Monday, July 4, 2016

Pregnancy & Babyhood Articles I've Written

I've been writing for Baby Gaga, a pregnancy and babyhood site, for over a year now. It's been a while since I last updated you with the articles, and I no longer have this blog's Facebook page to post them. I get bonuses for the more views I get, so please read and share! It only takes a click. Tell me which one is your favorite or what topics you'd like me to write about! Thank you :)

100+ American Patriotic Baby Names

Problems Petite Women Face During Pregnancy

8 Things You Learn About Yourself Through Your Pregnancy

How to Come Through "Mommy Wars" Without a Scratch

7 Ways to Deal With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice From In-Laws

Friday, March 11, 2016

Why I, and Everyone, Can Relate to "Go Set a Watchman"

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird. When I heard that its relative, Go Set a Watchman, was to be published last year, I was very excited. I finally checked it out last month.

I had heard some rumors about the book painting Atticus in a completely different light and that it bothered people. First, it's important to remember that this book was written before Mockingbird and was published as is. Second, the seeming contradiction is exactly why I loved it.

I can relate so much to how Jean Louise (Scout) felt. I realized that although I'm no Southern gal nor a tomboy, I have much in common with her. We both are tied to the place where we grew up but do not fit in there nor desire to return permanently. We both grew up idolizing a family member only to have that image broken once we became an adult. 

At that time, it was very disappointing and hurtful for me (though not as crushing as it was for Jean Louise in the book). However, what I've since learned from personal study and therapy, and as this book expresses at the end, is that everyone is human, sometimes people change and sometimes we just don't see them how they really are, and we all need to establish our own personal identities separate from those we love and admire. These are truths to which everyone can relate.

Everyone Is Human

To be human means to be imperfect. It means to have weaknesses and to be inconsistent. Even the most noble of God's children are prone to make errors, even ones that may seem out of character for those people. I love how President Dieter F. Uchtdorf put it: "If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites." No one on earth lives up to 100 percent of his or her ideals 100 percent of the time. It's also important to remember that just because people are strong in one area--or many--doesn't mean they are perfect in all areas or don't have room to grow in their strengths. 

We may find this frustrating or upsetting, but as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland so wisely said (as he always does), "[Be] kind regarding human frailty . . . . Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we."

Can't argue with that. 

Humans Are Dynamic

Most people undergo changes throughout their lives as they go through new experiences and learn new ideas. Some changes are for the better, and some for the worse. Sometimes it happens quickly, but usually it happens slowly and undetected until all of a sudden it's noticeable and catches us by surprise. Either way, it's unfair and silly to expect others to always remain the same, especially for our own comfort.

On the other hand, sometimes it is our fault for not seeing people as they really are, whether that means putting someone on a pedestal from which to crash down when he or she deviates from our expectations, or being purposely deceived by others. Everyone agrees the latter is wrong, but so is the former. When people are perceived as being more saintly or wise than they really are, and they don't want to be perceived that way, it limits them. It doesn't allow them to be weak, wrong, or fallible, because when they are, they lose support or damage the feelings of those who looked up to them. (I feel this way sometimes with people who have put me on a pedestal and have only given me one direction in which to go: down.)

This is why the scriptures remind us not to rely on the "arm of the flesh." Humans progress and regress, and are therefore unreliable. The only beings who are always constant, unchanging, and steady are Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We can always depend on Them for love, help, and truth.

Humans Are Individuals

Jean Louise's uncle realizes that his niece's internal war isn't just about her father. It's also about her own identity. She had attached her identity to her father's, and now that she was discovering the two were not the same, she had to break free and become her own person. In this way, I relate to her the most.

It slowly began once I became a mother. Everything I had spouted out before that were things others had put into my head and I regurgitated. (It's how I got nothing below an A- my whole educational career. I learned to do and say what the teachers wanted me to do and say instead of actually understanding and applying the material. Not that that was always the case!) Then I began to be exposed to new ideas and practices. I read about them, tried them out, and decided they fit who I am and how I think, and more important, they worked for my children. Now the way I parent is by choice and not by expectation or habit (well, I try, anyway). 

I've experienced similar transformations in all my beliefs during my adult years. I've found that I do have particular political philosophies and that certain topics are more important to me than others. I've discovered some of my doctrinal understandings were incomplete or outright incorrect, whereas others I've come to comprehend even more fully than before. I've sorted through multiple ideas and behaviors into those which work for me and reflect who I am and those which do not, regardless of what others think or think I should think.

That last part is the most difficult. Not everyone is happy or supportive when you come into your own identity and establish your individuality. It takes courage to stand up for yourself. I remember during one therapy session, my therapist said he wished I would tell him sometime that what he was saying was "a load of BS." He wanted to see me be assertive and vocal about something instead of always agreeing. (In my defense, he has yet to say something that would necessitate such a strong response.) Similarly, Atticus is actually proud of Scout when she stands up to him.

Unfortunately, we don't always have such a positive outcome when we try to express our true selves. It's a shame, because that is the beauty of being a child of God. He somehow made each of His billions of children unique. It reminds me of snowflakes. I am left in wonder and awe that regardless of how much snow falls around the world year round, not a single snowflake is the same, nor ever will be. Each has the same basic structure and properties, but each also has its own design and beauty.

A Perfect Pair

Go Set a Watchman helped me understand To Kill a Mockingbird better and see it through an adult's eye instead of a child's. The characters weren't ruined for me, but magnified. I highly recommend you read it and see it for what it is: not a sequel (or prequel) to a book beloved worldwide, but a deeper look into what it means to be human.

Monday, February 29, 2016

My Little Romancer

My cute kindergartner, Caden, is turning out to be quite the little romancer. He is going to make a very sweet and thoughtful husband some day, as proven in the following stories.
  • Sometimes while we eat, the boys like to play "I Spy." One time, Caden said, "I spy something lovely that I love." Then he turned to me and revealed, "It's you!"
  • After tucking him in bed one night, he told me, "I can see you in my heart." Another time he said, "You make my heart smile."
  • Today I asked him who his best friend is. He thought about it for a second and then replied, "My best friend in the whole, entire world is you! I love you in the entire world!"
  • One Sunday after church, I decided to nap on the couch while Gabe was asleep and Caden was coloring. Thinking I was already asleep, Caden put a blanket on me, tucked me in, whispered, "Nice and warm," stroked my cheek, and kissed my head. 
Except for the tucking in part, I don't say things like that to him, so this all happens on his own! He is so adorable. I love him so much.

Earlier this month, his school had a mother-son dinner and dance for Valentine's Day. I told Justin this was his chance to teach Caden, although only five, how to prepare for and treat a date. Justin took the boys to the store, where he picked out chocolate for me and Caden picked out flowers. Then Justin got Caden ready. When we were both done, Caden gave me my gifts. 

The dance was at a local Italian restaurant. We shared a table with one of Caden's classmates and his mother. First, we danced a little. Although not very many people came, the ones that did come danced, even the older boys. Then we had a spaghetti dinner, followed by a mother-son slow dance (this did not go as well as I had hoped because Caden wanted to dance goofy or have me hold him the whole time). 

The remaining time the boys chased each other and had a balloon fight. 

We ended with all the mothers dancing the Electric Slide, which made me feel old. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening, and I loved having the alone time with Caden. I want to take him on another date soon!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"A Princess Story" Book Review

Have you ever wanted to be a princess? Or just to feel like royalty or experience an adventure? There's something about princesses and fairy tales that we're naturally drawn to, whether it's good defeating evil or having a happily ever after.

In the book A Princess Story: The Real-Life Fairy Tale Found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Jaci Wightman explains why we feel this way and how we truly are princesses in a very real fairy tale of our own. She reveals how the plan of salvation fits the story line of a typical fairy tale and who all the main characters are.

*It explores deep topics while remaining easy to read.
*It relies heavily on scripture and other authoritative gospel sources.
*It encourages action. The book isn't just informative, but also inviting. The purpose is to get us to see the gospel in a new perspective and understand its direct involvement in our lives. Sister Wightman provides questions to ask ourselves, gives additional references to read and study, and recommends keeping a journal of spiritual discoveries while reading.

*None so far. I admit, I haven't finished it yet.

For more information on the book and author, visit this website.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Strawberry Jude HandGrown Stamp Set Review & Giveaway

When I first started my Etsy shop years ago, I met fellow seller Jewel Charsley of Strawberry Jude HandGrown. She made a gorgeous painting inspired by my shop name and designed graphics for my shop for web and print use. She is a very talented artist!

Jewel recently released a cling stamp line in her shop. She decided to fill a need she noticed in stamping designs and came up with these three unique sets so far:

"Joy to the World" (Christmas)

"Don't Forget Church" (church planner)

"Note It: Conference" (LDS general conference)

I received the Conference set to review.

*I love the words and symbols she chose to represent the theme.
*The set came with directions, which I appreciated since it was my first time using cling stamps.
*The stamps come out clear, clean off easily, and maintain their stickiness.
*The set is packaged nicely and shipped Priority Mail to ensure it reaches you quickly and safely.
*The stamps are versatile and not limited to their theme.
*Jewel is a pleasure to do custom orders with. She is very accommodating and patient.


One of you lucky readers will get to win a stamp set of your choice! This giveaway is open to the U.S. only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 2, 2015

Little Victoria Design Jewelry Review

A few months ago, I featured the Etsy shop Little Victoria Design. The seller, Carol, sent me some jewelry as a thank you. I meant to review it shortly thereafter, but it never happened. Well, what she sent me worked great for Halloween, so I wore it a lot last month!

I received the above necklace with a matching bracelet, as well as two wide elastic hair ties/bracelets, one neon orange and the other baby pink. I wore the set with my "Nothing scary 'bout the Holy Ghost" shirt from The Covenant Gear.

*Carol is so sweet and generous! You can tell she puts a lot of thought and love into her pieces.
*The style is simple and classic.
*The jewelry is comfortable to wear. I usually avoid bracelets because I have a small wrist, but this one didn't bother me.
*I like that the hair ties double as bracelets. So much cuter than wearing a regular elastic band!

*Not a huge fan of bright/neon colors, but there lots of other lovely colors in her shop.

Check out Little Victoria Design for more darling and unique pieces!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Papa's Book of Mormon Christmas" Book Review

Are you looking for a new addition to your collection of children's or family Christmas books? If you are, then you will love Papa's Book of Mormon Christmas by Emma Rae Parker. It's about a loving grandpa sharing with his little granddaughter his special appreciation for and connection to the Book of Mormon, especially during certain Christmases in his life.

*The story is very cute and touching, and the characters are charming.
*The illustrations are colorful and adorable.
*It's an easy read and just the right length for both young and older children.
*It balances the secular and spiritual sides of Christmas.

*When I first read it, I thought it was based on a true story. I was disappointed to find out it was fictional. It's still a beautiful story, though, that brings the Spirit and focuses on the amazing gift the Book of Mormon is to us.

I recommend making this book a part of your holiday traditions! (Note: I didn't read the story yet to my kids, ages 5 and 2, because I want to save it for Christmas, but I know they'll love it.)
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