Friday, January 30, 2015

The January Outdoors

 To kick off our Year of Outdoors, we decided to start with a place close to home - Porter Park!

 It may seem silly to visit a neighborhood park in January when it's freezing outside... and you'd be right.

The idea was that we wanted to see what our town has to offer. I know Porter Park is a happenin' place during the summer, with splash pads for the kids, and community events, but we got to check it out in the snow all to ourselves!

The day was fantastically beautiful.

Mr. Wynn slept the whole time...

Jon's face basically sums up how cold it was:

After some time on the swings, Kate just wanted to be picked up and carried back to the car.

Kate also kept asking to go down the slide, but the playground was way too icy for any adventures:

 She and Jon sure looked cute, though!

And a picture of the sign, for good measure:

From the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce:

"Porter Park, named in honor of Arthur Porter, Jr., is situated in downtown Rexburg. It has picnic tables, playground equipment, tennis courts, a basketball court, a baseball field, a water slide, and a volleyball area. The jewel of the park, however, is the historic “Idaho Centennial Carousel,” which is one of 170 antique carousels still existing in the United States."

So we will definitely be going back! We'd really like to spend the rest of the winter months doing more winter appropriate activities (like sledding, or building igloos) but this was a good start. Visiting Porter Park was a great way for us to just get OUT OF THE HOUSE and have something to do together :) I'm thankful for the outdoors and all those people who keep parks like this one nice and clean so that we can have great places to play.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Faith in Jesus Christ

Jon and I gave talks yesterday at church. During our first meeting on Sundays we take the sacrament, and members of the congregation are asked to prepare a 10-12 minute talk on an assigned subject. Today's topic was Faith in Jesus Christ.

This is the first time that Jon and I have both had the same topic to speak on, so of course we didn't share our preparation with each other at all :) I like to be surprised and hear what Jon has to say along with everyone else.

Our talks went well, and I was really happy with how much I learned from studying more about this idea of FAITH. I've posted my talk below for you to read (and because I want to keep it for my kids and future generations to read someday.)

Just keep in mind that I spaced it based on how I talk and so that I could separate thoughts for timing. Some things were paraphrased, so there might be a little more or a little less in some areas than when I actually talked in church. There are also no visuals in sacrament meeting talks, but I added pictures here because I know that's what really keeps a blog post worth reading ;) Also, since it was about 11 minutes in talking length, it's a bit long to read. But I hope you enjoy perusing it as much as I enjoyed preparing it :)


Lately our son Edwin has been keeping me really busy at home. He is super adventurous and likes to explore. His newest trick is pulling himself up to standing, and his favorite place to do this is at the edge of the bathtub.

He loves trying to reach for the bath toys that he’s knocked over the edge, and he thinks it’s great fun to try and touch the water when I’m giving Kate a bath. It worries me though, because he’s still kind of unsteady! He gets so excited slapping his hands on the side of the tub, but then one quick move of his little feet and he’s down. A couple times he’s bumped his head on the wall, but it never deters him from trying to stand again. He is so brave J It’s like he doesn’t even know what potential hazards are out there, so he just goes confidently towards whatever makes him happy.

Soon his balance will get better, and he will stand with only one hand for guidance. Next he’ll go off on his own two little feet and walk without any extra support. It’s really a cool process!

I thought about this in relation to my own life.
As a child I relied a lot on the testimonies of my parents. I’m sure that it’s easy for most of us to relate to the feeling of growing up hearing primary lessons and going along with it as fact because there is no reason for you to believe otherwise. Hand-holding is a great start!

But one day it’s important for us all to take the stretch and balance on our own. Some of us may have done so already. Some of us may be teetering on unsteady feet. Some of us may be just starting to stand with the assistance of a table or chair.

Wherever we are in the progress of following Christ, the most important thing is to keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been running, or if we’re just starting to crawl – we should support one another in this journey toward the Savior, and remember that every bit of faith requires an initial step into the unknown.

I have faith in Jesus Christ. I have never seen him in person. I have never talked to him face to face. But I know that he is real.

The life of Jesus Christ has been documented and testified of for thousands of years, yet sometimes he feels very distant and unrelatable. To think of a man who was born of God and virgin, and then grew to fulfill a ministry of miracles unlike any the world has ever seen is really mind boggling! As I have studied and read books and scriptures over the years about the work of the Savior however, a key element has always been present for me, and that is the overwhelming fire of the spirit. When I really meditate about the stories I read and try to understand the true way God has set up his plan for us, it’s been a great process for me to feel closer to the Savior.
For instance, I’ve learned that nothing in Christ’s life, or surrounding his atonement, was coincidental. One of the biggest faith builders for me has always been the relation of the Olive Tree to our Savior.

In the book, Gethsemane, Andrew Skinner explains the symbolism of the Savior’s atonement. He says,
“…the symbolic significance of Jesus shedding his blood in Gethsemane has to do with the very place where it all happened. Gethsemane, the garden of the “oil press” on the Mount of Olives, is where olives were crushed to harvest their oil. Under extreme weight and pressure, the olives yielded their valuable fluid. Under extreme weight and pressure, Jesus bled from every pore. In Gethsemane, not only did Jesus become us but he became the olive. In the garden of the oil press, where olives were pressed out, Jesus himself was pressed out.

            “This symbolic correspondence is no accident, and there are many parallels between Jesus and the olive and between the Atonement and the pressing process that are not mere coincidences. In ancient Israel, the olive tree was supreme among all others, as reflected in scripture. First… [in Genesis 8:11 when Noah released a dove from the ark with an olive leaf in her mouth, we see…] the appearance together of … two symbolic objects, the dove and the olive leaf, [which is] the promise of continuing life on earth and peace with Deity…
            “Jeremiah 11:6 indicates that even Israel itself was called by Jehovah “a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit.” Later rabbinic commentary expounded on that symbolism: “Israel was called ‘an olive tree, leafy and fair’ because …[Israel] shed light on all (Shmot Raba 36.1) This imagery undoubtedly came from the coloration of the olive leaf itself as well as the fact that the oil was burned for light…
            “One reason the olive tree was foremost among all others was that it was used to worship God as well as to sustain the life of mankind. The olive tree and its oil were unequivocally regarded as a necessity of life.”

It is so fascinating to me how much the Savior’s life is really more than just a string of happy miracles. When I see how all of the symbolism fits together, it brings an undeniable confirmation to me of the spirit testifying that it is true. Reading the book Gethsemane for the first time as a youth was a witness to me of the truthfulness of our Savior’s atonement both to my spiritual and logical sides.

So there are simple, logical reasons to have faith in Jesus Christ and what he did, and that it was religiously significant – but how can we have faith that Jesus Christ as our Savior is relative and important to us today?

Throughout my life there have been times when my faith has been in crisis; well after being married in the temple and spending years in callings through young women’s and primary. I felt at times that my faith was unfounded and ludicrous. How could I even think of having children and raising them in a church that I wasn’t even sure was true? In all those moments of doubt, though, I always remembered my trust in God. Over the years God has proved his watchful care in my life time and time again; whether it was protecting me in a hydroplaning excursion, helping me through the severe depression of the death of a dear friend, or helping us find employment when our bank account was literally and entirely out of money, Heavenly Father has never given me a reason to doubt his existence. Because of this, I take a step back, I reach a hand out for that chair, because my legs are too shaky to stand on, and I start over again. I do what I can to stay upright, and I remember that God is solid. When nothing else makes sense, I know that simply relying on God is the ultimate trust fall. I’m grateful for my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father that helps me to step forward with faith into that which I don’t know.

Having faith in Christ is also having HOPE in Him. I sure hope that the atonement is real, because I have a lot of flaws to overcome, and without the wonderful mercy provided by the Savior, I would certainly not be able to walk back into the presence of God.
Sister Okazaki, then first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said in a 1996 general conference meeting that, “Part of [our] hope in Christ is hope in the future, a future that includes resurrection and salvation and exaltation. He is my hope on rainy Monday mornings, my hope on dark nights, and my hope in the face of death and despair."

Having faith in Christ is also having GRATITUDE for his atonement. Andrew Skinner continues in his book, Gethsemane, saying that “none of us in this life will escape sin, trials, tribulations, pain, or suffering. To whom, then, shall we turn for the help we so desperately need? Who possesses the kind of power to fulfill all the promises of redemption and exaltation made in the scriptures? It is Jesus Christ. In him we are secure in our hope for help.
            “Through his experience in Gethsemane, the Savior extends his mercy to sinners and his comfort and help to the forlorn and forsaken. He can never forget us nor forsake us. I believe it is simply not in his makeup to be able to do so or even to think of doing so. What Jesus said to ancient Israel in his role as Jehovah is more applicable than ever because it describes his relationship to us: [Isaiah 49:15 reads,] “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee”…
            “Why would anyone choose to ignore the bitter cup? Why would anyone choose not to embrace the Savior’s atonement? Why would anyone think it more advantageous to go it alone in the world or think it advisable to try to pay for one’s own mistakes and sins?”

If nothing else, I believe it is easier to HAVE FAITH in Christ than to not.
 Having faith in Christ – a hope for this great atonement that I have never seen, but which I believe is true – is the stability of a chair to support us through life when we cannot stand or walk entirely on our own.

            “The Savior’s power is of staggering, even infinite, proportions in its ability to change us and make us into something we could not otherwise become. The Savior’s experience in Gethsemane removes the effects of the Fall, the bitterness of life, and allows us to glimpse heaven. Stephen Robinson put it this way:
All of the negative aspects of human existence brought about by the Fall, Jesus Christ absorbed into himself. He experienced vicariously in Gethsemane all the private griefs and heartaches, all the physical pains and handicaps, all the emotional burdens and depressions of the human family. He knows the loneliness of those who don’t fit in, or who aren’t handsome or pretty. He knows what it’s like to choose up teams and be the last one chosen. He knows the anguish of the parents whose children go wrong. He knows these things personally and intimately because he lived them in the Gethsemane experience. Having personally lived a perfect life, he then chose to experience our imperfect lives. In that infinite Gethsemane experience, in the meridian of time, the center of eternity, he lived a billion billion lifetimes of sin, pain, disease, and sorrow.
            God has no magic wand with which to simply wave bad things into nonexistence. The sins that he remits, he remits by making them his own and suffering them. The pain and heartache that he relieves, he relieves by suffering them himself. These things can be transferred, but they cannot be simply wished or waved away. They must be suffered. Thus, we owe him not only for our spiritual cleansing from sin but for our physical, mental, and emotional healings as well, for he has borne these infirmities for us also. All that the Fall put wrong, the Savior in his atonement puts right. It is all part of his infinite sacrifice – of his infinite gift. (Religious Education prayer meeting, 12 February 1992)…
“To use Elder Neal A Maxwell’s phrase, Gethsemane was “enormity multiplied by infinity” (Ensign, May 1985, 78).”

In the end, having faith in Christ is really about choosing to believe in him.

In Sister Okazaki’s book, Lighten Up, she summarizes this idea of choosing faith in Christ perfectly. “…The gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything – absolutely everything.
“Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief.
            “We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer – how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism…Let me go further. There is nothing that you have experienced [as an individual] that he does not also know and recognize...His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20)
            “…On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth, and the immense joy… He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth grader…He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors,…when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your [spouse] has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief." (emphasis added)

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.
            (LDS Hymn #134, I Believe in Christ)

            The gospel doesn’t require 100% surety; it just requires our willingness to have faith.

I'll leave with you the words found in Mormon 7:7, which says regarding Jesus Christ, “And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.”

Of that, I have faith in.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I'm a mom.

I find play-doh stuck to my clothes.

I wipe baby drool on my pants.

It's usually 2pm before I'm showered and dressed for the day.

I worry about my kids' needs first and usually that means I eat lunch anywhere between 11:30am-3pm when I can get a few bites in sparingly.

Today I had these great plans of finishing my talk for church on Sunday, working on the Etsy store (which I'm months and months behind on), doing all the laundry, and re-organizing the kids' room. Realistically I'm looking at a late night of talk-preparation -- and that will probably be the extent of my personal accomplishments before bed.

Some days I sit on the couch and think of all the free time I would have, all the books I could read, all the cleaning I would get done, if I didn't have to worry about changing diapers, soothing sad babies, and nursing Edwin...

But then I think about all the years that I sat on the couch feeling left out of the "mommy-club" and wishing that I could just have a baby of my own to snuggle, dress, laugh with, and take care of :)

My days are not without challenges. Kate and Edwin test my patience to its limits.

that's an entire pack of wipes...
But there is also not a day that goes by that they don't make me laugh with the cute things they say or do; like when Kate wears underwear on her head, or piles toys into Edwin's crib for him because she thinks he is lonely, or when the two of them are laughing as Margo chases her ball around the floor.

As I write this blog post one handed with a sleepy baby on my shoulder saying, "na-na-na-na" in my ear, I'm just glad that I get to be here at home.

Today I was able to give the kids baths, I braided Kate's hair,

I have the energy to lift them up on the changing table and clean their messy bums (which may not seem like a big deal, but yesterday I was crazy sick, and it was one of the hardest things in the world), and I even did a couple loads of laundry already! I don't know why it's so hard sometimes to focus on the successes rather than the negatives.

There are always a million things I could get done. But today I am just grateful to be a mom.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Right Now

Right now the house is quiet.

You would consider this a miracle and awe in its incredible power had you heard the non-stop scream/crying that went on for a solid half an hour just earlier this morning.

This chorus of anger was preceding by a morning of alternating crying tantrums from both child parties since waking, so in short I have been hearing nothing but baby/toddler cries grating on my mind all day. Thank goodness I didn't wake up with a headache.

And thank even more goodness for Jon who gets up with the children every day before me and tries to let me sleep in as long as possible before he has to go to work. (He doesn't necessarily wake up much before me since I sometimes nurse Edwin at 5:30 or 6am and then just go back to sleep, but being UP for the day and walking around doing things is something I really loathe, so Jon is great at letting me put that off as long as possible right now while I'm off track in school. He also gets up repeatedly each night with the children if they wake up unscheduled. My husband is amazing.)

Trying to feed Edwin solid foods is a disaster. He is FURIOUS. The teething and snotty-cold that he is also enduring at the moment do not help. The only thing that finally got both Kate and Edwin to quiet down today was when I stopped responding and just let them cry at me, then quietly I changed their diapers, went to sit on the couch, and nursed Edwin for an hour while reading bedtime stories to Kate until she laid herself down with a blanket and passed out.

Since I felt like locking the kids in their room this morning with some toys and books and wishing them well for the day to let them cry out their miseries until Jon gets home from work later, I thought that now--while they're quiet--would be a good time to write about all the things I LOVE about these children, and then later I can smile and appreciate all their wonderfulness :)


1. I absolutely love when Edwin crawls up to me, mouth open in a giant two-teethed smile, and knocks his forehead against mine and then giggles!!

2. His little soft baby cheeks nuzzle against my face when he is happy, and he grabs my hair with his chubby wrists to pull me closer and slobber his face all over mine in happy baby laughs. No boundaries.

3. I love how cute he is opening and closing doors all over the apartment. He thinks it is great fun and it could entertain him for hours.

4. Edwin just wants to be with me all the time! It is so flattering - and also INCREDIBLY frustrating when I just want to walk down the hall and pee by myself. He can't stand it when I'm out of sight for very long. When I have my own things to do, it is not ok. It is only acceptable for him to be alone when he has crawled away of his own volition.

5. The funniest thing Edwin does lately is race-crawl his speedy baby self into the kitchen to dump Margo's food and water all over the floor. It's only hilarious because when we catch him mid-way and say, "nooo!" he turns wide-eyed in surprise to look at us and then darts back to his task with the most fiery baby-determination I have ever seen! He crawls with a vengeance that would rival any cheetah hunting prey in the wild. His defiance of us and surety that he will succeed is really entertaining!

6. I love how Edwin growls and snarls like a baby lion. He very seriously "rawrs!" wherever he goes. He'll even growl back at you with smiles if you try and talk to him. It's cute to see his eyes light up when he feels like you're speaking his language!

7. Kate just wants a friend. All of the time. All of the hours. All of the day.
She wants us to read to her, and then sing to her, and then feed her, and then dance with her, and then color for her, and then make cookies with her, and then wrap blankets around her, and then put socks on her feet, and then do it all over again.

8. I love how she specifically holds my wedding ring finger to lead me around the house. She came in to get me out of bed this morning, and had to make sure she was holding the finger with my ring on it before we left the room.

9. Kate is an artist and could draw/color/fingerpaint/watercolor/create alllllll day. Mostly she picks cool colors of blues and greens. I'm so happy that she wants to be expressive and finds joy in creating.

10. She loves to hug me randomly and give me kisses. It makes me so happy when I tell her "I love you!" and she replies, "ovfu mommy."

11. Kate and Edwin are both obsessed with Jon's beard and giggle when he rubs his whiskers on their faces. When we draw I ask Kate to tell me what comes next. She'll tell me the steps: "kitty eyes, circle round (for the face), kitty ears, kitty whiskers, kitty mouth, kitty nose, kitty toes (don't know where that came from), and kitty beard!!" Yep. All animals must have a beard like dad.

12. Both children love music, and are enthralled with Jon's guitar. It is their favorite toy to strum and touch. Edwin also tries to bite the strings, but I really think it's a sign of affection.
The other day Jon's guitar slipped against the desk where it was leaning, and worried that it would topple over Kate said, "Oh no, music! Don't fall down!"

13. Their love for animals is so sweet, and they adore Margo much too much for their (and her) own good. Kate is getting better at petting Margo softly, but mostly just wants to grab her fur and squeeze her extra tight. Edwin finds Margo to be absolutely hilarious and squeals whenever she walks by. Margo loves to lick Edwin in the mouth (which we thoroughly discourage), but somehow they all get along. I love seeing their happiness all together.

14. I love it when Jon comes home and lets the kids crawl all over him and rolls around on the floor to tickle them and snuggle. He is a great dad (even when he is super tired), and I just love these people.

Thanks for Judith Kester inspiring this post by a quote she shared on Instagram yesterday:

"The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you'll see their flaws. That's just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don't last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they're out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness' sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it's seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship."

So thankful for my humans.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wynn @ 9 Months

Mr. Wynn is 9 months old!

At his Dr. check up he weighs 16lb 11oz and is 27.75 inches long. Such a little guy! He is pretty true to size wearing 9-12 month clothing and size 3 shoes.
He currently has two bottom teeth and his canines are breaking through on top. Pretty soon we'll have a little vampire baby with fangs!

Some of his talents are:

sleeping through the night (MOST of the time)

napping like a boss:

crawling around, picking up things with his fingers, babbling constantly (saying things like, "na na na na na" "mamama" and "uh-duh-uh-duh-uh-duh!") scattering Margo's dog food around the kitchen, playing dress up with Kate,

and pulling himself up to standing... (see: getting into trouble)

Edwin loves to:

take baths, have his head rubbed, chew on his fingers, play in Margo's crate, be snuggled,

look at books

chew on things (especially the lid to my water bottle),

and help me grade papers (lid of my water bottle in hand)...

It wouldn't be a day of school work without Edwin under my chair.

His favorite toys are:

Margo's ball, Margo's bone,

the lid to my water bottle, anything he can do with Kate (like when he crawled himself up on the penguin sled and Kate started pulling him around the house)

and anything that rattles or makes noise.

Edwin strongly dislikes:

any and ALL baby food, being left in a room all by himself, and having dirty diapers of any kind.

Edwin is an explorer and really likes to figure things out. He is super observant and takes his time. When it comes to food he would much rather chew on slices of things than be spoon fed.

In case you think that Edwin is always smiles and perfection, let me tell you that he can get super ANGRY. Mostly when he doesn't get his way or when he is hungry.

This week Edwin had his first real cold. It's been so sad to hear his relentless cough. Most of my week has been wrestling a miserable, dramatic, snotty, teething baby:

Thankfully it's only been a couple of days and it looks like he's on the mend. Kate had this same thing last weekend and her cough is finally on the out.

It's really cute to have a sleepy baby follow me around and just watch me because he wants to know I'm there (like when I'm vacuuming)

But I'm really looking forward to having happy baby Wynn back!

We are so thankful for Edwin in our family and look forward to many more smiles as we head toward birthday #1!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Theme for 2015

On New Year's day Jon was rushing out the door for work. As he rapidly consumed his bowl of cereal, I stopped him mid bite and said, "Well, what is our theme for the new year??"

That's right. Even I am not privy to this information before the start of a new calendar.

Smiling from ear to ear Jon threw up his hands and said, "This! Is the year of OUTDOORS!"

I am super excited for this year's theme because it will encourage us to explore this new state we call home. Every month we will go on an outdoor adventure as a family. It could be a hike, or a camping trip, it could be a bonfire at the nearby sand dunes, building a snow castle, or a challenge to dig the biggest pit ever. Who knows.

Idaho is pretty gorgeous (for being mostly farmland) but with school this last semester being so crazy we've hardly had anytime to get to know it. This year we'll make every effort to document the mountains, trails, ghost towns, and fields, as we explore the outdoors around us!


aw yeah.