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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Turning Outward

Talk given to JW7 on 2/23/14

President Thomas S. Monson taught, “As we look heavenward we will inevitably learn of our responsibility to reach outward. To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.”

That is what I would like to speak about today—turning outward.  We live in a world of entitlement.  Often we ascribe that trait to our children and work hard to keep them from feeling entitled to toys, money and privileges.  I fear that entitlement has spread to us adults as well, though in more subtle ways.  What do you feel entitled to?  Your time?  Your comfort zone?  Do you feel entitled to a certain type of calling?  Don’t get me wrong.  We do need to focus on ourselves first.  We need to make sure we are functioning at a healthy level, emotionally, spiritually and physically. There comes a point when focusing on ourselves becomes selfish instead of productive.  We need to instead focus outward.  We need to look beyond ourselves at the needs of others and at the things our Father in Heaven has asked us to do.

Recently I have been reading in Alma, specifically the stories of the sons of Mosiah, going to convert the Lamanites.  In their stories I have found many examples of turning outward.  To refresh, they had been wicked for most of their lives.  They had had a life changing experience that helped them see the eternal punishment they were heading towards and the damage they had done in the salvation of their fellow men.  And then they were given the opportunity to repent and feel the atoning power and the love of our Savior.  After having gone through such a harrowing experience, they couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else facing those same consequences.  Not even their enemies, the Lamanites.  In fact, especially the Lamanites.  They themselves had been fighting against the word of God, just as the Lamanites had been doing for centuries.  They saw Lamanitish tendencies in themselves and knew the damage it could cause.

They could have stayed comfortably at home, rejoicing in their newly found eternal salvation.  They could have lived simple, righteous lives, encouraging those around them.  They could have taken the throne when their aged father offered it to them. Instead they turned outward  They didn’t think of themselves or their own comfort, but instead thought of those most in need of their help and experience.

They didn’t go into their mission with great expectations to be the ones who finally converted all of the Lamanites. They had hundreds of years of history before them showing the Lamanite’s unwillingness to repent and turn to Christ. The Lamanites had persecuting the Nephites because of their beliefs.  The sons of Mosiah knew the enormous task that they had taken upon themselves.

All of their friends at home told them they were foolish and that it would be better to just destroy the Lamanites from off the face of the earth and start fresh without them. But instead of thinking of how much better their lives would be without the Lamanites, they focused on how much better the Lamanites’ lives would be with Christ at the center.  They saw the Lamanites, not as enemies, but with the pure love of Christ.  They couldn’t stand the thought of even their enemies dying, having never repented, and having to suffer the eternal consequences of such. But they knew it would be hard and that they would be lucky to bring only a few to Christ. And yet, they felt it was worth it.

In Ammon’s words, “But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.” (Alma 26:26)  He goes on to talk about their sufferings, “and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.” (Alma 26:29-30)

By turning outward, they were more concerned with the eternal salvation of one or two of their enemies than they were about their own comforts or even their own lives.  We are not asked to risk our lives to convert people who would rather kill us for our beliefs.  Our task is much easier.  We have been asked to visit and home teach.  In this, have you turned outward, putting their needs and their salvation above your own comforts?  What selfish reasons have kept you from this service?  Is it finding time in your busy schedule?  Is it trying to schedule with your busy companion?  Do you hate making phone calls? Is it that you don’t know the people you’ve been assigned to teach?  Have you been assigned someone you’ve never seen at church and are afraid of how they will react to your call?   We must put our self aside and turn outward, if we are to be instruments in God’s hands to hasten His work.

The sons of Mosiah didn’t save just a few souls, as they had anticipated.  They were the instruments in saving thousands.  And they didn’t do it immediately; it took 14 years.  Sometimes we look at our efforts and don’t see immediate results, so we give up.  We look inward and see how our efforts and time seem to be useless and we see all of the other things we could be doing for ourselves instead.  But God’s time is not our own.  Turning outward is not something that is accomplished in a short time, and then we can move on.  Turning outward is a lifelong goal.  It is a lifestyle change.  It is a change of heart.  Our ultimate goal is to be like Christ.  He is our ultimate example of turning outward and serving others instead of ourselves.

Pres. James E. Faust has said, “As you and I perhaps would have turned inward in self-pity, He turned outward and ministered to others whose needs were far less. That is the character of Christ that causes me to stand all amazed.”

There are many specific events in their ministry that emphasize their choice to turn outward and serve the Lamanites.  Unfortunately, my time is too short to detail them.  But I would encourage you to go home and read their stories in Alma 17-26 and find for yourselves where they turn outward and then apply their examples in your own life.

Upon being reunited with his brethren, Ammon boasted of God by rejoicing in their accomplishments.  “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”  When we boast of our accomplishments, is our motivation to boast of God?  Or is it to boast of ourselves?  When we do great things, who do we give the credit to?

In college I went on a date with an accomplished artist.  As part of our date we put together a puzzle out in his studio, giving us something to do while we talked and got to know each other better.  I remember walking around, looking at his art, simply amazed at his talent.  When I complimented him on his talent, he simply said, “Thank you,” then immediately credited his talent to God.  Honestly, his statement took me aback.  I knew our talents came from God.  I had heard of people giving all credit to God for their works.  But I had never seen the principle in action so blatantly nor outside of a religious or formal setting.  Had he humbly said, “Thank you,” and changed the conversation back to whatever we had been talking about before, I wouldn’t have thought him prideful or boasting in himself; I would have thought him humble.  But he knew something I didn’t: he knew that by simply saying “Thank you” he was allowing my praise to fall on him.  But instead of letting my praise fall on him, he turned outward and instead gave that praise to God.  It was a lesson I’ve long remembered.  Being humble does not mean putting ourself down or downplaying our strengths.  Being humble means acknowledging the truth and giving the praise and glory back to God.

As we turn outward, we will find that our lives become more fulfilling.  As we focus outside of ourselves, our entitlement will vanish and our love for those around us will grow.  The less we focus on our self and the more we turn outward to the blessing of others, the more we become like Christ and center ourselves on the path to return to live with Him.

In the name…

Luck and games and crafts and such.

Jessa ~

Earlier this week Abby ran into the room I was in yelling, "Kisses!"  I asked if she wanted a kiss and she said yes, so I reached down to give her a kiss on her head.  Just as she jumped up.  Results: one screaming toddler and one bloody lip for Mommy.  Thank goodness for BJ working from home.  I knew I couldn't comfort her and stop my bleeding at the same time (it took several paper towels soaked with blood before it finally stopped), so I just texted him, "Help" and he ran straight upstairs.  I love him working from home.  This was Monday.  I still have a tender bump on my lip.  Abby seems to have recovered much more quickly.

Oh, and then that night BJ and I played Ticket to Ride with Kessa.  She's been playing it a lot on the iPad and is getting pretty darn good.  So we played real rules with her on the real board (except we let her put trains on the cities she was trying to connect, so she could see them easier) and... she totally beat both of us.  Legitimately.  We lost TTR to our 4-year old.  It's a good thing my self-esteem isn't based in games.

Tuesday after Abby's nap I took the girls to IKEA.  The play place was full (Tuesday is kids' eat free day, so it's always busier), but Kessa knew it might happen and chose to just go shopping with me instead.  It was actually kind of fun.  You know that bookcase-esque thing in our family room that has 8 cubbies inside of it?  4 across and 2 down.  Well, we got another one that's just a 2x2.  A few months ago I was sick of all the toys in the family room, so we cleaned out some space in the office and moved all the toys in there.  And now we have a shelf in which to put them.  It's nice.  We also bought another stool like we have in the bathroom to put up in Kessa's room, so she can reach her clothes in the closet.  Currently she stands on an upside down laundry hamper, which seems like it will eventually collapse and it will all end in tears.  (Currently the one in the bathroom is actually by the toys in the play room, just below the window.  Abby loves to stand on the stool and watch outside.  She's obsessed with the trucks doing construction across the street. And garbage trucks.  And cars going by.  And birds in the sky.  And anything else she can see.)

Kessa painted her own fingernails a few weeks ago, with my supervision.  She did a great job.  So the other day when she wanted to paint her own fingernails again, but I was busy, I let her try.  We talked about what she needed to be careful of, and I let her go.  She came back to me a little while later, "Mommy, I don't know what the heck in the world happened!"  With glitter polish All Over her hand. I had her go get the polish remover and cotton balls, while I tried not to laugh, and made her clean it all off.  It took her probably 20 minutes, but she eventually removed it all.  :)

There were a few things that happened this week, one right after the other, that made me feel like my social life was being stripped away from me, leaving me no control over it.  The next day Kessa was super bored during Abby's nap, so I decided we could make some St. Patrick's Day crafts together.  So we went shopping and came back and painted some letters to spell LUCK, then modge podged scrapbook paper on top.  Later that day I cut a leprechaun hat out of my Silhouette and put it around my shamrocks.  It's currently a centerpiece on my table.  The two events together led me to start up an old-school homemaking-style craft group.  I provide the parts, they pay for cost, we all craft together, sans kids.  Great girls night out.  It fills both my crafting and my social needs.  I'm really excited about it.  It currently has 25 members.  Yipes!  We may have to find a different location than just my house...

I printed off the temple names that have been saving up in my family history yesterday.  61 ordinances!  I took the names that needed baptisms and confirmations down to my niece and nephew (Bailey and Braiden) who go to the temple monthly.  I figured it's their family, too.  So they'll do that next week and then we can get started on the rest of their work.  I'm kind of excited.  I think we'll need to set up a more regular babysitter and go to the temple more often...

Saturday's daily chore was vacuuming.  I needed to write a talk (I spoke in church today.  Again.  I'll post the talk). We bribed Kessa.  If she would help clean up everything on the carpeted floors before Abby's nap, then daddy would take her rock climbing during Abby's nap.  She immediately got to work.  Haha.  I was able to spend the morning on my talk.  BJ and Kessa cleaned the house and vacuumed all the floors.  Then they left and Abby took a nap and I got a couple of hours to finish up my talk and do some family history.  Meanwhile BJ and Kessa stood in a really long line, went rock climbing, played in the playground thing at Trafalga, then got ice cream together.  What a fun daddy/daughter date!

I'm pretty sure Kessa isn't getting into Lakeview, the charter school I was rooting for.  There are 100 spots in Kindergarten and she's 163 on the wait list.  Which means every single child accepted could drop out and she'd still be 63 on the wait list.  Yipes.  I don't think that one is going to happen.  The other lottery we put her in won't be held until the end of March, so we'll have to see what happens now.  Right now I'm figuring she'll probably just go to the local public school.  We may rethink things for 1st grade.  Re-enter her into both lotteries.  Plus there are two public schools around here that offer immersion.  One for Spanish and one for Chinese.  But they don't start until 1st grade.  So we'll look into that next year.

My biggest concern (which is a concern for all potential schools) is Common Core.  I don't actually know a lot about it, but I know a lot of parents against it.  I decided to look into it for myself and went to the Common Core website.  I first looked at the math requirements for Kindergarten.  Probably 90% or more of the curriculum she can already do.  And what's left I could probably teach her in a day or two.  Things like recognizing 3D shapes, like cones and cylinders.  Or starting to count something in the middle of the list.  "Can you count to 20, starting at 12?"  Since I read that I've noticed that she always starts at one.  But I don't think that'd be hard to teach, either.  I... fear she'll be bored in math.

So then I looked at the reading requirements.  She'll learn to recognize letters, recognize that letters go from left to right, top to bottom.  Words are separated by spaces.  Written words are just symbols for spoken words.  Learn a handful of sight words.  Oh boy.  This week she brought home the first book in the 1st grade reading level group.  She's learning to blend consonants, like gr in green.  She can read short and long vowels.  She's probably got dozens of sight words under her belt.  So, apparently she's going to be bored in math and reading.  [sigh]  So pray she'll get a good teacher that will worth with her and with me.  K?  My biggest fear is that either she'll get bored and become a behavioral problem, or that she'll see all her friends far below her and decide she wants to be like them, and regress.  She loves to learn so much.  I hope she keeps that.  So... pray for her, k?  Though, you'll be about home by the time any of this actually comes into play...

Has anyone told you that Nick started a Kickstarter?  (Do you know what Kickstarter is?  It's where someone puts up an idea, says "I need this much money to make this real" and people give him money.  And they get rewards for their money.  So for the most part, you're just buying the product in advance.  The more money you give, the better the rewards.)  Nick wants to make a pdf of "How to build a motorized couch" so that everyone can build them!  (How long, do you think, before Utah starts making laws regulating the use of motorized couches?)  He's only asking $150.  So my guess is that he's doing it just to get a better feel for how Kickstarter works.  Maybe he'll use it for his flyboard someday?  Who knows.  Or maybe he's just doing it for kicks and giggles.  Because he's Nick.  :D

Abby's obsessed with "sad" lately.  Her stuffed animals are often sad and she brings them to us to make them feel better.  If you ever ask if she or anyone else is happy or sad, she'll say sad.  She'll pretend to frown.  It's kind of cute and funny.  And slightly worrying.  But hopefully the phase will pass.  :)  She's also really adorable when she's sad.  (Not when she's mad, though.  Yikes.)  Like this morning I was sitting up on my vanity, straightening my hair and doing makeup.  She was sitting next to me.  She was trying to climb up on my lap while I had the hot flat iron in my hand, so I told her, "No, Abby.  You can't sit on my lap."  She looked up at me with the most *adorable* sad face, and then promptly buried her face in my lap, where she sat for the next 2-3 minutes.  That sad face, followed by burying her head in my arm, lap, side, etc. is probably one of the cutest things ever.  In a sad way, of course.

From Facebook:
I've been in process of deep cleaning my room for a few days now. I'm almost done. I mostly just need to move the dozen piles of books from the floor to the bookcases, once they're mounted on the walls.

But last night I looked around and remembered that our room is really big. And when it's clean it looks really empty. And when it looks really empty, I'm going to want to buy furniture to fill it.

Conclusion: it is far cheaper to not clean my room.

(Note: We did end up cleaning our room.  Yesterday BJ attached the bookcases to the wall, so we spent the evening moving all the books over and organizing them on the shelves.  It seems weird to be able to see all of our books again.  And to have so much open space on our floor.  I'm glad I'm planning a home birth and will want the space for the supplies and tub so that I won't get overly focused on wanting to fill the space with furniture...)

Cool thing I learned about my family tonight: My mother's line is Norwegian (this I already knew) and as such followed a patronymic naming system. So the last name of the children are the first name of the father plus -sen or -datter. I was curious at what point in my line that tradition stopped. Turns out my grandma (and her siblings) were the first generation to take their father's last name instead of his first.

I'm trying to decide if it's because that was the first generation where the father was not Norwegian or if, in making the decision of what surname to give their children, they realized that their child would be named Doloris Harmon or Doloris Lorenzodatter. It seems that choosing between the two should be pretty darn easy. (Also, they chose wisely.)


  • While talking about the size of the sun, Kessa: you would need more than 100 days to build that.
  • Me: What should we have for dinner?
    Abby: Ice cream!
  • Kessa forgot what she was going to ask me. I told her to think about it and get back to me. “Ok. I’ll think about it and if it appears in my head, I will tell you. That is my plan.”
  • Kessa: I have 4 blueberries.
    Me: And you're 4-years old!
    Kessa, thinking: You should give me one more because I fit 5. (She wears size 5.)
  • Abby's shoe size is 5. Kessa's clothes size is 5. Kessa saw Abby's shoes and said, “If Abby's shoes were clothes, they'd fit me.”
Happy Sabbath!
~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Valentines... a few days late!

Jessa ~

It doesn't seem that this week had much going.  I wonder, then, why the heck I am so tired... haha

Tuesday we were going to have one of my high school friends over for dinner, so she could try out Voldemoo, but she had to cancel last minute.  Earlier that day one of BJ's college friends posted that she had extra key lime pie if anyone wanted it, so he suggested we invite her and her family over to help us eat the roast I'd cooked.  I was skeptical as it was already 5:00, but surprisingly, she didn't have any dinner plans yet, so they came over.  Their two kids played well with our two kids, so we pretty much just let them roam and play while we taught them Kingdom Builder (after dinner).  And then we all ate their leftover pie.  It was really fun.

Valentine's Day was this week.  Kessa made a bunch of valentines for her preschool class.  It consisted of a pencil stuck through a heart with white scallops around it that said, "You're just WRITE Valentine".  And then on the tip and the eraser we put a heart and a feather-like thing so that it looked like Cupid's Arrow.  It was fun.  We had extra pencils so she made a bunch for her neighborhood friends, too.  The weather has been extraordinarily nice, too, so we went on several walks this week, including walking around to deliver half of them.

Friday, Valentine's Day, Teresa came down to babysit while we went to Les Mis up at Hale.  We got there a little late, so we missed the first scene (about 10 minutes) and apparently what I thought took up half the play was all in those 10 minutes.  I'd never actually seen the play until Friday, but I had heard the music a lot.  But turns out, only hearing the popular songs on shuffle does not help my brain figure out a logical storyline.  I was surprised at how much of the story was completely new for me.  But really well done.  Clearly.  This is Hale.

But apparently we were the very first show, so we got the major technical difficulty.  Just after a certain character commits suicide, the bridge he jumps off of wouldn't go back in for the scene change.  So they had to pause the show for about 20 minutes while the executive producer (who is a daughter of the Hale's) came out and talked to us.  She told us all about how they got the show (they hand picked 8 community theaters across the US to give the rights to, and Hale was one of them) and about the audition process (about 600 people showed up to audition!) and then she started to answer questions... and then they finally got the bridge out.  Problem was, the next show (we were at the matinee) was already scheduled really close after ours, and this pushed it even closer, so when we left, it took us about 20 mins of sitting still in the parking lot before we finally were able to get out.  Yipes!

On the way home we stopped at a multi-ward (including ours) dinner and dance at our stake center.  We ate dinner there and had a great time watching other people dance.  (We're just not fast dancers, I'm sorry.)  And then we came back so that Teresa could go have some Valentine's Day time with Steven.  [wink]

Kessa has been really into drawing and coloring lately.  Like, really good.  Even her preschool teacher is impressed with her progress.  She colored a picture during Joy School a week or two ago that's been hanging up.  I decided to take a picture of it so you could see.  Please note that the colors are in correct rainbow order.  She didn't ask for help.  She just already knows the order of the rainbow.  Goodness gracious that girl.

The Way of Kings sequel comes out next month, so BJ has been reading it again.  Plus they've released the first several chapters online, so we've read those.  Jessa, it's intense.  You have to read!!!

I told you the weather has been nice, right?  Well, yesterday we ended up spending a good chunk of the day outside.  The neighbor girls left a sled outside, but the rain and warm weather have melted almost all the snow.  Abby climbed in the sled, so Kessa started pulling Abby around on the grass!  She actually did pretty good.  Especially after we convinced Abby to drop the rock she was holding and actually hold on so she didn’t fall backwards with every abrupt start.  :)

  • Kessa: I think I know how to drive a car. But I'm not old enough! Because I don't know where to go!
  • Kessa, trying to go to sleep when Abby was wandering about, “Daddy, I’m not pleased with Abby right now!”
  • Abby: Roar!!!
    Kessa: No Abby, a clown doesn't say Roar, an elephant says… No wait. A lion says roar!
  • Kessa, completely out of the blue: Congratulations! You've saved the planet.

    Apparently it's in a game?
  • Kessa wrote a Valentine to her neighbor-friend, Izzy, that says, “I love you more than Tianna.”
    Me: What?! I birthed you and nursed you and fed you and clothed you and you love Izzy more than me?!
    Kessa: I still love you, mom. I still love you a lot.
    BJ: And yet, no denial.
    Me: [sigh]
  • We stayed at a neighbor’s house till late, so the stars were out as we walked home. Kessa pointed to a bright one (BJ thinks it was Jupiter, maybe?) and said, “Look! That’s the star where Heavenly Father was born!”
Have a great week!
~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Jessa ~

I had another midwife appt. this week.  Everything is looking great.  As of Friday Baby 3.0 weighed about the same as a large mango.  About 1 pound.  He's growing a lot!  He's starting to move more; BJ's felt him move a few times.  Kessa doesn't have enough patience to keep her hand there long enough to feel him.  But I think we'll get it as he grows and moves more and more.

We put a closet organizer in the girls' closet this week.  But turns out we're going to have to be handy and tear stuff out in order to get what I really want.  So... it's only half done.  And currently really does no good.  Haha.  But we'll get there eventually.  I hope.  Maybe we'll have to make Nick or Travis come do the dirty work...  You asked for a picture of the girls' room.  Here is one, taken from inside the closet.  It's not a great picture, but it's hard to take a picture of a bedroom.  The dresser is at the foot of Abby's bed.

I taught Joy School again this week.  The Joy of Obedience and Decisions.  I focused on Obedience.  It was fun, but also a little frustrating as we're talking about a specific rule as one or more of the girls are breaking it.  But they're only 3 and 4.  So it's hard to really be tough on enforcing some of the rules, unless they're actually distracting the rest or causing problems.  And honestly, in any other lesson, I wouldn't have thought twice about their behavior.  It was just talking about obedience that made it way more obvious and frustrating.  But we managed.  And now we can talk to Kessa more about being obedient and how rules make us happy, and how breaking rules ends up with punishments.  But how we can always repent.

We had Parent/Teacher conference on Wednesday.  My parents were in town for RootsTech and had come down that night to bring us the meat from Voldemoo!  (More on that in a minute.)  They also brought two of the young women from their ward, who have adopted my parents as grandparents.  Like, they call them Grandma and Grandpa.  Anyway, they were there for dinner (and Trav), so they watched the girls while we went to Kessa's preschool.  Basically, it's what we expected.  She has improved a ton.  She is brilliant.  :D  (Ok, that's my word.)  Apparently the next set of books she's going to get into will put her up to a 1st and 2nd grade reading level.  (Those focus on blends and digraphs, respectively.) I have no doubt of her getting to those books shortly.  We're back up to two books a week and she's breezing through them.  She's also making impressive progress on coloring and writing.  And apparently she'll now play with anyone that's playing what she wants to play.  Where at the beginning of the year she was way more timid and cautious.  She's definitely coming out of her bubble a little.  She still has trouble standing at the front of the class (doesn't surprise me), and singing songs when she's not in the mood.  This is what her teacher wrote about her on her report card, "Kessa is a joy to have in class. I look forward to seeing her smile.  She is smart and reads really well.  She asks and answers questions.  She tries hard in all she does.  Look forward to watching her learn and grow."

So, Voldemoo is here!  Yay!  He filled 8 apple or paper-sized boxes.  We got 3/8 of the meat, so almost, but not quite, a half a cow.  We started first with a steak.  I'd never made a good steak, and I'd never been a lover of steak.  So I talked to a friend who loves cooking and is really into the chemistry of cooking.  So he pointed me to a couple great methods and I tried it out.  It was So Good.  Mmmmm.  I couldn't believe how good it was.  Tonight we had steak again (and this time I made gravy! From scratch!  From the drippings!)  It was still good, but not quite as good.  It tasted more salty and less buttery.  Alas.  But still good.  So I guess I just need to keep practicing.  We're having roast on Tuesday, when a friend of mine from high school comes to dinner.  So I'll keep you posted. :)
What a full cow looks like in boxes.

What 3/8 of a cow looks like in my freezer.
(Plus a few other things.)

So BJ and I decided we'd like to go to RootsTech, the family history conference my parents were down for.  They were having an LDS day on Saturday, and it was free.  So we talked to your mom who agreed to babysit the girls so we could go.  And then we discovered that it was sold out.  But we weren't discouraged!  Instead we just left a little later and came back a little earlier.  And instead of going to sessions, we went to the expo hall, then went out to lunch with my parents and co. then went to the Family History Center to look at microfilm and do family history work. And I was able to prove a marriage that most of my work this past week has been hinged on!  I had found 21 new people to add to my family tree (and since 3 more, at least), which was about 10-12 of each ordinance.  But it all hinged on proving one marriage... specifically the fathers of the bride and groom.  But I did it!  I proved it!  Hooray!!! So now I've got some temple work to do...

Finding proof in microfilm!

A selfie of BJ and I at the family history center.  :)

I wrote this in my journal on Tuesday about my family history work/conversion:
I think I figured out why I'm spending so much of my time on and figuring out my totally messed up family tree. Because data is how my brain works. It's wired to enjoy mundane, tedious, stressful things. It's wired to fix broken data. That's why I worked in digitizing books for 5 years.
But more, as a stay-at-home mom, I feel like my brain doesn't get taxed like it used to. I'm not complaining; I love teaching my kids and spending time with them. But my brain doesn't get stretched academically like it used to. Genealogy is forcing my brain to stretch again. It's making me think through massive mostly-non-mathematical story problems. And I'm good at it. Not only is it working my brain, but it's also making me feel like I'm making a contribution to society.
Just tonight I've added 16 new people to my family tree. Most aren't a direct line. Which means that I've added to hundreds of other people's family trees. They're not connected to them yet, but that doesn't mean they won't be eventually. I've just opened up hundreds of possibilities. And have done all the leg work to show sources and prove they are where they should be. That makes me feel pretty darn great.

Abby wanted to see herself, so I turned on my camera on my phone.  She sat there and grinned and made adorable faces for several minutes.  I took pictures of a few of them.  Here's one.

Abby fell asleep standing up.  It's a Where's Waldo photo.  Can you find her?
Hints: look for the shoes, her head is on the bed, Kessa's nightgown is wrapped around her head.

  • Me: Uh-oh!
    Abby: Skettios.
    Me: Did she just say “skettios?”
    BJ: She did.
    Kessa: What's the issue dear?  (quote from Frozen, but still, hilarious coming out of the mouth of a 4-year old)
  • I threatened to take away suckers as a great if Kessa started whining about her sense of entitlement to them.
    Kessa: But then they'd go to waste!
    Me: No, we could give them to Audrey or Izzy. Or maybe mom and dad could eat them.
    Kessa: No, you can't eat them.
    Me: Why not?
    Kessa: You two eating them would just be…weird.
  • Kessa is learning to write phonetically. It’s adorable. Especially her misspellings. For example, she sent a message to Daddy today that said, “I love you mor then pech cos dade sed kessa” Translation: I love you more than peach coins daddy said Kessa.
<3 Tianna and Co.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A random montage of events

Abby went to the pediatrician this week. It's a new one.  I like him better than our last.  It was her 2-year appointment.  No vaccines!  No more until Kindergarten!  Yay!  Even more surprising news, she's up to 42% in weight!  She was 15% in August.  Apparently she's getting plenty of calories, despite not drinking milk.  Haha.

All her stats:
Weight: 24.69 lbs.  42.14%
Length: 32"  5.57%  (unsurprising)
Head: 18"  14.73%

While we were there, Kessa showed him her missing tooth.  He was surprised to see it gone at age 4.  When I told him she had 12 teeth by 12 months, he was equally surprised.  He then concluded that she had mature bone growth, which is why she got them so fast and started to lose them so early.  And why she's so tall.  It also means she'll probably stop growing sooner than her peers, so she might be the tallest for awhile, but she'll probably end up being fairly average eventually.  So maybe she does have some of me in her.  I was the second tallest in 2nd grade, but ended up being one of the shortest in high school.

We had baptisms again on Saturday.  And for the first time maybe ever, everything went incredibly smoothly.  I spent the whole time wondering what was going to go wrong.  It was a pleasant change.

My hip has been feeling somewhat better.  Annoyingly, now when I sit on my legs or cross them at the knee, I can feel it pulling on the sore spot on my hip.  So it gives me more incentive to not sit like that, but that doesn't mean I like it.  I went back to the chiropractor this week and he agrees that I'm doing better.  I'm not going back in for a month unless it starts to hurt again.

Saturday Kessa got to go to a neighbor's bday party.  (A boy!)  We took her shopping the night before and she picked out a large ball and a 5-pack of toy cars to give him.  Then on the way home cried because she wanted to keep them.  Haha.  We had to explain that we want to give people gifts that are really great.  Which often means we like those gifts, too.  So it's a good thing she likes them.  But we have to be happy when we give them to someone else.  That eventually pacified her.  She ended up having a fantastic time and came home so excited to tell us everything about it.

I got a break from ward conference this week!  We don't have them on Fast Sunday.  It was nice to get ready with the rest of the family AND come home with them.  We even walked to church today with the new double stroller your parents got us for Christmas.  So far we love it.  BJ played the piano for Primary as a substitute, so I went to Sunday School alone (and RS, of course).  I had some interesting thoughts. You're a missionary, so you might care, so I'll share.  Haha.

The Sunday School lesson was on Cain and Abel.  One point we talked about was how Cain was a tiller of the earth (aka farmer) and Abel raised flocks.  I sense there was probably competition between the two brothers for most of their lives.  Abel was the perfect child and Cain was more of a rebel, probably often getting into trouble.  And probably often being compared to Abel.  ("Why can't you just obey like Abel does?!")

Sacrifices were made using animals.  Cain didn't have animals.  He planted food and grew it.  So to get an animal to sacrifice to the Lord, he'd have had to go to his brother, Abel.  That had to have rubbed him the wrong way.  So one day Satan comes to him and tells him just to sacrifice his food.  I can just imagine the justification in Cain's mind.  "How come Abel's hard work is good enough for the Lord?  How come I can't sacrifice my hard work to him?  Isn't my best good enough?  Of course not.  Only Abel is good enough.  Is it wrong to want to grow food?  Is raising sheep the only good profession?  Psh."  So he sacrificed his food.

The point he missed though was that blood sacrifices were there for a reason.  They were a type and shadow of Christ.  They symbolized the blood that Christ would shed for us as the ultimate sacrifice.  It had nothing to do with favoritism between Cain vs. Abel.  But Cain, prideful and selfish, couldn't see past himself and his own rivalry to see the purpose of God.  We do that a lot, don't we?  We get so focused on ourselves and how something in the gospel affects us and how it's unfair that we forget to look for God's purpose.  Usually it has nothing to do with us.

Moving on to Relief Society.  The lesson was on Women and the Priesthood.  Now, you've probably missed most of this, but maybe you were around for part of it.  There's this movement right now of women who want the priesthood.  They stood in line to get into the Priesthood session at this past conference.  They've written letters to the First Presidency.  Most do the thing properly.  No riots.  Going through the right channels, etc.  (There are, of course, some vocal women who do damage.)  I can see their perspective.  The Bible Dictionary tells us that there are blessings he's willing to give us, but only if we ask.  So they're asking.  Not demanding.  Asking.

So this lesson was a highly charged one.  (Though, most of our class were senior women.  They make up 60% of the ward and most of the younger women we do have teach Primary or YW.  So it wasn't really *that* charged.)  It was based off a conference talk, though, so we spent most of the time quoting from that, which helped keep us on topic and from going off on self-righteous tangents.  Mostly it focused on how men don't control the priesthood, they channel it.  They can open the window, but they can't control where the sunlight goes or how warm it gets.  And we focused on how everyone in the church is equal in receiving the blessings of the priesthood.  Even priesthood holders have to seek out a priesthood holder to get a blessing, for example.

But I couldn't help but remember my thoughts from Sacrament meeting.  And I have to wonder... this movement, is it so focused on what women want that they're forgetting to look at God's purpose?  Specifically it made me wonder if, perhaps, men holding the priesthood is symbolic of Christ's ministry and works.  Blood sacrifices had to be the oldest male animal and without blemish.  Because Christ was the oldest, was male, and was without sin.  Could men holding the priesthood be symbolic of Christ, a male, doing good works with the priesthood?  I don't know.  I've never heard a church authority say as much.  But it did make me wonder.  Perhaps there's more to the decision of men holding the priesthood instead of women than just God thinking men are better.  Maybe it's more than just women can have babies and men can hold the priesthood.

Cain's hard work wasn't bad.  He could offer up the best of his work to the Lord by giving it to those in need.  Cain's food wasn't bad or lesser than Abel's animals.  However, the ordinance of sacrifice was not about what things are good or bad.  It was about Christ.  Same with the priesthood.  Women aren't bad.  They aren't lesser than men.  We are of equal worth to God.  But, perhaps, the priesthood isn't about men vs. women.  Maybe it's simply about symbology.

Anyway, that's my current speculation.  It's an interesting thought, anyway.

Speaking of churchy things, a couple of weeks ago I was doing some family history.  I'm convinced that there's actually no temple work left to do on my line.  Instead, my job is to find all the work that claims to be ready, then go through and prove how it's wrong.  "Nope, this person who needs work is actually a duplicate of this person who has had his/her work done already."  I do a lot of merging of duplicates.  And finding sources.  Anyway, I surprised myself by finding an entire family that legitimately needed their work done!  I spent hours cleaning them up, merging, sourcing, etc.  And then I reserved all the work.  16 or 17 cards to print and 42 ordinances!  I was so stoked.  And then... I realized they weren't really my family.  In my cleaning up I deleted a child that wasn't really their child.  But he was my ancestor.  And my link to that family.  When I deleted his relationship to that family, they suddenly ceased to be my family.  Which means I wasn't allowed to do all that work.  (Confirming my suspicions that my family has no work to be done.)  I was so heartbroken that I had to stop doing family history.  I just didn't have the heart.  It took me until today, after a talk with my stake family history consultant, to finally release those names and hope and pray that someday, someone related to them will come find them and be elated at the jackpot they found.

But in good news, I had the heart to start working on my own line again.  To prove to you the insanity on my line... I found a grandfather several generations back that claimed temple work needed to be done.  He supposedly had 13 kids, but I'm pretty sure that 6-ish of those are duplicates.  So I went and found a source for one daughter, Anne Marie, that proved her parentage and birth date.  I was pretty sure that one of her "siblings" was really a duplicate of hers, so I went to "Possible Duplicates" and found she had 10-11 duplicates!  I went through and confirmed that all but one really were duplicates.  Yipes.  In merging them, though, I gave her 5 more kids (all duplicates, but I haven't merged them yet) and 7 more husbands.  (All duplicates of her actual husband.)  So I decided to go merge the husbands.  So I went to the real guy and searched for possible duplicates... and found 11 possible duplicates!  Oh, I also gave her, I think, 3 more parents.  (All duplicates.)

Jessa, that is only on one of the 13 kids!  It's going to take me weeks of working for hours every day to fix this family.  [sigh]  It's insane.

I also found a duplicate in your family.  Grandpa Goddard was in their twice!  But I set BJ to fix it.  So BJ got to call your dad and teach him about duplicates and merging and such.  So that was fun.  :)

Oh, I also found a duplicate for my great aunt and her son... who are both living.  But listed as deceased.  I had to call my mom and be like, "I'm a horrible person in our family... but is Aunt Marlene dead?  She panicked a little, "No, why?!"  Thinking that maybe she had died, but no one had told my mom.  Haha.

Ok, let's get move on to kids for awhile.

Kessa is getting really into games.  She made us play Monopoly on the Monopoly table.  We simplified the rules a lot.  Like, we just handed out all the cards, didn't do hotels, etc.  Didn't collect $200 at Go.  And instead of charging the normal rent, we acted as though everything had one house on it.  And as we went forever doing it that way, we upped it to two houses.  Even then we finally just set a timer and said when it went off, we'd count up our money and see who won.  BJ won.  And then we had to teach a good-sportsmanship lesson, because Kessa was sad that she hadn't won.  But she calmed down really well.  But now she keeps asking if we can finish our game.  Hah!  She's also getting surprisingly good at Ticket to Ride.  She loves playing on the iPad and wins probably 85% of the time now!  If not more!  It's pretty amazing.

Abby continues in her diva ways.  Now when she washes her hands with soap, if we let her stay up too long, she'll start taking her wet hands and wiping the curls on the back of her head with them, saying, "Pretty hair!" the whole time.  Where does she come up with these things?!  She's also obsessed with chocolate (or rather, chwock-wet).  She knows where it is in the pantry (though, out of reach) and she'll stand there and yell, "Chocolate please!" until someone caves and gives her some.  Even if we successfully distract her temporarily with something else, food or otherwise, she'll always come back to it.

We took down the grateful tree, finally.  I cut out a bunch of hearts instead.  We're writing things we love on there and I told Kessa she could tape them anywhere on the wall she wanted.  In my head, I meant that section of the wall.  But she took me at my word and we now have hearts all over the place.  Though, we suggested she make a heart out of the hearts, so I think most of them have been gathered and put together to make the beginnings of a bigger heart.  Turns out, though, as I watch her spell phonetically, I'm again convinced that English is stupid.  Why is Mommy not Mome?  Why is Daddy not Dade?  Or Doggie, Doge?  Or Kitty, Kide?  It's adorable, so I let it slide, but if she knew she were spelling them wrong, she wouldn't be happy that we let it go.  She doesn't like to spell things wrong.  If she figures out that they're wrong, she makes us help her spell them correctly.  But then she gets confused when rules break.  Like she was writing "Swimming" and was confused why there was an i at the end when the vowel there clearly says e.  I had no good answer for her, except that lots of words like to break rules, so we just have to learn the sight words.  And anything that says "eeng" is really spelled -ing.  She accepted it, and moved on, but I hate those conversations.  "I don't know why.  Just because that's the way it is."  I like giving real answers.

In other news, we sold BJ's Honda.  The one he's had forever.  It needed repairs that would cost us more than the car was probably worth.  And a guy in our neighborhood, who happens to be a mechanic, offered to buy it from us.  He needed a car pretty desperately and he could fix it for cheaper (since he'd do the labor free for himself).  We figured BJ works at home and only drives it 1-2 times per month.  We are probably good candidates for a one-car family.  And this guy clearly needed it more than we did.  So we sold it.  Our garage is pretty empty.  But in good news, now we have ample stroller and lawn mower parking!  No more crazy maneuvers to get those things in and out!  We're toying with the ideas of either getting him a moped for the warmer months or investing in an electric car (that I would drive around town when I only have two kids with me).  The smog here is getting ridiculous, so we like the idea of electric/hybrid cars.  But they come with a hefty price tag. And where he doesn't commute, it's harder to justify.

Oh, and lastly, the girls are doing much better at going to sleep together.  It's definitely not perfect, but they're getting used to it.  Which makes our jobs easier. But Kessa is loving that her bedtime is pretty much indefinitely pushed back a half hour or more, in order to let Abby fall asleep first.  Though, I'm thinking that soon we'll stop that and just let them go to bed at the same time.  Especially as half the time Kessa ends up waking up Abby anyway, so we end up putting them back to bed at the same time.

And... I think that pretty much catches us up!

So... Kiddisms

  • This first one won't make much sense to you, as you haven't seen Frozen yet.  But just know that every other line (starting with the first) are lines from that and the other ones I can only imagine are from preschool:
    Kessa, singing while doing perler beads:
    I caaaan't!
    Who let the G out? Juh! Juh! Juh!
    Jinx. Jinx again!
    Who let the A out? A! A! A!
    I'm alone and free.
  • Me: you're a smartie!
    Kessa: No, I'm a cutie.
    Me: You're a cutie smartie.
    Kessa: Gooood point.  (Think how Nick says it.)

<3 Tianna and Co.