Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween costume 2013 - Possibilities

Halloween really sneaked up on us this year.
I'm sure that's partly because we're still trying to get settled,
but mostly because Gram passed away a couple weeks ago.
I can't believe it's already been two weeks
We've had a lot going on with the funeral & everything...

Since Halloween is only one day away at this point,
instead of creating/finishing our Wreck it Ralph costumes last second
I think we'll be taking the easy route
& wearing repeat costumes this year.
That's okay, right?
I'm thinking yes.
Nobody in our new area has seen us wear these costumes before!

We probably won't decide until tomorrow,
but here are some of our easy options...

Chances are that Hubby & Little Dudeman will be going as Calvin & Hobbes again.

Little Princess will either be rockin' the Perry the Platypus costume,

the butterfly fairy costume,

or she may go as a little witch from Hogwarts.

I'll be Isabella again if Little princess is Perry the Platypus.

I never finished making my caterpillar costume to go with her butterfly one,
but I can always throw on a muumuu & lei like last year
or just find something in our costumes bin.

We may ALL go as witches & wizards.
Fresh from Hogwarts.

It will be a surprise.
Don't worry, I'll post pictures of what we actually end up wearing.

On a complete side note...
Keep your eyes out for my review of K5 Learning.
Coming soon.
K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. - See more at:
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Sunday, October 27, 2013


If you read my 'life is fragile' post a couple weeks ago,
then you already know why I haven't been keeping up with my 31 days of posts.
Sorry, not sorry.
Maybe I'll try again next month.
We shall see.

A lot has happened since that post.
Hubby spent almost all of his time (day & night) at the hospital by her side
& could tell that his mom was in a LOT of pain.
Although she has had to endure quite a bit of pain over the past 20 years
with her various health problems & surgeries,
there was something different about seeing her in this pain.

They were able to take the ventilator out on Saturday,
which I'm sure helped her feel a little more comfortable
but she still wasn't able to talk much.
When she did try to speak,
it usually didn't make much sense
& it wasn't very easy to understand what she was saying.
Most of the time it was nonsense,
but other times she made perfect sense.

One special time in-particular she said she wanted to go for a walk.
Hubby explained to her that she was in the hospital & was in no condition to go on a walk.
To this she replied that she wanted to walk with her Dad.
Her Dad passed away many years ago,
so Hubby asked her if she saw him.
She said yes.
We believe her.
After all, she was gone for at least 15 minutes.
We wish we could have asked her more about her experience,
but she wasn't exactly in any condition to have lengthy conversations.

The kidlets weren't allowed to visit in the ICU
so I stayed home with them.
Later that night,
a close family friend (that wonderful realtor)
came to visit her in the hospital.
That was the last lucid conversation she had.
Gram clearly expressed to her friend & to Hubby that she was dying.
She asked him if he would be okay.
I'm sure that was probably the hardest question that he's ever been asked.

Some wonderful friends from church were able to watch our kids on Sunday,
so I was able to be with Hubby at the hospital & see her for the first time.
I guess she had a rough night with a lot of pain
because when I got there she had an oxygen mask on & wasn't doing well.
Whenever she was awake,
we were able to talk to her
& let her know how much we loved her.
We weren't able to understand her at all with the mask on
but she was able to shake her head yes or no letting us know she understood us,
& she would occasionally get teary-eyed while we were talking with her.
Those moments were bittersweet.
A couple more of her friends drove all the way from Nashville to see her that evening.
They hadn't really kept in touch over the past few years,
but they had always been like second family to Hubby
so it was great seeing them.

Hubby came home to get some rest that night since he was getting sick.
He already had a scratchy/sore throat,
but stress & sleep deprivation were easily making it worse.
After a decent night of sleep,
he got a call from a doctor at the hospital early Monday morning.
The doctor basically said that Gram had another difficult night.
She wasn't responding well neurologically & continued to have arrhythmia.
The doctor said they could implant a defibrillator to 'kickstart her heart'
to prevent cardiac arrest from ventricular tachycardia,
but didn't think that she'd be able to physically handle surgery at this point
(nor would she want another surgery).
The only other option was to just make her comfortable.

This was probably one of the hardest decisions Hubby has ever had to make.
Gram had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order
but removed it ten-or-so years ago
when she had asked him about his opinion on the matter.
He had always said that he would want the doctors to try to keep her alive...
No matter what.
But his perspective changed after seeing her in such intense pain.
Knowing that if they were to somehow keep her stable,
she would never get her independence back
& would never be her normal self again.
She would be just that...
We knew she wouldn't want that.
She has never wanted that.
She never wanted Hubby or anyone to have to see her like that.
She never wanted anyone to have to take care of her basic needs.
She never wanted her grandchildren to remember her in a nursing home.
She has had to put up with so much pain for such a long time,
trying to be strong for Hubby,
trying to tough it out so that she could play with our kids,
& trying to just make it through each day.
We could tell that things were different now though.
She didn't have much fight left in her.
So we told the doctor to send her to hospice & make her comfortable.
Then we held each other & cried together.

The hospice staff was wonderful.
They said that sometimes (although not often)
patients actually improve in hospice
since they are comfortable,
they aren't restrained,
& aren't attached to all the monitors.
This wasn't the case for Gram,
although we could tell that she was comfortable.
Ever since they moved her down there,
she was resting & relaxed.
We brought some of her favorite blues cds...
B.B. King
Buddy Guy
& some others
so that she could enjoy some good music
while we were there holding her hand
& keeping her company.

She spent most of Tuesday & Wednesday sleeping,
but something special happened Tuesday night.
Our bishop from church came to visit,
& after talking with him for a while
Hubby & the bishop laid their hands on her head
then Hubby gave her a priesthood blessing.
The room was filled with peace, comfort, & love.
It was incredible.
Shortly after our bishop left,
the nurses came to re-position her.
She opened her eyes for the first time in two days.
Hubby & I got to talk with her one last time while she was awake.
We were able to explain to her that we would be okay.
That it was okay for her to go when she was ready.
That she didn't have to be in pain any longer.
That she would never be forgotten.
That we love her.
That her family & friends love her.
That people that didn't even know her love her.
That people she had disagreements or arguments with in the past love her.
That everyone was praying for her & for our family.
We talked to her for 20-30 minutes.
She would occasionally shake her head,
shed a few tears,
nod her head,
& finally went back to sleep.

The kidlets got to see Gram one last time on Wednesday,
(they were allowed to visit in hospice)
although we didn't explain much to them at that point other than that she was sleeping.
Early that evening Hubby went home to shower.
While he was gone I noticed her fever had gone away,
her hands & feet were beginning to get cold,
& her breathing was different.
When he came back we headed to the cafeteria to eat dinner,
then headed back up to the room.
We noticed the cd had restarted so we switched it out with the Great Blues Masters cd.
Her realtor friend was on her way back to visit again
so I figured I would stick around until after she left just in case I needed to watch her son.
Hubby was laying on the recliner next to the bed & was holding her hand.
I was getting cozy on the couch-bed.
We were exhausted.
After about 40 minutes of sweet blues music in the background
we each got really relaxed,
& started to doze off...
We weren't out very long,
maybe 5-10 minutes.
It's hard to say exactly how much time had passed when Hubby woke up,
but he knew instantly that she was gone.
Her breathing had stopped.
All was quiet except for the music.
Everything was still & peaceful.
He woke me up so I could get the nurse.

Gram passed away on Wednesday, October 16th at 10:20pm
at exactly the right moment.
She wanted us there with her when it happened
but was thinking of Hubby rather than herself...
She waited until I was there at the hospital
so that I could be there for him,
& waited until a moment when we were both asleep
so that neither of us would have to see or hear her final breath.
Again, bittersweet.

We held each other & shed a few tears,
but we didn't linger too long.
Although we are sad that she is no longer physically with us,
she is so much happier where she is now
& is not living in constant pain anymore.
Knowing all of that
& having the knowledge that we will get to see her again someday
has made the grieving process much easier.
We are so grateful for that.

Since this post is already lengthy & overdue,
I'll post about the funeral & the wonderful help that we have received later.
Thanks so much for all your kind thoughts & prayers.
You all are wonderful.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mommy School (2013-2014)

Mommy School has been a little delayed this year.
I'm not exactly sure if or when I'll get into a normal routine,
but this is what I would like to focus on...

Little Dudeman:

  • Fine motor skills (focusing mostly on scissors since he knows how to write all of his letters pretty well)
  • Tricky reading rules (he knows how to read things phonetically as long as those silly English rules don't apply)
  • Math (simple addition & subtraction)
  • Spanish ABCs & basic words (he needs the challenge since he can say it in English forwards & backwards)
  • Potty training (I would love to not be buying diapers all the time)
  • Drinking in actual cups (he gave up when he was younger because he doesn't like things spilling on him)

Little Princess:

  • ABCs (she has bits of it memorized, but not the whole thing in order)
  • 1-10 (shouldn't be terribly hard)
  • shapes & colors (I think she knows her colors pretty well; but the shapes, not so much...)
  • Potty training (two kids potentially out of diapers... a girl can dream, right?)
  • Drinking in actual cups (seriously, real cups are so much easier to clean than sippy cups)
I've been teaching them a little here & a little there,
but just haven't gotten into a routine yet.
But realistically, parenting is all about the spontaneous teaching moments.
Often times that's when we (parents & children alike) learn the most.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Life is fragile.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to write a post
every. single. day.
for the entire month...
It was inevitable that I would miss a day & have to play catch up or skip it altogether.
I figured when that happened that I would be super busy running errands,
that the kids would be a little bit more of a handful that day,
that I would be sick or exhausted,
or that I wouldn't have anything to blog about.

But the reason for me not blogging yesterday
was because of something that I didn't see coming.
Something we were completely unprepared for.
Something that was out of our hands.

Hubby's mom (Gram) has been in the hospital all week for severe abdominal pain.
They still don't know what the cause is,
& they can't exactly do any tests right now...
Her medical history is quite complicated & I am not going to try to explain it.
Long story short,
her heart stopped yesterday.
It was stopped for approximately 15 minutes...

It is a complete blessing that Hubby was on the phone with her when it happened
because if he hadn't called the nurse's station immediately after,
they may not have found out until it was far too late.

She's stable but sedated,
& they're using a ventilator to help her breathe.
We're really hoping that she'll pull through this
but we know that there's a possibility she won't.

There are so many thoughts that have been racing through my head:
Is she going to make it?
Have I been a good enough daughter-in-law?
Have I been kind enough?
What would I have done differently if I had known that her heart was going to stop yesterday?
How do we tell the kids if for some reason she doesn't make it?
If she pulls through, how much more time will we actually have with her?
What will we choose to do with the time we still have with her?
among many other questions...

We're trying to stay positive
& have faith that whatever happens is all part of the Lord's plan,
although it's not always easy.

I think far too often we take the gift of life for granted.
We get caught up in our day-to-day lives,
in our work,
in our social media,
in so many unimportant things,
that we forget to take a step back to focus on what's important.
We forget to focus on each other.
We forget to focus on our families & loved ones.
We forget to serve & spend time with them.
We fail to realize that each day could be our last day with them.
We are quick to forget how fragile life really is.
Spend a little extra time with those you love today,
so that you can live without regret tomorrow.

We're grateful that Hubby was on the phone with her when it happened.
We're grateful that the medical staff was able to stabilize her.
We're grateful for all of the thoughts & prayers that are being sent our way,
& for the many people that are reaching out to help in whatever ways that they can.
We're grateful for the knowledge that there is life after death,
& that families can be together forever.

No matter what happens...
we will make the most of what time we do have left
& we'll find comfort in knowing that we will get to see her again someday.
No matter what happens...
know that we love you Gram!

Continue reading here...
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 3)

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of our Harry Potter Surprise Party,
I suggest catching up before reading this post...

The next morning we woke up ready for our first day of school at Hogwarts.
We began by being sorted into houses...

We had all taken the Sorting Hat quiz on Pottermore ahead of time to determine which house we were in.
Once we were all sorted,
we headed off to our classes.

I switched over to the role of Professor Marissa to teach our first class.
None other than...

What did you expect?
Snape is my fave (:
I may or may not have a slight character crush on him...
We created a couple of potions from the Potions Student Handbook
that we found from the potions class post over at Mrs. Nespy's World.
She also has the Master Handbook available for download with additional potions.

Our next class,
Care of Magical Creatures,
was taught in Rubeus "Dad"rid's hut (the gazebo).
He taught from the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
We learned about Kappas, Nundus, & Lethifolds.
I hope to never encounter any of them.

Professor Abby taught us how to do a Patronus Charm
in our Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
We each took turns conjuring our Patronus
while the rest of the class guessed which form each of our Patronus' takes (our favorite animal).
We're now ready to take on all the evils of the wizard world.

Next up on the agenda was our first flying lesson
followed by a quick Quidditch match.
Unfortunately, our lessons were cancelled due to inclement weather
& we all know that you can't play Quidditch if you don't know how to properly use your broom.

It seemed like a great time to head into Hogsmeade (town) for a bite to eat.
So off to Culvers we went for a late lunch / early dinner.
Everything was super tasty as usual
& with our bellies full,
we headed back to Hogwarts
so that we could enjoy the rest of the festivities.

We decided it would probably be best to let things settle before eating cake & drinking Butterbeer.
Sounds like the perfect time for presents (:

After all the card reading & gift giving was over,
we gathered together in the Great Hall
to enjoy birthday cake & Butterbeer
while watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

...and that is the moment Hubby's life completely changed.
That's right.
He-who-disliked-Harry-Potter actually enjoyed it!
Not only did he enjoy it,
but a few days after we came home,
he surprised me with that wonderful news
by saying he wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that evening!
I was completely stunned & overjoyed all at the same time!
I stopped eating to tell McCall of the wonderful news immediately!
I never thought I'd get to watch the Harry Potter movies again,
especially with Hubby (since he reeeally didn't care for it).
We spent the entire rest of the week watching Harry Potter
after he suggested buying the entire boxed set on blu-ray with our Best Buy rewards...
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I had been wanting that forever!!!
I am still slightly in shock that it actually happened & that he got so into it.
We may have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching movies a few times.

Sorry... I got a little ahead of myself there,
but we didn't really have much time left to party after watching it anyway
since we had to fly home the next morning.

Overall, we had a quick but fun weekend
and it was great getting to actually surprise McCall!
Happy Birthday Kai
I magma you (:
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1 of our Harry Potter Surprise Party,
you should probably catch up before reading this post...

So there we were.
Waiting at the park.
Little Dudeman & Little Princess were wearing their robes.
I was carrying our robes & the glasses.
People were giving us funny looks.
Some people asked if we were going to a wedding.
I have no clue as to where they got that idea.

Since we had plenty of time to kill
I called McCall to wish her a happy birthday
I put my phone on speaker so that we could all sing to her.
After reminding Hubby to remember to act casual,
she didn't even pick up.
So we all sang to her in a message
& then I was about 99% sure that I completely blew the surprise.
After we had sung, I said something crazy like this:
"Happy birthday McCall! I hope you had a great day today. Call me back when you get a chance to tell me all about your how your 18th birthday went & to let me know what fun things you did. I hope you have fun plans this weekend. You'll have to let me know what you're doing to celebrate. Love you! Bye."
I'm terrible at leaving messages.
That's why I don't usually leave them.
That may not have been exactly what I said, but you get the gist of it...
Seriously though.
If we were home, why would I need to know what her plans are?
It didn't sound casual at all.
I should have just stopped at 'how your 18th birthday went'.
She called back shortly after that awkward message.
We talked & she told me about the football game & how her day went
(which I of course already knew)
Then she said she doesn't think they have any big plans
& that she doesn't even know which day they will be celebrating since they haven't really talked about it.
I explained to her that her present was on the way
hoping to give her the idea that we weren't there after all.
What she said next threw my 99% belief that I ruined the surprise
all the way to 100%...
She said something like this:
"Well, I'm hoping that the present is that you guys are flying out. That would be the best present ever."
Completely stunned by what she had said,
it took me a second before I could regain my composure & complete a decent comeback thought.
I replied, "Yeah, that would definitely be cool, but that's not the present."
Not a complete lie.
We did get her a present.
Our being there to give it to her was just an added bonus.
Slightly bummed,
& in my opinion not fully convinced,
she said that's too bad but that she looks forward to opening it when it arrives.
We stayed on the phone for a while & just talked.
When she told me they were leaving Walgreens
I wrapped up the call so that she could go home
& enjoy the first part of her surprise...
the letter.

This is roughly how things went...
I wasn't there so I don't know firsthand, but I can't wait to watch the video (:
They pulled into the driveway & Dad asks if she can get the mail.
She says sure, then heads towards the mailbox.
Dad closes the garage while she's on her way there.
Baffled by him closing the garage door before she came in, she opens the mailbox.
Inside is but one letter.
Her Hogwarts acceptance letter.
She is overjoyed & takes a gazillion pictures before even thinking about heading inside.
Since the garage is closed, she goes through the front door.
What's this?
Brick walls (plastic backdrop) so that she can't go any further into the house,
& Abby standing there waiting to help her get to Diagon Alley.
She taps on the bricks & leads her in.
They visit many different shops while in Diagon Alley.
She gets her various wizarding school supplies, her owl, & her wand.
Mom was filling in for Ollivander that evening & made sure that the right wand found McCall.
They reached another brick wall.
A dead end of sorts.
They didn't realize this at the time,
but it was actually an extremely rare entrance from Diagon Alley into the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.
They turned around & headed back the way they came only to find that they were at platform 9 ¾.

They ran through the brick & hopped on the Hogwarts Express.
While inside the train (Ford Freestyle) waiting to arrive at Hogwarts,
they ordered sweets from the Honeydukes Express trolley.

There were Toffees, Acid Pops, Sour Jelly Slugs, Chocolate Pretzel Wands, Chocolate Hazelnut Snitches, Cockroach Clusters, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, & Chocolate Frogs

They had only traveled a few blocks away from where they departed at King's Cross Station,
when they made an unexpected stop at a nearby park to pick up some more passengers...

The second I saw the S.U.Van (Hogwarts Express)
We hid behind the playground,
threw on our robes & glasses,
& we all ran as fast as we could so that the train wouldn't leave without us.
Thankfully McCall didn't notice we were there until we were practically to our train carriage!
After quick hugs & much excitement,
the train departed for Hogsmeade Station.
Upon our arrival at Hogwarts (this time entering through the garage),
I noticed everything really came together while we were at the park.
McCall was given the tour of the school,
& some special guests (church friends) came for a visit.
Once they left, we headed to the Great Hall to enjoy our feast.
She had wanted Poppyseed Chicken, fruit, & salad for her birthday dinner
so we enjoyed that while enjoying each others company.

We had intended on being sorted into houses that evening,
However, the youngest wizard & witch were fast asleep,
we were all quite exhausted,
& it was getting late.
It was agreed that the Sorting Hat would have to wait until morning.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 1)

A few weeks ago we took a quick little weekend trip
to surprise my sister for her 18th birthday!

We flew out the morning of her birthday
& got to their house around lunchtime.
After eating a quick lunch we laid all the decorations out
so that we could try to figure out where to begin.
Seeing piles of everything there in front of us & knowing that we only had a few hours
to turn the entire house into Hogwarts was a little overwhelming.
So where did we begin?

We turned each of the bedrooms into the four house common rooms by decorating with whatever we could find (misc blankets, tablecloths, curtains, & pillows from thrift shops, and even towels or whatever we could find around the house) that coordinated with the Hogwarts house colors on the beds & throughout each room.
I didn't get pictures of any of the common rooms,
but if for whatever reason you aren't familiar with Harry Potter, here are the house colors:
Scarlet & Gold for Gryffindor
Blue & Bronze for Ravenclaw
Yellow & Black for Hufflepuff
and of course,
Emerald Green & Silver (we also threw in some black) for Slytherin.

We had Hubby watching the kidlets and cutting out potion labels & chocolate frog boxes,
since he knew nothing about Harry Potter & was probably the least excited about the party's theme.
He hadn't read any of the books or seen any of the movies, & had no intentions of ever doing so.
But let's get back to the party set-up.
We'll discuss Hubby's dislike for Harry Potter later...

My other sister Abby came home from school & got right to helping us!
She worked on finishing up the Hogwarts acceptance letter,
which was undoubtedly the most important part of the entire party
for without that letter,
her dreams would not come true.
You see, she had been waiting for this letter her entire life.
Well, ever since she was 11...
It turns out they had sent it with the Weasley's owl Errol
(don't ask me why they sent it with him),
but he lost it along the way.
He flew around trying to find it again
but due to his extremely poor eyesight it took him 7 years.
Better late than never, right?

We did a little rearranging of furniture in the living room & dining room to turn it into the Great Hall,
where we would later have our feast.
My mom bought some house banners online that we hung up along the wall.
We had also intended on hanging floating candles,
but naturally ran out of time.
I guess that's what happens when you attempt to turn an entire house into Hogwarts
with less than enough time to do it.

Keeping her away turned out to be kinda interesting...
She's a senior in high school,
& she doesn't have very many classes that require her to be at school.
She takes a lot of online college courses that are doubling as some of her high school credits as well.
Fridays are one of her short days,
so we had to figure out how to keep her away from the house.
She had been wanting to go to work with Dad for a while,
so we thought she could just hang out with him from lunch on.
They had a lunch date, then went back to his office until he was done with work.
We still needed more time so it worked out perfectly that there was a football game.
My dad dropped her off at the game, then came home to help.
McCall texted Abby asking if she was coming to the game,
& called when she didn't get a response.
We had to be completely silent since she didn't know we were there.
Since keeping the kids quiet was quite the task,
we sent her upstairs with the phone to come up with a reason why she couldn't come.
A little while later,
she called the house saying the game was almost over,
& asked for a ride home.
We were far from ready and tried to think of more ways to stall her.
Then Dad got a text saying something like this:
'Just kidding, it's only the end of 3rd quarter'.
Really, McCall?
Was that mini heart attack necessary?
Did she know something was up?
We knew we didn't have much time left
so we hurried as fast as we could,
Abby planted the acceptance letter in the mailbox,
& we were still running all over the place trying to finish
when she called saying the game really was over this time.

Mom & Abby stayed home to finish getting things ready
while Dad dropped our little family off
with our Harry Potter glasses & robes
at a park only a few blocks away from the house.
We had to wait anxiously & patiently
while Dad headed to the high school to pick up McCall,
then to Walgreens to get a new SD card so that we could record her reaction,
then back home so she could get her acceptance letter
& go to Diagon Alley where she would get her wand, owl, books, & school supplies.
Finally everyone would pile up in the Hogwarts Express to come get us at the park.

So there we waited.
& so shall you...

Part 2
Part 3

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

LDS General Conference - Sunday Words of Wisdom (Oct 2013)

If you missed yesterday's post,
you missed a bunch of motivating & inspiring quotes.
It was basically a recap of some of my favorite talks
from the Saturday morning & afternoon sessions of General Conference
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
You should definitely check it out!

Today I'll be sharing my favorite highlights from
the Sunday morning & afternoon sessions of conference.
Again, keep in mind these are my hurried notes & they are not all word for word...

Heavenly Father has perfect foresight.
He knows each of us, & He knows our future.
- President Henry B. Eyring

I gave him to you because I knew you could & would love him,
no matter what he did.
(referring to a grandmother with a grandson in prison, but could easily relate to many of us)
- President Henry B. Eyring

There is joy guaranteed for the faithful.
- President Henry B. Eyring

We are responsible to be compassionate, charitable, & loving toward all men.
We are also to be respectful of the religious beliefs of all people.
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Have courage & face your fears with dignity.
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks

We are here on Earth to run the race, pass the obstacles, & get to the finish line
with the stamina of our faith & testimony.
- Elder Richard J. Maynes

Satan will try to use our memory of previous guilt to lure us back into his influence.
We need to protect ourselves & avoid his enticements.
- Elder Richard G. Scott

The Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion.
Unrepentant rebellion will bring punishment,
but when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.
- Elder Richard G. Scott

Fill your life with service to others.
- Elder Richard G. Scott

Shall I falter, or shall I finish?
- President Thomas S. Monson

Never dwell on what you're lacking.
Focus on the blessings & be grateful.
- President Thomas S. Monson

Good timber does not grow with ease;
The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.
(excerpt of poem by Douglas Malloch)
- President Thomas S Monson

How we preserve time for family is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures.
Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family.
Make any necessary sacrifices to protect our own family & the rising generation.
- Elder Quentin L. Cook

We are liberated by the love, grace, & atoning sacrifice of our Savior.
- Elder Quentin L. Cook

A teacher is also a student.
- Brother David M. McConkie

To stay ahead of the storms that come our way,
Don't forget to look up.
- Elder Adrián Ochoa

Rather than solve our problems Himself,
the Lord wants us to develop faith that will help us rely on Him in solving our problems & trust Him.
- Elder Terence M. Vinson

Our Savior wants us to really love Him to the point that we want to align our will with His.
- Elder Terence M. Vinson

You are never too young to learn, & never too old to change.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

Are we not all children of God?
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

We should love God more than even our Earthly parents,
and we should love our neighbors as our brothers & sisters.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

How you use your body affects your spirit.
How will you choose to care for & use your body?
What spiritual attributes will you choose to develop?
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

Like many great prophets of old,
you were chosen before you were born.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God.
We cannot change His doctrine.
It is not ours to change.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

Each day is a day of decision, & our decisions determine our destiny.
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

May your homes be filled with love and courtesy, & with the spirit of the Lord.
- President Thomas S. Monson

May we show increased kindness to one another.
- President Thomas S. Monson

May heaven's blessing be with you.
- President Thomas S. Monson

So there you have it...
My favorite highlights from today's conference talks.

The Mormon religion seems to often be misunderstood & misinterpreted.
So if you have any questions,
feel free to ask me!
I promise I won't try to convert you.
I will, however, give you honest answers
so that you may better understand our religion.
Email me at
lifeisfantasmic {at} hotmail {dot} com

Like yesterday,
Since I didn't share everything,
I encourage you to listen to or read the other wonderful words spoken today.
When the talks are available to read, I'll provide the links below...

Sunday morning
To My Grandchildren by Henry B. Eyring
No Other Gods by Dallin H. Oaks
Be Ye Converted by Bonnie Oscarson
The Strength to Endure by Richard J. Maynes
Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ by Richard G. Scott
"I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee" by President Thomas S. Monson

Sunday afternoon
Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage by Quentin L. Cook
Power in the Priesthood by Neil L. Andersen
Teaching with the Power and Authority of God by David M. McConkie
Continually Holding Fast by Kevin S. Hamilton
Look Up by Adrián Ochoa
Drawing Closer to God by Terence M. Vinson
Decisions for Eternity by Russell M. Nelson
Till We Meet Again by President Thomas S. Monson

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

LDS General Conference - Saturday Words of Wisdom (Oct 2013)

This weekend is the 183rd Semiannual General Conference
Prepare for some inspiring quotes...

Conference weekend:
Two days of quality family time.
Two days of staying home & lounging around in our pajamas watching tv.
Two days of eating Pull-A-Part Bread & Breakfast Casserole for brunch.
Two days of simultaneous conference bingo w/ the kids & note taking.
Two days of uplifting & motivational talks given by our living prophet & his apostles.
Two days of talks given by other church leaders who have amazing faith in God.
Two days of relaxation, revelation, & inspiration.
The spirit felt is wonderful.
I love it.

I always take notes during each of the talks,
then I go back & highlight my favorite messages.
Today I'm going to share some of my favorite highlights
from the Saturday morning & afternoon sessions of conference.
Keep in mind these are my hurried notes & they are not all word for word...

What is said at conference is not as important as what you hear & what you feel.
- Elder Robert D. Hales

The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do if you will listen.
- Elder Robert D. Hales

We gather to hear the words of the Lord, & we return to our homes to live them.
- Elder Robert D. Hales

How to become meek:
1. Improve ourselves day by day. Try a little harder to do a little better each day.
2. Learn to control our temper, be patient, & avoid contention.
3. Be humble. The humble are teachable & meek.
Meekness is vital to become more Christlike.
- Elder Ulisses Soares

Look ahead and believe.
- Elder Edward Dube

Significant yet subtle blessings come from paying tithing.
- Elder David A. Bednar

One of the blessings of tithing is finding gratitude for what we have & what the Lord has given us.
A grateful person is rich in contentment.
- Elder David A. Bednar

The blessings that come from paying tithing prove that you can do more with less.
- Elder David A. Bednar

Read the scriptures. Peace & inspiration will come. Solutions will follow.
- President Boyd K. Packer

A woman's moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt than in the home.
Bring up your children in light & truth. Teach them to pray often.
- Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Small & simple things can touch hearts.
- Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela

Let us reach out to others with faith & love.
- Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela

Fatigue is the common enemy of us all.
So slow down, rest up, replenish, & refill.
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Don't assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can.
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Be merciful, non-judgmental, kind.
Have faith, hold fast to hope, & don't give up.
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Just be positive & those around you will feel your love.
- Elder M. Russell Ballard

It is impossible to fail when we do our best & are on the Lord's errand.
- Elder M. Russell Ballard

Why would anyone join such a church?
1. This church was restored in our day by Jesus Christ himself.
2. The church provides opportunities for doing good.
3. Walking the path of discipleship leads to promised blessings.
If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?
1. Some are offended.
2. Some lose their way due to temptation.
3. Some disagree on certain beliefs.
4. There are many reasons.
Whatever the reason, we respect their right to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The church would only be perfect if it were run by perfect humans.
He works through us, his imperfect children, & imperfect people make mistakes.
If you expect to find perfect people here in the church you will be disappointed.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner.
Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

We need your unique perspective.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

and those were just the highlights...
Can you imagine how long this post would be if I typed up all of my notes for all of my favorite talks?
Yeah, that could get kind of crazy.
Since I didn't write everything down,
I encourage you to listen to or read the other wonderful words that were spoken today.
When the talks are available to read, I'll provide links below...

Saturday morning:
Welcome to Conference by President Thomas S. Monson
Be Meek & Lowly of Heart by Ulisses Soares
Do We Know What We Have? by Carole M. Stephens
Look Ahead & Believe by Edward Dube
The Windows of Heaven by David A. Bednar
Come, Join with Us by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday afternoon:
The Moral Force of Women by D. Todd Christofferson
Hastening the Lord's Game Plan! by S. Gifford Nielsen
Small & Simple Things by Arnfulo Valenzuela
Wilt Thou Be Made Whole? by Timothy J. Dyches
Like a Broken Vessel by Jeffrey R. Holland
Put Your Trust in the Lord by M. Russell Ballard

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Friday, October 4, 2013

MOPS: Advice from experienced moms

Yesterday at MOPS we had a mentor mom panel.
We got to learn more about 6 wonderful ladies that have been there & done that with the whole parenting thing.
They answered a bunch of anonymous questions that we had come up with ahead of time.
Most questions were about parenting or marital issues,
they touched a bit on how to deal with difficult in-laws,
and how to cope when you're super stressed & your family lives far away...
Although I didn't think to write the questions down
(and I wish I would have),
I took notes on the advice that I found most helpful or profound.

Here's what I learned from the pros:
Pray often.
Pray for your husband.
Pray for your children.
Pray for their future & for their future husbands.

Stop worrying about cleaning your house today & just play.
You'll truly regret it if you don't.

Don't beat yourself up about things you didn't do this week,
there's always next week.

Write yourself encouraging notes.

Encourage other moms.

When you feel like your husband isn't spending enough time with you or your family
ask him, 'What memories do you want our kids to have about their Dad?'
'What memories do you want me to have about us 10, 20, or 50 years from now?'
Ask these things or address issues when things are going well & you are at your best
rather than when you are upset or frustrated.

Make a gratitude list.
Write about things you are thankful for that relate to your husband
and the work he does for you & your family.

Child swap with other moms for relief

Put God first.
Put your marriage second.
Find time for dates & intimacy.
Keep that spark alive.

Show your children that you love your husband.
Don't be afraid to hug, kiss, & hold hands in public.
Keep it PG though...

The only control you truly have is over yourself.
You have complete control over the way you live your life
and the way you handle things you're faced with.
Whether it be a day-to-day or life changing situation
be a good example
& although you can't control your family or others you associate with,
you can influence them for the better.

There is power in using the words "You're right."
If you seem to be having disagreements with your spouse or in-laws,
find something that they're right about,
and use those words to let them know you agree.

Try to look at things through your in-law's eyes if you don't really get along.
They were raised differently than you & have a reason for their differing opinions on things.
If you want to raise your children differently than they raised theirs, that's okay.
You married their son & already know that they raised a winner,
but it's ultimately up to you and your spouse to choose how you raise your family.

Create networks in your community for support, especially if you don't have family nearby.
There are always plenty of experienced moms that would love to "adopt" you & help you out.

So those were the highlights of advice that the mentor moms gave yesterday at MOPS...
Hopefully you can apply that wonderful advice to your life
or pass it along to other moms that may need it!

I think I might make MOPS highlights a regular thing here on the blog.
Whatcha think?
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Thursday, October 3, 2013


When we moved,
we were blessed to move to a wonderful neighborhood with wonderful neighbors.
Seriously... Everyone I have met here has been super friendly.
When talking with my next door neighbor/friend one day,
she asked me if I had ever been in a MOPS group.

photo credit:

I had never even heard of it.
She explained that MOPS stands for 'mothers of preschoolers'.
Twice a month, we meet at a local church for a couple hours.
What happens next is 100% awesome.
You drop the kidlets (MOPPETS) off in age appropriate rooms (yes, infants too)
where they get to play with other kids their age under the supervision of well-trusted volunteers.
Then you get to enjoy the company of other mothers & mentor-moms
while eating a warm homemade breakfast without worrying about...
your kids eating off your plate
while you change a stinky diaper,
refill sippy cups,
give the kids seconds since they're still hungry,
& finally get to take your first (cold/soggy) bite 30 minutes later.
Seriously though...
MOPS mornings are the best breakfasts I've had in a looong time!
So from what I've gathered my first two times going...
you enjoy your breakfast & socialize a bit,
then there's an amazing speaker,
you break off into discussion groups
(smaller groups within MOPS that you're assigned to),
& sometimes there's a craft.
It's a jam packed, yet relaxing two hours without the kidlets.
Because even though you love them,
it's important to have mommy time with other moms.

We also have occasional playdates throughout the month.
Some that anyone from MOPS can go to,
& others that are just with the smaller discussion groups.

Being new to the area,
it has been a great way for me to make new friends outside of church
& get to know other wonderful ladies that I otherwise wouldn't have met.
It's nice knowing that if I'm having any parenting questions or frustrations,
these local ladies are right by my side to help me get through it.
I know that my church family will always be there for me too,
but that just means I have twice as many people to turn to when I need a break or moms night!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Potty training

Little Dudeman has been on a potty training kick lately again.
I'm hoping it's for real this time.

He was showing a lot of interest around 18 months,
but he was still in size 2 diapers at the time
& wearing 9-12 month pants.
There was no way that he would be able to wear 2T underwear.
So I ordered some 18 month training underwear from Amazon.
He was swimming in them.
They were absolutely ginormous.
We couldn't even buy pull-ups or the slip-on diapers
because they don't make them in size 2.
So we did what we could with regular diapers.
It didn't last long before his interest died & he wanted nothing to do with it again.
He wanted to try again right around the time Little Princess was born.
Great timing?
Not so much.
We tried, but with a newborn it just wasn't happening.
Then he lost interest and wanted nothing to do with it for a while.
And so the story goes...
That cycle happened a few more times
with each time slightly more successful than the last,
but nothing worked long-term.

In the past, we've tried:
jumping right into underwear
setting a timer every 15-20 minutes,
giving him "potty juice" (juice or CapriSun) just for trying
(to fill his bladder so that he will want to go more frequently & get more practice),
giving him 2 gummy fruit snacks every successful potty break,
sticker chart
(1 sticker for #1 & 2 stickers for #2),
potty toy
(he only gets to play with it if he stays dry between potty breaks),
potty pennies
(one penny in the piggy bank every time he successfully goes potty: 1 for #1, 2 for #2; max 10 cents per day).

Since he's excited about it again,
I'm doing everything I can to keep him motivated
but I don't want to push him so hard that he doesn't want to keep up with it.
I just found & unpacked his underwear on Monday,
so yesterday we said goodbye to the slip-on diapers yet again.
 He wore his underwear without a fuss & stayed dry all day long,
and he went potty every hour and a half-ish.
He had one messy accident.
I still consider it progress.

This time, we're just trying the underwear again.
We're also using a timer...
I first set it at 30 minutes yesterday,
then 45 minutes,
then we tried for an hour long stretch,
and finally worked up to every 90 minutes.
I'm hoping to get to 2 hours today,
unless he says or shows me that he needs to go sooner of course.

We're still putting him in slip-on diapers at night,
but he's been pretty good at staying dry as long as he goes potty right before bed.
I don't know how soon we'll be brave enough to let him wear underwear at night though,
since we still co-sleep with both of our kids right now.
His bed isn't even put together from our move yet.
So as long as he's in bed with us,
he'll probably be wearing the slip-ons at night...

Little Princess went potty in the toilet three times her first day of trying.
She was only 13 ½ months old at the time.
Now at 18 months, she is constantly pulling her diaper down
and wants to go every time Little Dudeman tries.
It's annoying, yet wonderful!
We haven't started her on underwear yet,
but we'll see how she does...


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 days - 31 posts

I am terrible at posting regularly.
I tend to only post things when my thoughts are complete (for the most part)
which means that some of my posts end up quite lengthy,
& some are never posted.
I want to remedy that.
My goal is to update my blog at least 3 times a week.
People say that if you do something consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit, right?
I don't really want to feel obligated to post every day,
but if posting every day for a month will increase the likelihood of me attaining that goal,
I'm all for trying it.

I found out about this challenge because a couple of my favorite bloggers are doing it.
Over the next 31 days...
Kimmie from Sugar and Dots is blogging about her quest for the perfect life,
Rachelle from Fingerprints on the Fridge will be posting one project each day,
& although I won't be blogging about any topic inparticular,
I will be actually posting actual posts every day
instead of just a few times a month!
Or at least that's the plan...
We'll see how it goes.
Here's for day 1?

I'll be linking this post up over at The Nester where a bazillion other bloggers are attempting this challenge.
Let me know if you're trying a 31 day challenge this month so we can keep each other motivated (:
Wish me luck!

Alright, alright...
You caught me.
I wasn't able to do it for 31 days straight.
From Day 10 on I've had a lot going on to prevent that.
I will definitely try this again sometime though!

Day 1: I'm totally counting this post.
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