Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Erika

[Quick announcement first:  Congratulations to Lisaway, who won the giveaway for Melanie’s new book.  To anyone else who wants a copy for yourself, you can buy Not My Type at Amazon or Deseret Book.]

Today we meet Erika.  She is a blog friend I was lucky enough to meet in real life when she came to Utah one time and graciously took family pictures for me.  See what a great job she did?

She is very kind and super talented and I’m excited for you to meet her.  Here’s Erika:


[I stole this from her blog.  Isn’t she lovely?]

My name is Erika.  I’m shockingly close to 30 and I live just outside of Portland, OR.  I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 9 years and we have 2 girls (6 and 4) and a boy(2).

I am a military brat, my dad served in the Army for 20+ years.  I was born in Germany, but we moved when I was two.  I’ve lived in all 4 corners of the US.  Having experienced many different climates and places I have decided that my two favorite places are Virginia and Washington state because of the beautiful greens.  I grew up in a family of 6 girls, no boys.  I was the 2nd oldest and did a lot of babysitting.  I met my husband in Florida when he moved into my ward.  It was pretty much love at first sight and he waited 9 months for me to turn 16 before he took my on my first date.  He was also my first kiss.  I wrote to him while he went on a mission and I went to BYU Provo. I didn’t do anything past my general electives at BYU.  Nothing interested me enough to commit.  The most interesting part of my history happens when my husband got home from his mission.  He had been challenged by his dad to beat his “dating record” of 39 girls in 1 year.  I knew that my husband had this goal, so I encouraged him to take girls out while still dating me.  But that started to get old, really fast.  He had bought my engagement ring and he was STILL DATING other girls.  I finally put my foot down and told him to choose between me and the numbers.  He made the correct choice.  Shortly after getting married I started massage school at Utah College of Massage Therapy so I am a closet massage therapist now.  I’m not currently licensed, but I would say that I am so grateful that I went to massage school because it rekindled my love of learning that I had lost.  After my husband graduated from BYU we moved up to Oregon and we plan to stay forever.  We LOVE the Pacific Northwest.  We now have 3 kids and I have discovered a passion for photography.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? The hugs and kisses from my children.  Hearing them laughing together.  Watching how they grow and learn.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? FEEDING my kids.  I honestly can’t STAND it when my kids come and ask me for food or tell me that they are hungry.  And if I think of something for them to eat, they don’t want it.  I wish I found satisfaction in feeding my family, but I jut don’t.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I’m pretty good at putting things off…  hence my blog title “Erika’s Procrastination Corner.”  I am patient with projects.  I love doing things with my hands.  I am artistic and can draw fairly well.  I have been practicing and would say I’m pretty good at taking pictures, but I’m always trying to learn and improve.

What are you loving lately? Taking pictures and Pinterest.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time? The computer… I always have one project or another; editing pictures, blogging, creating Blurb books from my blog, checking Facebook/email, etc.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).  Using one word commands when you need a child to obey you.  “Clothes”, “Teeth”, things like that.  

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?  I’m a homebody and would most likely rot at home if you don’t invite me to go somewhere.  I need friends who get me out of my comfort zone and reach out to include me.

 If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan?  If money and calories weren’t an issue- I’d do a spa night where we all got pedicures and then ate at a chocolate cafe and saw girly chick flick.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?  I am most sure that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he was telling the truth about the First Vision.  I am most sure that the power of the priesthood is real and that the Holy Ghost guides us.  I am most sure that Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us and has a hand in our lives.

 Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?  My mom’s beef enchiladas with an italian soda, followed by Snickerdoodles and Lemon Bars

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?  Sweeping.  It’s quick and easy and you see immediate results and your house instantly feels 50% cleaner without crumbs sticking to your feet.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.  Stop thinking about you and think about them (husband/child).

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?  I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was pregnant with my son.  That was definitely unexpected.  Getting the thyroid removed and dealing with the treatment wasn’t so bad, but trying to get my thyroid levels regulated has been hard.  Let’s just say I’m glad my husband and kids have put up with me.

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?  A house.  I’m trying to figure out where the Lord stands on this house and my family, whether we should buy it or not.  It’s great fun.

Tell us about your blog:  My blog is Erika’s Procrastination Corner.  It is basically a family journal with LOTS of pictures.  I started blogging in 2007 or so and decided that I wanted my pictures to look better.  That’s what led me to discovering my love for photography.  

Thank you, Erika!  Please visit her blog to get to know her a little, or give her a quick hello in the comments here.

Happy weekend, everyone.

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Announcements. (Good stuff.)

Some exciting business, folks. Three exciting items of business.  I know, this place is just a party.

First of all, there’s still time to enter the contest for the free, autographed copy of Melanie’s book, Not My Type.  All you have to do is send anyone a thank-you note, and you’re in the drawing.  Go to this post to enter.  The drawing for the winner will be Wednesday night and I’ll pick up the book at the release party on Thursday.

Second, there are only TEN MORE DAYS until General Conference.  It’s no secret how I feel about conference.  (It’s my second favorite holiday after Christmas. Truly.)  Anyway, I’ll be teaming up with Lesa from Notes about Music to create some kind of General Conference meme that you can all participate in on your own blogs.  It will be a questionnaire about your experience with both the “music and the spoken word” that is conference. You’ll have it ahead of time so you can watch for answers during conference. Then we’ll have a big link-up thing where we can read all about everyone’s favorite moments and lessons.  So, basically, just get ready for that– it’s coming soon.  And as a personal side note, I can’t emphasize enough how much more you’ll get out of conference if you start now to think about questions you’d like answers to and pray about them in anticipation of hearing the Lord’s servants speak.  You’ll be amazed how many personalized answers you will receive.  Need something to get you in the mood?  Watch this video.  It’s fantastic.  And amen to its message.

Finally, I’m thinking it’s time for another Girls’ Night Out.  Mostly because I saw this and wanted some girlfriends to go with me.

LITTLE WOMEN: The Musical SCERA Showhouse II Friday, 10/7/11 7:30PM MDT

So it’s at the Scera theater in Orem, and I thought we could all meet there for the show, then go across the street (kind of) to The Chocolate, eat desserts and visit the night away.  Tickets would be just under $15 (a little cheaper if you have student I.D.). What do you think?  I’d love to have you come whether you’re a longtime blog friend or a quiet blog stalker.  It’s a great way to take a break, make new friendships, and well, you know, eat chocolate.  If it sounds fun to you and you’re available on 10/7, let me know in the comments, and I’ll send you more details.  Feel free to invite a wing[woman], daughter, girlfriend, whatever.  P.S. This invitation is null and void if you are a strange, predatory creep.  Just to be clear.  (Insert passive-aggressive smile here.)

GCBC Week 25: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home” and “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”

Okay, we are doubling up this week since we’re running out of time (ONE more week of GCBC before a new conference!), and I love, LOVE, love both of these talks. It will be worth your time to study them both this week, I promise.

Establishing a Christ-Centered Home

by Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy

“Because Satan understands that true happiness in this life and in the eternities is found in the form of family, he does everything in his power to destroy it.”

and

What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?

by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy

“A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself.”

I could put hundreds of quotes here that I loved from both talks.  How about you?  What were your favorite principles from these talks?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If you’re new to General Conference Book Club, get more info here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Carrie

This week is our chance to meet Carrie.  I met her through blogging and only know her as an online friend.  She started reading my blog a while back, which I thought was really cool because she didn’t even have any children at the time.  She recently had her first little daughter, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her take the transformative journey of motherhood on her own blog.  She writes honestly about her experiences.  This post is one of my favorites that she wrote about the challenging new life as a mother, and just this week she wrote another post where she said something I loved:  “… in all the gaps of me, Heavenly Father was there. He just filled in what i couldn’t do.”  Meet Carrie:

Hi! I’m teachergirl on the internet and Carrie in real life. I live in a smallish collegetown in the south where football AND basketball rules the community.  You don’t want to try to go anywhere on a football Saturday; of course, I wouldn’t dare, since I’m glued to my TV watching all the SEC games I can manage to get in.  I have been married for two years to the love of my life and my very best friend, musicboy, who is studying to become a high school band director (we’ll never be far away from a football game…) and we had our first baby, a girl, in April.  We met in Institute and became best friends; he left to go on a mission, I had hope that maybe he would date me when he got back, and he did! We were married 9 months after he got back. Letters for the win! 🙂

I’m the only daughter of an amazing single mom who managed to work, raise me, and go to college at night for most of my early childhood.  I was born in California, but moved to the South when I was in college.  I like it much better, to be honest with you.   I got married a little later than most (and robbed the cradle! my husband is 9 years younger than me) so while I was waiting for that dream to come true, I made a few more happen. I graduated last year with my Ph.D. in English, and now teach college courses (mostly) from home while I care for our daughter.  I love teaching (hence my online name) and am grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue so much education before our daughter was born.  I feel like I have really gotten to do all of the things that I wanted to do on my own, and now I get the chance to help our children and my husband realize their dreams.  I’m really thankful for that gift.

 What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

Baby giggles and smiles.  I’ll never forget how it felt when I got my first belly laugh out of our girl, for doing something simple like rubbing noses with her.  Cuddles. Being able to solve a problem faster because I know what to do.  Seeing her grow and do things she just has been working on forever.  Development is astounding.  Realizing that I just really LIKE my kid.  Rocking her to sleep.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Touch the Eiffel Tower (and visit Europe in general).  Serve a mission with my husband.  Own a home.  Be debt-free (oh student loans).

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m a good teacher.  I cook pretty well, though I don’t do it as often as I should.  I’m a pretty great baker.  My husband says “mommying. baking. reading real fast. a very good friend and listener.”  [He got kisses for that. :)]

What are you loving lately?

–Finding mom friends. It’s hard for me, especially because most of the young moms that I felt a kinship to have moved out (the perils of living in a college town). While I love mom friends of all ages, I especially am loving finding a few (online!) who seem like, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits.

–The peace I feel when I am putting in, let’s face it, even the most minimal effort toward scripture reading and prayer.  It’s like an amazing buffer against Satan.

–How incredible exercising makes me feel.  It kills the frustration in my life. It’s my me time…I’d been searching for it and I’ve finally found it. It’s lovely.

–The hint of fall in the air, even down here in the Sweaty South. It always gives me hope. I feel like it must be how Northerners feel about spring.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

Lately, the idea of steadfastness has been on my mind.  I have too many favorite scriptures to quote, but when I remember “Be still, and know that I am God,” it tends to seriously chill me out.  As I was waiting for my baby to come, that was the scripture that kept coming to mind.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

I’m superguilty of spending way too much time on the Internet. I’m pretty sure it is my one way to reach out and find adults.  When the baby is asleep, I am working (usually) so I don’t know that i have “unscheduled” time. If I could have that, I would read. I would crack out my sewing machine and try to make something adorable for the Maggie girl.  I would find some sort of adventure for our family to take–more than likely, we’d go to the beach for the first time ever as a family.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).

Well, I’m new in this mommy deal.  But the lesson I’ve learned the most poignantly is to trust myself.  That thing they say about mommy instinct is TRUE. I read a lot of books, about schedules and sleep and all manner of kid training, and they pretty much all made me feel like a failure because once she was born, we just sort of let her lead.  It hasn’t failed us yet, but there’s a lot of clamoring voices anxious to tell you that what you’re doing as a parent is wrongWRONGwrong.  It’s taken me the last five months to feel remotely comfortable about our choices.

Also? “I Am A Child of God” has magic in it.

Learning to laugh when the baby laughs is great therapy.  I’ve also found the merit of the 15 minute blitz. Now that we have an exersaucer, I can usually get 15 minutes out of her when she is independent and happy as she’s playing (yes, we’re in that phase).  It’s amazing how much you can get done.

Buy more than you think you’ll need if it’s a baby product. Nothing worse than running out of diapers/wipes/formula/diaper rash cream/etc when you really need it and look like the epic unwashed. Plus, there’s no more running to the store quickly. It takes me 40 minutes to even anticipate a trip out of the house.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

I’m my worst critic. I will often speak unkindly about myself while I will try not to speak that way about anyone else.  It’s something that I don’t like about myself, but I think it’s (a bit of introspective self-analysis here) a way of getting it out there before anyone else can. I think I’m secretly looking for people to disagree with me. Also, I’m always striving for perfection and rarely see how much I actually do accomplish–instead, I see what i have yet to cross off.  Wow, I sound like a bucket of fun, don’t I? 🙂

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That Heavenly Father knows me by name and loves me no matter what. My first moment of feeling the intensity of the Spirit answering my prayer as a teenaged girl was when I asked this question for myself. So, I have never doubted it since.  That He keeps His promises–my life is a testimony of this. That when we put in the least amount of effort to show Him that we want to follow Him, the heavens open and we are blessed with so much more than we could ever possibly deserve.  That prayer works in any situation.  That we will always have sufficient for our needs.

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why?

Multitasking and listmaking. At any given moment, I’m probably doing 3 different things. This isn’t always a good thing, but it’s necessary right now.  Even if I’m only DOING one thing, it’s likely I’m thinking about the next three that need to be done. I’m sincerely hoping that someday I’ll get better at being efficient and being in the moment more.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.

Newlywed: Spend lots and lots of time together.  Learn everything you can about that person, including how they deal with stress and life craziness.  Figure out what you expect from that person and then reconsider it–is it important that he replace the toilet paper roll? If so, please please PLEASE just talk about it. We expect men to read our minds. They just don’t and won’t and it’s too much of a waste of time to wait around for that miracle to happen.  Work hard. Play hard. Love each other a lot.  Cuddle every day.  Remember the little things.  Pay down as much debt as possible.

Expectant: Find moms that you respect.  They can be older or younger with kids grown and gone or just a few weeks/months older than yours. Find them and become friends.  You’ll need support. Line it up now.  You might be surprised at who you are guided to–ask Heavenly Father to help.  You really may be an entirely different mom than you think.  Be okay with that.  Recognize that you’re new to this deal and all of your planning can’t possibly prepare you for this person that you haven’t met.  Advice is great but please remember that YOU ARE THE MOM.  You know better than you think you do. Your biggest job right now, before the baby comes, is to take care of yourself.  Your biggest job, one that doesn’t ever go away, after the baby comes is to care for that little person. Take the time to get to know his/her language. It’s hard, but you’ll get there. When you feel like you have, when you feel the gentle tugging of your gut instinct and the Spirit, listen to it. It won’t steer you wrong.

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?

Teething and related issues (including, but not limited to, a grunting crankypants, diaper rash, spit up, tugging at ears, and feeling for/looking at the new tooth): 52%

How on earth do I exercise/lose this stubborn baby weight/stop eating copious amounts of sugar?: 12%

Workworkworkmustdomorework: 28%

Laundry/dishes: 2% (they both were pretty piled up)

Naps/sleep, for me and baby: whatever’s left, and probably more. 🙂

Tell us about your blog:

My blog is called “just so long and long enough,” which comes from the e.e. cummings poem “i carry your heart.”  i love it and it describes the way i feel about my husband. when we got married, i started this new blog (i had one before that wasn’t anonymous, but decided that i wanted this one to be) as we started our new life.  it’s just the ramblings of me–i talk mostly about our daughter and my journey into motherhood. my frustrations, my joys, my wonder at her very existence–they’re all there. i talk a little about how hard it is to be a mom and to turn into a mom and still figure out who the heck you are, and every once in a while i’ll rant about students or about life in general. i think it’s a pretty good glimpse of where my head is at, though i have found myself editing it more because of who reads it.  tells me it’s time to have a journal again. 🙂

Please visit Carrie’s blog or give her a quick hello in the comments here.  Thanks Carrie for joining our Friday friend party!

Happy weekend, everyone.

thankyouverymuch.

Here’s the thing about gratitude:  It’s a catch-all feel-good.  When you thank someone for something you appreciate, you both feel better.  A little while back, when I was having a harried day and had to run to the pharmacy for another sick child, I ran into an elderly man that I recognized from my college days. I said hello to him, but for some reason I felt a flood of gratitude when I got back in my van as I realized what an important role he had played in my life.  (He was my mission-prep teacher at BYU, plus the Stake president that set me apart for my mission.)  I went home and wrote him a thank-you letter to tell him how much I appreciated all he had done during a very developmental time in my life and in my testimony.  I can’t tell you how good it made me feel to write that.  I just mulled over and over the blessings that the Lord has given me.  I really have no idea how he felt when he got it, but I’m sure he’s been secretly trying to hunt me down since then to thank me profusely for my life-changing note.  Or something.  Anyway, thank-you notes rock.

Beloved blog friend Melanie Jacobson just published her second novel, Not My Type.  In her own words, the genre is “LDS chick lit,” so it’s full of romantic tension, characters that are both hip and righteous, and very fun, sassy banter in the dialogue.  The cool thing about the book is how the theme of gratitude is woven throughout the main character’s conflict resolution.  Pepper Spicer (cute name, huh?) is extremely discouraged about her young adult life–  embarrassing romantic failure, living with her parents, working at a sandwich shop instead of living out her career dreams — in short, not at all what she’d wished for.  Her current circumstances leave her flitting between depression and bitterness.  Her wise father challenges her to take some steps toward a happier life, and a key element of his advice is writing thank-you notes.  She scoffs at the naivete of his solution, but agrees to give it a shot.  It’s fun to see how her life changes as she learns to embrace the good in her past and her present.  And since it’s LDS chick lit, of course this solution also involves a handsome, witty man.  So if you’re looking for a fun read that lets you relive the exciting upheaval of your young adult dating years (without the terrible accompanying emotional pain), you need to get a copy of Not My Type for yourself.

Can I help you out a little with that?  On Saturday, September 22nd at the Barnes & Noble in Murray, Utah, Melanie is having a book release party along with several other talented authors.  More info below*.  Anyway, I’m going to go.  And I’m going to buy one of you a copy of her book.  Here’s the catch.  You have to write a thank you note to someone.  Go do it right now.  It can be an email or snail mail– I’m not picky.  It does, however, have to be sincere; maybe think of someone who could really benefit from your gratitude.  When you’re done, come back here and report in the comments.  Anyone who does so will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Not My Type, which I will purchase and get Melanie her majesty to sign in person, with a love note to you.

In case you have no desire to thank any one at all, or if you just want to double your chances, I think there are repeated giveaways going on here, too.  Or you could come to the book release and buy your own.  Or, of course, you can just buy one here or here or even on Kindle here.  🙂

“My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love. . . . We often take for granted the very people who most deserve our gratitude. Let us not wait until it is too late for us to express that gratitude.”  — Thomas S. Monson

See that, Melanie?  You and President Monson were in the same post!  It’s like vicariously participating in General Conference Book Club.  *wink*

Okay, everyone, as you were.  After you write a thank-you note or buy a book.  Okay, I’m done.

* Thursday, September 22 · 6:00pm – 8:00pm,  Barnes & Noble: 5300 South State Street, Murray, Utah; participating authors: Sarah M. Eden, Melanie Bennett Jacobson, Josi S. Kilpack

GCBC Week 24: “The Atonement Covers All Pain” by Elder Kent F. Richards

Guys, in THREE weeks time, we will be able to tune in to General Conference again.  Those of us who have participated in GCBC will have read ALL of the talks delivered from the pulpit during the four main sessions of April’s General Conference.  It’s awesome.  Living prophets are amazing.  God’s word is so great.  Thanks so much for your participation in this ride. You guys keep me on track.

Next up is:

“The Atonement Covers All Pain”

by Elder Kent F. Richards

of the Quorum of the Seventy

This quote about the Savior made me think deeply about what his saving role means, and how it’s really not as “done” as I’ve often thought of it.

“Perhaps His most significant work is in the ongoing labor with each of us individually to lift, to bless, to strengthen, to sustain, to guide, and to forgive us.”

What stood out to you as you studied this talk?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If you’re new to General Conference Book Club, check us out here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Shantel

This is a big day, ladies. Today I get to introduce you to one of my favorite people in the whole world.  Shantel was my best friend in Minnesota.  She and her family moved in to our ward about a year after we did, but I was in Primary and didn’t really have the chance to get to know her.  Somehow I knew she was into theater, so one night on a whim, I called her up and invited her to go see a Shakespeare play.  I wanted to go, but Matt’s not really into Old English, and I wanted someone to enjoy it with me.  The play was awesome. Well, that started a friendship that I think I can say was, and still is, a huge blessing to both of us.  (Shantel, I just had a thought.  Was I your visiting teacher for a couple of months?  Is that how I knew about your theater background?  Man, if so, this is a great VT success story.  Woohoo!, I finally have something inspirational to say at those annual visiting teaching conferences where I usually just feel guilty.) To make a long story short, Shantel is a soul-friend.  We have seen each other cry and make fools of ourselves and we’ve also cheered each other on through accomplishments big and small.  And our husbands get along too, which is a rare blessing that made for many fun double dates.  Matt knows that whenever I’m fretting about something or trying to think it all the way through, if I just call Shantel, I’ll get more insight and feel better.  I feel truly lucky to count her among my very best friends.  She’s amazing, but overly modest, so I will be interrupting her interview regularly to give you my biased commentary.  Okay, friends, behold Shantel:

Hello! My name is Shantel Gardner. I live in Apple Valley, Minnesota with my husband Joel and five children. I have been married 15 years, and my children are as follows: Brooklyn- 14, Sawyer-11, Porter- 8, Ella- 6 and Emma 4. Oh– and we have an overweight Golden Retriever named Maggie. She’s the awesome that makes our family awesome.

I grew up in the small farming metropolis (that means no stop light) town of Duchesne, Utah. After graduating, I went to Snow College, then moved to Vegas — where I met Joel– and attended UNLV. Two weeks after we were married, we moved to Arizona, where I attended ASU- (do you have college whiplash yet?) –and we started our family. We lived there for about 11 years, then one year in Reno, and then *BAM* Minnesota. I am now at the U of M getting my two bachelors in Religious Studies and History, with a minor in Jewish Studies. I am a historian of early Mormon Church history, with emphasis on Emma Smith and the personal life of Joseph Smith. I also serve on the board for the Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith historical society under the direction of Elder Ballard, and I do a lot of stuff and things for them [like speak at conferences in Nauvoo, Palmyra, Winter Quarters, etc., including family reunions for the direct descendants of Joseph and Emma to help them learn more about their amazing ancestry].

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? I love that Motherhood is so loved by the Lord. I love that the everyday, ordinary, mundane tasks that I do every day are like crown jewels to him and He treasures them so much. I love knowing that what I have chosen to do with my life makes him happy and is the most valuable thing in the Kingdom of God.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? Listening to the whining. I mean come on people….get over yourselves.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.” (Some things you’d like to do before you die.) Finish my degree, see the Holy Land- and most importantly and number one- meet my grandchildren. At least attend one birth- then I’m good. Beam me up Scotty.  [oh yeah, Shantel’s a doula too, which I honestly used to think was a little whackadoodle, but then she helped deliver my sister’s baby, and I honestly think my sister would now trade me in for Shantel if she could.]

Brag for a minute. Do it. What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I am good at seeing angles of things that most people don’t see. Also details about things most people don’t see. This has been the greatest blessing of my life.

What are you loving lately? George Washington, Buddhism and lemon orzo soup from Panera. Amazing man and amazing soup! [She emailed me yesterday and told me to add Hebrew and Professor Levinson to this list.  She just started the class at the University of Minnesota this week, and as of this afternoon, successfully memorized the Hebrew alphabet.]

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote? Why? When Joseph Smith restored the Relief Society, he said, “If you live up to your privileges, angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.” That is a few words with a powerful punch. And he was telling the truth!

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? I have high-functioning Asperger’s [on the autism spectrum], so I have little-to-no filter– I can’t make decisions like “where are we going to eat?” and I hyper-obsess on topics. So you have to have good self-esteem, constantly assume I mean the best and kind of take over anytime there is anything social happening. Flip-side of this is that I am like a brick wall to offend. And I love a fair amount of irreverence. If you can make me laugh- I will probably stalk you. [You also need to know (and she probably wouldn’t tell you this) that all of her children– yes all FIVE– are diagnosed with varying degrees of autism.  I cannot begin to tell you what a mother phenomenon she is, but she hates to be told that because they are just her children and they’re awesome, and she doesn’t see her circumstances as any special kind of challenge.  She is absolutely confident that the Lord parents them and she’s just an assistant.]

If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan? I don’t plan- I tag along. [Guess what? She’s coming to visit me next week and we’re having an entire girls’ weekend. I can’t wait.]

Friends are great for venting. What’s been frustrating you lately? Let me use this question to talk about friends. I love diversity, and I love to have friends that don’t share my beliefs. I don’t like being agreed with all the time. I recoil from judgment on anybody or anything- but I do my share of it, so when I vent, I need someone to just roll with me- I will eventually move on.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? A few things are rock solid for me:  Jesus Christ is the literal head of this church. He runs this church and it is His. Every jot and tittle. Joseph Smith IS a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. [Shantel has an amazing testimony of the prophet Joseph and the restoration.  She has dedicated years of prayerful study to understanding the lives, history, personalities and circumstances of Joseph and Emma.  I once wrote a little bit about that here.]

Desert Island Question. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 items with you, what would they be? My pillow, chocolate, my laptop (with Wi-Fi)

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction? The parenting part, when I can see I got through. A child feels loved, or got a life principle. Or when I see things I like about Joel or myself showing up in my kids. [Her oldest daughter is the funnest combination of both of them, by the way.]

Shantel hasn’t written on her blog for several months and she felt embarrassed to even mention it, plus it’s private, so I’m going to direct you to a cool two-part series she wrote about Emma Smith over at “Women in the Scriptures”: Part 1 and Part 2.

Please take a minute to say hello to Shantel in the comments below.  I know she’ll check them compulsively hoping that people didn’t think she’s an idiot.  🙂  Thank you, thank you, Shantel.  Thank you for being such a good friend and good example to me.  It’s a gift to know someone like you.

Happy weekend, everyone.