Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TFOT: Grateful in Any Circumstances

Sometimes I think I might need to be released from my calling as a Relief Society teacher. It's not that I don't love it, I actually really do. But it seems like every time it's my week to teach, everything hits the roof during the week. And it's usually something related to the topic.

This week was no different. The assigned topic was Grateful in Any Circumstances from Dieter F. Uchtdorf. All joking aside, I am so glad to have this calling and the lessons I learn from it - it really helped me find some peace amidst the puke and crying that was last week.

And it's perfect for Thanksgiving. A wonderful reminder that we should live each day in the spirit of gratitude.

Grateful in Any Circumstances by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The beginning of his talk focuses on life’s extreme challenges.
Quote #1: “Often their grief is caused by what seems to them as an ending. Some are facing the end of a cherished relationship, such as the death of a loved one or estrangement from a family member. Others feel they are facing the end of hope—the hope of being married or bearing children or overcoming an illness. Others may be facing the end of their faith, as confusing and conflicting voices in the world tempt them to question, even abandon, what they once knew to be true. Sooner or later, I believe that all of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift. It can happen to anyone. No one is immune.”


Quote #2: “Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful!”

Quote #3: “It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”

Pres. Uchtdorf points out that we are COMMANDED to be grateful, throughout the scriptures:
  • “thank the Lord [our] God in all things,”
  • “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,”
  • “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.”

Why? Why are we commanded to be grateful?
  • All of His commandments are given to make blessings available to us. Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness.

  • At the end of the day, what are we thankful for?
  • The song tell us to “count our blessings.” Who does this? How does it make you feel?

Prayers of gratitude - One sister shared a story about being challenged to pray for 45 minutes straight and do nothing but express gratitude. She said it was hard and she's not going to do it every day, but it was an incredibly amazing experience.

Pres. Uchtdorf wants us to expand on the "count your blessings" idea. He says: “Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. “

Quote #4: “It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.”

What does this mean to you?
Pres. Uchtdorf asks How can we be grateful when it seems that what we want is out of reach?
  • He suggests “gratitude as a disposition, a way of life independent of situation.” Someone want to explain that?

Pres. Uchtdorf points to many scriptural examples of being grateful even in times of extreme trial. Can you name them?
  • Nephi - When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore “they had swollen exceedingly,” and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. “Nevertheless,” Nephi said, “I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.
  • Job - We can choose to be like Job, who seemed to have everything but then lost it all. Yet Job responded by saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return … : the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
  • Pioneers - We can choose to be like the Mormon pioneers, who maintained a spirit of gratitude during their slow and painful trek toward the Great Salt Lake, even singing and dancing and glorying in the goodness of God. Many of us would have been inclined to withdraw, complain, and agonize about the difficulty of the journey.
  • Joseph Smith - We can choose to be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, while a prisoner in miserable conditions in Liberty Jail, penned these inspired words: “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”

Quote #5: When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

I think this is really hard to accomplish. One of those things that you and I can sit here and say “yes, I really should do that.” But how do you do it, when you’re in the middle of it?
  • One sister pointed out that it's all about perspective. She shared the story of a mission president and his wife who had recently started their call in South America. It had been raining since their arrival and the roof was not holding well. The sweet sister had been running around her house all day trying to put buckets to catch water streaming through the holes. She couldn't call anyone to help because she didn't speak the language. Her husband came home to find her in tears and frustrated. He put his arm around her and said "Let's laugh about this now." Exasperated she asked "what?!" and he said "well, in a few years I know we will look back on this and laugh. So why don't we just laugh now?"

I love this quote from Pres. Uchtdorf. One of my favorites from this entire session.
Quote #6: “We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?”

Pres. Uchtdorf says “Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God.” I’m kind of having a hard time to wrap my head around that. What does this mean?
  • True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.
  • In times of trial, I was especially grateful for the Atonement for comforting and sustaining me. I was grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel giving me an eternal perspective, that the trial would not be forever. I did not love the trial, but I loved that through it and during it I felt closer to my heavenly father because I needed him more acutely. I guess that’s what Pres. Uchtdorf meant? That’s my interpretation anyway.

A bit of a long quote, but it really helps to clarify exactly what he means:
Quote #7: “When the Apostles recognized the risen Christ—when they experienced the glorious Resurrection of their beloved Savior—they became different men. Nothing could keep them from fulfilling their mission. They accepted with courage and determination the torture, humiliation, and even death that would come to them because of their testimony.12 They were not deterred from praising and serving their Lord. They changed the lives of people everywhere. They changed the world. You do not need to see the Savior, as the Apostles did, to experience the same transformation. Your testimony of Christ, born of the Holy Ghost, can help you look past the disappointing endings in mortality and see the bright future that the Redeemer of the world has prepared.“

Remember at the beginning, Pres. Uchtdorf noted that so many of our trials seem to spring from endings. He circles back to that to emphasize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we are not made for endings.

Quote #8: “In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.”

Pres. Uchtdorf encourages to live in thanksgiving daily. He closes by saying: “How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


There is nothing worse than a sick kid. And this one lasted such a long time. I felt so badly that I couldn't make her feel better.
So we spent most of our days cuddling on the couch watching Pooh or George.
How is this a comfortable way to watch tv??
She just looks so sad. Can't stand it.
I swear she didn't eat a thing for five straight days. I kept offering her different bland, starchy things to try and tempt her. As you can see, my offerings were not acceptable.
And yet, she still found enough in her to throw up all over me three times in HEB and once in Home Depot (different days). Lots of extra baths last week...
And yet... still manages to take her clothes off during nap time. 
Thankfully, as of last night she was smiley and ready to play again
Mom's shoes are always a great toy.
Until you can't walk and tip over!

She did this all last night. Who needs toys when daddy drags you on a blanket?

My cousin's dog is staying with us while they are away for Thanksgiving. Em is obsessed with him. She was so sad she had to go to bed last night and kept sobbing "puuuuppppy, puuuuppppy" over and over. I couldn't stop laughing.

So glad to see that beautiful smile back.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Holiday Card Collection


Today I am so excited (and yes, a little nervous) to launch my first set of Holiday Cards! You can check them out on the new SHOP page.
See these and 16 others in the SHOP
To celebrate, my sweet friend Karina is hosting a giveaway on her blog, Mr. and Mrs. Powell, where you can win one of these for free! Head on over there to enter. Good luck!
Enter to win at Mr and Mrs Powell

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A peek at our week

Oh, just a lil of this and a lil of that.

It has been so cold and rainy lately. Perfect for cuddling in bed and watching Curious George. I am loving it.
She found this hat my grandmother made her when she was a baby. It's a little snug lately but she has loved wearing it around the house. That cheesy grin!

A new fun thing of hers lately is doing this little happy dance while she eats. She is definitely my child.
Saturday she took a super long, super late nap. I didn't mean for it to happen, but I fell asleep, too. I woke up at 5:30 going "well, crap. bedtime is not happening." So we went to the outlet mall. Yay for late night shenanigans...
She has become very aware of our dogs lately. She has learned to say "puppies" and she wants to love on them all the time.
The fat one is responding well. I don't love the mouth kisses.
We get loopy when we're tired. Also... dog photo bomb FTW.
This guy. We love him. He recently passed the bar (WOOOOOO!) and was sworn in today. Em was soooo happy to have him in town. He's one of her favorite people. Congrats, we are so proud of you.
12 years ago today we went on our first date. We celebrated (how else?) with burgers and milkshakes at Hopdoddy's. It's been a good 12 years :)
And now there are three. Perfect :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mama Monday: Baby signs

One of the hardest things about becoming a mom is trying not to compare your baby to other babies. You hear "Every baby is different" over and over and it's true. And you know this. But it still doesn't keep you from having a minor panic attack when your child can speak two words and her same-age little play buddy recites Shakespeare (ok, he doesn't really, but it's coming. I can tell).

Punkito is a remarkably quiet child. She doesn't talk much. She didn't babble or coo much when she was itty bitty. She doesn't try to mimic our sounds. By her 18-month appointment, she had maybe five words.

But we know she understands. She processes everything and responds correctly. She just chooses not to try to talk, for whatever reason. And it has lead to some frustration, because she clearly knows what she wants and why the heck can't her stupid parents figure it out???

A friend suggested we try some baby basic sign language. We were absolutely shocked by how fast she picked it up. After showing her just a few times, she now uses five of them regularly and those five can pretty much communicate all her needs to us.

If you couldn't hear me in the video, her five main signs are "more," "eat" (or "food"), "drink," "milk" and "all done." Yes, I'm aware she does not sign "drink" correctly, but this is how she is able to do it and I know what it means and so it serves its purpose. She's not working on a degree here, folks. Just wants some water.

When we decided to try it, I searched the web for some basic baby signs and came across this list from Babble. I found the pictures and descriptions pretty clear. I recommend it as a good starting point. We started with "more" and she got the hang of it after just a few tries. It's her most used sign and it applies to everything. Anything she wants more of - books, food, drinks, swinging, anything. It's great. As she learned the basic signs, she's also starting to associate them with words, too. We realized she is actually saying "eat," we just didn't know that's what it was. Along with the sign, we can hear and recognize it now.

We have moved on to some videos that we borrowed from a friend called Baby Signing Time. The Ems is just fascinated by them. I can put one on while I'm making dinner and she will watch and learn while I cook. The main lady annoys the heck out of me, but the signs are clear, the repetition is obviously useful, and Em loooooves looking at all the babies and listening to the songs. She hasn't started doing any of the new signs yet, but I have a feeling she's perfecting them in her head and she's going to bust out with all of them any day now.

Overall, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience for us and I wish we would have started with her sooner. Next kid's getting started right out of the womb. Bam.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Love list: Shoes and Books

1. Finally - Freshly Picked!
You may have seen a couple months ago that I entered a contest over and over and over again. Well... it was worth it! We won!! And so got a free pair of Freshly Picked moccs that I have been dyyyyyiiiing to have. They got lost in the mail and I was devastated. But miracle of miracles... they arrived last night! And we are so in love with them. She started squealing and running back and forth across the house. Even though she doesn't usually wear shoes in the house, she has been wearing these nonstop. Who wants to buy her 500 more pairs, one in every color?

2. New boots
Remember how I've been drooling over new boots for like, ten years? I finally got some, thanks to my sweet godmother! You like-y? They're from DSW, Bare Traps Striking. They're a little wider, just the right height, so comfy and warm. The search is over, folks!
Hmmmm... I couldn't find a good picture of just the boots, but this is them!
3. Where the Wild Things Are
And we have a new favorite. Any time I can't find my kiddo, she's hiding in her bedroom looking through this book and babbling to herself. I love it!! Any time we ask her if she wants to read, she nods and takes off running to her reading chair. So cute!

4. Fault in Our Stars
Oh my stars. Am I the last person to see this? I have been dying to see it but never made it to the theaters. We finally got around to seeing it once it hit Redbox and I'm so glad we did. I'm actually not a huge fan of Shailene Woodley (I run hot and cold. Sometimes I love her. Sometimes she's just meh) and I don't think Ansel Elgort is very attractive. And let's be real, he was stiff as a board in Divergent so I thought he couldn't act. So I was pleasantly surprised by how well both of them did! I really loved how they played their characters. And while I didn't cry reading the book (ok, one line. By Hazel's mother), I sobbed through the last half of the movie. So good! If you haven't seen it yet, you should. Did great justice to a wonderful book.

5. Gone Girl
Ugh, I did it again. That thing where I get sucked into a book and stay up waaaaayyyyy too late because I just *have* to finish it. The first 150 pages or so I was like, "Hey, this is interesting, but I'm not sure what the hype is about." And then it got SO. GOOD. Dark. Twisty. Brilliant. I'm hesitant to recommend it though - it was a little too graphic for my taste. It's a fantastic book, so long as you can stomach that stuff. Just don't get sucked in at midnight. Your toddler will make sure to wake up extra early the next day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Well, that was fun.

Punkito has a new skill.
I went in to get her from her nap the other day and found a very proud half-naked baby. At the time I just thought it was cute.

But the next morning was our own little Halloween horror story (a week late). Hans went in to get her up and she was completely naked and covered in blood! Poor thing seems to have a little rash and after she took off her clothes she scratched herself until she bled. There was blood all over her crib, bedding, stuffed animals - everywhere. It was so sad.

Now we are sitting with her 'til she's asleep to make sure the clothes stay on. She's getting lots of warm oatmeal baths and topical creams.
But this pretty much sums up our week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mama Monday: Christmas wish list

Warning: This post is probably not Emily Post-approved.

It's barely November and I've already had a few people ask me for gift ideas for The Ems for Christmas. We have a few standby answers - books are ALWAYS a good choice - but decided to ditch "proper etiquette" and go for something we found a tad more helpful.

Which leads me to.... Amazon Wish Lists. Have you heard of this? Do you have one? If you have an Amazon account, they have a feature to create a gift wish list - for yourself or for your child.
We have been doing this for a while and have found that it makes gift giving a lot easier. It means that we can include not just "books" as a general idea, but some specific ones that she might like and, more importantly, doesn't already own. It also helps keep track of whether a specific gift has already been purchased, so you don't getting the same set of awesome blocks from the Uncle and the Great Grandmother (they are totally the best blocks and we love them, you guys are great gift-givers!)
To make a wish list, go to and select "Create a Wish list" from the drop down menu in the top right corner. 
You can make it for yourself or your child, add a birthday, and decide who can see it. You can make it searchable (using your email address or name) or you can make it so that you have to invite people to see it.
Then whenever you're signed in to Amazon, you can add things to your wish list by select the appropriate list from the drop down underneath the "add to cart" box on the right-hand side.
Another great thing about it is that you aren't limited to including things only sold on Amazon. Using the Universal Wish List button you can add items from any website.
You only have to do this once to be able to add items from anywhere. Go to that same top right corner drop down menu and pick "Save Items from the Web" 
This screen pops up. You click on that button and drag it to your tool bar. See mine up there in the top left next to apps?
Then whenever you are browsing and you see an item you want to add, you just click on that button in your tool bar. A dialogue box pops up that lets you pick which picture, enter details such as price and your comments (color, size, etc) and then you can add it!
To find someone's list, you just search for them by name or email address. It looks like child lists can be found by searching for the parent, so I guess you'd have to know which parent manages the list.
Another thing I love is that once you find the person's list, you can "remember" it so that it shows up in the same menu as your list. It'll even remind you before their birthday!

I think there's a lot of pros and cons to using a wish list. On the one hand, I feel like it looks a little greedy or expectant. It takes a lot of the surprise out and can possibly lead to less "thoughtful" gift giving. On the other hand, it can really help someone who might otherwise be stumped, it makes sure you end up with gifts the kiddos really want and/or need and don't already have, and it cuts down on duplicates.
In the end, we decided that the pros outweigh the cons for us. I really like it when I can go to my dad or brother's wish list and find something that I know they really want. I don't have to spend so much time agonizing over what to get them and then it maybe not being the right size or something that doesn't match their tastes. I figured if I appreciate having gift ideas for them, then providing one for Ems (and myself) can't be a bad idea. What are your thoughts? Would you do a wish list? Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 Fall Conference Printables Part II

Let's call this post "better late than never." I finally got around to finishing up printables from the Sunday session of General Conference last month. As always, you are welcome to use these however you see fit (just don't pretend they are yours ;)).

2014 October General Conference printables (all 13 as a PDF)
Thomas S. Monson (jpg)
M. Russell Ballard (jpg)
Henry B. Eyring (jpg)
Larry S. Kacher (jpg)
Robert D. Hales (jpg)
Hugo E. Martinez (jpg)
Carol F. McConkie (jpg)
James J. Hamula (jpg)
David A. Bednar (jpg)
Russell M. Nelson (jpg)
Carlos A. Godoy (jpg)
Richard G. Scott (jpg)
Allan F. Packer (jpg)