Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Of Bikini Season, and Why I Wont be Wearing One

As the snow melts, and cool mornings change to warm afternoons, it seems everyone's minds are on summer.  With that has come many advertisements for diet programs and gym memberships, urging women to get their bodies ready for bikini season, while there's still time.  I've read a few blog posts and articles in response to this, mostly saying women shouldn't feel pressured by the world to look a certain way. It's wrong to objectify women, and it's terrible to suggest unhealthy ideas of beauty.  I've agreed with all these brave authors, making a positive stand with their words.  But there is something missing from all these articles.

Why the bikini at all?

Why has this become the accepted trend?  They aren't comfortable.  They slip and slide into all the wrong places.  Women are constantly at risk of having something fall out, or showing more than she intended to, despite there being little left to show.  They aren't pretty either, in that they really aren't much of anything.  It's a few strings, and 4 triangles of fabric.  It's not the bikini that people are looking at anyway.  It's the naked body.  Wearing a bikini is about as close to walking around naked as you can get without being charged with indecent exposure.

Maybe it makes a woman feel sexy.  After all, the term "sexy" is alluding to being ready for sex.  Sex is traditionally an activity done in the nude.  A bikini is nearly nude.  So yeah, I can see why it would make a woman, or man looking at her, feel ready for sex.

We live in a day where sex is everywhere.  We walk, talk, dress, and sing that it's ok to look and feel sexy.  It's ok for everyone to look at you, and want sex.  It's desirable, it's empowering.

Call me prude, or weird, or even old fashioned, but I don't like that.  I don't want men or women to look at me, and think of calisthenics in the bedroom.  I don't feel empowered if I find out someone had dirty thoughts about me.  I'm confident in my sexuality.  I enjoy that part of my life.  But only with my husband.  It's not something I wish to share with anyone else.  I don't even want to suggest the idea to someone else.

Now, of course I can't control the thoughts of everyone around me.  Someone could have a dirty fantasy of a very modestly dressed man or woman.  But I'm not going to encourage or suggest it with what I wear.  That's not a goal of mine- to provoke sexual feelings in those that look at me.  I find no sense of accomplishment in that.

So let's replace "sexy" with "beautiful".  Some would argue a woman's body is very beautiful, and she has every right to display it to anyone she wants to.  I don't agree with this.  I do think every woman is beautiful.  And while we are all given the freedom to choose what we do with our bodies, and that may be her right, I do not think it is right for a woman to display it to everyone.  This is because I do not believe our bodies are our own.  I believe they are a gift from God.  When someone has trusted me with something precious, I am careful with it, because I want it returned in good condition.

Let's make a simple analogy, to illustrate this idea.  Say a good, trusting friend loans me her car.  I am not going to take unnecessary risks with it, like speeding or breaking traffic laws.  I will do my best to keep it clean, both inside and out.  I will keep it well maintained until she needs it back.  Most importantly, I will closely follow the instructions she gave me.  If she specifically asked me not to eat in the car, I wont.  I wont even rationalize that I'd be safe drinking a smoothie in it, as long as I'm careful.  She gave me the car, I am grateful, so I will do as she has asked.  When I give those keys back, I want our friendship to be even better than it was before.  I love her for being so kind and generous to me, and she is impressed with the care I took with something valuable of hers.  Our trust in each other has grown, and therefore so has the strength in our relationship.

Now let's compare this to our relationship with God.  He has given me this body.  I try to treat it with great care.  I do not put harmful things in it.  I keep it maintained with exercise and healthy living.  I also keep it appropriately covered.  I believe God communicates with us.  He has given us specific, set rules on how to take care of this gift he has given us.  I wont wear a bikini, because he has asked me not to.  There are more modest choices for swimwear, and he has asked me to dress modestly.  He wants me to protect and keep covered what is beautiful, and doesn't want me to share every inch of that beauty with just anyone.  Specific instruction has been given to share all of my body with just one person, my spouse.  A bikini isn't quite baring all, but it's close.  It's like drinking the smoothie in my friends car, when she told me not to eat in it.  I don't plan to rationalize that line, even if it's a close technicality.

Now, a nasty rumor has gone around that women use modesty as an excuse to hide fat.  Some will say that if a woman is thin, and in good shape, she has no reason to stay covered, and wouldn't, therefore if someone is dressing modestly, she's really just lazy, and doesn't have anything to show off.  Let's put a stop to that right now, because that is a shameful lie, so obviously created by shallow men, looking to guilt women into taking off more layers.  Covering up a little more does not mean you are less attractive, or have something to hide.  Allow me to be a walking example of that.  I'm a skinny girl.  I'm one of those rare, obnoxious women who stays thin no matter what I eat, or how many babies I have.  I do try to exercise and eat well, but I'll admit my physique is not due to my efforts.  It just is.  I can no more control it than I can control the shape of my nose.  I have no fat to hide, and probably never will.  And yet still I feel no more beautiful in a string bikini than I would in a modest dress.

I feel beautiful without showing too much skin.  I feel a glowing sense of who I am, and a pride in the blessing of my body, without everyone within eyesight seeing nearly every inch of me.  I feel confident knowing I am abiding by the rules the maker of my body has set, and displaying only what he has said is modest.  My relationship with God is strengthened when I take good care of this gift he has given me.

Don't let the world tell you what is beautiful.  Remember who made the world, and who made you.  His relationship, his guidance, and his ideas, are always the best, and I have never regretted following them, no matter what the trends and ideas around me are.

See ya'll at the pool, and if I'm lucky this summer, the beach.  I'll be the one in a pink swim top that covers my torso, and white shorts that completely hide my butt from the sun, surrounded by three pretty little blondes plastered in sunscreen.  You can't miss us.    

From our cruise last year, not with the kids. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love is clumsy

I suffer from an overactive imagination.  I use the word "suffer" because while I love that about me, it can also be a curse.  I love how with little effort I can picture beautiful places in detail, entertain myself throughout the day with my own little stories I make up, and can get completely lost in a book or movie.  It's fun, I love that.  But it's a curse, because the world we live in now, is nothing like my imagination.

I know I'm not alone.  We all picture things a certain way, and then are so surprised when that picture wasn't even close to reality.  Will Smith sums it up perfectly in one line, in this scene from the movie Hitch.

Sometimes we imagine too much, don't we?  I do it almost everyday!!  Here's a common example maybe some of you know.  I prepare a picnic for the kids and I to eat at the park, and as I load up the stroller, imagine butterflies, happy giggles, and rainbows.  I can see it all!  My sweet children are so happy to be there, love me for taking them, are refreshed by the outdoors and healthy playtime, and I get to lay back on the picnic blanket, basking in the "motherhood is wonderful" sunshine.  Of course, as you can guess, I'm shocked when in real life, the kids don't want any of the food I prepared, get cranky and argue with each other, sunburn despite my careful, tedious sunscreen efforts before we left, find more ways to get dirty than I thought possible, each take turns crying on the way home, and when we still have a mile left to walk, are stuck in an unexpected downpour of rain.  Like Will Smith said, "I imagined that going differently in my mind."

Maybe it's because I not only have a vast imagination (I get that from my Dad) but I'm also easy to feel and express emotion (I get that from my mom).  So a beautiful scene from a book or movie, or even something I think or dream about, not only is wonderful, but tends to have an emotional effect on me too.  I love what I hear/see/feel, and I want it to be real!  I know you're probably thinking you're much too mature to get lost in such silliness- but think for a moment, my friends.  Remember that one movie, where you were grateful for the dark theater so no one could see you quickly swipe away a tear?  I realize I suffer from a worse case than most of the imagination-turned-emotional disorder, but don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.  I know you do.

My most recent guilty moment of getting too caught up in the world of daydreams, was when I heard Blake Shelton's song, Home, play on the radio.  Go on, listen to it.  Let yourself feel the love!

I felt the love a little too much when I heard this song.  Big crocodile tears rolled down my cheeks, I thought of deployments and sometimes how lonely I can feel, and pathetically said to myself, "I so badly want my husband to say those words to me!"

Then I took it a step further, and pictured what it'd be like if he did say those things to me. I even went so far as to imagine him secretly taking guitar lessons, learning the words to the song, and then serenading me after a quiet romantic dinner at home.  It was beautiful!

It was also ridiculous.  Life is not a music video.  How we feel about the people we love is so difficult to put into words, not to mention having them on hand at the exact moment when they need to be heard.  Some people spend their whole lives working on turning that very problem into an art.  Poets, authors, musicians, and artists of all kinds find ways to put emotion onto the page.  But it takes tedious hours, rewrites, drafts, patience, and practice.  Behind those dream worthy moments are mistakes, clumsiness, and great effort.

The more I thought about my silly daydream of my husband singing to me, the more I realized it wasn't really what I want.  I have what I want.  I have someone who does work tedious long hours for me.  He's patient with me, and we both patiently wait for those days when we can be together.  We forgive mistakes, we practice being thoughtful, considerate, and sympathetic to each other.  Those long days of effort and work are what make something beautiful, something sweet, even something dream worthy.

Will Smith also suavely says in Hitch that "Life is about the moments, that take your breath away".

It's a romantic thought, but I don't agree.  Life isn't about those short lived moments.  It's about the clumsy ones that got you there.  It's about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  It's about feeling bad because you forgot something important, or feeling embarrassed because you didn't handle a situation right.  Life is waiting when you don't want to, enduring when you're tired, listening even when you're feeling distracted.  It's about patience with misscommunication, and forgiveness of imperfection.  It's about sleepy, late nights, small acts of kindness that sometimes inevitably go unappreciated, and showing devotion even when you're feeling lonely.  It's about experiencing all those things, and loving anyway.  Perhaps those short moments of breathless excitement are fun, and memorable.  But they are empty without the clumsy ones that come before and afterwords.

If you added up all the thousands of tiny sighs where I felt special because of the things my husband has done for me, (and that's not even counting the little things I forgot to notice!) I'd be more than out of breath.  I'd probably even romantically swoon from all that sweet, wonderful, clumsy love.  But because this is real life, he'd probably be too surprised to catch me, and we'd smile and comment about how we'd laugh about it someday.  We'd say that confidently, knowing for sure, despite all those imperfect, awkward moments, that the someday will be there, and in that someday we'll still be together, still making dreams.    

Thursday, December 26, 2013


When does your house become a home?  There are probably many philosophies on that, but I think for us, this new house became a home at Christmas.  Specifically, when Daddy came home, and we spent Christmas together.  I've said before that home is wherever we can be together.  Well, that bond is intensified so sweetly at Christmastime, when combining the spirit of our Savior, Jesus Christ, with the love we feel for each other.  It's the love of Jesus Christ that holds a family together, and living his gospel that keeps happiness in the home.  We try very hard to make our home a place the Savior would want to be.  Everything good, and wonderful our family has had, we can easily see are blessings from a loving Heavenly Father.  The greatest and sweetest blessings seem to always come when we are all together.  Having Daddy home...well, to this verbose writer, words fail to describe that gift.  We all love him so much.  Christmas with him safe and home meant everything to us, and we will never stop being grateful for that time we had together.

In case you can't read the print on the last slide, the quote is:
“It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs. It is in the home that hope is fostered or destroyed. Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God’s Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells”
-- Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I love Facebook.  I love it because I am a homeschooling mother, alone with my kids, all day, every day.  I am also a military spouse, which means due to deployments, TDY's, and night flight schedules, I frequently don't even get a break in the evening, when most husbands come home and give some much deserved support and shared emotional strength to their loving wives.  I love my AF Pilot, but he and I both know life is easier when he's home.  When he's not, I'm lonely in more ways than one.  It can, at times, be stifling.

Enter Facebook.  It is my outlet into the outside world.  At the click of a mouse, I am connected to hundreds of adult friends.  These are friends who if I mention I'm having a bad day, ask about it.  My friends who live all over the country, some all over the world, but still laugh at my silly jokes, "like" my never ending pictures of my kids, and share their own similar life experiences with me.  It is an escape with people I love, and a reminder that I am not alone in what I think, do, feel, and believe.

So for that wonderful reason, I love Facebook.  But sometimes, I hate it.  I hate the ability Facebook gives for individuals to spread ignorance.  One, well meaning friend, posts something popular yet false, and grossly uninformed, and all of his friends see it.  They are his friends, and trust him, so they share what he said too.  And thus the ignorance passes on, like a quick acting poison.  Instead of verifying what was said, we have become lazy, and trust the source simply because it was passed on by someone we like.  It was given to us by a friend.

I cannot stop or alter this evil.  The ignorance is far too contagious, and ultimately supported by that all too real adversary, who relishes in misinformation and the spreading of lies.  But just because I cannot stop it, does not mean I can't fight it.  To my tiny group of 18 followers, and anyone else who randomly decides to read my entry today, let it be known, that I've had enough.

There are too many ridiculous, vomit worthy lies for me to fight at once.  Today I'll just approach the general topic and variations of one.  It has become grossly popular to bash on the United States Congressmen, in every possible form.  If one is to believe the popular postings on Facebook, (which obviously I advise you never do) then our Congress is made up of slimy, twisted, evil men whose only purpose is to swindle, cheat, and increase their own well being.

You are a fool if this is what you think.  Let's take a moment to consider this logically.  Remember elementary school social studies, when we learned about our government?  While our freedoms and rights are not what they once were, and are diminishing at a scary rate every year, we still are governed by the people, for the people.  We still choose our own leaders.  There are 535 voting members of Congress.  They are not appointed by some elite, secret committee.  We, the people of the United States of America, chose them.  If we are dissatisfied with them, we can, and do, choose someone else to take their places.  To generalize that they are all evil tyrants, is ridiculous on so many levels.  While there is room for deception and cheating in the voting process, this cannot possibly be how they are all elected.  We must logically assume, that most of them were genuinely, honestly put in office by the people.    

Where do these leaders come from?  What did they do before they were working in Washington DC?  If you were an outsider, trying to learn about our country from Facebook, you'd think these men are lifelong politicians, who graduated from college and then got jobs as evil senators, who have been working hard to destroy our country ever since! False.  An obvious but often overlooked truth: Congressmen had lives before congress.  

Have you considered how one of these men is elected?  How does that happen?  Typically it starts small.  A man (or woman) becomes known in his community through his own merit and success.  He is successful in his chosen career, and makes a name for himself.  Perhaps he is a respected businessman or lawyer, who has made his mark in his hometown or city.  Then comes the development of a following made of loyal people who admire his work, and agree with his opinions.  They believe he is a good leader.  Eventually, they help him organize a campaign, travel with him, and promote his cause.  If enough people believe in him and agree, he is elected.  It's not done in secret, behind closed doors.  For whatever reason, good or bad, enough people have followed this person, and believed in him.  They want him to represent them.  They chose him.

Let's continue to add logic to our understanding.  Considering that to be elected means being successful enough to develop a following, means you are most likely someone with great means.  To put it bluntly, most congressmen were rich!  These men have done well for themselves.  Very well.  Those less successful, cannot afford to halt their careers in order to pursue candidacy.  For most of our congressmen, the salary they receive is an enormous cut in what they were making in the private sector.  While the salary of a congressman may seem a large sum to a factory worker or a teacher, it is quite small in comparison to a CEO, or partner in a law firm.  That is where we discover another unpopular but logically sound truth.  These great men we chose, sacrifice for their positions.  Perhaps it could be argued that some want to be elected for the prestige or the glory, but it is a pathetic falsehood that they are there out of monetary greed.  Unless they are doing it through illegal means (which I can argue is just as possible without a prestigious government position) these men are not making any kind of fortune from their government jobs.  In most cases they are making less than what they were before.    

Now let's talk about other motivations to participate in our congress.  I mentioned prestige and glory.  Self importance cannot be ruled out, I'm sure for many that's a factor.  But it's not enough to create a following.  To be a leader strong enough to be elected, you have to have ideas.  You have ideas about how to make a difference, and make life better for those you represent.  They may be terrible ideas, but still, these men have them, and believe in them passionately enough to convince others, and to sacrifice their previous successes in their lives before congress, in order to pursue those ideas, and bring them into action.  These men also know their ideas are likely to be bashed, hated, misunderstood, and compromised.  Yet still they try.  They try hard.  Facebook would also have you believe these men are lazy.  They are not.  When they are not debating on the senate or house floor, they are working tirelessly with their personal staffs, researching, studying laws, visiting with constituents, meeting with committees, giving speeches, and promoting their ideas in every possible form.  They are not at home, laughing with their rich buddies about how they're living off the backs of the poor!  If you're convinced I'm wrong, and that this is, in fact, exactly what your local elected officials are doing, then please, elect someone else.  That's how our governing system works.

These are not men to hate.  They are successful, established leaders with ideas they are willing to sacrifice for.  It's easy to blame all our problems on people we don't give a face to, don't read about, or don't even bother to choose.  Any idiot can pass on lies about what congressmen do, how they got there, and how they're terrible for it.  Don't be that idiot.  Please, just stop it.  Be informed.  Be involved.  Make a difference in your own small ways, that don't involve spreading misinformation on the internet.  Volunteer in your community, get to know your local leaders, the members of your school board, your town mayor, your state senate.  Learn about the people making a difference, good or bad.

Is there corruption in our government?  Of course there is.  But it doesn't exist despite us.  It's there because we elected, supported, and followed corrupt people.  However just as our country is riddled with bad people, it also has much good.  The same is said of our leaders.  Our government reflects exactly what we chose, and who we are.  It is not all bad.  There are good, smart people in congress.  They are there because good, smart people voted for them.  I am so grateful for what they do, for their ideas, and for what they sacrifice.  

Despite their radical differences in platform and opinion, there is something all congressmen have in common.  Every one of them are trying to make a difference.  They all are fighting for what they believe.  None of them are doing it for the money.  All of them believe they are doing what is best for their country.  They are not something to hate, unless you hate yourself.  Because they mirror us.  They represent us, the ones who chose them.

So enough, Facebook!!!!  If you're not willing to research your own answers, or to be an informed and involved citizen who votes, then please, keep your critical comments of our governing system and elected officials to yourself.  You are not qualified to make them, because you have already proven by your lack of action, that truly, deep down, you don't really care.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A little bit of humor goes a long, long way

I haven't written since Anny's birthday.  That's a long time, she turned 7 in July, and it's October!  I can think of too many good excuses to explain that.  We were busy moving, busy packing, busy unpacking, and all the drama that comes with that.  However I think the biggest reason I haven't written any new entries, is because I've been sad.  As explained in detail in a previous entry, I wasn't very excited to move from beautiful Florida, to dry New Mexico.  It's been much more difficult than I thought it would be, adjusting to our new home.  It's been hard to make friends, difficult learning where everything in our new town is, challenging creating order and comfort in our new home, frustrating finding a new doctor, new dentist, new piano teacher... if you've moved before, you know what I mean.  I have moved a few times, but I don't know if it's because we were in FL for so long, or have more kids now, or what it is, but this move has just been hard.

However like any difficult life challenge, with diligence, faith, patience, and lots of hard work, one slow day at a time, it gets better.

Humor, of course, also helps.  I have been surprised to find how much I need humor in my life right now.  I need to laugh.  It is such an immense relief from all the stress, to find something that causes spontaneous laughter and smiles.

So, instead of posting pictures of our new house (still not unpacked yet), or listing all the things I am trying to like about this new place but still don't, I thought I'd make a list of things I've found funny the past few weeks.  Even if you don't find them funny, hopefully when I'm having another long day, I can look back on them, and bring up a much needed giggle.  Maybe even a snort.  You know it's really funny if it makes you unattractively snort.

1.  DH learned some interesting information in his welcome to Cannon AFB five hour brief.  (It really was that long!)  He was warned to be watchful of cows.  Yes- cows.  If someone's cow gets loose and wanders into the road, and you hit it and miraculously survive the crash, you'll wish you hadn't.  Not only is it considered your fault for hitting the cow, even if the cow isn't anywhere near the farmer's land- BUT you are required to reimburse the farmer for said cow, PLUS an additional two generations of cow, making up for the loss of potential cow offspring.  Crazy, very crazy.  But also funny.  If I ever hit a cow though, not so funny.

2. We saw a man in a restaurant in a crazy cowboy outfit.  By crazy, I mean he had a huge belt buckle, big brimmed cowboy hat, and cowboy boots that were so pointy, they actually pointed upwards at the tips like elf shoes do, and were covered in a sort of stud-polka dot design.  This may not be funny if you grew up around cowboys, but to this suburban girl who literally had no idea adults wear cowboy hats and boots outside of Halloween parties, it was very funny.  I may have let my jaw drop to the floor, and stared much longer than is polite, before a huge and stupid grin formed on my face, and I had to suppress an intense case of the giggles.  

3. Watching the What Does the Fox Say viral video on youtube over and over with my kids, (it never stops being funny) and having my two year old walk up to me at random moments of the day and sing, "pow pow pow pow, what fox say?"  I've tried to catch him doing it on video with my phone, but as soon as he sees me try, he wont do it anymore.  I haven't given up yet though, it's such a great combination of funny and cute.

4. I saw this commercial on TV last week.  I'm afraid I'm one of those city people who doesn't get it.  Instead, I find it funny.  Just imagining Earl, Jim-bob, Bubba, and all his cousins taking a break from haulin' hay so they can log onto and look up chicks- yeah, sorry, no matter how hard I try to be humble and understanding, it's still funny.

5.  Lots of funny posts on Facebook.  Thank you, my dear friends, for sharing life's funny moments.  I needed the laughs.  I think my favorite funny post, was by my best friend from high school.  She so kindly wrote:

Words I never thought I'd utter: "Don't use your toothbrush to scratch your butt!"

Ah, parenting!  You just can't make this stuff up.

So, it's not a very long list.  There have been a few other humorous moments, but they would fall under the, "you had to be there and have heard the entire conversation" category, and I've found whenever I try to explain those kinds of funny moments, I just start sounding stupid, and whomever is listening, kind of glazes over, and will respond with a fake laugh, or polite comment such as, "haha, yeah", or "uh-huh".

If you have something funny for me, please, by all means, share it in the comments.  Like Elizabeth Bennet, I dearly love to laugh.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

7 Lucky Years

Today was Anny's 7th birthday.
World's cutest 7 year old

Mesmerized by the candles

Making a wish!!

Go Anny!!!
We have now completed 7 lucky years of parenting.  I know they're lucky, because I'm told that all the time.  I've been told over and over we're so lucky to have such great kids.  But I'm going to let you in on a secret- it wasn't luck!!!  DH suggested against writing about this, but I have a very small circle of readers, so I think it's safe to reveal our secret.  Are you ready?  As I said before, we weren't "lucky".  The truth is, our kids are aliens.

It's true!!!  All 3 of them.  Aliens.  "But wait!!!!" you say.  "If your kids are aliens, then that means......."

Yes.  Also true.  My husband and I, are aliens.

I was reflecting on that truth today, while at Chic-Fil-A for Anny's birthday lunch.  It was raining on and off all day, so we decided to visit the only restaurant within at least 20 miles with an indoor play place - the new Gulf Breeze Chic-Fil-A.  I was reminded again that we are aliens as I watched the children in the play place.  There were other kids there, but they were nothing like mine.  They were screaming, pushing, shoving, climbing up slides while others where sliding down, pushing toddlers to the side if they were in their way... and all this with no parents in sight.  It came to me, clear as day- we are aliens.  My children in no way resemble those other children.  I can't say if I resembled the parents, because I didn't see them there.

I have to admit, I always knew I was an alien.  I noticed as a child, I was different than the other children.  I wasn't any smarter, or more beautiful, or even more interesting than them.  I was, however, different.  I have only recently discovered why.  My parents raised me with the same alien methods I use with my own children, and the same can be said for my husband.  (And aren't we both lucky to have found each other!!!  What are the chances that two aliens are to cross roads?!!!)

While I am still slowly discovering those alien methods, and have much to learn, I know my parent's "alien" style of parenting was solely focused on two basic ideas.

1. We are children of a Heavenly Father who has blessed us with knowledge of the right way to live and be happy
2. Because of that knowledge, our parents know we are capable of great things, and expect nothing less

Let me share an example of this philosophy in action.  At church, we begin with a congregational meeting, where everyone sits as families on the pews.  This meeting is approximately an hour long, where we partake of the sacrament, sing hymns, and listen to prepared talks given by members of the congregation.  My alien children, are quiet and reverent for this hour.  My two year old is still learning, but he gets better every week.  How do I keep my children quiet and reverent, sitting still for a full hour?  Setting aside that they are aliens, I apply the above principles.

We have taught our children of their sacred heritage.  Every week we have Family Home Evening, where my husband or I teach them a lesson about the gospel.  We sing songs about our Savior, Jesus Christ, we bare testimony to them that He loves them.  Every night we have scripture study.  We read scripture stories to them, and pray together.  They sit reverently, listen to the stories, and take turns reading or giving prayers.  They know from regular lessons, prayers, and loving testimony from their parents, who they are.  They understand when they are in church, that it is an important time, where we give of ourselves to Heavenly Father.  We pray, we sing, we listen.  What we do at church is very similar to what we do at home.  Our children recognize the Spirit they feel in both places, and it helps them to be reverent.  That's applying above principle number 1.

As for principle number two, they know we expect them to be quiet and reverent that hour during sacrament meeting.  We know they can do it.  We know they are capable of sitting still, listening, and thinking about why they are there, and why it is important.  They know if they are not reverent, that we will be disappointed in them.  We will be disappointed, because we know they can do better.  We know they did not live up to their best.  We know they made a choice to act differently than they were taught.

While in college, I again felt that lonely reminder that I am an alien, as I started student teaching, and then again as a new teacher in my first classrooms.  The commonly over promoted idea was not to push children too hard, or expect too much.  Too often I heard the phrase, "They're only 5th graders, 1st graders, 6th graders, etc."

I felt so differently from my peers.  I didn't think my students were "only" anything.  I saw them as wonderful children capable of great things!  I thought, "they're 5th graders, so I know they can do this!"

My teaching philosophy revolved around encouraging children to stretch their minds and abilities as far as they could, to try new things, and if they made mistakes, to try again.  I believed in my students, I knew they all could work hard and do great things. I never gave them excuses for why they couldn't, I gave them reasons to keep trying until they could.  The most satisfying moments I had in teaching, were when students struggled to work hard on something, but saw the task to the end, and then knew they had accomplished something impressive.  You could see it on their glowing faces!!  Sometimes they'd show a look of surprise, like they didn't know they were capable of such high achievement!  But I knew.  I always knew they could do it.  

So, I must ask, to my faithful few readers- are you an alien too?  Do you too find yourself setting high expectations for yourself and your family?  Do you know somewhere deep inside you, that you and your family are of great worth, with a divine heritage, and therefore capable of great things?  Do you expect those great things from yourself and them?  Do you feel sincere disappointment in yourself and them when goals are not met, yet also unfailing faith that improvement and new progress are possible?

If that isn't you, if you are not an alien, then change!!!  Believe in yourself and your family.  Don't make lists of what you or they can't do and why.  Decide that you can, because you're incredible.  Recite that daily to yourself in the mirror, and then go tell your husband, your wife, your children, your friends.  Tell them you love them, you know they have amazing potential, and even on the worst days, where they stumble and fall over and over, that they are still worth getting back up and trying again.  Find yourself saying phrases like, "I can.  I will.  I must."

This post has gotten too long, and even my few devoted readers have probably faded out a few paragraphs ago.  I apologize.  I can be long winded when it comes to something I feel strongly about.  I'll end with this quote from former prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley,

"I feel to invite every woman everywhere to rise to the great potential within you.  I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity.  I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure.  I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve.  I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know.  If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass." 

You know what you can do, and are capable of.  Deep down, you know.  You have a loving Heavenly Father who made you, and knows you can.  So do it.  And look for the same in your children, and those around you.  It's really not that  alien of an idea.      

Friday, June 21, 2013

Comfort Zone

My mind has been too full, for too many weeks to write.  I've had to filter through so much, trying to decide what words need to come out.  To summarize the events that have caused this mental turmoil, the Air Force has not been kind of recent to our family.  They have promised holidays, time off, and breaks in deployments, only to change and withdraw them, always for the worse.  Deployments got longer and more frequent, time home cut shorter and shorter.  They have told us we're moving, then told us we can make new plans, then told us we're moving again.  The goodbyes, time apart, to and fro, and constant changing of plans that affect not just my DH, but our whole family, has been a strain on what little peace our family clings to.

A word of caution to anyone considering military service- this is neither unusual nor "unfair".  It simply is.  When you sign a contract, they can say or do whatever they want to you, and if you have a family, remember it will effect them just as much as it affects you.  You quite literally sign your life away, in exchange for a job and benefits for the time on the contract.

For us, that contract meant the military would pay for DH's college and flight school, in exchange for 10 years of service after he received his wings.  It also means a paycheck for that time, a housing allowance, healthcare, and many many logged flight hours to take with him when he leaves.  Thus far the Air Force has kept their end of the deal.  We aren't owed anything more than that.  That contract doesn't mention happiness in the job, satisfaction with the work, and regular or even reasonable working hours.  We don't regret the decisions made back when we were young and in college, no matter how naive we were in making them.  This was the best option for my husband to be a pilot.  And despite the disillusionment we've come to have with the unstoppable U.S. Air Force, we're not entirely ungrateful for the opportunities it's given our family, despite how dearly we have and continue to pay.

The upcoming moving plans will be sending us out west, to New Mexico.  For many, back west is where they want to go, where their hearts lie.  Not mine.  My comfort zone is filled with full, big, beautiful deciduous trees, turquoise beaches, seasons, warm humid air, regular soft rain showers, fireflies, and breezes where you can hear waves or the rustle of leaves.  It's where people say "ya'll", where good BBQ is found, and where the locals have ancestors who fought in the American Civil and Revolutionary wars.  I like to roll down the car windows and smell summer honeysuckle in the wind.  I love peaches off a local fruit stand, berry picking, and thunderstorms.  Oh, Dixieland, my comfort zone.

While I love those things, life is not about living within our comfort zones.  Usually you don't even know what that is, until something forces you to move on or change to make you uncomfortable.  God wants us to learn, grow, and find love and beauty everywhere, in everything.  It's too easy in the land of Dixie to do that.  No matter how unwilling we are, it's time for us to move on to new adventures.  When I wrote her about my moving woes, a dear friend and seasoned military daughter sent me a loving letter, full of understanding and sympathy, but also with the advice that I take the Lord's hand, and my husband's in the other, and jump forward into our new life out west, with excitement and anticipation.  I think it might feel a bit like jumping into a cold pool after sunbathing, but I know she's right.  I know I can, and will.

Some of my friends have these cute signs in their homes, that say "Home is Where the Air Force Sends Us", and then hanging from the sign, are planks with each base or location they were stationed at.

I've thought about getting one made myself, but I've never felt like that phrase fit us.  To me, where I call home has nothing to do with the Air Force.  It's like saying "Home is where your kitchen sink is" - not exactly a  false statement, but more accurately a minor coincidence.  The military may tell us where to go, but they can't dictate where I feel at home.  Where the Air Force sends us is where we make our home, but they aren't why, and don't deserve the honor of being on a sign on my wall.  They've already put their name on my husband, everything he wears, and on enough gear, uniforms, boots, notebooks, manuals, maps, and deployment crap to fill an entire bedroom.  After much meditation throughout these weeks and months of turmoil, I finally came up with a better motto.

Home is Wherever we can be Together  

While I may not be in love with the location, and frustrated with the circumstances the Air Force sometimes places us in, all the pieces of my heart are together when all the members of my family are under one roof.

So look away, Dixieland.  I have to leave you for awhile, and move my home to where my family can be together.  I still love you, and will shed an occasional tear for your benefit while in the far away west, and out of my comfort zone.  I don't know if we'll get to come back, or when that could be.  But when I imagine heaven, it's where my home and you are the same.

I asked the girl who made the above sign if she can do a custom order with my new phrase.  I'll add a picture of it to this post when it's done.  While you wait you can listen to Brad Paisley.  His song helped me find the words I needed write today.

A special thanks to Kim, who was willing to take on a special order and make such a beautiful, personally meaningful sign for us.  Check out her store, she's great.  She also has more items on Facebook, you can message her for a link to that!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Raising Daughters

I have two beautiful, sweet, unique, little girls.

While my parenting experience has only begun, in celebration of Mother's Day this Sunday, I thought I'd make a list of 20 things I've found, both as a mother, daughter, and sister, are important to know when raising girls.  They are in no particular order, and of course, there are many many things I could add.  But I thought an "off the top of my head" list would be a little more authentic, since typically what is most important to us, is most immediately on our minds.

1. Read to her the good books, and she will discover a world even bigger than the one around her
2. When she's old enough to read to herself, teach her how to find the best books, and she will learn to be careful what she lets enter her mind
2. Let her play with your makeup brushes in the mirror while you get ready in the bathroom, and she will see her mother appreciates what she sees in the mirror
3. Take a break to snuggle, and she will feel safe in your arms
4. Teach her how to speak to her parents with respect, and she'll learn to be careful with her words
5. Go for walks, and let her stop to look at a butterfly, smell the flowers, or look for 4 leaf clovers, and you'll inspire her to explore and learn about her world 
6. Keep as many of the pictures she makes for you as you can, and she'll know you think about her
7. Say sorry to her if you've made a mistake, and she'll find value in humility
8. Teach her to sincerely apologize, and she'll learn not to suppress feelings of remorse
9. Teach her that good friends make you feel beautiful, and she'll know how to be a good friend herself
10. Read the scriptures with her every single day, and she'll learn there is a right way to live and be happy
11. Take her to church every Sunday, and she'll learn the best community she is a part of, is one that is Christ centered
12. Help her feel what reverence means, and she'll learn how to listen for Heavenly Father, and know He talks to her in many ways 
13. Teach her that happiness is a choice to make good choices, and she'll know how to find it
14. Dress modestly yourself, and she'll see that modesty means respecting what is beautiful
15. Speak carefully and thoughtfully, and she will see that words can be powerful
16. Give her opportunities to work hard, and she will know what it means to feel successful
17. Sing with her, and she'll learn music is a way to share what is in her heart
18. Keep high expectations for her, and she'll learn you know she is capable of great things
19. Insist she treat her siblings with kindness, and she'll learn the most important relationships are those within the walls of her own home
20.  Marry the right man.  Choose someone to be her father who will honor all things previously listed, and have a list of his own.  Marry a man who puts on the top of his list, loving you.  Because the best way for a daughter to learn to value herself, is by watching how her father honors her mother.  Words cannot fully express my gratitude in finding a man who does this so well.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

but I know, one thing, that I love you.

During this last deployment, we spent a lot of time planning the perfect trip.  It turns out the perfect trip, is a 7 day cruise on the Royal Caribbean ship Freedom of the Seas, visiting select beautiful Caribbean Islands.  We swam with tropical fish (and a shark!), we jet skied in turquoise water, we laid on the beach and watched airplanes fly so close we could almost touch them, we danced to 80's ballads played by an incredible Filipino cover band, and fell asleep to the music of the waves coming from our private balcony.  It came and went like a dream.  I need to look at the pictures to believe it really happened.  I missed my babies like crazy, and am happy to be home and snuggle them, but we had an amazing time.  Maybe some day we'll take the kids with us on a similar trip.  When they're much older, perhaps in 12 years or so.  Maybe.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

See what I see...

Facebook seems crowded with women posting and re-posting this video from Dove.

I wont get into the obvious flaws of this "study" that make the results completely unreliable, because this post is already too long.  On the surface, I think we all can appreciate that women in general don't give themselves enough credit, or are too critical of their appearances leading to low self esteem issues that plague the female sex.  OK.  After that tiny ounce of credit I give the company, I must now get on my well worn soapbox.

Women are more than physical beauty.  Physical beauty is shallow.  It is empty.  It says nothing of value about the person.  However we, as human beings cannot help but want it.  I'll admit, I want it.  It's in the title of my blog!  I want to be pretty, and think I am.  But really, I don't care to be remembered that way.  I want my friends to remember me, as pretty smart, pretty kind, pretty thoughtful, pretty sweet, pretty devoted, pretty faithful, pretty creative, pretty selfless...

Why are we so obsessed with physical appearances?  I could go on and on about the media and it's negative impacts on self image, but it wouldn't even exist if the desire to be beautiful wasn't already there.  We want and love physical beauty, because it's natural.  Scientifically, that desire is there to preserve the species.  Signs of beauty are typically correlated with signs of good health, thus encouraging the mating of healthy people, and creating offspring most likely to survive.  So, it's in our genetic makeup to pursue it and desire it.  It's natural.  That doesn't mean it's right.

A great king in the ancient Americas, King Benjamin, and consequently our son's namesake, in his old age gathered all of his people together so he could give them a final address before his death.  His people gathered for miles, setting up their tents around a tower erected for the King to speak from.  He taught many great and beautiful things.  His words are recorded in The Book of Mormon, and among the great wisdom he shared with his people, he gave the following, found in Mosiah 3:19:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.  

While we naturally are drawn to physical beauty, and want to judge others and ourselves by those worldly standards, that is not the way of God.  We must rise above that.  Did you notice what example King Benjamin uses to illustrate how to put off the natural man?  He describes a child.

Children see us as we are.  They love freely, unhindered by physical characteristics.  They can see what somehow, as adults, we cannot so easily see.  They have a Christlike love that is pure and unaffected.  Quick to forgive, they openly share unblemished devotion to almost everyone they know.  There are exceptions.  They do judge, but the way God judges- by choices and actions.   Think of the children you know and adore. They love most those who are the kindest to them.  Anyone who is harsh, mean, or mistreats them, they turn away from, fear, and do not love.  And yet, sweetly, they still want to.  They want to love everyone.

In God's eyes, we are beautiful because He made us.  He wants us to see that, and to see that in others.  He wants us to see what is good, and to try to be that way ourselves.  He wants us to follow the example of His son, Jesus Christ.

Look in the mirror.  Do you limit yourself to your natural inhibitions, judging by meaningless, empty physical traits, or do you look beyond the natural man, and see something more?  I challenge you to see how our Savior sees.  He loves you.  He knows your great potential.  Find the things in that reflection that are truly beautiful.  Look at the person who is a good friend.  Find in your eyes someone who loves to study, read, and learn.  Take in the beauty of an individual who is independent, creative, and brave.  Look at the hands that have brought comfort, shared freely, and worked long and patiently for others.  You have feet that can run miles, that can dance, that can take you to great places, ears that can recognize music everywhere, and a mouth that can teach, whisper, smile, and sing.  You have strength to stand up for yourself and others, and a heart that is able to share, love, and forgive.  This is what the Savior sees, what we were meant to do with our bodies, and this precious gift of life we have.  This is what beauty is.

Here is a song and slideshow that I think paint a sweet picture of this very message.

And here's a better video, that teaches so much more than that weak commercial for Dove products.  It speaks of our divine heritage.  We are sons and daughters of God, with endless potential for good.  The true beauty in our reflection, comes from the choice to follow Jesus Christ.

Rise above the sleaze and natural, lost, and lonely images the world is trying to put forth.  Your beauty is based on something so much greater, and is meant to last forever.  So forever lose yourself in those things that have great worth, and mold an individual to be admired and loved for all that you are, and can do.  Something divinely beautiful.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Put a Dad in It

A song came to mind as I was scrolling through the latest pictures on my camera.  It's Brooks & Dunn's song Put a Girl in It.  It's all about how everything in life is better if you "put a girl in it".  Except of course, I was substituting "Dad" for "girl".  Everything is just better with Dad in the mix.

Warning, if you click on my link to the music video of the Brooks & Dunn song, I suggest you listen without watching the video.  It's full of some less than respectable girls, pretty, but scantily clad, drinking and dancing.  I can't help but leave the disclaimer that life in general is much better without that kind of girl.  AND girls are capable of so much more than looking and acting sexy.  Where are the clips of girls wiping the tears of a toddler, putting an arm around a lonely friend, teaching a class, baking something irresistible...  So, yeah, cute and true song, but very sexist video.   

Here's a much better video, if I do say so myself!!!  Daddy isn't in all of the photos, because more often than not, he was behind the camera!!!  We've all been drinking in the family time, in satisfying heavy doses.

To each of my sweethearts, whether you're 32 or not quite 2, isn't it obvious we belong together?!      

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I dance in my kitchen

I dance in my kitchen a lot.  After I put the kids to bed, I turn up my rockin' out tunes, and while I'm sweeping the never quite clean floor, and taking part in that circle of life that is dishwashing (they're never all clean, it's just a rotating circle of sink, to dishwasher, to cupboards, repeat!) I dance.  Not well, of course.  I'm no dancer.  I took 1 tap/ballet class for a month or so when I was 6, and then my DH took me to a ballroom dance class one time during the early stages of dating, when he wasn't yet sure if he should admit he hates dancing.  So I'm no good.  But I love it anyway.  I'm like Baloo the Bear, from Disney's The Jungle Book.  I hear the groove, and I have to move.  It slows down my kitchen cleanup a bit, but it's a nice stress reliever too.  I twist, I shake, I bounce, and I lose myself in the beat for a few minutes.

I realized the other day, that I don't do this all the time.  It's a deployment thing.  I don't know if it's because I'm too self-conscious to completely let loose like that in front of my husband, or maybe I'm worried he'll be annoyed with the loud music.  I've never given it enough thought to know why.  But it got me thinking.  Are there other things I'll miss when he comes home?  Am I even allowed to miss anything about this temporary husbandless existence of mine?

It's strange trying to think about that.  My inner-self splits into two personalities.  One is the loving wife, do-anything-for-your-marriage-and-life-is-miserable-without-him side, and the other is my feminist, you-don't-need-a-man-to-complete-you (add a snap and body roll to that) side.  The feminist tries to think of things I've enjoyed while he was gone, and the loving wife side jumps in and stops those thoughts saying, "It doesn't matter!!!" or "You just did that to pass the time while he was away!!"

It's an odd conflict, and I'm not sure either side ever wins.  Probably because they both are a part of me.  However, I think I will let the feminist have her day, and make my list.  But to pacify the loving wife, I'll add the disclosure that I'd trade the entire list right now for even just snuggling on the couch with my husband, watching football that I'm sort of paying attention to.  Wait- make that college basketball.  Football season is over.  I forgot.  Obviously he's been gone awhile. and Cougarboard aren't even on our google chrome most visited pages list anymore!!!  They have been replaced with Pinterest, Facebook, Amazon, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines page.  

1.  Online shopping.  I do, of course, still buy things when he's home, but when he's gone I have the "I'm lonely so I'm sending myself a package" excuse.  It's a fabulous excuse, even if half the wearable things get returned because it turns out I don't look as much like the model as I thought I did.

2.  Fast Food.  I cook well when I have a husband to eat it.  Otherwise, I'm not ashamed to admit fast food happens a lot.  Enough for my 4 year old to sigh with happiness and say, "I love drive-thru's!"  It's too frustrating cooking for myself and 3 minis.  Unless it's pancakes, waffles, one of the many forms of hot dogs (hot dogs, corn dogs, pigs in a blanket, chili dogs, hot dogs cut up with beans) or frozen chicken nuggets, someone wont eat it.  Healthy meals I either have to eat myself for a week (because I don't know how to cut my family recipes down) or end up throwing it out.  Both are not ideal.  So fast food and pizza have been our friends.  Don't judge 'till you've walked the 4 month mile.  Or the two month mile, times 7.  

3.  The sewing bug.  I've caught it a few times this deployment, and have made several satisfying projects that make me want to smile, snap a picture, post it somewhere and proclaim, "Yeah, I made that!".  It's not so satisfying however staying up late trying to finish something, while my husband is in bed wondering when sewing became more attractive than him.  When he's gone however, I can stay up 'till 2 am guilt free, finishing up something adorable.

4.  Chick Flicks.  They replace the 4 games of football/basketball/baseball going on simultaneously on the iPad, computer, TV, and phone.  I cry at the good parts, without making anyone concerned for my emotional stability, and don't have to tune out the teasing banter about the obvious lacking in masculinity of the male heroes in my beloved favorite films.  Edward, Mr. Darcy, Tad Hamilton, and the others are safe.

5.  Reading without stopping.  I don't have it in me to give up reading when my DH comes home, but I do try a little harder not to get so lost in my books, that I don't notice he went to bed 3 hours ago.  It's happened, I'm ashamed to say.  But when he's gone, I don't need to use any caution.  No reason to rush off to a cold, lonely bed.  It's not going anywhere, unlike the plot of my book!

6.  Girl Time.  It's much easier planning in girl time, because I can do it pretty much 24-7.  My schedule is wide open.  Virtually.  The kids do have a few things.  But for the most part, when a girlfriend wants to hang out, the answer is most emphatically, "yes!"

7.  Spaghetti, Shepherd's Pie, Chili, Taco Soup.  When I do get around to cooking, I make what I like, and don't need to compromise two sets of tastes.

Seven is a lucky number, so I'll stop there.  I can't think of anything else major at the moment anyway.

To my amazing husband when his internet works long enough to read this, I miss you like a dieter misses doughnuts, like pot roast misses salt, like a city night misses stars, like a Virginia girl living in the desert would miss trees.  Lots and lots.  But, I am a trained resilient girl, and am learning to look for the good things in any situation.  I've found a few, that keep me happy and busy when I'm missing you.  But sleep well knowing none of them come close to spending time with the most important person in my world.

Funny Thinking of You Ecard: Dance like no one is watching and laugh like everyone is watching you dance.