Friday, October 31, 2014

Saying Sorry

There is no one in particular that I'm writing this post to.

I just had some thoughts that the ability to say "I'm sorry" is probably one of the biggest gifts we have in life.

I've never really considered the effects that apologizing has on ourselves and others, but the awesome principle of having the opportunity to right a wrong, to feel like you can erase a past mistake, or simply to help another feel like you sympathize with them is really cool.

In essence it's really what the atonement is all about; being able to correct our actions and become aligned with the will of God.

What if we were thrown down on this earth without any potential to correct mistakes? God tells us we have rules for playing here on Earth, but if we act out of line we are thrown in a penalty box with no way out... and that's it. Game over.

I think it's pretty fair to say that we'd all lose.

But then God gives us a referee; a mediator. Christ is there to see our intent, to vouch for us, to give us time outs, but then allow us back into the game when our repentance is complete. That's the kind of game I'd most like to play. In the end, everyone has the same potential to win.
Kate has been really good about saying, "I'm sorry," recently. She will bump into anyone or anything and say sorry. She'll even apologize if someone ELSE bumps into, or accidentally hurts, another. Even if she didn't do it! One of the biggest ways that Kate apologizes is by combining her words with hugs:

Kate & Autumn back in California

I really wish I had more pictures of her giving hugs, because she does it all the time.

Hugging Edwin on his first day home from the hospital

Her favorite activity lately is to lay blankets on top of Edwin and then hug him (most of the time smashing him into the floor.) He just laughs and laughs! Margo is a classic example of receiving Kate's hugging apologies. Kate really loves to hold Margo and hug her super tight... the dog does not laugh.

Even today, Jon accidentally kicked Margo in the face (he was putting his shoes on for work and Margo is just so small she sometimes gets in the way) but as Jon held Margo and said he was sorry, Kate immediately jumped down from the couch and wanted to pet Margo too, saying, "Sorry Margo! Sorry Margo! Sorry Margo punch in the face!"

There are a lot of people that I've wanted to say "I'm sorry" to over the years for various reasons. I wish it was as simple as crushing them with a hug into the floor. Some have been more intense reasons than others. But part of being able to thoroughly apologize is the opportunity afforded by the other person. Will they listen? Answer the door? Read the text? Add you as a friend again on Facebook? Maybe it sounds silly. But sometimes all I want is for others to see that I've changed. I've learned and grown, and I'm not the same jerkface that I was 10 years ago. Or even last year for that matter.

With some friendships it might be too late. I don't really expect things to ever go back to "the way they were", but I do like to see a courteous evolution. Maybe in some cases it means that you both realize that you can't go on being friends at all. But at least you recognize that you're going a better direction in your life now, and you can both be happy with that progression yourselves and for one another.
Maybe there isn't a perfect method. But I like to think that being better--in whatever way--is an eternal goal :)
I'll leave you with these words from Jon Katz:

"I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together."

Forgiveness. And Friendship. That's what I want my life to marinade in.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Katherine's Toddlerhood

Kate is an adventurous and curious 2 year old in every way.

She likes to figure out how things work, and she can hardly constrain herself from touching everything in sight. (This has been quite frustrating with THINGS everywhere while we unpack from moving.)  Kate just thinks it is great fun to toss stacks of business cards on the floor, throw clean laundry all over her room, and rearrange our shoes by the front door.

Reading is one of Kate's favorite past times. She rarely has the attention to sit through a whole complete story, but she loves to grab a book, climb on the couch and say, "Mommy sit!? Daddy sit!?" and have us "more read-a-book" (all one word) with her. Right now her rotating favorites are Fox in Socks, Curious George (the monkey book) and The Giving Tree. She will sit on the couch for quite a while saying, "Box, Knox, Fox, Socks, who come? goo come! Beedoos beedoos, Baddle baddle baddle." No matter what book it is. Jon and I both have at least half of Fox in Socks memorized. We read it 5+ times daily.

Kate is starting to recognize emotions in stories. While reading Curious George the other day, one of the pictures depicted George getting sprayed by a skunk and running away with his eyes closed. Kate immediately pointed to George and said, "Oh, monkey sad!"

My goal now that we're settling in is to create more projects for Kate to get involved with. Up until now I have not really taken advantage of her creativity. Somehow toddlerhood snuck up on me! I'm sure that having Edwin, moving 2 states over, and preparing for school at a 4 year University has something to do with it. Kate has therefore combined her need for creativity to my studying and loves to leave me surprises:

I follow Alisa Burke here on her blog and she has a toddler herself. Although Alisa has a style very different from my own, I find her really inspiring. And she even lives in Oregon! How cool is that? :) She recently did a post on her top 5 favorite activities to do with a toddler and regularly comments on how much Lucy has enriched her life and helps her see the world differently. I wish I was to the point where I could let go this much and incorporate Kate into whatever we're doing! I've found that a lot of what Jon and I do is not super kid-friendly (woodburning, for example.) But I do try to have Kate sit on my lap while I sew and she likes to help me put the pins back in my pincushion.

Katherine loves to wear necklaces and have me put lipgloss on her. She also is very fond of play glasses and knows where the nail polish is in the bathroom. She's always picking out colors and asking me to paint her toes :)

She wears everyone's shoes and loves to go on walks with Margo. She HAS to hold the leash. Our favorite place to visit is the community garden at our apartment complex.

Kate puts together great little sentences. It's so fun to have her talk to me! She always asks to "sit counter??" when I'm cooking or baking, and she really likes to stir with me. She knows "very hot", "really yucky", and "very cold." She is also a much more cooperative eater now that she has all her teeth. She will try pretty much anything, even fritata with mushrooms, or pastrami sandwiches. Her favorite foods are waffles, eggs, "keppich" (ketchup), "pashaw" (pasta), "yogurt", "cheese" (string cheese), and "applesaw" (applesauce).

Kate really enjoys helping around the house. The more I give her to do, the happier she is.

She does not like to sit idle (although she is great at reading to herself and playing independently). If there are things happening, she wants to be involved. I like to have her transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer with me. Today when I stacked all the cloth diaper prefolds to be put away, she picked up the whole stack and carried them into her room to put in the drawer without even being asked!

Lately I've noticed that I sing a lot around the house - while doing laundry, making dinner, changing diapers, etc... Kate is not a fan. Almost immediately into my humming or "la-la-la"ing she says, "No mommy!! No mommy!! No mommy!!" over and over again until I stop.

 Although she doesn't really care for MY voice, she does like to sing on her own :) It's been fun to hear her make up songs about me baking cookies or muffins. I love watching the way the kids interact with and understand their own world.


One of my favorite things that Kate does is that whenever we're out with Margo and the mail lady comes, Kate will insist on sitting at the curb to watch the "big truck". She just enjoys the simple things! I mean, when was the last time that we had a great day just watching the post be sorted?

Kate also loves nature which includes collecting leaves, sticks, and rocks. There is a field outside of our building where we take Margo to potty, and there are rocks strewn about. One day Kate picked up the HUGEST rock she could and carried it back to me, informing me that the "Rock is sleeping" and then shushed it softly. :)

One of Kate's recent obsessions has been getting naked. She will take off all her clothes (including her diaper) whenever possible. Most of the time this involves some dancing. It's been hilarious and frustrating because there's no consistent reason for it! She just loves to run free.

Kate is really turning into the sweetest little girl. She apologizes on her own when she bumps into people or animals (even inanimate objects like lamps!) and we can see her starting to empathize and understand when others are hurt. Today at the end of nursery a little boy started crying, and while he was being comforted by one of the nursery leaders, Kate went right over and gave him a big hug! She always wants to help and comfort others. I'm so thankful for her in our family and glad that Edwin has her for a big sister forever.

Monday, October 20, 2014


So a few months ago I framed my Instagrams:

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out! This was a project inspired by my friend, Jess. She did this with her pictures and I loved it so much I begged her to teach me how!

When I brought it home, Kate was just elated looking at all of the pictures and pointing out people she recognized:

Daddy! Baby Emen! Gate! (Kate) Mommy! Margo! Gam (Gram)! Papa! Water!

This project was so easy and super fun. Most of my Instagrams aren't shared on the blog or FB, and I'm all about saving pictures, so I liked how this gave them a place to be displayed.

How many people Instagram now as a way of journaling, or in place of blogging? Yeah, me too. I blog (sure) but Instagram is quick, easy, and let's be honest, I take most pictures these days with my cell phone.

I even ended up making one of these Instaframes for Beverly's in Rocklin complete with a tear-off sheet of instructions. If you're in CA you should definitely stop by the store and check it out! Here are the quick, easy instructions for making your own Instagram collage frame:

16x20 frame of your choice
white foam core board
Instagrams printed (instructions below)
ultra thin glue dots (or double sided photo squares)
Xacto knife

 Go through your Instagrams and choose which ones you want to use. My phone is a droid and automatically saves my Instas in a folder in my pic gallery. For iPhone users you may need to screen shot and crop down to save each Insta you want to use.

The 16x20 frame ends up holding 48 Instas (6 across and 8 down). When printed, each Insta is about 2"x2" square.

Using the PicFrame app, change the ratio in the upper right hand corner from the standard "1:1" to a "2:3". Choose the 6 block frame and drop in your favorite Instas accordingly. My droid version of PicFrame only allowed me to do a 5 frame, so I dropped in 4 at a time. Either way will work! It should look something like this:

Save all these on max res.

Once you have your photos chosen, upload to the photo printer of your choice (Target, Walmart, Costco) and you can pick up in store. It's only about .13/print so you're essentially getting six 2"x2" pics for each 4x6 print! Mine only ended up being about $1 total.

From there, cut out your squares so that you have 48 individual pictures.

I cut down my foam core board with an exacto knife to fit inside my picture frame using the paper insert that it comes with. (You know, the piece that's like a placeholder for your future picture and tells you the dimensions of the frame.)

Lay out your Instas in any order you like. I did mine in no particular order. Just whichever way looked good to me! Put an ultra thin glue dot on the back of each picture one at a time to secure them down.

You can measure out the spacing if you want. I just eyeballed it.

We now have this hanging up in the hallway by the kid's room door. I absolutely love looking at it everyday! It's full of all our favorite people and memories. The flowers that Jon got for me the day I told him I was pregnant with Edwin, the sunrise on Kate's first birthday, the time we went to Portland for our wedding anniversary, Jon's 10 year high school reunion, my best friend holding Edwin at her baby shower for my new godson! It definitely brings a piece of California here to our new home.

Happy Crafting!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Greatest Service

I was going to tell you all about how hard this past month has been. Going to school full time while having two baby children is NOT easy. In fact it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

But I'm not going to talk about all that.

What I do want to share with you is what I've learned.

Dr. Seuss says, "be sure when you step, step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act." This is definitely true!

When I applied to BYU-I , it was under the major of Elementary Education. I felt like it was something I'd be good at.

Within the first week of classes I knew that was not what I wanted to do.

I met with an academic adviser and learned quickly that while I love to teach, I'm not passionate about studying theories of education and ONLY education. Long story short, the El Ed major is very specialized and leaves no room for additional studies or interests. Not for me.

Surprisingly, one of my favorite classes is American Foundations. So much in fact that my new major incorporates quite a bit of Poli Sci. More on that later :)

I've learned that jump-rope can be quite effective in teaching a class the finer points of essay writing.

I've also learned that I really hate online classes.
I've learned that spiritual learning can reinforce studies anywhere.

I've learned that changing your location can really change the way you think.

I've learned the power of learning names of individual class members and how it relates to keeping baptismal covenants.

Yes, my English professor took a selfie with our class.
Since being here I have felt immersed in the gospel. More than at any other time I have previously in my life. Between church on Sunday; devotionals on Tuesday; being on campus M, W, F; feeling fellowshipped by a great ward; participating in choir; having a temple on a hill watching over us; and truly studying the Book of Mormon while journal writing every single day for an hour, I have found that there is no beginning or end to my spiritual week. It's how I've always wanted to incorporate Christ into our lives, but I never really had a good pattern down.

Being here (I won't say this physical location of Rexburg necessarily), but in this mode of study, truly makes it impossible to feel let down by the spirit. As I keep up my end of the deal, I find a truth witnessed through the principles taught in this school. I'm still getting used to prayers during class and such, but when your psychology professor is lecturing on a pretty standard principle of brain development and then relates it to principles of the gospel and teachings of the prophets without even skipping a beat, it is pretty comforting! This is an experience of dual learning where others around you truly understand the nature of learning by spiritual means along with secular. Just as there is no discernible beginning or end to our souls, so should the cultivation of our minds be mingled together.

I've learned that not all Target stores are created equal...
We were spoiled back home with a brand new HUGE Target opening 5 minutes away just months before our move. Now the closest Target is 25 minutes away, and it is TINY. I would say the general selection in each department is about half of what was available back home. In fact, it felt like stepping back in time to the old Douglas store in Roseville before it was remodeled. Anyone know what I'm talking about??

Yes, the squiggly neon lights still float around the walls of each department here, circa 1992.

I've learned that going to school full time is a full time job, and so is being a mom.

Jon and I have worked out our schedules so that he is at home with Edwin and Kate while I am at school, and then when I get home he heads off to work and I am home with the kids the rest of the day. This is the first time ever in our marriage that I have not needed to work. It's really been a huge blessing that I can focus my time on school and things at home!

The hardest part though is that we rarely are home together. Meaning that my homework time is all while I'm home with the kids by myself. Since Jon closes most nights at work, the kids are ready for bed (or already in bed) by the time he gets home. On the days that I have school, I am gone in the morning before the kids wake up until lunch time. I get home in time to eat lunch with everyone, and then Jon is off to work and I'm home with the kids to do naps, clean the house, make dinner, and try to get as much homework done as possible before Jon gets home. We like to spend the evenings together if we can. (Although usually it's spent in a combined effort to do homework for my online math class.)

The past three weeks has been a rough adjustment. I haven't known how to balance my priorities of home and school. I want to do well in school! I haven't taken any college classes since I was pregnant with Kate. And I've NEVER gone to school full time. That alone is hard, but having babies is challenging because they need almost constant attention. Because of that, homework usually looks like this:

Good thing Kate really likes to color!
Having children while going to school is like having the two most inconsiderate roommates on the planet. I mean, they can't even control their bowels. This makes for a lot of fun when you are bringing them both with you to an 8am study group on campus. Kate likes to throw books at me when I'm trying to read for my religion class (apparently not noticing that I'm already holding a kicking baby in one arm, propping my book open with my leg against the couch, and trying to highlight.) All she sees is that I'm "too busy" for her. It makes me feel really guilty :(

I have never been so excited, uplifted, energized, fulfilled, stressed, happy, at peace, and exhausted at the same time.

But this week something really clicked. I was sitting at the table with Kate feeding her dinner, and I saw her in a whole new way.

I realized that caring for my children is the greatest act of service I could ever do. I have learned that this little person relies on me for everything. I thought of nurses in a hospital and how they feed their sick patients, change their bedding, care for them constantly, and devote their time to caring for human beings. It is such a great act of service. Being a parent I have that same opportunity now. I change diapers, keep tushies clean, give baths, feed babies, and take care of these little people who can't do anything for themselves. If there was anything important I could do in this life, it is to give these humans a great start.

I think I have always known this. I mean, I have always wanted to be a mom and I love kids! But when you actually become a parent, it is hard to set aside all of your interests and the things that feel important to do things with them constantly. I always thought I was a pretty patient person until I had children.

I know that the kids don't really understand homework and school. They won't remember that I was studying and taking tests and worrying about classes. But they WILL remember us building traditions and enjoying family time together. The other night we were making cookies together, and Kate dumped the oats EVERYWHERE. My initial thought was to take Kate off the counter and work on the cookies myself. It would be faster and cleaner. But some of my favorite memories of growing up are cooking and baking with my mom in the kitchen, and I don't ever remember her getting frustrated with us. Instead I laughed and showed Kate how to help me clean up, and we kept going. The cookies were delicious :)

I've learned that the most important thing to me right now is seeing my kids happy and smiling. Their laughs are better than anything else in the entire world!

The laundry will get done. The floors will be vacuumed eventually. It only takes 5 minutes to read Fox in Socks. But the time will come really fast when they don't want to cuddle and give hugs and kisses:

I know there is a balance and I can't just have playtime constantly. Sometimes I do have to actually get some homework done. But I'm thankful for the things I am learning here at school, and that most of my learning so far isn't in the classroom :)