So you ordered more slop, did you?

Well how’s this for a 3-course meal of it?…

1.  Yesterday, Natalie kept tossing a hot-pad at me while I was changing her diaper. (Feel free to unsubscribe right away if you are violently opposed to kitchen items being found at random in children’s bedrooms and stuffed animals and library books being found on kitchen floors.)  Once it flew past me, and I teased her by saying, “You missed me, you missed me, now you have to kiss me,” and I scooped her up and attacked her with kisses all over her face and neck.  She let out this delightful belly laugh that I’d never heard before and it cracked both of us up.  I said, “Was that funny?” She sighed and replied, “Yeah, I laughed like a grandpa.”  The rest of the day I laughed every time I thought about it.

2.  Today, we dropped off a wedding gift at the house of Clark’s Primary teacher.  She wasn’t home, so we left it with her little brother.  As we walked back to the car, Clark asked where she was, and I explained that she was probably at work.  Grant said, “Clark, did you know that some girls go to work?”  Clark said, “really?” and Grant affirmed, “Yep, it’s true.  Sometimes girls go to work.”  (Please be advised that this is observation based on their own reality and not because of some ultra-conservative sexist indoctrination.)   Clark thought for a few minutes while he buckled himself into his car seat and then piped up, “I wish mommy went to work so daddy could stay home with us.”  I would like to announce that my greatest moment of self-control today was not responding to that comment at all.  I did tell Matt later and he laughed (alone) and said it’s probably just because he lets them watch shows all the time.  This is not a funny story.  Do not say “LOL” in the comments.

3.  (Kristina P, you’re gonna love this one.)  Remember my brother Greg who won the Cheapest of the Cheap contest in Nashville?  I’m quoting here a story his wife Mindy told about the most hilarious thing that happened to him last week on the airplane:

“First of all, the life of Greg pretty much makes me laugh. He is just one in a million…truly! One of my favorite things about him is that he knows/cares very little about famous people. Let me explain. I just got off the phone with him( he is currently heading home from Mexico.)

On his first flight he sat in the very last row of the airplane and started chatting with a lady sitting next to him. They first talked about how the back of the plane smells because you’re right next to the lavatory…:) Anyway, she couldn’t get her new cell phone to work so of course Greg helped her out. Since Greg has been coveting the phone she just bought and is considering getting one for himself, he asked her if he could fiddle around with it for a while. She was more than happy to let him use it.

Meanwhile, he opened his laptop and on his screen saver was a 350Z (a Nissan sports car). She saw it and started talking about how she herself has one and is now wanting to order a 370Z with red leather interior. She also talked about 3 other cars she had purchased in the last year. Since Greg knows everything about cars (since he works with the creation of them)…they had a great conversation. Well, this lady nodded off (in her dark glasses and hair in a ponytail) and Greg felt a tap on his shoulder. The flight attendant asked him, “Would you mind handing me Beyonce’s empty cup?” Greg, still not sure what Beyonce’ even looked like but knew the name, started to laugh inside.

Hilarious! So Hilarious because that’s so Greg. We had a good laugh! I told him he should have sent me a text from her phone(could you imagine Greg/me having her phone number?)…yet he’s (respectfully) too innocent to do that…his wife on the other hand…not so much:) Life is good!”

beyonce

I told him that when she made the comment about his computer screen he should have said, “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.”  Am I the only person that thinks that’s funny?

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I like you, and my toe itches.

SmileyFace3I have a few really important things to say.  (It’s after midnight, and my sense of what’s worth saying and what’s not might be slightly warped.)

First of all, I just want to say that all your comments on my I-just-got-home-from-EFY post were just like narcotics Lindt milk chocolate truffles the nicest thing ever.  I promise I did not write the summary of my angst and puke and such to solicit all of those “you are amazing” type comments, but I’m thinking I should undergo some major stress more often just to hear it.  What is truly amazing is that both friends and “strangers” will be so generous with their encouragement and praise.  Thank you.  You made me feel great.

It only took me about 48 hours to return my home from the lovely place of order that my mom created in my absense to the oh-look-Stephanie-the-queen-of-entropy-is-home current state of things.  I keep thinking maybe I’ll grow up and be more like my mom, but I’m not so sure.

If you have little boys and they’ve never watched Swiss Family Robinson, they should.  Mine love it.  Shipwrecks, wild animals, dream treehouse, pirates, booby traps, what’s not to love?

Summer is great because winter sucks, but I do sense a blog slump coming on.  With children running around here all day and those long lists of things to do now that it’s finally warm, a person can stay pretty busy.

I did make a summer weekly schedule where we have a routine for each day of the week.  We try to balance out some fun things and some important things like service, chores, and gospel study.  Let me just say that after 3 whole days it’s a raving success.  I hope it doesn’t lose its thunder.

I’m excited to start camping again.  We have a pop-up camper/trailer and it makes for some fun family times.  Matt’s birthday is this weekend, and we’re going to go camping in celebration of that and Father’s Day.  For the next month, I will then only be ONE year older than Matt and he can’t make all his dumb jokes about me being a cradle robber when we all know that he was the one who was hot on my trail and he’s lucky I decided to let myself date someone the same age as my younger brother.

I went to the gym and exercised at SIX o’clock this morning.  I think this is a sign of the Second Coming.

My toe really does itch, by the way.  I need to use more lotion.

I love you guys.  Thanks for letting me write a bunch of slop like this occasionally and then still coming back.

General Conference Book Club Week 10: Elder Bednar

05_02_bednaFirst of all, thank you for your kind and very supportive comments on my last post.  I want to address that some more, but I’ll save it for tomorrow I think.

Welcome back to General Conference Book Club, Week TEN!  I’m not sure I’ve stuck with many goals for ten weeks before, so congratulations to all of you who are still with me on this little study journey.  Even if you’re not participating in the actual club readings, go back and read people’s great comments on the GCBC posts because they really do have some amazing insights and testimonies.

This week’s talk is “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing” by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  To be honest, I don’t remember much about this talk, but I do remember how he powerfully expressed his testimony at the end.  I look forward to going back and studying it more carefully.

If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it. You’re welcome to join us at any point along the way.

>>Click here to read the talk “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing” by Elder David A. Bednar <<

I’ve included this video produced by the Church as a reminder of how our lives are blessed by the temple.

Have a great week.  God Bless.

I’m alive and well . . . well, mostly well.

EFY_Theme_2009_smallSo, I just got back this afternoon from my journey to Brigham Young University to speak at Especially for Youth.  I had a good experience overall.  I get pretty nervous when I teach at EFY, mostly because I put a lot of pressure on myself to be exceptional.  I just figure if they fly you all the way out there, and the kids pay money to come, you better do a pretty darn good job, so I stress out a little bit hoping I can measure up to expectations.  Some have asked what I taught about, so here are the titles and class descriptions.  I taught each class twice.

General Conference Workshop:  What God’s Saying Today
There are living prophets on earth that speak for our Heavenly Father and teach us what He wants us to know; Their teachings are relevant to our happiness and essential for our safety. This class will be a study of the recent words from the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles. In a workshop setting, you will practice studying and personally applying the modern revelation that we hear at General Conference.

The Law of the Harvest:  Growing the Life You Want
The Savior spoke a simple parable about planting seeds that teaches us about our own role in achieving our goals. We’ll look at the spiritual and day-to-day applications of the Law of the Harvest, including how it helps us to better understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Get Over Yourself.
Do you sometimes find yourself consumed with your own feelings, problems, worries and disappointments? Jesus Christ taught us how we can lose our lives in His service, and He promises that our burdens can be made light. We’ll discuss ways that you can step outside of yourself, turn your focus to others and the Savior, and develop a Zion heart.

Mission Prep 101:  How to Start Now to Become the Best Missionary You Can Be
The Lord needs the very best to do His work. We will study and discuss what the modern-day prophets and apostles teach about how to best prepare for missionary service. There’s much you can do right now to invest in a successful and powerful mission. Even if you are undecided about a mission, these suggestions will help you live a happier life right now as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The good news:

1.  I got to go out to dinner with this lovely lady Mary, who I only knew through her comments here on my blog.  It was so fun.  I have to say that this meeting friends online business is totally legit.  She was charming and bright, and I couldn’t believe how many connections and coincidental life experiences we shared.  I’ve always been a tad bit skeptical of Internet dating and such (with all the weirdos out there and all–  Mary assured me that she was NOT really a 50-year old predator named Victor).  But, if this had been an internet dating event, and I happened to be a guy, I would definitely ask Mary to go on a second date.  My husband will say that was a dumb thing to say, but I know you women will understand what I meant and what I didn’t mean.  Thanks Mary!

2.  While I was gone, a delicious batch of homemade Pecan Praline Fudge arrived at my house from the lovely Melanie J. My dad was so excited to receive it in my absence.  He did leave some for me, thank goodness, but if it had not arrived, it’s possible that my parents’ stint as babysitters for four days may not have been worth it.  As it is, they left content, and with a bag of the last remaining pieces of fudge for the road trip home.  Thank you, Melanie!

3.  So after I teach each class, I always feel a little unsettled because it’s so hard to tell if it went well or not.  You think it went okay, but you’re never sure.  A few youth come up and say “Thank you,” or even that they liked the class a lot, but you still wonder if they’re just saying that to be polite since you flew all the way out there to talk to them and all.  Anyway, I always wish there were some instant feedback button where their heads all light up when they feel the Spirit of the talk and make some life-changing decision based on your message.  Or maybe not.  But anyway, at the end of my last class yesterday, the room emptied as all the youth ran off to enjoy their much-anticipated free time.  One boy, probably about 16 years old, came back into the room and approached me as I was packing up my things.  He says softly, “Um, this is going to sound kind of cheesy, but . . . when I came into your class today, I didn’t know if I was going to serve a mission or not, but now I’m going to go.”  I said, “That’s awesome!  That’s not cheesy.  That’s how the Spirit works; it changes you.”  He smiled and said, “Yeah, so thanks.”  “Thank you. You totally made my day.”  He left.  And I cried.  I figured that even if all my talks sucked and I got horrible evaluations, just that one kid who made that decision made it all worth it.  Seriously.

The bad news:

Apparently all that nervous pressure I put on myself about my talks took a toll on me a little bit.  I developed a tension headache by the end of each day, and last night my Tylenol didn’t quite put a dent in it.  I slept really poorly all night long, and by the time I woke up, it was a migraine.  My sweet brother Steve drove me to the airport at 5, yes, 5 a.m., and the oncoming headlights and streetlights were making me nauseous.  Combined with the vibration of the car and the sounds on the radio, my head was experiencing some serious sensory overload.  We stopped and I bought some Excedrin at a gas station, but a few minutes down the road, I knew I was not well.  “I think I’m going to throw up.  For real!”  Steve was flying down the freeway and it all happened so fast.  I emptied out his Wal-Mart bag and used it as my receptacle.  It had a hole.  It had been many, many years since I threw up last, and I have a phobia, so it was not pretty.  Poor Steve was driving with one hand and patting me on the back with the other, seemingly unaffected by the fact that I was filling his passenger seat with bodily refuse.  Did I already say it was not pretty?

He pulled over to a 7-11, where I pulled my drenched lower half slowly out of the car and went to the trunk to dig some dirty (but dry) pants and underwear from my suitcase.  The restroom was locked and a sign said “Out of Service,” but the attendant took one look at me and let me in.  I actually did feel much better after I puked and changed my clothes, and luckily I was fine for my two flights home.  I still have a slight headache now, but I’m lucky I was able to fly as well as I did today.  So, I’m off to bed in hopes that a good night’s sleep will do wonders.  It’s good to be home.

General Conference Book Club Week 9: Elder Perry

05_06_perryThis post will be brief and boring, but the GCBC talk for this week is

by Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

For more info on how the General Conference Book Club works, go here.

And I never got around to making my comments for last week, but I read it, and you should read all the great comments that people have left on previous GCBC posts.  You continue to amaze me with your insights.

I’m frantically getting it together; I leave *early* in the morning for EFY.  See you in a few days.

Women’s Conference chapter 6: Prayer

44-06See? I eventually get around to finishing my goals.  After I get back from EFY next week, I’ll write about Sister Beck’s talk, which was my favorite message from Women’s Conference.

These are notes from the class, “Meaningful Prayer:  Holy Communication + Consecrated Work,” taught by Renee Wood and C. Robert Line.  It was based on this talk by Elder David A. Bednar, which I’d still like to go back and read.  As a preface, I really liked this class.  Thought I’d throw that out there in case it encourages you to actually read on.

Part 1:  Sister Wood

  • Prayer became critical after Adam and Eve left the garden– a lifeline, complete and total dependance.
  • Prayer OPENS the door.  Why deal with life alone?  Pray in specifics– as if He’s right there.  He is.
  • We must commit to prayer.  D&C 88:63– “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
  • Sis. Wood told stories from her life and how prayer had been essential.  She had some major challenges:  a sudden, unexpected divorce after 18 1/2 years of marriage, a son who became wayward and lost spiritually, a sister with recurring cancer, etc.  At one point she described her feelings as “I didn’t know someone could hurt so much and still be alive.”  Her story moved me and gave me gratitude for my blessings and the Atonement that can swallow up that kind of pain.  She testified of how prayer made miracles and healing happen in her life and in her family.
  • Just like in Mosiah 24:15, even when the Lord does not take away the trial, He does strengthen our backs to bear them.
  • Answers to prayers always require actions.
  • The key:  Pray with sincerity of heart, listen, accept His will.  Our faith will be strengthened.

Part 2:  Brother Line

  • The prayer of faith requires us to plead and to perform.  It is our duty.
  • Alma 34:28— “And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.”
  • Elder Eyring taught in this talk that we need to couple prayer with scriptures.
  • There are three pieces of the combination lock to answered prayer:
  1. Faith
  2. Personal righteousness
  3. what is “right” for us

All three must be in place for us to receive what it is that we’re asking for.  Often 1 &2 are there, but it is not what is “right” for us.  Our rejected petitions teach us about our flawless Father.

  • In Mere Christianity (p. 101-102), C.S. Lewis stated that sometimes our process of failing and trying again is what we need.  It trains our habits of the soul.
  • This scripture gives us the formula of how to receive answers to our prayers: D&C 9:8-9–   “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it* be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought…”
  1. Study.
  2. Make a decision. (*implied.  You have to make a choice first.)
  3. Ask if it’s right.
  4. Get an answer:

a.  burning in the bosom/ feel that it is right = Yes.

b.  stupor of thought/uneasy = No.

c.  Neither a. nor b/ Father witholds an answer. =  He wants us to gain experience, and act with faith and obedience to revealed principles of truth.  GREAT quote by Elder Richard G. Scott:

“When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.

Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far. We sense that help by recognizing troubled or uneasy feelings.”

  • D&C 8:23 teaches us that when something is right, the Lord will let us know in our mind and in our heart.  Elder Holland taught that this is like a checks and balances to help us recognize the truth:  God teaches in a reasonable and revelatory way.

Anyway, these were some great reminders to me about prayer.  Although I pray many times throughout the day in my mind and heart, I need to do more on-my-knees, heart-pouring-out praying.  And I loved how he explained God’s pattern for answering (or not answering) prayers.  I hope something has been helpful to you, too.

I’ll post up the new GCBC post on Sunday, but then I’ll be noticeably absent for a few days while I’m teaching at EFY next week.  Don’t think I decided to hate you if I don’t show up at your blogs for a while as I play catch-up.  Have a great weekend.

Someone in this family is going to jail.

So far I have counted three legal infractions today.

We went Wal-Mart (that in itself should be a misdemeanor).  Clark wailed in the parking lot and said he did NOT want to go in.  His heart was set on Sam’s Club and free sample handouts, but my membership expired, so we went to Wal-Mart instead.  He wasn’t happy.  He refused to get out of the van.  I explained to him that if I left him in the van, someone would call the police, and they would come get him and take mommy to jail and he would have to live with another family.  He thought about that for a minute with a scowl on his face.  I’m not sure what his real preference is, but perhaps for the sake of not hurting my feelings, he hopped out of the van and surrendered to our shopping trip.

While I was checking out, he and Natalie somehow managed to get about 5 toy cell phones in their possession and run with them over to the blasted arcade section in front of the check-out area.  I finally wrangled them back and returned all the merchandise to its appropriately unpurchased position.

When I got home, I unloaded the van.  As I was putting the groceries in the kitchen, Natalie kept digging in her pocket.  “I have lipstick,” she grinned.  “What lipstick?”  I was trying to think what she might have dug out of my backpack or van.  She proudly showed me her treasure.

DSCF2080“Hey, where did you get that?!”

She smiled again, “At the store.”

“Natalie….(remember that grumpy sighing I told you about yesterday?)… that’s STEALING.”  I went on to explain to her in terms that she understood that she was a robber.  (She always asks me, “what if there’s a robber?,” and I say, “He’ll go to jail,” and she says, “I’ll punch him in the nose.”)  I’m not sure whether she was more afraid of jail or a punch in the nose,  but she got a little remorseful and said, “I’m sorry mommy.”  I asked her what we should do and she said, “take it back to the store.”   To be honest it feels like torture to return to Wal-mart again with my children, but it must be done.

All that criminal behavior for this little gem:

DSCF2082Yes, it does say “Oooh La La Bubble Gum Lip Gloss.”  What can I say?  Natalie’s got impeccable class.

Grant is my smoochie kid.  He is super cuddly and lovey-dovey.  Not being much of the affectionate type myself, I’m often annoyed with his abundant loving.  (I know, that’s not very nice of me, but I am.)  So today, Clark and Grant were playing tag and I hear Clark say the classic line of obnoxious childhood, “You missed me.  You missed me.  Now you have to kiss me,” which of course Grant takes literally and chases Clark around the house for 30 minutes trying to smooch his face off.  I reminded him of my tramautic childhood experience of being chased by a kissy boy around the playground in kindergarten.  I also repeated my sage warning that boys who kiss people who don’t want to be kissed can go to jail.

So, I’m sure you’re all proud of me for raising a band of 3 pint-sized hoodlums.  Maybe our family can just become a small gang of toddler thugs.  Yesterday I cut off the bottom of sweatpants to make shorts for the boys and I used the discarded pieces as hats.  How do Clark and I look?

DSCF2075Maybe our gang can be called the Jailbound Jesters.  Send me chocolate when we’re all in the slammer.

(Final plea to go vote for my blog at MMB by tomorrow…. look on my sidebar for the link.)