Unloading.

I hardly blogged at all over the last couple of weeks because I was just enjoying the down time of the holidays.  It really was down time– lots of laziness and mellow family “recreation.”  So nice.  But there are a handful of things that I would have blogged about if I felt like blogging, and I need to just unload them all… you know, get it out of my system.  So without further ado, a pile of miniature blog-posts:

  1. I gave my blog a makeover.  I felt like I needed to just simplify it and downplay all the diaper and baby imagery.  I have a complex because my blog title is Diapers and Divinity, and with the exception of one child in nighttime pull-ups, I’m actually now beyond the diaper stage.  I still like the title because the blog is still about the balance between the dirty side of motherhood and the divine side, but anyway, I’m letting the diapers go.  I feel old.  And free.  Ha!
  2. I also gave my hair a makeover.  I had like 6-inch roots, so thanks to a gift-certificate from my mother-in-law, I went and got it cut and highlighted.  I’m growing it out longer again, at least until summertime.  We’ll see.
  3. I took the kids and we went and got our portraits done as a Christmas gift for Matt.  I was overdue getting them done anyway, so it seemed like a good idea.  I don’t want to make you jealous or anything, but I’m afraid my children are just handsomer than all the rest in the world.  So sorry.
  4. Despite their handsomeness, they leave on lights EVERYwhere.  Matt is thinking about changing out all their light switches for those timer knobs that they sometimes use in hotel bathrooms for heat lamps.  Would that be weird?
  5. Natalie calls her pinky finger her “girl finger.”  She says all the rest are boys.  ??
  6. I gave a talk in church yesterday.  I think it went okay, but I forgot half the papers I was going to use and I still took too much time.  I get a little mad at myself for having zero grasp on the gift of brevity.  I did, however, really enjoy preparing and studying for the talk.  I wish I did a better job of studying the gospel that thoroughly even when I don’t have an assignment.
  7. I made a simple new years resolution.  I’ll just cut and paste from Facebook since I’m lazy:  “My New Year’s resolution this year: *Be Nicer*. Seriously. The stuff that bugs me is probably not going to go away, so I just need to get over it and be nicer. (Bite tongue, curb sarcasm, manage anger.) Funny, my mom used to always tell me “Stephanie, be nice,” and I would roll my eyes at her. Now, I’m pushing 40, and I think I’m finally starting to get it.”
  8. Along those same lines, for Family Home Evening last night, we came up with a family goal/motto for this year.  After discussing being nice to each other, showing respect, no yelling/arguing, etc., we adopted this line from the primary song “I’m trying to be like Jesus”:  “Try To Show Kindness in All That You Do.”  Anybody want to make me some cool graphic-designy thing that I can hang up on my wall?  Anyway, we’re going to work on that.
  9. I’ve been invited to speak at a fireside in a couple weeks in a random ward where I don’t know anyone.  The bishop would like me to speak to the young women and the women about modesty.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I feel like I know the general direction I’d like to go, but if anyone has any great thoughts or talks/articles to pass along, please do.
  10. This year I got down of my high horse a little bit and actually consented to let Santa bring my children a Wii for Christmas.  It was the only gift he brought for all three.  I have always been sort of an anti-video-game poster-mom, but lots of points won me over for some reason.  It was a bit of a gaming free-for-all over Christmas break, but today it was back to school, back to rules, back to chores, etc.  We’ve always had a system in place where they have to finish their chores before school if they want 30 min. of media time after school.  I have to say that having the Wii sitting in our family room made them pretty anxious to get their chores done this morning.  I honestly don’t mind all the active games like sports and singing/dancing, etc., so hopefully it will all be okay as long as I stick to my guns about time limits and what’s appropriate and what’s not.
  11. We also played some fun new games over the break.  The kids got Apples to Apples Jr., and they really like that.  We got a card game called Clue Suspect, and I’m pretty much unbeatable.  :)  We played a fun game called Telestrations with extended family, and we still need to try out a game Clark got in his stocking called Sorry Revenge.  I did splurge right before Christmas and bought a game table I’ve had my eye on for the last year at a local consignment store.  Despite temporarily suffering buyer’s remorse (even though it was cheap), it’s been fun to have.
  12. Here’s the one problem with a Kindle.  You start a book and you don’t have a good sense of how long it really is.  I started The Count of Monte Cristo a week or so ago, and I have been reading and reading and reading, and my little progress tab only showed me at about 33% done.  I really liked that first third of the book, but after reading and reading some more (like almost all the way to 50%) and starting to like it a little less, I began to wonder.  Well, I looked it up on amazon to see how long the real book is, and it turns out that the unabridged version I’m reading is (depending on the publication) between 1200-1600 pages long!  Sweet mercy.  So according to my calculations, I’ve probably read about 700 pages so far.  Someone please tell me it’s worth it to finish it, because right now I’m feeling like I’m in quicksand– in too deep to get out.  And since I’ve spent all that time invested in reading it, it’s like I have to finish it just on principle alone.
  13. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, I really do.  Post-vacation transition is hard and a little depressing, so let’s make the best of it, shall we?

Dump complete.  Carry on.

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42 thoughts on “Unloading.

  1. Your blog and picture look great!

    And if you need some modesty suggestions, I am available. I think that wearing a skirt six inches below your hooha is perfectly modest and acceptable. Oh, and if you are wearing legging, you can basically wear a long shirt and call it good.

  2. I spoke to a group of YW I didn’t know a few months ago about virtue/purity. I spent time getting to know their names, where they go to school etc before I started speaking. I found the direction I was led was to teach the doctrine behind the sacredness of the body and not the do’s and dont’s. They have the for strength of youth that is very specific about clothing, but what they really need to understand is that their body is a gift from God and has a sacred purpose. You know that quote by E. Packer about how doctrine understood changes behavior. We talked about the messages they are sent today. in fact I went and bought a Seventeen magazine and cut out headlines and pictures featured (you will be SHOCKED if you do this…unbelievable) and who those messages are from and the opposing viewpoints of the messages Heavenly Father wants them to hear. don’t know if that helps or not. Mine was very much a discussion complete with chocolate for those who participated :)

  3. I read the full version of Monte Cristo years ago and I finished it, I think it was worth it, I don’t remember thinking, wow I just wasted my time reading that, but nor do I remember thinking, that was such a good book. I really like the movie they did a few years ago, but I was surprised at how different things are in the book. I say stick with it and finish it.

  4. As far as the modesty topic goes… I remember when you posted about Natalie wearing her shirt down her shoulders trying to be like Princess Belle. I was very impressed that even at her young age you taught her that it wasn’t appropriate. I always told Lilly about dressing modestly but when it came to dress up around the house, I didn’t push it. You helped me realize what a double standard that was and what a disservice I was doing to her. Teach them young so when they get older it isn’t such a challenge. You helped me learn that. So thank you!

  5. Just something to think about for your modesty talk…I found it interesting.

    It was fun to read your mind dump. We finally relented on the Wii as well this year. I’m glad you had a good vacation and look forward to more posts now that vacation is over!

  6. Natalie’s pinky finger is a girl because it has “pink” in it. Perfectly understandable.

    The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the best books! Definitely worth the read.

    They have changed some of the stuff under modesty in For the Strength of Youth – just a tad – but made it better. They’ve also added new sections. I would probably do something similar to Cheryl and talk about the doctrine more than the do’s and dont’s.

  7. It’s worth it. But I do agree tgat that is an annoying part of having a Kindle! I’m reading A Tale of Two Cities now, and while it’s not that long it does take a long time to get a new percentage number!

    I let my kids get a wii a couple years ago because I liked the active games. This year they got Mario Brothers for it because my husband wanted it so badly. Mistake. They are so addicted. I was happy to have school start today so our no TV/video games rule on school days kicked in. :)

  8. Reading your mind dump made me smile. Your kids are very handsome, and you’re very lovely. :) When I was stake yw pres in GA, we had a HUGE modesty issue. It was generational, SO frustrating. I was constantly addressing it. I found it helpful to focus on doctrine and what our current Leaders have to say on the subject (seriously, they never cared to hear what Bro. Brigham had to say on the subject) I found For the Strength of Youth to be very helpful as well as Sis. Bednar’s talk she gave at BYUI back in 2001 http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/2001_09_16_bednarsusan.htm
    Good luck with the fireside and be sure and let us know how it goes. Thanks so much for such an inspiring blog. I especially enjoy the GCBC. :)

  9. Hi Steph – there are some interesting thoughts about modesty on a post at Segullah a few weeks ago that addresses the skinny jeans controversy that happened at BYU-I. I think the name of the post is called ‘stupid skinny jeans’. I would add a link, but ……I don’t know how. Sigh…. Loved your post by the way, and I wish I could have been there to hear your talk -

  10. I love your blog, Steph! Diapers or not! ;) tour kids are beautiful…and I live your family motto…if someone makes you a graphic please share
    ..I’d love to put that on my wall! Happy New Year!

  11. Like the new, sleek blog look.

    Re:8. I agree that teaching “correct principles and let them govern themselves” is the way to go. They know what the FTSOY says, they just need to believe the doctrine behind it. I like the video Poppy posted, for practical purposes. Being a mother of a 15-yr-old who gets into statistics and science experiments, I know it would really speak to her.
    I have a friend who was in our stake YW Pres, and when she was visiting family one summer, she interviewed her cousin (young man) and a bunch of his friends about modesty and virtue in the young women they like to date. I thought it was excellent. For teen girls who are completely (without meaning to be) egocentric and worried about what everyone (boys) thinks about them, it was great for them to hear what boys actually feel when they are on a date with someone who isn’t fully clothed. I know my friend would be happy to share if you are interested. Send me an email and I can put you in touch.

  12. Re: the lights- here in our area of California, new construction requires the light switch with timers to turn the lights off or on a dimmer switch anywhere there is not a florescent light bulb. They do help!!

  13. Love your haircut. Nothing boosts my mood like a fresh new do. Yeah for thoughtful gift certificates!

    Good luck with your talk on modesty. I agree with the others on discussing doctrine over rules. As a teenager, I always wanted to know some of the “why’s” behind modesty, but all you heard was “what not to wear”! Once I got married and gained a better insight in the male mind, it made a lot more sense!

  14. I love the makeover on YOU and your blog.

    And that clip someone posted above is a great one.

    And I can’t imagine one of your talks being anything less than stellar.

  15. I did a youth conference talk on modesty a few years back… in preparation, I interviewed five different young men, of various ages from 14, to mission age, to return missionary about what they thought about modesty and how girls dress… I had a hand full of girls come up and read their quotes out loud. I think it made an impact.

    The picture of you up there looks awesome.

    My kids leave lights on everywhere, all the time.

    I’ve stopped blogging too. Too little time, too many other things to write.

    I’ve still got your guest post though, which I promise will get posted eventually… I’ll let you know when soon, I hope. :)

  16. Totally in favor of both makeovers. You want your blog to express the you that you are now.
    And if the you that you are now isn’t way into the Count of Monte Cristo, don’t waste another second. I, for one, really enjoy it; one of the few that I own. Gotta say it is a bit long, though.

    P.S. You are my friend. That is all.

  17. haha, laughing about the pinky as the “girl finger”. Is it because we women lift our pinky up when we drink from a bottle/cup/mug more than guys? No? Is it just me? Okay. Good luck on your talk in a couple weeks. I think you’ll do wonderfully.

  18. I love your hair, it looks great! :) It always feels good to get a makeover of sorts.

    The blog looks great too…. my blog is in desperate need of a makeover… just not quite sure what I’m wanting.

    I really enjoyed the Count of Monte Cristo, but I think I read the abridged version….

    Good Luck with your talk… I’ll be thinking????? I know you’ll do great!

    Your children are ADORABLE.

  19. So i have a suggestion regarding #4 on your dumping list. Install a light sensor that make your lights come on automatically when you enter a room, then when you leave the room it shuts off..problem solved. We had one installed in my Grannies garage. They were always leaving the light on 24/7 so the husband put in the sensor thing and whoa la no more worries!!

    As far as The Count of Monty Cristo just watch the movie and call it good! HA!!

    Great blog, looks like we follow in the same circle!

  20. Enjoyed the dump but then read every single comment and forgot what I wanted to say. But I will say I love the new lookS too. And now I’m going to watch that video. I saw it linked on facebook awhile back but, seriously? I just think it’s so funny for anyone to think it might be an issue that I didn’t watch. Maybe I’ll be linking to it after all, because I just remembered at a temple trip once we were hanging out with some YSAs and talking about the recent conference they attended and it came up somehow that they were wearing bikinis. I became “mother” and explained that that’s not appropriate (not all jerkily, I hope). They were shocked. Like they had never heard it. I don’t think they had. I’m not sure they had ever even heard of ohe-piece swimsuits for adults, either. :)

  21. Hey girl! I love your new look. Both blog and hair. I am cracking up that your daughter thinks all of her fingers are boys except her pinky finger. hee hee hee

  22. The modesty issue is HUGE. Thank you for taking on the challenge. And let me know how it goes; we need some serious help here and I’m sure we can fit a plane ticket into the budget.

    I was horrified at what I saw at last weekend’s stake youth New Year’s Eve dance. It was a dressy affair so lots of the girls wore formals which just increases the opportunities for problems and there were problems a-plenty. My favorite was the strapless(!!) dress which the stake leaders weren’t going to do anything about because the wearer was a non-member (and they didn’t want to offend). Well, non-members don’t just show up on their own and once I figured out who she came with I asked the appropriate leader about it. The response I received was ‘well, she only had that dress or a really short dress and I figured strapless was better than short.’ OK, so this tells me 2 things: 1 – you knew in advance she was going to wear a strapless dress and 2 – you did nothing about it! Find her a shrug or talk to the YW in your ward and see about finding her another dress to wear! If we don’t show them that it’s important, they won’t think it is.

    Then there was the pink sequined mini-dress. And the skin tight, sleeveless, 6″ too short dress (on a bishop’s daughter of course). And the many dresses that appeared to be ok – until the girls wanted to actually dance, bend, sit or otherwise move in any manner. I could go on and on….

    Fortunately, I was able to leave the dance knowing that every single one of the YW in my branch, including the 4 non-members who came with them, were all appropriately dressed. They had their shrugs and sleeves which some may say made their dresses less attractive but I think it made them all the more beautiful. I’m just concerned about what message they internalized from that dance. We’ve talked but there are only so many times that I can remind them that they did the right thing and that’s what they need to remember. They can’t see the blessings right now but I want them to so badly.

    OK, I’ll get off my soap box but can I tell you how good it feels to get this off my chest to a bunch of people who don’t know the parties involved? If I vent to anyone around me, someone’s sure to get upset and offended; I already have a reputation for being a little to free with my opinion and with branch conference coming up on Sunday – which means a little one-on-one with the stake – I figure they’ll be demanding my release sooner rather than later.

  23. Hey, thanks for your email. I turned off the comments on my blog, because I only had one commenter, and she did not say nice things. So I just had to eliminate the problem that way.

    Sorry i have not been a more faithful reader. Things got crazy for the last little bit, and I haven’t had a ton of time to focus on the blogging world.

    I am going to respond to #9 & #12.

    #9– This is not a “church” book, but it is a Christian book, I read in my “Bible study” (it was just like a religious book club, not really Bible study) a few years ago with a bunch of my military wife friends. There is one particular chapter that I read that shot me back to my YW years, and sad as it sounds, it flipped a switch and I understood another reason why men need the women around them to be modest (of course we want to be modest because God has commanded it, and because we want to have respect for ourselves), but there are a plethora of reasons to cover yourself and to make yourself beautiful without “giving it away” with the eyes. I did dress modestly as a YW bc so many people emphasized it, and I knew it was what I was “supposed” to do, but I guess it was another example of blind obedience. A struggle that men have (all to differing degrees) is that they like to look at women (and rightly so, we are beautiful creations), but I do think that God felt that this particular “weakness” was worth the risk. Can you imagine how hard it would be to get men and women together if we were the same??? Anyway, I think the struggle for women (LDS or not) is that we like to be validated as beautiful women. This is understandable, but when we are competing with women who have hardly any material covering their bodies, we, modest women, feel like we’re being ignored. And truth be told, that was a hard thing for me in college. Even though I did my best to dress modestly (and even if I went to a church school) guys always flocked to the girls who didn’t dress modestly. I felt like dressing immodestly was something that had to be done if you wanted to get a lot of dates. I still dated my fair share, but in the beginning it was hard. And I find that a lot of girls give into dressing immodestly (even within the Church) because they feel like that is what they have to do to get guys attention. Looking back, I understand that those types of guys who go after that are not the kind you want to bring home to mom anyway. But still. It is a difficult for teenagers to wrap their minds around. I do wish that my YW leaders were a little more frank concerning boys and how they think when they see a girl who isn’t dressed modestly. They did a great job, but that is one thing I would tell them today. Modesty and chastity are pretty connected, so to try and do one without the other won’t work in the long run. How you dress sends a message about yourself, whether you like it or not. And you need to ask yourself what message you are sending before you leave the house, and if it is a message that you would be ok with if that is the only thing people remembered about you.

    #12– I LOVE the Count of Monte Cristo. I read the abridged version in French in high school, and decided I would like the English version better (I understood the basic gist of what happened, but a lot of things got lost in translation… I found myself translating from French into English in my head half the time, and that was a headache). So I read it, and even though I kinda do like the movie better (Jim Caviezel is a favorite), the book is good too (I think). Just know that the book is not as happy as the movie is.

  24. Sorry, I just realized I never shared the book title. Its called “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhaun. The chapter I was referring to is called “Keeper of the Visual Rolodex”

  25. Your hair is darling. Your kids are darling. Definitely finish the book (or at least finish the abridged version). The movie completely removes the moral of the story, but the book does not disappoint. It’s one of my favorites.
    Not that you’re short on games to play with your fam, but we found a fun one last month called Bang. We played with just the adults, but I think 8 yrs. and up can play. Maybe next Christmas?
    Would love to hear how the fireside goes.

  26. Two things.
    Absolutely, Yes. In my opinion, The Count of Monte Cristo is worth it. But to put it in context, I also think that Les Miserables is too. However, that being said and having read the unabridged versions of both, for readers like us who are limited in our time (you know– juggling children and family, household and trying to have some ‘me’ time, etc.) the abridged versions are wonderful and well worth it. I hate to suggest that you quit, but if you wanted to just start over with the abridged version, you would still probably read less :) For what it’s worth…
    Also, in regards to you lights on in the house issue. That seems to be an epidemic with no end in sight (hahaha). But here is an article I read that we have been using in my home that has helped significantly. (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/the-lights-out-meal-plan-a-moms-bright-idea-encourages-her-kids-to-save-electricity-and-boosts-their-budgeting-savvy-in-the-process/977e0b36fffa8f4faa2a7015a92c1733). Great concept.
    Keep up the blogging!!!

  27. Love your theme. We established ours at the beginning of the school year. Very similar to yours, ours is Love one another and show kindness in all that you do and say! It sounds like you have had fun and I like the new look to your blog!

  28. Loved reading your post, you have a lot of good ideas — and very beautiful children! Loved reading the comments on this post, too! I have a couple of things to add:

    Light switches. Okay, so I am not very good at turning lights off in the laundry room and storage room. Drives my husband crazy! So he installed some automatic switches. You can turn them on and off, but if they don’t sense any motion for 30 minutes, they auto turn off. He just got them at Home Depot.

    Modesty. So, I just ran across two random things about modesty.
    First – I read this article my sister-in-law sent me: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-death-of-pretty
    Second – I came across some youtube videos about guys talking about modesty. Several of the commentors said they asked guys about modesty, this just gives you a way to do it without having to do your own legwork. Just search “guys on modesty” on youtube and videos like this one will come up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2S888TocQ0

    Kindness. Yes, I, too, could be kinder. Good resolution. In fact, it reminds me I was going to print up this poem to stick on my fridge as a reminder.
    I have wept in the night
    For the shortness of sight
    That to somebody’s need made me blind;
    But I never have yet
    Felt a tinge of regret
    For being a little too kind.

  29. The Count of Monte Cristo is my all-time favorite book and I would recommend you continue. Put something over the percentage bar! I totally feel the same way about my kindle. It’s so frustrating! I just found your blog from We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ. Love her! I started a 2012 theme “Gaining a testimony of Motherhood”. I have monthly goals and so far, so good. Check it out if you want. http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/2012/01/year-2012-theme.html

  30. I love your family motto! We’ve been singing that song a lot lately since it’s the August song for Primary and I had it in my head when I was making plans for our Primary kids this year. I may have to snag Jen’s graphic and display it in our room!

  31. Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. Now whenever I’m a little down I think, “Stephanie said I’m a rock star. I can do this!” I love your new blog makeover. Happy New Year!

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