Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I went to a friend's MySpace page to leave a message the other day, and her headline caught my eye:  "Failure is no accident".  It was especially meaningful because it was her.  She's someone I have a lot of respect for.  We go to Church together, and she's got four kids, the oldest of whom I have in Young Women.

She has not had a very easy life.  She was born in Mexico (her family came here when she was a baby) and was raised here by a single mother.  She got pregnant herself as a teenager.  When she was about 18, and had two small daughters, she started taking the discussions and came to Church for the first time.  The building itself looked nothing like most churches she had been in before, but the bigger shock was that in the very Mexican town she was accustomed to, the congregation was almost entirely white and middle class.  The social difficulties of such a situation would be enough to keep most people from coming back.  But it didn't stop her.  She felt it was right, so she kept coming.  She got baptized, even though her family thought it was an "iglesia loco" and she was a little off her nut for doing so.  When she became pregnant with another baby out of wedlock, she gave that infant up for adoption, despite the protests of her own family and the taboos of her native culture, because her new belief system taught that each child deserved a chance to start life in a stable, two parent home.  She married a young man who was a member of her new church, but ended up divorced when it turned out that he was not the man she thought he was, and now shares custody of her oldest son with him.  A few years ago, she met a nice young military man, and they got married and now have an almost 3 year old son of their own.  A little over a year ago, he joined the church also.

I can think of a few people in wards I have lived in that would only see the surface of her life and would, unfortunately, look down on her, missing her incredible strength and successes.  Through all life's ups and downs, she's managed to support her family (a lot of the time on her own) and get all four of her kids to church every week, whether Dad's in town or on ship.  This past winter, her husband was in a motorcycle accident that left him with bad road rash and a few broken bones.  There was never any "Why me/us" type of complaining or exasperating (though it made things difficult on several fronts).  It only strengthened their resolve and their faith.

It would be easy for this woman to have anger or bitterness or frustration with the way her life has gone.  But she doesn't.  She takes active responsibility for herself and her life and keeps trying hard no matter what obstacles come her way (and there have been many more than the ones I just mentioned).  She is an incredible example of the truth that, if your life isn't going the way you want it to or the way it should, you have to change that.  Her oldest child kind of amazes me.  She struggles a bit socially, largely due to her ADHD, but she is remarkably good-natured. She's certainly no font of Gospel or secular knowledge, no grand scriptorian.  She isn't the girl in Young Women who always knows the answer.  But at 13, she has an incredible sense of who she is as a daughter of God and a firm and steady testimony.  I know that is largely because of the persistence and example of her mother, even though many of the mother's mistakes in her youth were clearly visible to this, the oldest of her children.  She's made sure that her children will also understand that "failure is no accident".

It reminded me of Doug actually.  When I met him, he was 25 and still had a lot of fear and doubt about himself.  His own role model had been full of intelligence, knowledge and good training and yet those things had not saved him from nearly self-destructing and hurting his family very badly.  Doug, having many of the same traits himself, was worried he might repeat this pattern himself, with his own family.  For his birthday that fall, I bought him something that represented one of the first failures he could remember--not to remind him of the failure, but to remind him that, though he didn't succeed on the timeline he had hoped, he did eventually succeed.  In the card that accompanied it, I wrote, "Success is a process--you don't fail until you quit. . .Laziness is a convenient excuse (especially because its true). . .but don't let that be an excuse to just let life happen to you.  Read 2 Nephi 10:23 again. . ."

That scripture reads:  "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."  I was probably better at applying that at 18 than I am now.   Doug's been a good example of that principle to me.  Much like my friend at Church, he still has a lot of rough edges and things he's working on.  But in the six years since I wrote that card, his fear of failure and disappointment has steadily declined.  His peace and happiness and contentment in life has steadily increased.  

Failure is no accident because we are free to choose.  I suppose that no one (well, almost no one) consciously chooses to fail, but if we are failing it is undoubtedly due to our own choices--no matter what our families, friends or enemies have done to us or failed to do for us--and when we succeed (as individuals and particularly as families), it is because we have chosen the way of eternal life, right here and now.  Sometimes we're allowed to succeed, temporarily, in spite of ourselves.  But if we are trying hard to do the right thing and make the right choice, the Lord will not let us fail. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

A word about blogs and love. . .

Okay, SEVERAL times now, I have had people get hurt, offended or upset because they found out about something through my blog--especially the pregnancy.  

Here's the thing: THAT'S WHY I KEEP A BLOG.  So that people, if they are interested, can keep track of what's going on in our lives.  That way I'm not forgetting to tell someone specific who wants to know, nor am I constantly updating people who don't really care.  

I am not one of those announce-to-the-whole-world-one-at-a-time people.  Both the other times we were expecting, we told our moms and let the news spread from there. I think I did send out a massive group email at one point to let people know.  That's it. 

And I didn't intentionally leave individual people out of the loop, for anyone who thinks I waited so long to tell them.  Until I was 16 weeks pregnant, the only people who knew were Doug, Sam and Amanda (who I told when I was about 9 weeks along because I thought it would be good for her to know we were expecting at about the same time again and because she babysits for me when I go to the doctor).  

Just because you find things out through my blogs doesn't mean I don't love you.  I just figure most don't really care when they find out what about my life, because more often than not, how much does it really matter?  If there's something you need to know personally, I'll tell you personally.  Otherwise, please don't take offense where none is intended.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buddha Belly

I officially got my first "belly rub" of this pregnancy.  I'm still at the point where I almost forget that I definitely look pregnant because I just feel chubby, so it caught me off guard a bit.  I was walking down the hall at church, and had to stop at one point because of the people in front of me, and a friend reached over and started rubbing my belly.  I looked up at her, kind of surprised, and I think she thought I was angry.  She started to apologize really quickly, "I'm sorry, I didn't ask if that was ok."  I laughed and told her I didn't mind.  I'm a pretty touchy-feely person, so it doesn't generally bother me when people I know touch my pregnant tummy.  I do, however, find it rather annoying and at times even a little creepy when strangers do it. 

That was particularly weird to me in Hawaii.  It was my first pregnancy for one thing, so the whole random belly touching took some getting used to.  But when I'd go out in public (and by "public" I mean away from campus, since I knew most people there by sight, if not by name), the worst offenders were older Japanese and Korean women.  I thought that was particularly odd, coming from a culture where formality was highly valued and physical affection somewhat limited. 

But the worst one is men.  Now, most men aren't big belly touchers, unless the belly contains their own offspring.  But I have been downright rude the few times a man I didn't know tried to rub my belly.  Guys, this is just weird.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a very affectionate person and frequently hug men other than my husband, occasionally even pecking a close friend on the cheek.  But unless you know someone very well it is just creepy and weird for a guy to touch a woman's belly, even if there is a baby in it!

Friday, July 25, 2008

So much for a Saturday off. . . .

I didn't work last Saturday.  I had suggested to Doug that it was about time for a hiking trip with Brad (Albert, his coworker, not his brother) and he agreed, so he got my supervisor to reassign my shift for Saturday since I was supposed to work most of the day.  Before that, I had worked 8 Saturdays in a row, with the exception of the one Saturday I was out of the state.  Its rare that I don't work on Saturday, and frequently I work both Friday night and Saturday.

This week I wasn't scheduled for either Friday or Saturday.  But, as luck would have it, they got the Flo-rider installed and up and running this week.  It opens officially next Friday, so they want someone at McDermont all weekend fielding calls about it.  So I'm working a full day tomorrow. And next week I work Tuesday night, Thursday night, Friday night and all Saturday afternoon.  And we have mutual Wednesday night.

None of this would be a very big deal, as I don't mind working and even only working a couple days a week, I've managed to pay for the our trip to Montana, and half the midwife's bill for the baby (which should be paid off completely by late September--a full two months before baby's arrival!), which makes it possible to commit more of Doug's check every month to wiping out debt.  The problem is, Doug is at work all day every day during the week, and fairly frequently into the evening.  Then I'm gone most of the weekend--thank goodness for Sundays!!  Even that is manageable and tolerable, because when we are home, neither one of us generally does much besides play with the kids and spend time with each other.  

No, the only real problem--the aggravating thing--is that I don't remember being this exhausted with either of my first two pregnancies.  I mean, yes, at the beginning and at the very end, but not straight through middle.  No matter how much sleep I manage to get, I'm still always tired.  No matter how much or how little exercise I do, I'm still worn out.  Of course, I guess during my last two pregnancies I didn't have a 2 year old and a 4 year old, a job, a very busy calling or most of the other social and financial obligations I have now.  That could be part of it.  When I was pregnant with Keilana I was newly married, had to walk everywhere (we didn't have a car), was working part time and going to school full time (including a couple of three hour labs every week), and I was tired, but I never felt quite as drained as I do these days.  I told Doug the other night that they need to make pep pills that are safe for pregnancy.  I've tried drinking caffeinated soda from time to time, but more often than not all that does is give me Restless Leg Syndrome and make me a little crazy.

I was going to keep working until Thanksgiving week (just about a week before my due date), but I may have to quit sooner than that to preserve my sanity.  Halloween, perhaps. . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heartache and hope

Sunday evening Doug and I knelt to say a prayer together, and he prayed very fervently for our friends Clint and Emily and more importantly for their family, whom we have never met. Despite not knowing Clint's sister and her husband, they had hardly left my mind in the previous 24 hours.  Saturday evening, Emily (who also happens to serve in YW with me) called and asked if I could teach the lesson the next day in YW.  They were leaving as soon as possible for Idaho because of a death in the family.  A couple of hours later, I stopped by to see if there was anything I could do to help them get on the road or take care of while they were gone.  Though obviously tired and emotionally drained, they were as friendly and hospitable as ever (they're hard not to love) and told me the rest of the story.

Their nephew, who had just turned two, was playing in the driveway when his father, who was unaware that the boy was outside, unknowingly hit the small boy with his truck as he backed it up to hook up his trailer.  As one can imagine, the child's father is absolutely distraught and torn apart by guilt, though no one blames him except himself.  The entire family is currently deep in grief that it will take a long time to recover from.

I cried for the family despite the lack of connection, because that is a kind of grief that strikes at every parent's heart so quickly.  They are an eternal family, sealed and faithful, and so I don't doubt that they will have that little boy forever, but for now they have to let him go.  I think there are very few times in life where we come close to truly understanding the kind of empathy and compassion that Christ has for us, but I think the loss of a child is one of those times.  I think the story of Lazarus' death is one of the most beautiful in all of the New Testament.  When Mary and Martha came to Christ crying over the loss of their brother, I think it is significant that Christ himself, who understood the plan of salvation better than any of us, who certainly knew better than anyone else that Lazarus death was no tragedy (even knew that He could immediately raise him from the dead) cried with Mary and Martha.  Because they were in pain.  He hurt for them because he knew that their pain was real and he understood it.

As parents, I think we are blessed with a bit of that Christ-like compassion for other parents who lose their children.  When we are so wrapped up in the joy of our little ones, it is not a far stretch to imagine the kind of pain a mother or father must feel to be separated so suddenly and severely from their child.  When you have children of your own, you don't have to see the pain on a mother's face to know what kind of pain must be in her heart when she holds a tiny little precious body one last time and says goodbye.  Every parent who loves their child can imagine what a tremendous loss they would feel if they had to let go.

It was somewhat coincidental that Sunday afternoon, one of the counselors in Relief Society asked if I could teach in a few weeks.  She gave me the Chapter and page number, and when I got home to look it up, the subject was, "Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death".  The prophet we are studying this year is Joseph Smith, Jr., making the subject much more poignant: in addition to losing three brothers and a father before his own death, only five of his eleven children lived to adulthood.  The other six died in infancy or childhood from various diseases or accidents.  At the funeral of a 2 year old boy he is quoted as saying: ". . .why is it that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us, especially those that seem to be the most intelligent and interesting.  The strongest reasons that present themselves to my mind are these:  This world is a very wicked world. . .The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth;  therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. . . The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is free a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world.  Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lost sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope."

As Clint told me the story, he said, "He was just one those sunny, easy kids.  Just a delightful child."  I didn't want to interrupt him, but I thought to myself,  "They always are.  That's why they don't last."  I love the phrase, "too pure, too lovely".  I know several people who have had and been asked to part with these beautiful souls, and those who have faired the best are those who have come to understand the best just what kind of compassion and empathy the Savior has for them.  Those that are the happiest, the most at peace in their lives, are the ones that have relied on his love and found reason to rejoice even in their loss.  I pray that this family will be one of those who finds the way to hope through their heartache.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Toothaches and missing clothes

I have a couple of dilemmas.  Both of them rather annoying, I'm afraid.  The first one is that I've got a toothache and am positive that I need a root canal.  This is no big deal, as I haven't been to the dentist yet this year, so our insurance should cover the entirety of the cost.  The annoying part is that it more or less came out of nowhere.  No pain, sensitivity or anything like that and then all the sudden this weekend it suddenly flared up and feels really inflamed and tender.  So I call my dentist this morning to schedule an appointment (he's fantastic about getting you in fast if you're having pain), but the office computer system is down and they're unable to do any scheduling until tomorrow morning.  Grrrr.  This makes my cranky.  The pain is not severe, although the swelling is terribly annoying.  The bigger problem is that for some reason it has completely zapped my appetite.  If I weren't pregnant, I would not complain about such a thing--I would rather consider it a blessing at this point ;).  But if I don't eat, I feel sicker.  So I'm trying to force myself to eat on a semi-regular schedule, but it is difficult to force oneself to eat when one's mouth is tender.   I lost about 10ish pounds the first trimester of my pregnancy because I was sick.  In the last 5 weeks, I gained back 3 pounds of that.  Over the last 3 days, I've lost 4 pounds.   So at nearly 21 weeks along, or past the halfway point, my cumulative pregnancy weight gain is -1 pound.

Which brings me to my next dilemma.  Despite not gaining any weight, I have quite a good size little buddha belly.  I'm to the point now where people who know me are walking up to me and not asking if I'm pregnant but rather asking, "How far along are you?"  My belly is not big for a pregnant lady, but it is indeed for a normal one.  This would not be a problem, as Doug has taken me shopping and bought me all kinds of cute maternity clothes during my last two pregnancies.  The problem is, I can't find them.  Somehow, when we moved to Lindsay, they got left in one of my mother-in-laws storage areas--either her mini-storage she rents, or the storage shed in her backyard.  Doug's looked through both of them and can't find my maternity clothes.  I can't figure out where else they could be or where else they would go, and I will be extremely sad if I can't find them, because I really can't afford to buy more.  Right now, I have one pair of maternity jeans--and if you've ever been to central Cali in the summer, you know that jeans are about the last thing you want to wear.  I've got three of four shirts that are doable as summer clothes, if a teensy bit warm.  Somewhere I have a box or bag that has a half a dozen adorable shirts that are appropriate for summer--if only I knew where!  So I'm trying to make due with the jeans (ugh) and a pair of capris that I can wear if I don't button or zip them and instead tie the drawstring under my belly and wear a long shirt.

I'm hoping that when Christa gets back maybe I can go to the storage unit with her, since their stuff is in there right now, too, so she'll recognize a lot more than I will.  (Its been a little over two years since I saw this mystery box, so I can't even remember exactly what it is I'm looking for, which doesn't help much).  Perhaps she can lead me to some box I overlooked or assumed was theirs.  I hope!  I need some clothes!! 

Friday, July 18, 2008

Choice AND accountability

It seems like everywhere I go the last few weeks, the ideas of agency and personal responsibility keep popping up.  In talks, lessons, conversations, etc.  I've learned from experience that when a subject comes up so frequently by "coincidence" its best not to ignore the timing.  Part of my attention to the subject is undoubtedly because with at least one of the individuals with whom the idea has been discussed recently, he could cause a great deal of consequences directly to my own life depending on the decisions that he makes.

I am sure, however, that I need the reminding myself.  We all have habits, traits, insecurities, problems, etc, which we struggle with.  Myself not the least of all.  It is easy, particularly in a modern American environment that teaches that nothing that is wrong with us is our own fault, to blame our parents, race, economic status or a countless number of other factors for these things.  I do believe very strongly that in the end, each man or woman will be asked to stand and give an accounting of their relationship with their spouse and with each of their children, but in the end, each of us will make that accounting ourselves and we will be expected to take responsibility for our actions (or failures to act) regardless of what our families or friends have said about their own actions.

Its like the current attitude so many have when they say something offensive or stupid and then are shocked when people react poorly.  They say, "That's not fair! I have the right to free speech!" when what they really mean is that they want the freedom to say any and everything they want, but don't think they should have to deal with the consequences.  Everything that we do has consequences, good or bad, even if we may not see those consequences right away.

If we blame others for our challenges, our failures, our bitternesses, we have no chance to truly improve.  Every year one of the lessons we teach the youth is on ancestors or heritage or something along those lines.  And included for the teacher's benefit is a page of instruction and counsel from Elder Marion D. Hanks.   He asks that teachers remember to be sensitive to those in class who may come from broken families or less-than-stellar backgrounds.  We are instructed to remind the youth that it is good to be well-descended, but the credit belongs to our ancestors, and the same is true in the opposite circumstances.  "While we may not be in a position to do much about improving our parents," he says, "there is everything we can do about deciding what kind of parents our own children will have."

I have from time to time blamed other people in my life for my own challenges, and am tempted still to do it sometimes.  If I am angry, I want to blame the person at whom I'm angry, not take responsibility for my own emotions or whatever control I have over the situation.  When I am insecure about certain things, I want to blame certain individuals or circumstances from my adolescence.  But what does that solve? I am so tremendously grateful that the Lord pointed out to me early in life that blaming others does not help them and it only hurts me.  Because deciding what kind of parents your children will have doesn't start when you have a baby.  It doesn't start when you get pregnant or when you get married.  It starts when you're about 12 or 13.  Unfortunately its incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible, for most teenagers to grasp that the decisions that they make at that point in life have big effects on the life that they will have as adults.  Oh sure, its always possible to change course.  But it isn't usually easy.

Progress is a funny thing.  Its like one of those moving sidewalks in an airport.  If you just sit there, you don't just remain stationary, you actually move backwards.  A lot of times the people going by reach down a hand to help us, but we refuse to take it so it slaps us in the face instead and then we get bitter about them leaving us behind, refusing to accept that we have alienated ourselves.  I just barely escaped that attitude myself recently.  A friend pulled me aside and asked me a question.  If nearly anyone else had asked me the same thing, I probably would've answered quietly and curtly while going on a mental rampage he couldn't see.  But I knew he said what he did out of concern for me, not criticism.  So I took responsibility for my actions and I answered his question.  And you know what?  It made my life a lot easier.  The circumstances that brought me to that point didn't change.  But my peace increased.

Its not enough to do what is good.  There are many, many things that are good.  We have to do what is right, and that does narrow the decisions a great deal.  It can be difficult to tell which is which, as what is right is always good, but just being good does not necessarily make it right.  We can do a great deal of good things and still be full of inner tumult, but if we do the right thing, we can be surrounded by tumult and still have inner peace.  That is the promise that the Lord makes.  Not just, "It doesn't matter if you're miserable here, because I'll reward you in the hereafter," but he can take the misery away now.  In Doctrine and Covenants 59:23 we are told, "But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."  Pain, loss, and so many other difficult circumstances in life are not always optional.  But misery is.  

There have been times in my life when I have been surrounded by difficult and painful circumstances far beyond my control, and, what's more, been very, very lonely, feeling as though I had no one in my life who understood just how I felt.  That is why making the Savior the central pillar of our lives is not just important, but necessary.  We are to do what is right because it is right, and if we're trying to do that with only the support of mere mortals, we'll fail.  Because people make mistakes, they fail us sometimes, even when they don't mean to. The people who know the biggest chunks of my story have asked me "why" or "how" I made the decisions that I did.  I did what I did because it was right--I didn't see how what anyone around me was doing or not doing mattered.  That's not because I have any wonderful innate strength or spirituality, its because I relied on the right support system.

If its got me this far, it would be quite depressing to let any of it slip away now because I didn't want to humble myself about my own shortcomings or mistakes.  Any excuses I make for why someone else is at fault for anything I don't like in my life are just that: excuses.  In Revelation it is written that ". . .God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. . .".  That is, directly, a promise about the Second Coming and the new order established then.  But I know from my own experiences, that a small part of that promise is fulfilled here and now if we humbly rely on Him.  Its not that there won't be any pain or tears or sorrow, because the Lord is not going to step in and interfere with agency to make things all better for us, but there will be a lot less of all those things, and a lot more of peace and joy.  I can't afford to forget that now.

I owe it to Him, for all I have been given and for all he's saved me from that I don't even know about because He's intervened.  I know that, though getting to this point required my strength and my own two feet, it wasn't primarily my strength that got me here.  When I've gotten angry or when I've tried to deflect and blame, its because I've started to forget.  But I made a covenant to always remember.  So I try.  I know that as for myself, I am next to nothing.  I fail a lot.  I go to my knees at night with a list running through my mind of what I could've done better today.  But I do believe, because when I've tried it it's been true that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil 4:13)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Half a decade:)

Today is Doug and I's fifth anniversary.  Its been a fantastic five years overall.  Though there have been moments where I wanted to strangle him :) he politely points out that's not an option and we forge on ahead.

Its been fun to get to know him better.  He wasn't exactly what I thought I was looking for, so it probably a good thing I let the Lord point the direction for me, because as it turns out he's pretty much perfect for me.  His personality is Type-A enough that I always feel protected, something I have no problem admitting that I needed in many ways, but when it comes right down to it he's quite sensitive and emotional, so I never feel bowled over.  He understands remarkably well how women think and function (thank you, Katy!), even if I sometimes tease him that he's not always great about employing that knowledge.  He dotes on his little girl, showering her with the attention and affection I always wanted a husband to show my daughters, and he loves to wrestle with his little boy and encourage all those oh-so-boyish obsessions that mark his personality.   It is obvious in watching him play and cuddle with them that he adores his children, and that always makes me love him more.  He has a demanding job that requires a great deal of time and energy (and involves a whole lot of stress), but he has become incredibly wonderful about not bringing the stress of work home with him--a bad day with a coworker doesn't mean a snappy evening for us.  Usually these days it means a lightened mood by playing with the kids.

The truth is, our marriage is far better than either one of us deserves.  The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts, and for that I can never express strongly enough my gratitude to the Lord for leading us to each other, especially since neither one of us thought the other was what we wanted.   We've grown to appreciate each other's strengths more and more over the last few years, and learned how to best help one another with our weaknesses.  Because of that, though we do unfortunately still get the worst of each other (as is usually the case with the people you love most), we certainly get more of the best of each other than anyone else.  I've always treated him like I expected the best out of him and consequently that's usually what he's been for me.  

I've always had the tendency to withhold a lot in order to keep the peace with people and make sure that those around me get what they want. He's so sensitive to that and wanting me to get what I want that half the time if we're out he'll get upset if I don't pick which fast food joint to eat at.  He defers to my judgment more often than I would expect most people, too, and his trust in me pushes me to be better.  In a recent email to a friend he wrote: "I am very lucky.  I have faith in the temple covenant I've made and its saving power. . .I have a wife whose righteousness far exceeds mine.  I don't say that as undue flattery towards her.  I don't have to, I get told it by just about everyone that know us. . .I would feel like a second class citizen at times, except it is true."  When that is how he views me, how can I not want to be better, to push myself to live worthy of such an assessment?

The fact is, we are best friends.  He is the person I can talk to about any and everything (far too often until 2 or 3 in the morning, I'm afraid).  He is the person I most enjoy learning with, traveling with, recreating with and working with.  I hope that many other women are as lucky as I am. :)

Daddy was right!

It's a girl!  And that's probably good.  I think Keilana would've been very disappointed had we found out we were having a boy.  She's been asking over and over to see the pictures of "my little sister".

She and Dylan were both very quiet during the ultrasound, just sitting on Doug's lap for the most part.  I was pointing out different things to Keilana on the screen--backbone, heartbeat (she like that), fingers, legs--but she didn't get really excited until we could see her little face.  Keilana thought that that was pretty cool.  Doug asked Keilana what we should name her little sister, and she said, "Strawberry Shortcake".  I told her we'd take it into consideration, but not to be disappointed if it ended up being something else.

She's measuring a little big right now, about 11 ounces (average size at this point is about 10.5 ounces), but no changes were made to the due date--still scheduled for the very beginning of December.  She appeared to sleep through the ultrasound, and fortunately she was pretty much doing the splits, making it easy to see that she was a girl (lol. . .I spotted it before the UT tech told us, actually).  She doesn't generally move much during the day, actually.  She's usually most active in the very late evening, but even then she seems to be fairly mellow so far.  Still a long way to go, though, so we'll see if that changes.

Other than still be stupidly tired all the time, I'm doing well and have quite the little round buddha belly now (unless I wear a baggy tshirt so that you can't see the belly as much, then I just look really, really fat), so hopefully I'll get around to posting some belly pics in the next few weeks.  But I make no promises!

Her little profile.  Head is on the right, nose up.

Her arm and hand (clearly labeled for your enjoyment).

Her face from the front.  I love the weird alien baby shots.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Battle Fatigue

"We know well that it is a small group of people who do most or all of the work and cover most or all of the expenses.  And it is the nature of organizing to ask the most of these people, even if they have just been asked.  That is not merely because it is the easiest thing to do, though undoubtedly that is part of it.  It is also based on an understanding of possibilities.  There is more to be gained from a single visit to an overused spring than from the drilling of countless blind wells.  And this is fine when we are talking about groundwater, which has no feelings.  But what of people?  I have seen far too much fatigue among those who want to do good.  Not merely among those who do little and are seldom asked, but among those who are most dedicated and always volunteer.  We all have limits. . .Build time into the schedule for doing nothing, or at least nothing that seems immediately productive."

I've been thinking a lot about personal limits lately.  In work, school, church, personal relationships.  I think Ford is wrong (well, about 180* away from right, actually), about a lot of things, but in this thing he was correct.  We all have limits, and we have to be realistic about them.

I don't think that when we're asked we should say no because we feel burned out, particularly if we have made covenants.  But sometimes we have to step away from something and come back to it later.  Sometimes if we keep pushing through and trying to do something when we're too tired, we make it worse.

This is especially hard to do when we are talking of working with people.  To walk away from someone for a short time because we simply don't have the energy and stamina to keep being a good friend/daughter/sister/etc. can feel like abandonment.  But sometimes (unless we are speaking of a spouse or our own children), walking away for a moment is the best thing you can do for both of you. 

When we're fatigued, we tend to say either more or less than we intend, and in a much different way than it sounds in our mind, often causing hurt or offense or frustration where none was intended.  What in our hearts is concern and worry can come out sounding a great deal like anger or even malice.  When we start feeling anger toward someone we have tried to be a good friend or servant to, rather than anxious concern for their well-being, perhaps it is time to step away for a moment and take a breather.  I can remember an argument I had with a dear friend of mine where I had let my frustration mount and mount until things I should've said as gentle reminders were instead hurled out as angry insults. To this day, a good 7 years later, I still deeply regret that afternoon.  Even our well-intentioned efforts often come off as sloppy or lazy or half-hearted if we are too tired to give it our all.  Once in a while, doing nothing for just a moment can be the most productive thing we do.

I have a to-do list that never ends, it seems like.  When I sit on the computer chatting with friends, I'm usually making lists, doing some "research" and calendering at the same time.  Life is busy, with children, jobs, callings, friends, family and all the rest.  It can make taking time to rest quite a guilt-ridden prospect.  But as much as we are striving to be Christlike and ought to be striving toward being long-suffering and tireless, the Lord Himself understands better than anyone that no matter how much we want to be like Him, we are not him.  That's why he told us that "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength".  

So last week I tried an experiment.  Last week, I got out one of the books my sister-in-law had thoughtfully sent me for my birthday and began to read.  I sat and read for pleasure for two hours.  In the middle of the day.  The house wasn't clean.  The kids weren't asleep.  I had phone calls to make.  I had some errands that probably could've been done.  There were appointments I probably should've made.  But I was tired.  We've been run ragged trying to get done all that needs to get done, and for months I've been sick and exhausted.  I've hardly read anything because any time I sat down to read, it was after I'd finished everything else that I felt like I had to get done that day, so I'd fall asleep.

But I noticed the rest of the week, even though I hadn't gotten any more sleep, I wasn't quite as tired.  I was more patient with my kids.  I was more willing to sit down and make those phone calls (a task that I hate).  That two hour break made a huge difference in my whole week.

I still firmly believe that more often than not the way to beat fatigue, blues, worry and doubt is to, as President Hinkley was fond of saying, "Forget yourself and go to work."  But if we are trying, honestly making an effort to do that and we're just getting a little battle fatigue, forgetting the to-do list for an afternoon is, just once in a great while, a good idea too.  Especially if you can sneak in a nap.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Upsetting the balance

We find out tomorrow whether we're having a boy or girl (so, in other words, who's going to be outnumbered in our currently gender-even house).   When I got pregnant with Keilana, Doug really wanted a boy but I was secretly convinced she was a girl, and it turns out I was right.  With Dylan, I knew from the start he was a boy and was happy to be proven right 2/3 of the way through my pregnancy.  This time I have no clue.

Doug thinks its a girl.  He doesn't know why, he's just been saying for months, "I think this one's gonna be a girl."   Keilana wants a little sister, and I can't seem to convince her that we don't get to order whichever variety we like.  She know that we're finding out if its a boy or girl this week, but she seems to think we're going to go pick which one, rather than be told what we're getting.

I've had a lot of dreams about twin boys, but since this baby seems to be less of a mover (at least so far--its still early) than either hyperactive Keilana or mellow Dylan, twins seems rather unlikely.  Particularly since I had an ultrasound at about 12 weeks and there appeared to be only one baby.  So I wouldn't put much stock into paranoid dreams.  

Any guesses?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bringing Peace and Solidarity

"Our families need the peace of God in their lives, and if we can't or won't invite the Lord into our lives, then our families become a reflection of our own turmoil.  Women are asked to be nurturers to their families, but we must also be firm; we must be the hard rock footings on which our homes can stand."
~Kathleen H. Hughs

"Some of us are born into families with very difficult problems.  And even good families have many challenges.  We must try to do in our homes what Christ did with the Nephites.  As the proclamation on the family teaches, 'Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.'"
~Susan W. Tanner

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fighting fire. . .

Half the state of California is on fire, so I've been thinking a lot about flames.  Half of my family makes their living fighting wildfires, so I've heard quite a few stories about what it takes to put out a fire, or at least contain one.

Its given me a whole new perspective on the metaphorical phrase "fighting fire with fire".  Even a relatively small fire is hard to put out and can do quite a lot of damage if not actively contained.  When you fight fire with fire all you get is bigger, and often faster moving, flames.  Sometimes setting a controlled fire to choke out fuel can help stop a bigger fire when it reaches your territory, of course, but if conditions are dry, that is a risky route to take.  Most of the people I know who fight fire with fire accomplish nothing more than burning down their own house.

Stopping a fire in its tracks is hot, hard, dirty work so I think most people give up after a few weeks or months, convinced its impossible.  But there are only a few ways to put out a fire:  deprive it of oxygen, cut off its fuel, or douse it over and over with water.  Occasionally winds are going to pick up and make things even harder for a while, of course.  More often than we remember or even realize, however, a sudden downpour of rain comes from nowhere to slow things down and help us out.  It is true that much is out of our control, but that is no reason to stop digging line or stop hauling buckets of water--more is in our control than we can see from the ground.  We don't know how much good we can do if we keep working to extinguish the fire.  We do know, however, that we'll have nothing left if we just keep fanning the flames.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Becoming "Real"

Aside from the obvious affection I have for "Where the Wild Things Are" (and it will never lose its top spot), I have a nearly-at-the-top second favorite children's book: The Velveteen Rabbit.  I was reading it to Keilana yesterday and remembered all over again why I fell in love with it  (other than transferred affection from when I was a child seeing how much my mother loved it).  Its only been really in the last six months that I could read it to Keilana and she would actually sit long enough to listen, and now she loves it, too, although I'm sure she loves it mostly because I do.

I've been thinking a lot lately about self-consciousness, self-confidence, faith and the Atonement.  It seems there have been many conversations in my life recently about those topics, and then a few weeks ago, for the fifth Sunday combined lesson, Bishop Meik based his lesson on a talk Elder Bednar gave years ago as a BYU devotional entitled "In the Strength of the Lord" (read it if you get the chance, its fantastic).  It is about the two-fold purpose of the Atonement.  He remarks that most of us understand, to some degree or another, the redeeming power of the Atonement, but that too few of us understand the enabling power of the Atonement.  As we come to better understand and use the Atonement, it can bring us not only forgiveness, but power as well.

I spent a great deal of my life very, very self-conscious, with very low self-esteem.  Many people who have known me for a long time have commented on how much more confident and at ease I have been the last few years.  The only explanation I can give is the growth of my testimony.  I don't pretend to believe I am some paragon of spirituality or that I have a much deeper understanding of the Atonement that anyone else who is trying to live rightly and study and grow.  But I do understand it better than I used to, and the result is this:  I don't care what people think.  Perhaps that isn't fair, as I do care to some extent, in that I do desire to be a good friend, wife, mother, daughter, sister and leader, and if someone in my life thinks poorly of me chances are I have at some point failed to be the servant I ought to be and must remedy that.  But other people's perceptions of my appearance, my home, my intellect, my spirituality or what have you don't matter at all in how I feel about myself, and really don't affect my relationships with them much either.  As my relationship with my Savior has grown, his opinion matters to me more and more and everyone else's matters less and less.  At times when I do start to feel self-conscious or low again, it is always because I have done (or failed to do) something to cause me to lose confidence in His presence.

I hate the way the world pushes the value of the phrase, "I don't care what anyone thinks" because of how it is defined by the world.  All too often, it is exactly the people who declare this with pride that care the most what other people think, evidenced by the fact that they care very much that people think that they don't care.  It is all too often used as an excuse to act selfishly and to use poor judgement.  I have watched individuals around me declare, "I don't care what her opinion is of me" and then try very hard, in ways both obvious and subtle, conscious and subconscious, to win that individual's approval or validation.  And we all love to be validated by others, that is human nature, and there isn't any thing really wrong with that.  The problem comes when we hinge how we act or feel on that validation or lack thereof.

Last year the theme for mutual was "let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God", from the Doctrine and Covenants.  I was so grateful for that emphasis in my life all year.  My whole life I have had a habit of touching my face, playing with my hair, hiding behind my hair, fidgeting and darting my eyes all over the room in conversations because I didn't have the confidence to simply sit still and look someone in the eye.  To be promised that if I keep virtue in my thoughts, and therefore everywhere else in my life, I will feel confident in the presence of God himself is astounding.  But I had the truth of that statement confirmed to me over and over again.

So why did I start all of this with the Velveteen Rabbit?  One of my favorite ideas in all of children's literature (or literature in general, for that matter), is expressed by the Skin Horse.  "The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.  He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.  He was wise. . .nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it. . . .'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse.  'It's a thing that happens to you'. . .
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.  'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  'When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt.'  
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse.  'You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because when you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.' "

What a beautiful expression of what we should be working toward achieving in mortality.  In the story, about nursery toys, it is the true love of a child that makes one Real, but in truth it is the Savior's love.   All that growing and learning and changing causes some bumps and bruises and so some people avoid it and never get to that point.  I can think of some of the most faithful and wonderful people I know who have lived long, diligent lives and the scars of the world are plainly evident on them--thinning, gray hair, wrinkles and liver spots, a body that is beginning to shut down.  The world would hardly describe them as beautiful, but that's because the world doesn't understand.   They are not self-conscious because they are Real--even if the world or their friends or even their families don't understand, they do.  They understand that they are loved, and that that is what makes for true beauty.  Righteous confidence doesn't come from a fit body, a great wardrobe, a quick wit, verbal acuity, an expensive education or any other worldly achievement or gift.  It comes from the Redeemer's love, given full force in his atoning sacrifice.  That's what makes us real.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Language, Barriers and Connections

Last weekend, Doug got into an argument with a friend that started as a discussion about the fact that a large portion of the population here in the county (and the state) does not speak English and so employers often give preference to people who are bilingual when hiring new employees. The argument was largely over what, if anything, should be done about that.

Although I'm sure everyone else in the room thought it was a political debate, it was clear to me from early on that to Doug (and myself, though I was mostly a passive observer) it was much bigger than that.  To Doug, it was about individual responsibility, both for immigrants (legal or illegal) as well as for individual with whom he was speaking.

I understand the frustration, politically and socially, of being very obviously in the minority in a supposedly English-speaking nation.  I live in a town that is 90% Hispanic, and I hear more Spanish during a typical day out than I do English, and that can be difficult at times.  Though my Spanish isn't much better than their English, that has not stopped me from having fun, genial "conversations", if so few words can be termed such, with other moms at the park or people in the store, or customers at work, or members of my ward who speak little to no English.  

I do have trouble with people dismissing the issue too lightly, without much real thought of what it means to people rather than statistics.  During the course of that conversation, what it meant on individual level to have everyone who comes here, even legally, learn English was never truly discussed because as far as she was concerned they must learn English, learn it now, and that's the end of it.   Tijuana was equated to all of Mexico and having taken trips there was akin to understanding Mexico.  And, most disheartening of all, Mexicans in general were dismissed as having a "piss poor culture". 

First of all, equating Tijuana with the rest of Mexico is like a foreigner coming here, only visiting poor parts of New Orleans and then saying they understand American culture.  Most of the immigrants in our area come from the state of Michoacan, which is nowhere near Tijuana, geographically or socially.  It is a state that claims some of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, as well as being highly agricultural--rivaling the Central Valley in both quantity and variety of crops produced.  Nevertheless, being part of Mexico it is plagued by the same economic trouble as much of the rest of the country, so many of its citizens have come here, and they have brought their culture with them.  And living amongst and engaging in that culture on a regular basis with a great deal of first generation immigrants I can tell you from experience that it is a very rich culture, full of beauty, respect and good values.  Many of the Mexican families I know are better families, more tight-knit, hard-working and morally centered than many white American families I know.  Every culture has its flaws, to be sure, so if that's all you're looking for that's all you see. Particularly if you feel that those flaws negatively impact your life somehow.

For Doug and myself, it was personal.  As soon as the words and attitudes on the other side got angry and demeaning (which didn't take long into the conversation), I started thinking of all the people I know and love and work with who have come here legally and do not speak English, but who are beautiful people who contribute a great deal to their communities while raising good families.  It tore at my heart and made me angry to hear them lumped in and dismissed so thoughtlessly and ignorantly.

The first people I thought of were Antonio and Angelica Vega.  The first time I talked to them, they impressed me.  The power of their words and understanding were not diminished through the casual interpretation of a 14-year-old boy.  They came here years ago in an honest effort to provide a better life for their children.  Their younger children know only the United States (I have their daughter in Young Women with me this year), but after being here that long, they still know very little English.  That is not because of a lack of desire or any kind of stubbornness or self-righteousness on their part.  Its because they came here as adults, when the task of learning a new language is extraordinarily more difficult than in youth, and since they arrived have both been working very hard to support their family and have been busy raising their children--where and when do they find the energy and time for the monumental task of learning a new language?  What Doug's sparring partner did not understand was that we agreed with her that every immigrant who comes here does have the personal responsibility to learn English.  What we don't agree with is that there should be some government-mandated time frame put on that task with penalties attached for failing to meet that requirement, because we believe it is an issue of personal responsibility, not government regulation, and we have seen first hand what that means to people on an individual level, even for those who are willing and anxious to learn English.

Yesterday was one of the most powerful Sacrament Meetings I have ever attended in my life.  How I wished that our friend had been sitting with us to witness what we witnessed, to feel what we felt.  The previous day there had been 7 baptisms in our ward, and so in Sacrament Meeting there were 7 confirmations.  Six of those were converts, all Mexican.  After witnessing the beautiful, simple confirmations we had one of the most powerful testimony meeting I have ever had the blessing of being a part of.  Many of the testimonies that were borne were given in Spanish, with our Bishop (a white American who has lived in South America a couple times) acting as translator at the pulpit.  The feeling of love and unity and the Spirit in that room was incredible as so many sincere and powerful testimonies were born.  You know its a good meeting when it goes nearly 20 minutes over and you don't care, or hardly even notice.  

The last person to stand was none other than the one who first crossed my mind on Friday evening: Antonio Vega.  I must tell you just a few more things about the Vegas before going on.  I have scarcely ever passed by either Antonio or Angelica without being flashed a big, genuine smile.  They are two of the happiest, hardest working and most humble individuals that I have ever known.  I have the privilege of working with them at both Church and work, and they seem to be in a perpetual state of hope and good cheer.  All of those convert baptisms last weekend were in some way related to them.  When Antonio stood behind the pulpit (all 5'2" of him), he turned to the Bishop and though I couldn't hear what he said, his actions were clear:  he held up his hand and shook his head, indicating no translator would be necessary.  "I'm going to do it in English," he told Kindon.  He then proceeded to bear his testimony first in English and then in Spanish.  Though the testimony he bore in English was much shorter, it was no less sincere, powerful or complete than the one he bore in Spanish.  

Everyone in the room who knew Antonio (which was just about everyone in the room) was in tears.   It was a perfect example of the kind of determination, courage, strength and humility for which he is so fondly regarded by those who know him.  It is never an easy thing to stand in front of a roomful of people and speak sincerely about the things you feel most deeply, but to willingly do so in a language not your own so that everyone in the room can hear and understand your testimony in your own voice displays a kind of humility (and work ethic) that I hope to someday cultivate.  It was a laborious and probably at times tedious task for him to learn enough English to clearly express his love of the Gospel and the Lord, but he did it because he understands better than most the idea of personal responsibility.  That is why, despite being born with less privilege and opportunity than most people in the US, he is happy and determined--because he knows that what happens in his life is up to him.

C.S. Lewis wrote that "There are two kinds of people; those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'Alright then, have it your way'."  Guess which group is happier?  Antonio and Angelica are people who believe that if they say, "Thy will be done" and then get up and get to work to make it happen, the Lord will provide, and they are steadily proving themselves right every day.

Individual responsibility is something that I think about a lot, both for myself and for humanity in general.  It is the crux of the Gospel.  I heard a friend say once that the Atonement is conditional.  That is true to a certain extent, but we impose the conditions upon ourselves.  This weekend I frequently had cause to think about it even more.  My lesson with the girls this week was on agency.   We are free to choose, but each choice, good or bad, has consequences.  When we make good choices, we generally gain more freedom.  The more bad choices we make, the more ensnared and trapped we become.  As I talked with the girls, I thought about some of the people in my life who are in the latter group, or have been at some point or another.  We can waste all our breath talking about everything or everyone in our life that make things difficult or even miserable, and it may even be true.  But the only way we can have peace of any kind is to accept that the only thing we can do anything about is ourselves.  It is our personal responsibility to grow and change and forge a meaningful relationship with the Savior.  If we do that, we can have peace even in the most difficult of circumstances.  If we don't, we'll never have a true, lasting peace even in the most tranquil of circumstances.

I remember one of the most difficult moments in my life, a moment where I was ready to give up and pack my bags and disappear, I made a plea that was, in essence, the same as the father of the child afflicted with a palsy, "Lord, help thou my unbelief".  I opened my scriptures and the first verse I came to was Mosiah 24:14: "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."  The Lord never said that, even if you're doing everything right, he'll take your burdens away.  He simply promised that if you humbly turn to him, he'll help you carry them, and that makes them a whole lot lighter.  I finally understood that whether or not I was happy and strong had nothing to do with my circumstances, but everything to do with me.  What happens in our life is up to us.  More often than we like to admit, when we are entrapped in a web of circumstances that we can't change, the fault rests on our own shoulders.  Our Father can see the results of both, "Thy will be done" and "Alright, have it your way then", but he won't intervene to stop us when we choose the latter.  It is up to us.

The last scripture in the lesson on agency was Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."  Christ sets us free, and at a terrible price.  Yet over and over again we place ourselves in bondage through bad and unwise decisions.  How very foolish and how horribly ungrateful!! I have often laughed in retrospect at what I thought would make me happy and didn't.  I have often looked back, however, with fond gratitude, at times when I followed a prompting, even occasionally (I must be honest),somewhat begrudgingly thinking it wasn't what I wanted and how happy it made me in the end.  We think we know what will make us happy (ha!), but the Lord really does.  And he is ready and anxious to point us to peace and happiness if we will just humble ourselves long enough to listen.  There is nothing he wants more than for us to be joyful and at peace.  But we must come to him--he has indeed paid that terrible price for our agency--out of love--and so because of love, he will not rob us of the opportunity to use it.  Ultimately, we are saved by grace after all we can do, but what we do is up to each one of us.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Girls Camp!

The adventure of Girl's Camp has come to an end.  It was a pretty good year.  The theme for the year was "Like the Stars-Steady and True", and we had a lot of fun with all the star stuff.  For our skit we did "The Sneetches", which was a big hit, and we were the "Star Bellies".  During our hike we all enjoyed the water toys the stake leaders provided (and soaked everyone with).  On Wednesday there was a glorious afternoon of mud football, where half the girls got so covered in muck they were barely recognizable.  Susie got her name that night: Doublemint (I don't remember the whole poem, but it did invoke the whole "double the pleasure, double the fun" idea, which is quite suitable for Susie).  Poor Kaselynn was sick most of the week and missed almost everything but the horseback riding and Thursday evening's activities.   Thursday night the Bishop's came up, and Doug rode up with Kindon, so while the girls were finishing dinner we went for a short walk down to the store at Ponderosa.  Then devotional, of course, and campfire.  I love that Thursday night campfire reminds me that our bishop isn't the only one in the stake with a good sense of humor.  I got my camp name last night, which Doug has already started to make fun of, of course.  But the girls liked it, and I like it: Spirit ("We hear she's adventurous/we see a willing heart/She's shown her commitment right/from the very start/Her bright smile and sparkling eyes/and spunky as can be/ 'Spirit' is what we'll call this/President from Lindsay")  Doug said he was going to call me Ghost instead.

Goofy Tulare girls at the dance party they hosted on Tuesday night.
Rachel and Makaela hanging out by the creek on Wednesday morning.
Susie looking a bit Yertle the Turtle like on her very tall rock that kept her (mostly) out of the cold water.
Susie refilling her water gun.  There was a great deal of aquatic warfare on Wednesday.
It looks like Monique is being very reflective here.  She's actually trying to find her shoes.
Our intrepid YCL's with the fish they caught for lunch.  They claimed they really did catch a live fish (they had no fishing equipment).  I still have my doubts.
Mud football, near the beginning.  It got so much dirtier than this.

The results of mud football on the Lindsay girls.  This is after they had hosed themselves off!
Kaselynn grooving with Clara (?I think) to "Shining Star"
Preparing for our skit, looking rather Sneetchy.
King Carratacus!
Doing dishes after lunch on Wednesday.
Kaselynn making Rachel "disappear" during her magic trick for the talent show on Thursday.
Monique magically pulling a water bomb out of her hat (or sweater, whatever).
Makaela "swallowing" a large stick.  Such talented Young Women!
Susie's magical quick change act.  As you can see she has nothing on under her gym clothes.
                                         Ta da!
Makaela and Carolyn during the mother-daughter dance number:)

Our great Priesthood leaders!
Monique and Kaselynn (and Bishop) performing "Mother Gooney Bird".
Kaselynn, awake at last!
Bishop finally finished his doctorate!  ;)