Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

I don't have a specific reason for blogging today, other than to write! 😀 The past nine vacation days have been so great! From beautiful Christmas celebrations, to my "graduation" of in-office physical therapy (I'm SO excited to have that expensive habit deleted from my budget!!!), to unlimited time with my favorite people (Greg and our three children!) and endless reading of interesting and inspiring articles and blog posts (I pinned all the good stuff I found!), I feel completely rejuvenated and happy!

One of the happiest things I experienced this Christmas/New Year's week is when my husband surprised me with my biggest Christmas present: a new flat-screen TV for our unfinished laundry room! No, his gift to me didn't signify that I was slacking in my laundry duties (thankfully, he's not that kind of guy!), it's simply been a desire of mine ever since we moved back to Utah, and he was so sweet to make my wish come true! 😊

I had been using our old-school, enormous tube TV and it worked very nicely at helping me not be bored while folding laundry, but it definitely cut into my laundry-folding space—it literally took up about one third of the table. So when we cleared off the table (of all my filing projects) and set up my new TV, I was beyond excited because I had so much extra space! Plus, we used Greg's old computer monitor stand, so it made my view even better(!)—because my folded laundry piles won't get in the way!

After getting my table all set up, I realized that I needed to reconfigure my large wire shelving unit of laundry supplies. Previously, my laundry-folding TV had faced away from my washer/dryer, so I could only listen to it as I was loading the washer/dryer. But because my new flat-screen is so flat (hallelujah!), I positioned it so I can actually see it while folding laundry and loading/unloading my washer/dryer! So yeah, I made sure my wire shelf is nice and open so I can easily see my TV now!

I happily hooked up my old-school DVD/VCR combo and was thrilled that the connection actually worked on my new digital TV! Yay for technology! And yay me! for actually figuring it all out! Ha ha. At first, I was a little concerned it might not work, as it took a few minutes to get everything just right.

Yet I really couldn't believe my good fortune that my eight-year-old, very inexpensive RCA digital antenna (from when TV switched from analog to digital) actually picked up 37 channels(!)—and in our dungeon of a basement, nonetheless! Even though my TV showed it was picking up channels as it scanned, I was trying not to get my hopes up because I didn't want to be disappointed when my TV channels didn't work. Thus, I was near-tears (happy ones, of course!) when my TV channels all worked and the signal was completely and perfectly crisp! Yay yay happy day!

I watched "Gone With the Wind" for quite a while yesterday and loved every minute of it! Then I switched to regular television when I realized that our local PBS station was binge-broadcasting "Downton Abbey"! Can you say, "happy"?! #that'sme!

Needless to say, my laundry is completely caught up—which is a holiday miracle! 😄 I had a major laundry party in my basement yesterday, and I honestly had no desire to leave and go do something else!

Yes, my Gregor gets major Good Husband Points! for his thoughtful gift! Plus, I'll never forget how he totally surprised me on Christmas morning! I had no idea about my TV—which is saying a lot because I usually see everything that goes in or out of our house! Well, it was easier for him to get away with his surprise because he used a gift card he had earned from work—otherwise, I would have seen his purchase on our bank statement. Yep, Greg and I both win because of his sneaky generosity! Ha ha. #thesneakygifter

Another reason I'm so happy today is because I talked with my amazingly awesome 92-year-old Grandpa Charles for 39 minutes this morning! He is just one of my most favorite people on the planet and I'm grateful he took time for me today.

One of the fun tidbits about my paternal grandparents is the fact that they spent a lot of time getting to know each other in their high school journalism class. My Grandpa Charles was an excellent writer and my Grandma Ardis was their class' perfect typist. They were both the best in their class and their teacher's favorite students—I read their yearbook and their journalism teacher wrote as much! I strongly believe their love story needs to be written one day, but I don't know which one of their children/grandchildren/great grandchildren are going to be lucky enough to write it. Even if their actual life stories aren't all written, they inspire me to want to write a historical-fiction love story, for sure! 😊

This morning, I picked my grandpa's brain about journalism and today's crazy media. Grandpa Charles shared some wise words for our overly-editorialized media:
  • Tell it like it is.
  • Don't slant the news toward one side.
  • Stay away from sources with lobbyists trying to influence news production.
  • Realize that we, as individuals, can't change the media—it needs to change from journalists with integrity from inside each organization.
  • Research every news story we are interested in, or want to believe. See if what we believe matches up with what they're reporting.
  • Prophets have predicted the chaos and destruction of our day. We shouldn't be surprised it's here. We need to stay strong, despite what's going on in the world.
  • Opinions are okay to have, but people should present them up front as such, and not present them as fact.

Grandpa Charles continued his thoughts on our media today and how it influences us:
  • In the 50s, we didn't have instant access to the news like we do today. We had to wait for the 6:00 news, and even then, we didn't have every bit of information like we do now. Maybe we went along a little ignorant, but we were blissful because we only had our own lives to worry about.
  • We can't save the world, but we can pray for all the people who are suffering.
  • We need to realize that other people's trials are theirs, not ours. We didn't cause their suffering, so we can't let their suffering get us down when we watch or read the news.
  • We're all the result of our heredity and those things that happened in the past. We're not responsible for those things, either. All we can do is try our best to make our lives better [and better the lives of those around us].
  • People nowadays don't understand freedom. You don't understand what freedom really is until you're without it. I went into the Navy and suddenly I didn't have my full freedom anymore because I "belonged" to the government. People today need to understand how good they have it.
  • Our church does an amazing job of helping those in need. We are trying to do our part.
I wrote down a lot of my Grandpa Charles' thoughts today because his perspective is invaluable to me! 😊 He's seen so much in his 92 years on this earth! While he never went to college, Grandpa Charles is extremely intelligent. He's worked hard his entire life, and still maintains more than an acre of his five-acre property in beautiful Idaho all by himself! (The rest of his property is just weeds and rocks, so it doesn't need to be maintained.)

My grandpa is quite the writer, too—he wrote a book of poetry back-in-the-day(!), so I truly value his input when it comes to journalism/media and writing. Plus, Grandpa Charles never stops reading! As a child, I remember he was always reading something—Reader's Digest, other magazines, endless books, and scriptures—in his kitchen's corner-comfy-chair!

Grandpa Charles always has something interesting or funny to say. I can't adequately express how much I love the fact that Grandpa Charles positively contributes to every conversation without being intrusive or demeaning in any way. He basically makes everyone feel loved, valued, and like they are more than worth spending time with! My little family and extended family have been so blessed to have his example and influence in our lives!

Thus, today, it was quite the treat when (3/4 of the way into our conversation) Grandpa Charles said, "Speaking of journalism, you should write a book!" Shocked at his statement, I said, "Really?! What would I write about?!" He said, "I don't know, maybe your thoughts on life? You're just so positive and inspiring, you should write a book and influence other people!"

I about jumped through the phone and hugged my dear Grandpa Charles! He will honestly have no idea how much his words mean to me! I will never forget our happy conversation for as long as I live! 😁

I replied, "Well, Grandpa, I do write a blog—have you ever looked at it before?"—knowing full well that I've emailed him links to my blog posts more than a dozen times! And I included my blog's link in our Christmas newsletter this year! Ha ha. He said, "Nope, I've never seen your blog. I try to say away from that scary computer!" 😂

Could you "die" at how hilarious my Grandpa Charles is?! I explained why I blog, and what I hope to accomplish by doing so. He supportively agreed with my writing efforts and was so happy to hear I'm sharing my thoughts with the world! :) Yay! By the way, is "supportively" even a word? It sounds all right to me, but I couldn't really find a standard definition of it online...

After my delightful conversation with Grandpa Charles, I've decided that I'm going to print off one of my blog posts ("My Pioneer Sacrament Meeting Talk"—because it includes portions of our family history) and mail it to him! If he likes it, I'll print off and mail another post every-so-often for his reading enjoyment! I'm only slightly concerned that Grandpa Charles will be bothered by all of my typos/grammatical errors, but I'll survive because he's so awesome! 😇

The other huge bit of good news that I've been sailing on since December 19th is that Greg had a perfect colonoscopy! We'd both been more than worried because Greg's extended family has colon polyps in their genetics—on both his maternal and paternal lines. Not to mention, one of our family tragedies is that his mom, Anne, died from colon cancer at age 65. I was genuinely concerned that Greg would not only have multiple polyps, but that said polyps could be pre-cancerous, or even cancerous. I shudder to revisit my worries about Greg's colonoscopy!

So it was truly the best Christmas gift we could have received when Greg's procedure concluded without a flaw! His doctor gave us photos of Greg's colon and it was completely clear! In fact, Greg's colon looks better than anything I've ever seen online—and I've seen a lot of colons because I sadly researched colon cancer for five years while Anne was suffering from it. So when I say, "Greg literally has THE PERFECT COLON!" I really mean it! Ha ha.

It's become quite the joke when I greet Greg with, "How does it feel to be the man with the perfect colon?!" or "I hope my colon is as perfect as yours when I have my colonoscopy!" And sometimes I shout, "Greg has the perfect colon!" or I tickle him and say, "Ahh! Your colon is so perfect!" I could go on, but I'll spare you. 😉

The part of Greg's colonoscopy—and all that went with it—I won't ever forget is what happened right before we left for the hospital. I'd been praying for days about his procedure (there can be significant side effects), and wanted to sneak in one more prayer. After I finished my prayer, the Holy Ghost told me, "Greg will be completely fine. There will be no polyps. There will be no cancer. You have absolutely nothing to worry about."

In that moment, I was shocked at what had been revealed to me—but I believed it because I felt such utter peace and comfort accompanying my spiritual experience. I knew that my inspiration had come from the Holy Ghost because I had been nervous all week, and there's no way I could suddenly become completely peaceful all by myself—especially when I had been so worried for so long.

I found it interesting that the Spirit didn't say anything to me about the colonoscopy procedure itself—and the possibility of the doctor nicking his colon, as they describe in their warning literature. But logically speaking, if there aren't any polyps or cancer to be found in Greg's colon, there wouldn't be a need for any nipping/cutting in the first place! 😀 So it makes perfect sense that the Holy Ghost wouldn't say anything specific about Greg's procedure! Right?!

Having those wonderful, peaceful thoughts pop suddenly into my mind made me excited and happy because I knew they were not my own thoughts. Besides, if I had come up with thoughts about Greg's colonoscopy on my own, I would have thought for sure that he would have had polyps, or the early stages of diverticulitis—as his brother had trouble with that condition in the past.

The greatest part was being able to go with Greg to his colonoscopy without fear. I was calm and it was so easy(!) for me to wait for Greg to return from his procedure. I wasn't a nervous wreck and my waiting time passed very quickly! I give complete props to the Holy Ghost for preparing me in the perfect way—nothing could have calmed me down like He did! :)

Yes, I love the spiritual experiences I'm given by our Heavenly Father. The marvelous, heavenly gift of the Holy Ghost is one I've never taken for granted and will cherish forever! The Comforter truly is evidence of our Heavenly Father's and Savior's love for us. They want us to know we are not alone in our life journeys, and the Holy Ghost perfectly testifies of that glorious fact with His endless presence in our lives! And, as Moroni 10:5 states, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." I 100% believe that scripture because my experience with Greg's colonoscopy was precisely that!

Here's a photo from my extended family's Christmas celebration—two days before Greg's colonoscopy. I wanted to document our happy Christmas in the event he received not-great news that next Monday. Thank goodness we're still smiling...because everything is awesome! 😀

Well, my time is up for today, I need to go be a productive mama again. But I've greatly enjoyed my blogging time and I can't wait to come back again soon! Happy New Year to you and yours! 🎉🎇🎊

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Family-Focused Family Home Evening

For my family's family home evening this past Monday night, I chose two of BYUTV's amazing Turning Point episodes for us to watch: San Pasqual Academy and The Clarks.

After watching those two inspiring videos on my own, I felt so strongly that my children absolutely needed to learn life lessons from those sweet children in California's foster care system, and especially from the wonderful Clark family. And I knew that our family home evening was the perfect opportunity for us to learn together! 😊

While those Turning Point episodes show the immense value of solid/good personal relationships, they especially point out the vast importance of families—which begin from having good parents (and grandparents, whenever possible)!

When my family finished watching San Pasqual Academy and The Clarks, Greg and I had a fairly long conversation with our children about life.

Greg and I reminded our children how incredibly blessed we are to have each other in our very own eternal family! We already have everything those darling foster-care children were seeking and desired so deeply within their lonely, lost souls. No one can ever put a price on the earthly and eternal bond my family has!

We pointed out that San Diego County finally realized—after interviewing many foster-care children—just how invaluable the basic family structure is—including mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, etc. I wanted our children to internalize that those elected officials in California thought it important enough to recreate traditional families for many foster-care children who had lost all hope.

Greg and I helped our "babies" understand that if children are going to be successful, they always need good mothers and fathers in their lives that possess consistent and correct parenting skills!

We also discussed how the amazing Clark parents taught through their example that selflessness, pure love and endless dedication is needed in raising children well. Those same vital principles also apply to children contributing to the happiness of their families. The 21 loving, responsible, kind and cooperative Clark children were a sight to behold! And I've already hoisted Mary Beth and Scott Clark (the amazing parents) on a pretty sizable pedestal! 😉

Greg and I have talked with our children umpteen times about the great importance of parents having a good marriage, but we pointed it out again because we can never undervalue the fact that a solid, loving marriage is what keeps every family going in the right direction!

Our children understand that while no one is perfect, all of us can try to improve ourselves daily! And after watching those two lovely Turning Point videos, I dearly hope my darlings further internalized that family members really can help each other be happy and become better people!

Gratitude was also a big focus of our night. Greg and I really wanted our children (and us!) to remember to be sooo grateful for our lives and the opportunities we've been given! But we also wanted them to realize that even if people don't have the best upbringing, they can still make good choices and live productive, happy lives!

Most importantly, Greg and I helped our children see that each of us can make a very positive impact in this world! Even though we may feel like our lives are small, or they don't matter much, that's most definitely not the case! Every child, sibling and parent can make a difference in someone else's life—even if it's just our own life for a little while! Yes, sometimes we need to work on ourselves before we can branch out and help someone else. But I believe the ultimate goal of this life is for everyone to be happy and to love and serve others to the very best of our abilities—just like Jesus Christ did. 😊

As you may have guessed, our children weren't too thrilled with Greg and I taking away so much time from their Monday night of technology fun. Yes, my babies were very verbal about their unhappiness with our family home evening decision 😒. Yet I did not care how bothered they were because our FHE was worth every single one of those little frustrations! 😊

I love that I accomplished my goal of carving out our essential family togetherness time—especially when I knew it was going to be a battle to have such a l-o-n-g (in their eyes) family home evening. Yet despite my darlings' complaints, I know our family-focused family home evening bonded us and will be remembered for even longer—and that's what really matters!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are the wonderful Turning Point episodes—complete with beautiful, uplifting music(!)—that taught my children so much! *FYI, you can turn off the closed captioning by clicking on the "cc" sign and clicking the "on" to "off."

San Pasqual Academy:

The Clarks:

P.S. Please feel free to use this FHE lesson idea and pass it along to others! I know it will impact your family for the better! 😀 Plus, I'd love the entire world to fully internalize just how important good parenting is! Let's spread the word that there is nothing better than having dedicated, Paramount Parents!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I Love Dresses and Skirts!

If you've ever looked at my public Instagram account, you already know how much I love dressing up—especially in modest dresses and skirts! Yet modest fashion hasn't always been what it is now.

I remember when I was a teenager, it was difficult to find modest dresses and skirts that were also cute and stylish. Thankfully, our modest fashion world has improved dramatically, and I'm ridiculously happy about that fact! :)

The fashion industry, in general, has become so much more open to every type of style, so people don't stick out like a sore thumb anymore if they wear modest clothing. I'm so grateful to all of those wonderfully artistic clothing designers who imagine such beautiful and modest pieces for women of all ages!

Obviously, I love wearing dresses and skirts to church and special occasions the most! But I definitely don't need a special occasion to wear my dressy-best! I try to wear my lovely dresses and skirts as often as possible. :)

Yet sometimes in my daily stay-at-home-mom life, dresses and skirts aren't always the easiest choice for all the housework, organizing and running around that I do. There are many days when only skinny jeans or stretchy exercise pants will do! :)

The only problem with modest fashion I've run into is not having enough money to purchase all of the amazing clothing I love! Ha ha. :)

But in all seriousness, there is one teeny little problem with modest-dress fashion that exists within my beloved church's social structure: judging. Because my church has scripture verses that include thoughts about not "being lifted up in pride" and not "wearing costly apparel"—i.e., we're not being as humble as we could and should—some people find it their unfortunate business to judge what others choose to wear to church.

It's interesting because, over my 19+ years of marriage, and my family's many moves (11), I've seen two ways that Church members view church clothing: 1. The nicer and fancier the better, in order to show ultimate respect for the Lord when going to church. They believe we should wear our very best clothing for Him. In other words, we wear our best clothing when we go to the best places. (I fall into this category.) 2. We shouldn't wear costly (i.e., fancy/high-fashion) apparel because we're not being truly humble enough if we do so. We should put our extra money to better use by helping others. There might be other ideas about church clothing, but those are the two veins of thought I'll be focusing on for this post.

In regard to those different ways of fashion thinking, I've come up with the following:
  • We shouldn't spend more money than we can absolutely afford for appropriate church clothing.
  • It's most definitely not our business to judge what anyone else wears to church, or how much it cost.
  • The term "costly apparel" can mean something totally different to different people with different budgets. One woman's $40 dress is another woman's $400 is another woman's $4,000 dress.
  • I love the idea of showing respect for our Heavenly Father, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our congregation by wearing our very best clothing to church and the temple.
  • We honor the bodies we've been given (by our Heavenly Father) by dressing well and taking good care of ourselves—physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • We create a world of loveliness and possibly inspire others when we dress up. That idea might sound absurd to some, but I believe everyone honestly appreciates beauty! :) And I love remembering how classy everyone looked and acted back in the old days—before the 1960s came along. *By the way, I found a most-interesting article about how our clothing style as a society has changed. "Why and When Did Americans Begin To Dress So Casually?" is a great read!
  • When we dress well, we subconsciously want to behave better. That might sound too basic to some people, but I believe it's true.
  • Clothing shouldn't be the main focus of our church-going experiences. You might laugh at that, but I've seen a few women more interested in their fellow ward members' latest fashion statements than the sacrament.
  • We can positively contribute to our economy by buying nice clothing—for church, or otherwise. Think of all the people who share and strengthen their talents by creating beautiful clothing! Think of all the families we support when we buy their amazing clothing creations! :)
  • We can donate older clothing to charity that we don't wear anymore. This helpful habit benefits both the giver (less stuff) and receiver (beautifully clothed)! :)
  • Dressing nicely isn't bragging, even though some people view it that way. Many people genuinely want to look their best for church—it has nothing to do with showing-off or being prideful.
  • It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed! :)
As you can tell, I feel strongly that dressing our best makes such a positive statement and can only benefit us! :)

Finally, here are my favorite fabulous quotes I found about dressing well. I wholeheartedly agree with and love them all! :)

"Looking good isn't self-importance, it's self-respect."
– Charles Hix

"Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered."
– Giorgio Armani

"If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good." – Georges St-Pierre

"People will stare. Make it worth their while."
– Harry Winston

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated."
– Oscar Wilde

Stay tuned for my modest fashion companies reviews—photos included! I can't wait to share!! 😊

P.S. As you can see from my previous sentence, I just realized that Blogger added "insert special characters" to its functionality! I'm so excited for smiley-face emojis! 😍

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thank you, Pinterest!

Lately, I've been pinning a lot of links to Pinterest. As you can probably tell, I love researching everything my brain desires to discover. :) Interestingly, I'm pretty sure I don't use Pinterest in the way the creators intended. I don't use it as a social media tool to continuously keep up with my friends and family. In fact, I don't usually look at what others are pinning, I just really enjoy pinning everything I've researched, or find uplifting! :)

I really like what Pinterest has to offer in terms of organization, clarity and beauty. Yes, I have my handy-dandy bookmarks bar on my computer and smartphone, but they're sort of boring to look at. :) Plus, my smartphone bookmarks aren't organized in any way—my bookmarks page just shows the most recent link listed, at the bottom of the list. Thankfully, my PC has organized bookmarks—so that helps me easily find what I'm looking for, but Pinterest wins—hands down—for their way of organizing and presenting links! :)

Whenever I go to my personal Pinterest page, I am greeted by pictures of my favorite things I've ever read, researched, listened to, or watched! I might have missed a few links over the years, but when I do remember, I find and pin them right away! My Pinterest page is truly one of my happiest places to visit on the internet! :) I love the colors, pictures and words that my Pinterest page presents. I also really love knowing that someone, somewhere might possibly find something that I've pinned to be interesting or helpful! I greatly enjoy sharing my likes, loves and helps with our grand universe! :)

Another reason Pinterest is so choice is because you can tell a lot about a person from their Pinterest boards. Granted, I fully get that people might just be posting their hopes and dreams for the future. Maybe people are putting only their best face forward and don't openly share their deepest-darkest secrets on Pinterest. Yet I still think it's a good place to start trying to understand someone—based on the types of links they pin. :)

And how many times have we Googled something and found exactly what we were looking for on Pinterest?! I love seeing a great deal of our world's resources available in one organized, beautiful place on the www! :)

So, dear Pinterest, thank you! Thank you for helping all kinds of people find wonderful and uplifting ideas! I love visiting the space you've allowed me to create of my favorite files in my life of knowledge and inspiration! I hope you never go away, or I will be very sad indeed!

P.S. I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging more frequently. I've missed blogging so much these past couple of years! It might take me a while to get a hold of my Blogger reins again, but I'm trying! :)