exciting at first - 3 whole fans! - but now I'm not so sure. When it was just Yaya reading, no big deal. She already knows my deficiencies and therefore has low expectations for my blog. But now that other people are reading - even if it is just 3 - I feel all this pressure to create this amazingly clever blog that will *wow* people every single time they visit. So let me just say this up front: Keep your expectations low. Think words like "boring" and "pointless" and "rambling," and then you won't be disappointed :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I got the blues...

So there's no good reason for it, but today has been kind of a downer day. It might have something to do with the 2 pieces of chocolate cake and innumerable jelly bellies I ate (I don't fall from sugar highs very gracefully).

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I spent most of the day trying my darnedest to get my kids to "please be quiet and listen to what I'm saying and obey me the first time and be nice to your sister and don't use that tone of voice with me and why are you crying again and go put some pants on and please eat your dinner and don't throw it on the floor and if you get out of bed one more time I'm taking your books away and this time I mean it and please calm down and go to sleep!"

Or maybe it is because I had an appointment with an oral surgeon today who told me the procedure I will be undergoing could result in permanent facial paralysis. Whoa.

Or maybe it's because I haven't written my 3 positive experiences for that last couple of days, so I'm going to now, because I need a boost:

1. Andrea and I had a lunch date today. While Natalie was at her playdate with Olivia, I fixed Ethan lunch (cheesy quesadilla and a banana). While I did this, Andrea fixed lunch for me and her: Turkey sandwiches (with mustard, ranch, and pickles); strawberries (rinsed and de-leafed); and water (ice for her, no ice for me, which is how I like my water). She got the denim quilt and spread it out on the living room floor, and carried in the plates, glasses, and paper towels. I put Ethan down for a nap, and Andrea and I had a lovely time together. What a sweetheart!

2. I teach Relief Society on Sunday, and I feel oddly confident in the material that I'm presenting. I think this lesson could be a half-decent one. This is good, because the last few really stunk.

3. I'm wearing my favorite pants - they are grey, they are stretchy, they are long - I'm just glad that I don't have to be the one looking at me when I wear them, because WOOF!

4. Just to be extra positive today, my fourth positive experience was that in spite of the fact that I had to go to the oral surgeon, and in spite of the fact that my face may be permanently paralyzed, the receptionists, staff, and even the surgeon were extremely pleasant and had excellent bed-side manner. I appreciate that.

5. Oh, and I just remembered something else. When I came home from my appointment, my husband had cleaned up the house. Even if everything else in the world is falling apart, if my house is clean, I can be happy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It isn't always so easy

So I'm going to have to dig deep to find 3 positive experiences for today. It wasn't a bad day; it was just one of those days when everything was a struggle. It may have something to do with the fact that Anders and I stayed up until 12:30 the night before watching Harry Potter. We're too old to be up that late. This morning I woke up to no husband, an inconsolable 1 year old, and 2 very hungry little girls. And a splitting headache.

But it wasn't all bad...let's see...three good things...hmmmm...

1. What I heard of General Conference was amazing. I often like to go into conference weekend a little more spiritually prepared than I was this weekend. And so I was kind of nervous I wouldn't get much out of it today, especially with 3 rambunctious kiddos running wild. But last night I did offer a quick pray for guidance on the issue of preparedness. And who remembers what the first talk was about?! Elder Hales spoke on provident living. It was the very first address, which means my kids were still relatively tame and I actually got to hear it :)

2. I am currently enjoying an evening to myself. The kids are asleep, Anders is at the Priesthood meeting, and I am enjoying a very quiet, relatively clean house.

3. My kids crack me up. Especially Ethan. And Natalie. And Andrea. Okay, so they are all equally hilarious. They all love dressing up. Natalie enjoys wearing "beautiful dresses," and will dance around in less-than-modest get-ups. Tonight Andrea and Natalie were both dancing while Andrea sang a song at the top of her lungs. (The song is an Andrea Original. It goes like this: "We can be happy, Every Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" The melody...varies.)

Notice Natalie's "dress" - It is actually a twirly skirt that she wears on her shoulder like a toga.

And then there is Ethan. He loves to wear his jacket around the house. All day. He thinks he is cool stuff when he wears his jacket.

He also thinks that he wants to wear what the girls are wearing, and literally begged me to put him in a Cinderella dress, and later, some sparkly butterfly underwear. I don't know how, but after a few minutes of wearing these things, it was like he knew. He just knew that little boys aren't meant to be beautiful princesses and wear things that sparkle. Hence the tears and screaming.

Luckily, my husband doesn't read this blog. Neither has he seen these pictures. It's probably best this way. (shhhhh....)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Following in Oprah's Footsteps...

I've started what Oprah calls a 'gratitude journal.' And actually, Oprah isn't the only one who has ever done this. It just sounds cooler to say I'm doing what Oprah is doing - if you like Oprah. (By the way, I used to enjoy her. Not so much any more...I have ended our relationship of many years due to irreconcilable differences in values and beliefs.)

But I digress. I actually resolved to begin my gratitude journal after watching a BYU forum featuring Dr. Martin Seligman. (Anyone interested in learned helplessness? Then he's your man!) He made several interesting points regarding Positive Psychology, and I will not attempt to summarize them all here. But he did say that research has shown that by simply recording 3 positive experiences each day, people were found to be significantly happier and more satisfied with life after a 6 month period.

Who doesn't want to be significantly happier and more satisfied with life in 6 months?! I know I do. So I'm giving it a try. I thought it might be fun to make this a part of my blog...it'll give me something to write about.

So, three positive experiences for today, Friday, April 3:

1. A friend from my ward - Elizabeth Jansen - called me up today and offered to watch my kids for me each month so that I could have time to prepare my Relief Society lessons. WOW! I'm not usually too eager to dump my kids on others (I consider it cruel and unusual punishment - for the babysitter - not the kids.) But I had to take her up on that offer because anyone who knows me knows that I fall apart the weeks I have to teach. This means that my family falls apart during the weeks that I have to teach. And I mean that we are totally dysfunctional. What a huge help! THANK YOU BETH!!

2. It rained today. It even thundered once. I love the rain and I love thunderstorms. We don't ever get thunderstorms here in Virginia like we did in Texas, but then, nowhere can be as wonderful as Texas, and I've come to accept that. Anyway, it rained, and then the sky sort of cleared and it has been beautiful today. I forget how much I love spring.

3. It's not my place to go into detail, but someone close to me had something good happen in her life. She deserves to finally have something good in her life, so that makes me glad :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jelly Belly's

...are a dangerous thing.

All you Costco members out there have probably seen the large 4 lb. Jelly Belly jelly bean jars for sale at their local Costco warehouse. It has been a dream of mine to own my very own jar of Jelly Belly's since I first became an official Costco-card-carrying person.

Today, I lived that dream. I had a coupon - $4 off! - and I knew that if I didn't buy them now, I never would. So I did. And I told myself, "I'll just have a few now and then - a quick little sugar fix to help me through the more difficult times."

Well, we bought the jelly beans, and then I had to drive the 20 minutes to go pick up Andrea from preschool. I drove with the jar in my lap - opened. I probably ate 100 jelly beans just on the way to school. That was at noon. Those jelly beans gave me the strength and happiness I needed to get home and get the kids lunch. Then the sugar started wearing off. I was fading fast. It was all I could do to get the kids down for naps.

At 1:30, I crashed. I slept for almost 3 hours, and when I woke up I felt horrible. See, I thought I could control myself around that much sugar. But I should have known better. And now I have the rest of this jar sitting in my house, tempting me. One would think that as a responsible adult, I would know better than to eat 17 handfuls of jellybeans in one day. If one thought this, one would be wrong.

Now my dilemna is: Do I keep the rest of the jar (that still wasn't cheap - even with the $4 off), or do I throw it out? Maybe I could donate them to Purple Heart...that's what I usually end up doing with everything I get rid of. Somehow it makes me feel better.

And by the way, my favorite Jelly Belly's are the black ones and the "Sizzling Cinnamon" ones. My least favorite: "Cafe Latte," otherwise known as "Dirt."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Soap Box

So this entry isn't exactly related to my 'thesis', which I was so excited about a few days. But I've had something on my mind, so here we go...

Apparently yesterday was Red Envelope Day. I didn't know what that was until I was invited to a Red Envelope party. Basically, on March 31, people all over the U.S. addressed red envelopes to President Obama in protest of abortion. I've never been very politically active about anything beyond voting in the presidential elections, so the fact that I participated in this was a big deal to me.

After sending out my 20 red envelopes, I spent last evening reading about abortion and trying to decide why I am pro-life, and why I can't just be pro-choice and let others make their own decisions. There are several facets to this debate, and I couldn't even begin to address all of them. But one things sticks out in my mind as I think about this issue of abortion: We are losing respect for life, and we do not have a correct understanding of the value, meaning, and purpose of life.

Last night I visited the website for the National Abortion Federation to see what they had to say in support of abortion rights. There is a section where women who have had abortions can leave notes as to why they had an abortion and what their experience was like. I found it very interesting that most of the women talked about how they just weren't prepared to care for a baby yet. They felt like they wouldn't be able to provide the kind of life they wanted for their baby - they usually cited the absence of a father, or economic reasons for aborting. I think that most of these women really did have the best of intentions when making this difficult decision. I understand that we want the best for our children. I understand that we don't want them to face any hardship or adversity that they don't have to. But, isn't part of why we are here on earth to face adversity? To have trials? To experience hardship? Isn't that what helps us to grow? to learn? to become better?

It seems that to some people, life is only worth living if it meets a certain (and arbitrary) ideal or standard. And this is where the Plan of Salvation comes in handy. It teaches us that every life has meaning and purpose. Things are never going to be ideal, and isn't that the point? We come here to earth to grow and to learn and to prove ourselves, and having a body - a mortal, imperfect body - is essential to all of this. And the best part is, that in spite of all the hardship and imperfection, we can have JOY!

We have some friends who recently had a healthy baby boy. Early on in the pregnancy, the doctor detected a possible abnormality that potentially indicated Down Syndrome. He immediately sent them to some specialists so that further testing could be done. One of the tests in particular - amniocentesis - carries a risk of preterm labor or miscarriage. Our friends opted to not carry out any of the tests. They didn't want to jepardize their baby, whether he had Down Syndrome or not. The specialists, on the other hand, were surprised at their decision. They had assumed that these parents would want to find out so that they could then abort the baby if they found him to have problems.

While I wouldn't wish disablities on any person, child, or family, those lives still have meaning and the potential for joy! Where do we draw the line in defining a worthwhile life? If we would terminate a life early on because of potential disability - because that life isn't worth living - then what of all those who are born and live with disability? Doesn't the same arguement carry over? Are their lives also worthless because they are less than ideal?

I was talking about this whole issue with Anders last night, and he said the solution to abortion is missionary work. Until people understand the Plan of Salvation, then any arguement we can give against abortion will be pointless. It ultimately comes down to an understanding that every life is of great worth, life itself is sacred, and the power to create life is also sacred and to be used appropriately.