Life with Three Kids

LHM_6549 kids

Picture by Lavon Maiersperger. Aren’t they cute??

Since having Maeli 6 weeks ago I’ve been frequently asked what it’s like to have 3 kids.  This was my day today-

Woke up to get Sam ready for school. Laid out all his clothes and then went to get myself ready. Came back 10 minutes later to find Sam still with no pants on just wandering about his room. Get him dressed. Downstairs for breakfast. Sam wants a smoothie and oatmeal. While I”m making his food, Danny wanders downstairs and says he’s going to stay with Eric while I go to my doctor’s appointment. Just as I’m about to walk out the door he changes his mind and wants to come with me. Run through the house to find him some pants, a fresh diaper, shoes and a coat. Put all three kids in the car, race to the bus stop – we’re too late. Also, the van is almost out of gas and I don’t have my wallet. Run back to the house, get my wallet and some other things I’d forgotten.  Get back out to the car and Maeli is screaming because she hates being in the car when it’s not moving.

Take Sam to school, drop him off just minutes before the bell rings. Head over to Smith’s to fill the van with gas. While pumping notification on my phone pops up that my doctor’s appointment is in 10 minutes – I’m at least 15 minutes away. Finish fueling, hop in the van.  Maeli is screaming again.  Drive to the doctor’s.  Arrive about 15 minutes late.  Have my appointment – everything looks great and I’ve lost 18 lbs since the beginning of the year! Best. diet. ever. 😉 Finish at the doctor’s, Danny keeps asking why they were shining a light on my bum.

Go out to the van and fight to get Danny into his carseat again. Waffle for a little bit and finally decide to be brave and finally take some returns from Christmas back to Macy’s (by some I mean about $200 worth of clothes from Black Friday sales). Danny won’t go through the door I open and insists on opening his own different door. Sales lady comes out to help him and looks at me like I’m being neglectful or mean. Go to take the returns back and find out that I have to take the specific items to their department. I only have items from 2 departments, but still, not the easiest to work with. Make my returns. As we’re leaving Danny insists that we go get french fries. I decide to make that deal with the devil… I mean, my son… and we head out to the car without too much more problem. Hit up Burger King on the way home and get a large order of fries. As soon as we’re through the drive thru he starts saying “no! I want a soda too!” Too late kid. Then the plea is for ice cream. *sigh* Finally about half way up the mountain he’s figured out that he’s not getting anything extra and asks for the french fries. Give him the french fries. Reaction? “No, lots of!” Good heavens! Tell him to suck it up.

Get home. Realize that Danny’s still in his PJs with his cowboy boots on. His sweatpants have made their way up to his knees. He looks like an orphan. This is how we’ve been out in public all morning – awesome. Also find that Sam drank about 3 sips of his smoothie. Danny proceeds to carry the smoothie around the house. Tell him to take it back to the table. He goes back… but then decides to walk around the kitchen with it. Slips on the floor and gets smoothie all over the floor, the back window and the curtains. Exactly what I was trying to avoid.

It’s time to go pick up Sam. Decide it’s a nice enough day that we can walk to the park. Leave Maeli with Eric and let Danny ride Sam’s bike to the park.  Carry Danny’s bike so we don’t have the problem of Sam not having a bike.  Get to the park just in time to see Sam get off the bus.  Confiscate Sam’s bike from Danny so that Sam can ride it.  Give Danny his bike.  Huge fit.  Tell Danny I’m going to ride his bike instead.  Go back and forth between me threatening to ride the bike, Danny riding the bike, Danny walking the bike, Danny throwing a fit for about a block.  Finally Danny decides to ride the bike.  The boys want to go to the scenic overlook on the way home.  Danny insists on riding in the mud close to the edge of the dropoff – just to give me gray hairs.  Get home.

Tell the boys we’re going in for lunch.  Danny is adamant that he’s still riding his bike.  Threaten to put the bike in timeout.  Argue with Danny.  Danny keeps faking me out that he’s coming in, and then whines again.  Danny falls off bike and is very mildly hurt.  Carry bike into garage while Danny is still sad about the bike.  Have lunch.

Get the last few forms to finish off our taxes.  Let the boys play on the tablets while finishing filing taxes.  Taxes filed – WOOT!  Realize it is now 4pm and still need to go to the grocery store.  Take another hour to finalize list, and decide that Danny is coming to the store and Maeli and Sam are staying with Eric.  Move carseats so we can take the Corolla instead of the van.  Danny fights over whether I buckle him or if he buckles himself (he says he wants to do it but won’t).  Run in for something I forgot.  Come back out and Danny is furious that he can’t reach his door handle.  Re-engage child lock on his door.  Drive as far as the park with him mad at me.  Put state returns in mail box and get mail.  Got the CD of proofs from our recent family photos – yay!!

Drive to Smith’s with Danny mad for most of the way.  Park in the parking lot.  Danny fell asleep – crap.  Unbuckle him and stand him up outside the car.  He’s still mostly asleep.  It’s pretty funny to see.  Make him walk into the store half-asleep.  There are no more shopping carts with cars.  Let him grab a small cart and walk towards the other entrance to check if there’s a car cart there.  Try to direct Danny’s cart.   Danny is mad that I would dare touch his cart.  Stop at the pharmacy to get a prescription.  Continue to other entrance still praying there’s a car cart – there isn’t.  Boo.  Go through the store with Danny with a little shopping cart and me with a big one.  Feel like a broken record.  “Danny, stay near me.  Watch out for other people.  No we’re turning down this aisle.”  Have lots of coupons and random items on the list.  Takes longer than usual.  Heading towards checkout and realize it’s after 6:30pm and we haven’t had dinner yet.  Grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Checkout.  Danny keeps trying to go through cashier’s station.  Find out he wants stickers.  He gets some.  Puts one right on the top of my leg.  Decide not to fight it.

Out to the parking lot.  More pleas for Danny to stay near me.  Put all the groceries in the car.  Danny still has his cart and is spinning in circles, just to give me a panic attack.  Get groceries into car – probably have smashed things that don’t want to be smashed but mostly want to get finished so Danny isn’t in the parking lot anymore.  Remember there are plastic bags in the trunk.  Take them back to the store when we return the carts – win!  Out to the car again.  Danny fights over buckles again.  Drive home.

It’s after 7pm.  Send Sam to get ready for bed.  Bring groceries in.  Try to get perishables put away before dinner.  Maeli is hungry.  Sit down to feed her. Turn dinner prep over to Eric.  Eric finds missed perishables – doh!  Maeli’s done eating.  Eat food quickly while she swings.  Finish just before she starts to be mad.  Hold her while continuing to referee boys.  Eric has an important business call.  Trying to keep the boys volume down while holding Maeli and trying to get them to finish their food.  Eric retreats from his downstairs office up to the master bedroom – we failed.  Boys finish eating.

Sam gets a story for bedtime.  Read it to the kids while Maeli is angry at me.  Finish the story.  Danny wants another.  Send him up to pick one out.  Try to make Maeli happier.  Realize Danny’s been gone for awhile and that Eric is still upstairs on his call.  Dash upstairs. Find Eric reading the story to Danny.  Danny came in just as Eric’s call finished – phew.  Time for scriptures.  Sam reads 3 verses on his own – his reading is getting pretty impressive!  Read the rest of the chapter aloud.  Eric has put Maeli to sleep – hooray!  It’s Danny’s turn to pray.  Debate with him about whether he’s praying or not.  Danny finally prays… or something.  Prayer involves lots of random stories about imaginary friends.  Decide to go with it and just say amen.

Time for Sam’s pre-bed game.  Sam plays one level with Eric and then up to bed.  Go lay down with him.  He wants to play a couple levels with me.  Start the levels.  After the first level Danny comes in, throws lightswitch rave.  Finally disable wall switch by pulling cord on the light from the fan.  Take that Danny.  Boys get rowdy.  Threaten remove Danny.  Boys settle down and snuggle for 8 seconds.  Danny is getting rowdy again.  Take him downstairs much to the dismay of both boys. Eric’s turn to snuggle Sam.  Danny follows with promises of piety.  They finish snuggling.  Danny comes downstairs with Eric.

Maeli’s mad again.  Give Danny the option of snuggling with Mom or Dad while watching Olympics – Dad is chosen.  Strap Maeli into BabyBjorn – still mad.  Take her out.  Change her diaper – it’s slightly wet.  Feed her a little more.  Back into the BabyBjorn.  Still mad, but less so.  Watch Olympics for about 30 minutes.  Eric decides it’s time for him to go to bed.  Eric takes Danny up to bed with him.  Watch some Men’s Figure Skating.  Maeli asleep-ish.  Eat a snack.  Write this post.  Time to collapse into bed.

I’m sure that sounds super negative, it really wasn’t a terrible day.  I got lots done!  I went to the doctor’s, made some returns that have been hanging over my head for a long time, filed our taxes, made a huge grocery run, got our meal plans figured out for the next week and wrote in my blog!  And all that on top of my normal basic tasks – getting kids to school, feeding everyone, getting kids to bed.  Honestly, it was a pretty successful day.  But I’m definitely tired, tomorrow will be much less ambitious for sure 🙂  So, that’s sorta what it’s like to have 3 kids.

The Pain of Sin

One of my friends posted this article on Facebook today.  I didn’t get through reading all of it because as I got through the first few sections I had so many thoughts flooding my mind that I needed to stop reading and finish my own pondering.  In particular this is what she said that really stuck out to me –

In my religion, we classify these decisions as “sins” but I’m going to use a different word. I want you to see sin differently. That is the reason I am being open and honest about this. Let’s talk about sin in a more realistic way. Sin is Pain. Over the past four years  I decided to put myself through a lot of pain. This pain kept me from the temple; a place where I found so much peace and all of a sudden I was not allowed to go inside, let alone publicly pray in my own congregation… Sin really is pain. It causes pain. So let’s be more compassionate about how we look at pain because most of us are feeling a lot of it and it’s hard to find that motivation and love for ourselves so that we can allow the pain to heal and go away

I really liked her modified definition of sin as being pain.  I think too often as a church we tend to think of sin as bad things that people do that are detrimental to others.  But the truth is that most sin is most harmful to the person committing the sin, not to anyone else.  There’s a scripture that I stumbled upon several years ago that has changed my view of the gospel.  It was Doctrine & Covenants 59:4 and it reads (with my added emphasis) –

And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.

When I read that I think my jaw literally dropped.  Crowned with commandments?  Wait, you mean like the commandments are something we should want in our lives?  The whole idea up front seemed absurd to me.  Commandments were things we were told to do or not to do, they restrict us and make our life difficult.  The whole challenge of life is to keep the commandments and that’s hard… isn’t that the point?  Suddenly though I understood the commandments differently.  We don’t get blessed for keeping the commandments – the commandments themselves are the blessing.  I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, but after reading this it seemed so obvious.  Of course the commandments are blessings!  What are we taught in 2 Nephi 2:25?

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

If God’s whole purpose is to help us to obtain a fullness of joy then it makes perfect sense that the commandments are meant to bring us joy, not to restrict us or cause us pain.  I guess in some sense I’d understood that.  I knew that I was happiest when I kept the commandments.  I knew that the results of the commandments made me happy but I hadn’t made the connection that it was directly the commandments that made me happy.  I guess I’m really thick but that took me awhile to really understand.

I was thinking on that with an experience that my little brother is going through right now.  In the last few years he’s made some choices that have not always been in keeping with the teachings of the church.  I don’t want to share too much of his story because I don’t feel it’s mine to tell, but as a result he eloped a couple years back and wasn’t able to be sealed to his wife on his wedding day or have a traditional wedding.  However, in the time since then he and his wife have worked together and gotten themselves to a place where they are going to be able to be sealed in a couple of weeks.  Since they didn’t have any sort of traditional wedding the first time around my parents have decided to celebrate their sealing day like they would have liked to have celebrated their wedding day under different circumstances.  We’ll be going as a family to the temple, taking pictures, and having a reception-like party in the evening.  Whatever you’d expect as part of a regular wedding celebration we’re trying to do for their sealing, because this choice and the journey they’ve made is a big deal.

I’ve heard the attitude this is inappropriate.  That they missed out on that opportunity to have a reception because they chose to elope and that this is *not* a wedding and we shouldn’t be treating it like it is.  I think these people don’t understand this concept of sin as being pain.  Yes, I felt slighted to not be a part of my brother’s wedding the first time around.  But you know who was really caused the most pain from that decision?  My brother, not me.  His decision didn’t take anything away from my wedding day with Eric, or make it so that our experience of being celebrated on that day was any less.  His decision didn’t take away from the way that I was able to start my marriage with eternal covenants with the man I love.  The decisions and sacrifices I made to do things the “right” way the first time around have brought me JOY, and lots of it.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  He only took those things away from him himself.  There are plenty of ways that he has already cheated himself and had to go through a lot of pain to get to the place that he is right now.  You know who knows that best?  My brother.  So, now that he’s gone through all of that pain and suffering, why would I want to deny him any part of the blessings that I was able to enjoy?

Why do we insist on the attitude of the righteous brother from the parable of the prodigal son?  He chose to remove himself from the celebration because it wasn’t fair that his father was celebrating his unrighteous son’s return in a flashier way than the steady righteousness of his other son.  But what do we learn in that parable from the Savior himself?  In Luke 15:31-32 we hear the response of the father –

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The righteous son hadn’t missed out on any blessings, he already had all that his father had.  But for some reason he felt slighted that his father would celebrate the other son’s return to the fold.  I think many of us still hold that same attitude.  I think as a church, and as people in general we need to stop thinking that we need to punish people for their sins, or make them realize what they missed out on.  We need to realize that sin *is* its own consequence.  God doesn’t need us to judge people or make them feel less than worthy, he needs us to love each other and celebrate when we do something right.  In President Uchtdorf’s most recent conference address he extended this invitation:

To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.

I think the subtext to those who have been faithful members in the church is – make that place.  Do everything in your power to make those who haven’t always been on the straight and narrow feel loved, accepted and welcomed.  Do not make them feel ostracized for the things they’ve done wrong – they already know!  No one in this church, or on this world for that matter, is perfect.  So don’t feel like you need to make it any worse for someone because of their particular failings.  You know your own shortcomings and I doubt anyone needs to tell you of the pain they cause you.  So please don’t exacerbate anyone else’s pain by making them feel unworthy of the blessings they’ve worked so hard for.  It may not be the same way that you got there but it doesn’t make their journey any less valid.  In the words from another favorite talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?

The next time you feel slighted because someone is getting a blessing that you feel maybe they don’t deserve or haven’t worked or sacrificed for the way you did, I want you to apply President Uchtdorf’s iconic advice from Conference of April 2012

 Stop it!

Choose to love others and to be grateful for the commandments that you’ve been blessed to keep.  Be grateful that you didn’t have to go through the pain of sin that others have had to go through, and rejoice for those who have made their way back into the fold.

Mooooother I love you, Moooooother I doooo

me and brittsters

Me and my mom curling our hair while camping. What high maintenance girls we must be!

Today is Mother’s Day and across the world Primary children will be getting up in sacrament meeting to sing a song to their mother’s in honor of the day. In our family we have a joke about my mom’s least favorite Mother’s Day Primary Song – Mother, I Love You.  If you’ve never heard this song performed by a chorus of primary children you may not understand why she has such a loathing for this song – the lyrics are really sweet and who wouldn’t love ANY song sung by their children to them on Mother’s Day?!  But something about the timing of the song, and the opening few measures, the sound is reminiscent of a whining child who is slowly plodding through and fighting doing their morning chores.  While that may be an appropriate depiction of motherhood, it’s hardly the one most desired for remembrance on Mother’s Day.

Fortunately in our ward this year they’ve chosen a different song to honor mothers.  This will be my first Mother’s Day when I will actually have a child old enough to sing with the Primary children for Mother’s Day, and I’m stoked!  When I first heard the song choice, while I was relieved it wasn’t the aforementioned song, I was a bit confused.  The song that our music director had chosen is Love is Spoken Here, and while it’s a beautiful song, it had never struck me as a particularly Mother’s Day-y song.  However as I listened to our primary kids sing it, tears welled up in my eyes as it made me think of my own mother.  For those of you who don’t know this song the words to the first verse are below –

I see my mother kneeling with our family each day

I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray

Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears

And I am thankful, love is spoken here.

I wish I had a digital picture I could post, but I have a very vivid picture in my own mind of my mother kneeling by her bed daily in prayer.  It’s probably one of the most recurring and constant memories of my growing up years to see her there.  Almost daily I would walk into her room to ask her where my homework was, or what we were having for dinner or to come kill a spider in my room – and there she was in silent prayer at the side of her bed.  I know that my mom has a very close prayerful relationship with our Heavenly Father.

As I heard the words “Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears” I thought that even though I no longer live with my mom and don’t have that visual reminder, I know that she is still there by her bedside and praying for me.  I thought of some of the things I am facing right now that are a little bit daunting.  When I thought about it, I knew that my mom is praying for me to be able to get through the trials I have before me, and I truly did suddenly have all my fears quieted.  Whatever I may have to face, I know that my mom is there, pleading on my behalf with the Lord.  What a wonderful feeling of peace that gives me.

The last line doesn’t quite seem like it goes with the rest of the song.  The song is tells a story of prayer, but then at the end the author says they are thankful that love is spoken in their home.  The word love isn’t even mentioned in the song before that.  However, I think that’s a powerful message right there.  Even without saying the words “I love you” to her child, the mother in this song has communicated love more effectively than any words could.  My mother spoke her love for us with actions as much as with words.  How could I doubt that my mother loved me when she spent her time talking to the Lord to know how best to raise me and love me and do all that was best for me?  I think the message of the song is that the best kind of love comes through teaming up with the Lord to provide the best care possible for your children.

I feel so very blessed to have the wonderful mother that I do.  Her example of prayer and faith has been a beacon to me throughout my life, and will continue to be so into the future.  I love you so much Mommy, and I hope that I can be as good of an example of faith and love to my children as you have been to me.

Happy Mother’s Day!


The Miracle of the Cody Muffins

Today my brother Cody enters the Missionary Training Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to begin his two year mission preaching the gospel in Spanish to the people in the area of Morristown, New Jersey.  I am so proud of him.  In the picture above you’ll see over 80 muffins that I made in honor of my little brother receiving his mission call.  Ever since I can remember my brother has had the nickname “Cody Muffin”, so making muffins for his mission call opening party seemed appropriate.  I don’t know why we call him Cody muffin, but the name stuck.  He even has a song that goes along with this nickname.

Cody Muffin (sung to the tune of the Indiana Jones theme song)

Cody muffin, Cody boy

Cody muffin, Cody muf-fin boy

Cody muffin, Cody boy

Cody muffin, the muffin, the muffin of boy

Yes, we’re very creative lyricists in my family 😛  As he was playing basketball in high school this nickname spread as they called him “The Muffin Man” and we’d joke about “Do you know the Muffin Man?”  But the nickname itself isn’t what I wanted to write about.  As I was making several dozen muffins for my brother I realized that me baking muffins for Cody is nothing short of a miracle and I wanted to share with you the miracle of the Cody muffins.

When my mom was pregnant with Cody she started having severe pain in her stomach when she was about 6 months along.  She went to her doctor a few times and the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her so he sent her home saying “Well Mrs. Anderson, pregnancy can cause pain sometimes.”  This rather ticked my mom off as this was her fourth pregnancy; she pretty well knew that pregnancy could cause pain, and that this particular pain was NOT normal.  Finally the doctors figured out that she had a kidney stone, and not just your regular run-of-the-mill kidney stone, but a stone that was about 1cm in diameter.  In terms of kidney stones that was a veritable boulder.  She couldn’t pass it normally and they couldn’t do anything about it surgically until after the baby was born.  So she was stuck for the last three months of her pregnancy with this extreme pain that they couldn’t do anything about.  They put her on codeine and bed rest for the last few months of her pregnancy.  We joke that Cody is so named for the codeine that made it so our mom could continue her pregnancy without dying in pain, but my parents insist they had liked the name before my mom was given the drug.  During that time my family was so blessed by our friends and neighbors who helped take care of us.  I remember there was one lady who would come over and make me a lunch to take to school every day.  I don’t actually remember if she came over every day or what but she would always make me a ham sandwich.  To this day I still don’t care for ham sandwiches and I attribute that dislike to an overabundance of ham sandwiches at that time.  But I now realize more clearly what a simple but incredible act of service that was for her to make my lunch every day so my mom could take care of herself at this time.

Finally on 19 December 1993, Cody Allen Anderson was born, 3 weeks before his due date.  He had some difficulties at first so he was placed in the NICU until he was strong enough to come home.  After coming home my mom could tell that Cody had difficulties she hadn’t seen with her other children.  He would break out in hives and had a very difficult time breathing.  The doctor put him on Nutramagen, a special hypo-allergenic formula that was very expensive but kept Cody from having these reactions.  My mom knew he had allergies, but the conventional wisdom at the time was that people didn’t develop allergies until they were at least 2 or 3 years old, so my mom couldn’t even get a referral to an allergist from Cody’s doctor.  When they finally did get him in Cody was diagnosed with some severe allergies and asthma.  There were three things that Cody absolutely could not eat or he would need to be hospitalized almost immediately – eggs, milk and peanuts.  His airways would close up and he would go into anaphylactic shock.  My mom started having to carry around an epi-pen in case of any severe reactions and even though it was only the mid-90s, my parents were early adopters of cell phones so that they could be reached any time in case Cody had a reaction to something.  Cody was also more mildly allergic to a wide variety of other things – wheat, rice, soy, corn, grass, dust, mold… you name it.  In other people they would have considered these to be substantial allergies, but compared to his trifecta of anaphylactic allergies these were almost disregarded.  Feeding Cody was a very difficult task because so many basic things were off limits.  He ended up most of the time eating things that he *was* allergic to, but not as severely as the major allergies because there was so much off limits that it was hard to find something that worked.

A good example of Cody’s allergies – for his first birthday my mom realized that she wouldn’t be able to make him a birthday cake.  So instead of cake she opted to make him some red Jell-o.  However if you look at the pictures of Cody’s first birthday you’ll notice he has dark circles around his eyes and some hives.  We found out that day that Cody was allergic to Red 40, a common dye in many foods.


As the years went on we got used to living with Cody’s food allergies.  We became experts at reading food labels and knowing that dextrose meant that there was milk inside (this was before the advent of common allergens being listed out separately and clearly at the bottom of the labels).  One of our favorite Cody allergy stories happened when Cody was 4.  My mom found him walking around eating a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar, an obvious choice for something Cody could NOT have (remember anaphylaxis for peanuts and milk?).  She told him to hand it over, that he couldn’t eat it, and Cody told her “Don’t worry mom, Zach checked the ingredients!”  Zach, of course, was Cody’s best friend, who was at the time 3 and obviously had no reading capabilities and certainly was not a qualified choice for an ingredient checker.

Of course, being limited in what he could eat was difficult on his little growing body.  Despite having great athletic talents Cody wasn’t growing and developing as quickly or healthily as we’d have liked.  He was cheerful and a delight to be around, but he constantly had Benadryl in his system making him tired and not as capable as he would have liked.

When Cody turned 8 he was baptized, as most children in our church are.  After the baptism our dad had the privilege of laying his hands on Cody’s head to confirm him a member of the church and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost.  At this time it’s also customary for the person performing the confirmation to give a blessing to the person who has just been baptized.  As my dad was giving this blessing he suddenly stopped speaking.  He had a really long pause and we all started furtively looking around the room wondering what was going on.  Then, my dad started crying and we were really wondering what was happening.  Then he pronounced in his blessing that the allergies that had plagued his body for so long would no longer affect him the way they had.  There was a collective jaw drop and a sort of stunned moment for everyone there.  Typically blessings of this magnitude are not part of a confirmation, usually more general knowing the love of our father in heaven, being a good example to siblings, maintaining righteousness etc.  Not that those aren’t awesome blessings as well, but they don’t have the same sort of effect.  Everyone in that room knew about Cody’s allergies, heck, pretty much anyone who had ever met Cody knew about his allergies and it was an incredible thing for him to have been blessed with.

After the baptism day we all went home and pondered this declaration of healing.  It’s something we all knew and believed was possible, but not something we were expecting to witness that day.  Ironically, before the baptism I remember my parents discussing how they weren’t sure how prepared Cody was for baptism.  He’s not a super deep kind of guy, and that started from when he was pretty young.  What you get from Cody is pretty much all surface level.  Which isn’t a bad thing, I think what you get right there at the surface is pretty awesome, but he’s not one to go and sit and ponder on the things of the universe.  My parents weren’t totally sure that he’d done the sort of thinking about this choice as they thought it would merit.

The next day was a fast Sunday and we agreed as a family that we would fast to figure out the meaning of this great blessing.  The blessing hadn’t been that he was completely healed of his allergies but that they wouldn’t affect him as they had.  So we all fasted the next day.  We decided that what we would fast for was that if what the blessing meant was that he really could eat just whatever he wanted that he would have a desire to eat the foods.  That might sound silly, a kid who has been refused these things all his life and we’re asking that if he *wants* to eat them that’s an answer?  But you have to understand, these foods could have killed him the day before.  Only a week or so previously he had accidentally touched some ranch dressing at a class party and despite having the dressing washed right off he had hives breaking out all up and down his body.  The idea of eating something like that was incredibly frightening.  It would be like wanting to eat ice cream laced with cynide.

At the end of the day as we were breaking our fast Cody came up to my mom with a container of yogurt and asked my mom if he could eat it.  She asked him if he wanted to, which he said yes to and so she let him eat it.  I’d like to say that we all had perfect faith at that point and didn’t think too much of it, but the truth is that we all took mental note of where the epi-pen was, calculated how much Benadryl he would need and considered whether or not we should just hop in the car right away to go to the hospital.  But as we watched him with great trepidation… nothing happened.  We watched for the hives that we knew so well to break out – nothing.  We listened for his asthmatic breathing to get really bad – it didn’t.  We looked for any sign that we were wrong to have believed that this could happen – and we came up empty.  Cody truly had been healed in a way that can be described as nothing short of miraculous.


Later Cody told my parents that as he was under the water being baptized he’d had the thought that if baptism could wash away his sins then it could wash away this trial from him as well.  We also found out that his sweet best friend Zach had been praying every night that Cody could get better from his allergies.  Oh the faith of little children!

The few weeks following Cody’s baptism were nothing short of a celebration for those who knew what had happened.  That night we attended a baptism for a young woman who had recently converted to our faith.  Afterwards they had the traditional open house with different refreshments.  The mother of the young woman noted to a family friend afterwards, “There was a little boy there who looked so happy, you’d think he’d never had a cookie before in his life!”  Little did that mom know at the time, he really hadn’t had a cookie before in his life.  Different friends called dibs on taking Cody out for different firsts.  His first cheeseburger, his first ice cream, his first time eating scrambled eggs.  His descriptions for the different foods were mind blowing, things that we take so much for granted were a whole new world for him.  It was an incredible experience.

In the years that have followed we’ve come to better understand why Cody was blessed that his allergies wouldn’t affect him the way they had rather than that he was completely healed.  While the foods that were so toxic to him before have diminished, there are still a very few things that can cause him the same distress as before, mainly almonds and walnuts.  He still has some minor asthma and is allergic to cats, but comparatively this is NOTHING when viewed in light of what his problems once were.

So the miracle of the Cody muffins?  A few months ago I had the privilege of making muffins for Cody – with eggs, milk, flour and all kinds of things that once would have killed him – and he was able to eat them.  When Cody was younger the prospect of him going on a mission was pretty grim.  The chances of him ingesting something lethal and not getting the care he needed in time by the time he was 19 were extremely high.  But beyond that, how could someone with the difficulties he had go and spend most of his time outdoors among dust, pollens and molds while going door to door to preach the gospel?  How could he leave an environment where a very controlled diet kept him alive to go eat at the homes of different members eating whatever might come his way?  The little 8 year old Cody would have been disqualified from serving a traditional mission based on his health.  I cannot express what a great miracle I was blessed to witness and how grateful we are as a family for it.  I’m so grateful for and proud of my little brother – his faith, his personality and his commitment to serve.  We’ll certainly miss him, but he’s going to be a great missionary.


Enos, and the request of a mother

Note: I wrote the outline for this back in June, when April’s conference talk was obviously much more on my mind.  However, finishing off this post apparently took a backseat for awhile and I only just re-discovered the draft.  Please accept my apologies for being so delayed in posting this.

In April’s General Conference President Uchtdorf related a story at the beginning of his talk of a mother who had requested that he speak on a particular subject.  She had two children who were estranged from one another and she wrote to President Uchtdorf  saying that if he would just speak on a particular topic that her children would be reconciled.  President Uchtdorf said that among other things that letter had prompted him as to what to speak about.  He also said before beginning his talk “Dear sister, I pray that the Spirit will touch your children’s hearts.”

I was so touched that of the multitude of topics he could have chosen to speak on, to a church of millions of people, this good man directed his comments to one particular sister and her two children.  I felt like the request was a bit audacious to feel like your children’s fight warranted the intervention of someone of such standing who doubtless had many other things to do.  However, I was more impressed with President Uchtdorf’s fulfillment of the request, regardless of audacity.

Tonight we read the book of Enos.  In this single chapter book we read of a man’s prayer for his nation, his enemies and other things.  One of the particular things Enos requests is the preservation of his people’s records.  I couldn’t help but think, what if the only reason we have the Book of Mormon today is that this one man had the audacity to ask the all-powerful, all-seeing, surely busy God to look out for the things he and his people had written?  Surely he could have thought – if the Lord wants our records preserved, he’ll preserve them and I don’t need to ask for it.  But he didn’t.  Rather than just seeking for his own personal forgiveness and things that he could control, he put his faith in God and had the faith that his own requests – however small or insignificant – were being heard by one who has the power to fulfill those requests.

In the Bible Dictionary we read –

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

What if Enos had neglected to perform that work and because of that we didn’t have the Book of Mormon today?  Perhaps the simple prayer of this one man have since affected millions of lives.  What if that one woman hadn’t taken the time to ask President Uchtdorf to speak to her children?  Perhaps this wonderful talk, which is so needed in our day, wouldn’t have been given.  Maybe we would have heard more about airplanes, or something else.  I’m sure whatever else President Uchtdorf could have spoken on would have been wonderful, but perhaps not this often quoted, well beloved talk that we were blessed with back in April.

This made me wonder, what blessings am I being denied simply because I don’t have the faith to ask?  I have a new resolve to strengthen my prayers and pleadings in behalf of those I care about, our nation and our world. I think our prayers have more power and import than we realize and we need to be diligent in using it to benefit the world.

I Want to Have Been a Missionary… Then

So if you were listening to General Conference this morning you heard a most amazing announcement.  *Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t listened to this morning’s session you might want to hear this from the prophet before you hear it from me 🙂 *  They changed the eligible missionary ages for young men from 19 to 18 and for young women from 21 to 19.

I was stunned when I heard this news.  At first the focus for me was for those young men, what a difference that age change makes for them.  They can now go on their missions straight out of high school instead of having that awkward year between graduating high school and going on a mission where their lives are somewhat on hold while waiting for the next thing.  It made me think of  my little brother who just received his mission call, but if this change had been made sooner he likely would have left sometime this summer instead.  I also thought of a young man that got lost in that year between 18 and 19 and has now made some life choices that have changed his life forever.  I wondered if his life might have been different if he’d had the option to leave a year sooner.

Then when they announced the age change for the sisters I didn’t really know what to think.  A large part of me was elated for the sisters that will be able to go on a mission.   But I couldn’t help but think, “why couldn’t this change have happened 10 years ago?”

Let me give you some background on me.  When I was a little girl I lived in a ward that had sister missionaries.  I *loved* those sister missionaries.  They were the coolest people ever in my opinion and I wanted to be just like them.  As I was growing up whenever primary teachers or Sunday school teachers or whoever would ask “Who’s going to serve a mission” my hand would shoot up as one of the first.  I always wanted to serve a full-time mission.

As I graduated high school all of my guy friends were preparing for missions and I was completely jealous of them.  I’d heard that daughters of mission presidents got an exception that they could serve missions early and I started hoping that my dad would get called as a mission president.  I took mission prep classes in my ward and at BYU, I read books and studied as best I could so I could one day serve a mission.  Everyone told me that I would never make it that far, that I’d be one of those girls who got married my freshman year, but I wanted to serve SO badly.

At the end of my junior year of college I had the decision to make, in November I would finally be turning 21 and I could finally actually put in my mission papers.  I got my mission papers and filled them all out so that I could be ready.  As I was getting prepared to turn them in I stopped and prayed about my decision.  I can remember what the place looked like where I prayed about this decision, I was looking at a huge grassy field and praying about what I should be doing in the next couple years.  I had a year left of schooling, and after  three years of schooling I’d finally found my niche at BYU, so of course the decision was a bit harder.  But I still wanted to serve a mission.  The answer I received then was that it wasn’t the right time for me to serve a mission and that I needed to wait another year.

During that next year I met, dated, got engaged to and married my wonderful husband.  I’m glad that I was able to be in the right place at the right time to make the most important and best decision of my life.  I truly think that one of the major reasons, if not the reason, I wasn’t supposed to serve a mission at that time was so that I could be at the right place  at the right time to marry the amazing man that I did and so that we could start our family.

However, had the opportunity to go been available to me at age 19, as I so desperately wished it could have been at the time, there isn’t a question in my mind that I would have gone.  When I heard today’s change in policy I was stunned for a little while.  Then, as I took my baby upstairs to nurse him, I laid down in my bed and cried.  I feel like my hopes and prayers for that opportunity for mission service were answered… but too late for it to do me any good.  It would be a lie to say that, while I’m ecstatic for the young women who can take advantage of this opportunity, there’s a part of me that cries out, “why couldn’t it have been me?”  I don’t at all regret my decision to forgo a mission in favor of marrying my husband.  Not even a little bit.  Starting a family is the most important thing I believe I will ever do in my life and I am grateful for the opportunity.

But at 19 my life looked totally different than it did at 21.  At 19, I wasn’t at all ready to settle down and start a family.  I still had things that I wanted to do with my life and experiences to have.  I wanted to explore the world and do lots of things.  A mission was exactly what I wanted to be doing and I would have gone in a heartbeat.  There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that had that option been available to me then that I would have gone and served a mission.

At 21 though, things start looking different.  At 21 I had to look and realize that most of my guy friends were home from missions, and starting to look at getting married and starting the next part of their lives.  If I left for a year and a half at 21, then I wouldn’t be returning home until I was nearly 23.  Within Mormon culture those are fairly prime marrying years, they’re the years where a young woman is still approximately the same age as the young men who have recently returned from their missions.  At 23 the main pool of eligible young men has dwindled significantly and it’s much more difficult to find the kind of person I would want to be marrying.

Also, at 19 I was nowhere near finding my niche.  Actually my 19th year was one of the hardest of my entire life and had I been on a mission then that would have changed everything.  I only had a single year of schooling under my belt, no declared major, and nothing that would hold me back from serving the Lord.

There is a huge pang of jealousy going through me right now.  But at the same time I think it’s important for me to stop and realize that the options that were available for me were good options.  I don’t regret not having served a mission, I got in the experiences that I wanted to before settling down with my family.  I traveled the world with the Young Ambassadors and completed my college degree.  I had lots of time as a single young woman to go and serve in the temple and make good friends and do many good things.  It doesn’t really do me any good to consider how my life would have been different had these options been available to me – because they weren’t available to me.  I believe that I was put where I was and when I was for very good reasons and I am very happy with where the path of my life has led me.  It’s hard to do, and I’d be lying if I were to say that knowing these things intellectually is making the feelings of jealousy and sadness go away completely, but I still think it’s important to remember and I’ll get over it by and by.  Also, I always in the back of my head knew I wouldn’t get to serve a mission as a young woman.  I fought against that feeling HARD.  I was definitely “kicking against the pricks” just like Paul.  The truth is I didn’t need to pray about whether or not I ought to serve a mission just before I turned 21, I had known for certain the day I received my patriarchal blessing that it wasn’t meant to be for me.  The way some things are worded let me know that it wasn’t what I was needed for.  I would be a different person today if that option had been available to me, but I wouldn’t be the person Heavenly Father needed me to be.

It’s been interesting to think today on the ramifications these changes will have on the youth of the church.  I think that this is going to make a HUGE difference in the way that our young people see a mission.  It makes a mission so much more feasible for young women without asking them to sacrifice opportunities dating and marriage if they want to serve. But if they’re coming home by the time they’re 21 that gets them back still in that prime age for marrying.  I think we are going to find that having younger sister RMs is going to change the dating scene amongst our young adults.  These young women will likely come home much more serious about dating and marriage and will expect the young men to step up.  I think before there were young men who would come back from missions serious minded, but find that the young women they had left behind hadn’t changed their mindset in quite the same way and the result was a lot more non-serious dating for both groups.  I think this change will result in marriage rates increasing among our young adults at an earlier age.

I think it’s going to make a difference in how the young men prepare when the young women are preparing alongside them.  I can’t help but think that having cute girls at mission prep will help entice more young men to come to the classes 😉  I also think that the young women might be more drawn to those same classes knowing it will be where the eligible, righteous young men are.  I think that having young men and women coming home from missions at quite similar ages and being at the same point in their lives is going to affect how they date and get married.  In the past it seemed like many of the young women were given this big blank slate after high school.  Education, marriage, mission, all of these things were on the table, but not in the same sort of laid out mandated order as they were for the young men.  Now there’s a much more feasible, structured order that the young women have that coincides with the young men.

Anyways, I’m SO excited for these changes.  Even if they’re too late for me, I think they’re going to make a huge difference in the missionary force for the church and the church membership as a whole.  Now I need to go back and make some adjustments to the FHE lesson I prepared about missionaries a couple weeks back…

The Flag in Our Yard

Dear Sam & Daniel,

Today there’s a flag in our yard that isn’t there most days.  Do you know why?  Our neighborhood’s Boy Scout troop has a fundraiser every year where they will display a flag in our yard to commemorate special days.  But what makes today special?  What is different about today, Tuesday, September 11th that makes it a day when we want to display a flag in our yard?

Let me tell you about a different Tuesday, September 11th, the one that happened 11 years ago. That day there wasn’t a flag in our yard, I was 15 years old and it was a school day just like any other.  I woke up very early that morning for seminary and I was probably late as usual.  It was pretty early in the school year and we were still excited for the year ahead.  After seminary I carpooled with some friends to the school.  Because I was in the early seminary class, but didn’t have a first period class I wandered over to the cafeteria where I would hang out with some of my friends before school and usually try to catch up on some homework.  When I walked in I saw my friend Whitney and I bounced over and cheerfully asked her how she was doing. When she looked at me her face was shell shocked and blank, I could tell immediately that something had happened that had caused her mood to be much different from my own.  She told me, “They bombed the World Trade Center.”

At the time those words didn’t mean much to me.  I didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was or who “they” were or anything.  As she tried to explain some of what was going on we decided to walk over to the library to see if the librarian, a lady we also happened to know from church, would let us watch some of the news coverage from there.  It was a little while before she got there but when she got in we turned on the news to see this –

At 8:46 am EDT an airplane that had been hijacked by terrorists had been crashed into this tower in New York City.  At the time there were two towers side by side that were the tallest buildings in the city where many people worked every day.  It was totally stunning to see.  Since I lived on the west coast this had happened at 5:46am my time, so all this had happened while I was on my way to seminary.  While I was beginning my day other people were ending their lives.  Then while I was sitting in seminary that morning another plane had been hijacked and crashed into the second of those two towers.  At 9:37am EDT, while we were wrapping up our seminary lesson for the morning, yet another plane had been intentionally crashed into the Pentagon.  At 10:03 am EDT, while I was on my way to the cafeteria to talk to Whitney, yet one more plane had crashed, this time, due to the bravery of some civilian passengers, it crashed in a field rather than into a high profile target.

By the time I was even hearing about what had happened, the whole attack was over.  But at the time we didn’t know this.  I was worried, where I lived was close to the big city of Los Angeles.  If these things were happening in New York City I wondered what might happen much closer to home.  That day in school, most of our classes suspended instruction in favor of watching the coverage on these attacks.  We watched as they worked their best to evacuate as many people from those buildings as possible, and we watched as the buildings then came crashing down trapping many people inside and pushing the debris out for a long ways around.  The story was vastly significant.  New York City is one of the biggest cities in our country and almost everyone knows someone there.  My dad had done business in the World Trade Center on many occasions.  Your dad stood at the top of one of those buildings only a month before this happened.  One of my best friends had returned from New York City only the night before.  Across the nation people were concerned about loved ones and what might have happened to them in these awful events.

The FAA decided to ground all air traffic for the next few days while they sorted out what happened.  One of my best friend’s parents were stranded in Utah and couldn’t come back because of the flight cancellations, so she ended up coming over to our house that afternoon.  I don’t think you will ever truly be able to comprehend what happened in the following days unless another event of similar magnitude happens within your lifetime.  I pray you won’t have to endure such an awful experience, but actually it wasn’t all terrible.

Yes, the people that we lost and the sense of security that was lost were horrific, and not the sort of thing you would ever wish upon anybody ever.  However, there was a silver lining to it as well.  In the days and weeks that followed everyone seemed a lot more caring of one another.  I remember being in check out lines and seeing cashiers ask how people were doing, and truly were wondering if they were withstanding these events well and how they were holding up.  “How are you” became not just a rote question that we asked each other out of politeness, but out of a genuine caring for our friends and neighbors well-being.  We all went home that night and hugged our families a little bit tighter, and thanked God for those in our lives who we were so privileged to love and still have with us.  People were more humble and the churches found higher attendance than they’d seen in a long time.   But at the same time, we were proud as a nation.  The American flag was hung from every door and we were proud to be Americans.  Our president said we would find those responsible for the attacks and bring them to justice.  President Bush gave this speech to our nation and even reading it today I’m moved by the words because I remember from whence they sprang.

In the weeks that followed there was lots of coverage given to the heroes of that day.  In the hours between the impact of the airplanes and when the towers fell down, hundreds of firefighters went into the twin towers and rescued many people from the buildings collapse.  Medical personnel showed up on the scene to treat those with injuries.  Policemen did their part to close off the area and help get people out of harm’s way.  The passengers on Flight 93 heard about the catastrophic events that had unfolded that day and bravely stood up to the armed hijackers preventing further harm.  Nationwide people were trying to find ways they could help.  There were many blood drives and candle light vigils.  It was a time of tragedy, but also a time when we were proud to be part of this great American nation.

Our school held a fundraiser for the families of firefighters who had been killed in the collapse of the twin towers.  I bought a metal bracelet  that had the words “We Will Never Forget” on it that I wore for the next several years. And it’s true, I will never forget the events of that day.  My 15 year old mind was given a lot to think about that day and in the days to follow.  Thoughts about mortality, safety, care for our fellow man and what it means to be an American.  However, you cannot ever truly remember the events of that day.  However convincingly I word my thoughts on that day, you weren’t there and therefore cannot fully understand what these things meant to those of us who were there.  You won’t really understand why we have to take off our shoes in the airport, or why we can’t bring liquids on airplanes.  You don’t understand the relief that it brought when we heard that SEAL Team Six had *finally* gotten Osama bin Laden.  You can’t comprehend exactly why we allowed things like the Patriot Act to come into existence.  I won’t say that all of these things were the right thing to do, but I will say that I understand why we did them.  There was once a Tuesday that should have been exactly like any other Tuesday, just like the Tuesday we’re having today, but that day the whole world changed.

I hope that one day you can understand the pride of being an American citizen and feel the gratitude we have for the men and women who defend the rights we have as a nation.  We are blessed beyond measure to have the freedoms that we enjoy and we should be grateful for it every day.  That is why we have an American flag in our yard today.



The Old Testament vs The Book of Mormon

My son Sam was “feasting” on the words of Christ 🙂

About a year ago I found a list of books on Facebook.  There were 100 books in the list and it had some attention catching phrase like “The BBC thinks you’ll only have read 4 of these books”.  I consider myself fairly well read, or at least someone who loves to read, so I decided to go through the list and see how I compared.  I had out-read whatever their low-ball estimate was, and there were quite a few books on the list that I had no desire to read.  However, there was one book that I felt ashamed that I couldn’t quite check off – The Bible.  I’ve read *from* the Bible my entire life.  I’ve attended Sunday School since I was 3, all 4 years of seminary, taken institute and religion classes at BYU – you would think I’d be able to check that book off without a problem.  However, although I’ve read the New Testament front-to-back over and over and read a lot of things from the Old Testament, I’ve never actually read the Old Testament cover-to-cover.  I didn’t feel good about checking off the book without having actually read every individual page of the Old Testament.  So I challenged myself to read the Old Testament.  I decided to read along with the CES Institute manual to help me really get something out of it but my main goal was just to start at Genesis and end with Malachi.

Well after reading the Old Testament for over a year I’ve finally made it through… Deuteronomy.  As I finished that section of the Old Testament I felt like I’d reached a milestone -after all, those first 5 books of Moses are the Torah right?  So completing that much should count for something!  As I looked at my reading chart, and my Bible with the intention of moving on to plow through Joshua I felt exhausted.  Now, it’s not like I’ve been pushing through the Old Testament at a rapid pace – in over a year I barely made it through the first 5 books – But as I considered moving on the idea was just wearying.

That’s the best way I can describe it, the Old Testament is wearying to get through.  It’s written for a different time and in a language and style that isn’t exactly native for me.  The culture surrounding all the stories and events is foreign to me.   The Law of Moses has many correlations to the laws of the gospel that we live today, but they aren’t always clearly stated and all the symbolism just takes a lot to muddle through.  It’s interesting, I’m always fascinated to see how different peoples think and process the world around them.  It’s so interesting to think of the gospel as it was practiced back then and think of what the differences are to today’s world and why they did things one way, we do them another, but we’re all working to achieve the same ends.  But it still takes a lot of work to get from point A to point B.

So I decided tonight that I was going to go back to reading the Book of Mormon.  Our stake leaders recently challenged the members in our stake to read the Book of Mormon again.  I had ignored the challenge for the time being because I really wanted to make it through the Old Testament.  I felt that was a worthy goal and since I’m in the Primary and can’t attend Sunday School (where I think the current curriculum is the Book of Mormon this year) I didn’t feel bad about postponing.  However, as I opened up my scriptures (ok, really just pulled them up on my phone) and just started reading the title page of the Book of Mormon I felt – peaceful.  Like I was home again.  I can’t exactly describe the feeling that came over me but it just felt so right to be back in this particular book of scripture.

I once had a friend pick up a copy of the Book of Mormon that we had in our car and she started to read it a little bit.  She made the comment that it was so easy to read, and that’s how I felt.  Just natural and easy, peaceful and good.  I wish I had adequate words to describe the feeling, but really the feeling was “this is true.”  I already knew that, I’ve known that the Book of Mormon was true for many years, based not so much on any one particular experience but many different confirmations of its truthfulness through the years.  As I try and live its precepts I can feel the power that is given from so doing.  I’ve taken Alma’s challenge to try an experiment upon the words, and the experiment works!   As I live the gospel, I am happy, I know that the things I am doing are right and I feel at peace.  When I act contrary to these teachings I can feel that state of happiness and peace taken away from me.  The gospel makes everything in my life make sense and taking the gospel out makes it so nothing makes sense.  But the feeling at this moment was powerful – peaceful and quiet, but powerful.  I’ll make it back to the Old Testament and make my way through the rest of it, but I’m so glad to be back in the Book of Mormon again.

I just want to share my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  That, as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared,” the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man [or woman will] get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”  There is no way a boy of as little education as Joseph Smith had could have come up with this book of his own accord.  The truths it teaches are not of man, but of God. I testify this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

If you haven’t read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to do so.  You can get a free copy by going to, and either get a physical copy from the local missionaries, or you can listen to it or read it online from that site as well.  I promise it will change your life for the better.

The Career of Motherhood

On Wednesday Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, made a comment on CNN about Ann Romney saying that she “has actually never worked a day in her life,” referring to the fact that Ann has spent her adult life as a stay-at-home mom rather than as an employee of another corporation.  While the Obama campaign has indicated that Ms. Rosen’s comments do not reflect the position of their campaign I felt the need to address this line of thinking in general in the world. It’s something that was on my mind before this came up and I had considered writing this post anyways, but now I have a very good excuse to not procrastinate doing so 🙂

First, you ought to know my work history.  I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Computers and the Humanities.  In my life I have worked as a babysitter, software quality assurance tester, accounting clerk, department store customer service representative, theater technician (spotlight operator, stage hand and stage manager), web developer, and stay-at-home mom.  Most of those jobs would be considered part time jobs that I held through high school and college.  When I was a theater technician I was part of a touring theater group and most days would consist of waking up early (generally 7am-ish), driving to a theater, moderate manual labor all day (unloading/loading a truck full of theater equipment, setting up props, speakers, lights etc), doing a show, loading the equipment back up and finally leaving the theater late at night (generally 11pm-ish), going home to a host home and doing it all again the next day.  As a web developer I held a traditional 9-5 salaried position with a local advertising agency which I commuted to on the bus, and came home to make dinner, drive it across town to my husband and only get home in time to go to bed before doing it again the next day.  Suffice it to say, no one could say that I’ve “never worked a day in my life.”  However, of all the jobs I’ve held, being a stay-at-home mom FAR surpasses any of my previous positions in difficulty and general amount of work that I do.

It amazes me how our society doesn’t look at full-time motherhood as “real” work.  I know it may seem that those of us who have chosen to make our family our career just have it easy – getting to stay home and play with kids all day – but anyone who thinks that has obviously never tried it.  As a mother I am on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  When I worked at my traditional 9-5 job, even though my days were long (starting around 6am and not really getting home until nearly 9pm), when I went to bed at night there wasn’t a baby in my bed who expected to be fed at 2am.  My clients didn’t call me at 3am because they’d had a nightmare and needed some comforting.  Except in rare situations, I had my weekends completely to myself.  As a mom I get excited when I am alone for long enough to go pee without my boys trying to climb on me or get into something.  Every aspect of my life revolves around my children.  Sure I had to grocery shop, cook, do laundry and dishes before I had kids, but now I do those things while carrying around an 18lb child, or trying to referee the two kids so they don’t kill each other while I try to accomplish some task.  Everything I do takes twice as long because these children require my attention at all hours.  There are naps to be taken, joy school, bedtimes, playdates and a host of other activities that weren’t part of my daily life before parenthood.

I know that some people are thinking, “yeah, but the work isn’t very difficult.”  Au contraire mon chere!  One of the most difficult parts about motherhood and running a household is that in all my educational experience leading up to this career choice I didn’t receive much training that actually taught me how to do what I’m doing now.  There wasn’t a single class in college that taught me how to keep a house clean with toddlers in it.  I didn’t get a degree that qualified me for treating fevers or successfully baking bread (a skill I have yet to gain).

The hardest and most frustrating part (in my opinion) is that the work of a mother is never done, and it’s the same work over and over and over again.  I can spend all day working on laundry, getting it cleaned, dried, folded and put away; but at the end of the day we take off the clothes we’re wearing and there’s more laundry to do.  Every 3-5 hours throughout the day it’s time to prepare another meal, convince my kids to eat that meal (which takes far longer than just eating on my own) and then all the dishes that come afterwards.  I change diapers only to have to change them again within a few hours.  As fast as I can pick up all the toys, clothes and other stuff in our house our boys seem to make different messes just as quickly.

For the past several months my status message in GMail has said “I feel accomplished in a day if I complete one thing that won’t be undone by day’s end.”  That pretty well sums up my life.  To me, that’s the biggest difference between my career as a web developer and my career as a mother.  As a web developer I would be presented with lots of problems – broken pages, new pages to build, typos, loading issues etc.  But as soon as I solved the problem, it was done and I could move on to the next problem.  The only reason I would have to revisit the same problem is if I did something to mess it up again, or if it was on a different site.  As a mother I am constantly re-doing the same things, not because I did them wrong the first time, but because they are things that need to be done over and over again.

Even the things that look to others like leisure activities aren’t quite what they seem on the surface.  Yeah I watch a lot of TV, but it’s mostly Super Why or Ni Hao Kai Lan that I put on for my kids so that I can try to get some dishes done without my almost one year old climbing into the dishwasher.  I’m on Facebook a lot, but it’s usually because (like right now) I’m stuck at the computer with a sleeping baby in my lap that refuses to sleep on his own.  I’m relatively active on Pinterest but mostly to find ways to save money, clean better, cook new things, find good educational activities for my children or generally researching how to be a better homemaker.  Playdates look like fun and games, but between getting kids prepared to leave the house, behave appropriately at someone else’s house, and getting them back home (not to mention the disruption to their routine which can be very unwelcome, even with the fun of a playdate in mind) – it’s a lot more effort than you might think.

Please don’t take these comments the wrong way.  I love being a mother.  My life right now is completely devoted to what I consider the most important endeavor I could embark on – raising my children to be good, productive, smart, responsible members of our community.  It requires long hours, patience, organization, creativity, wisdom, endurance and most importantly hard work.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I feel so grateful for my wonderful husband who shoulders the burden of providing financially for our family so that I am able to spend my time focused on running our household and raising our children.   But just because I don’t receive a paycheck doesn’t mean what I do is any less work.  Hilary, I daresay that you don’t know what it’s like to have worked a day in your life until you’ve been a stay-at-home mom.

Easter Thoughts

Over the last few days I’ve been reading in our New Testament reader to Sam about the last week of our Savior’s life, His atonement and resurrection.  It has given me a chance to ponder on these events for myself and think again about what Christ’s life means to me. I had one quick thought that I wanted to share.

The thing that struck me was that as Christ was on the cross he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do“.  I’ve read that a million times but this time what stuck out to me was not just that Christ forgave the very people who were killing Him, but that He did so while they were in the very act of doing so.  He didn’t wait for them to realize what they’d done wrong, or to feel any remorse.  They had beaten and humiliated Him, cast lots on His clothes and nailed Him to a cross, and while they were yet reviling Him and watching Him suffer and die – He forgave them.  It made me think once again that I have zero right to withhold my forgiveness from anyone.  “… The Son of Man hath descended below it all, art thou greater than He?

I know that Christ loves us.  He suffered for our sins and sorrows.  He died on the cross and rose again on the third day.  I know He lives, and because He lives again I will be able to live again after this life too.  I am forever grateful for this knowledge and love our Savior.  I would invite everyone to view the video above.  It’s just 7 minutes long and depicts the final week of Christ’s life and His resurrection.  Just take a moment to think about what His sacrifice means to you and how you can be a better disciple of Christ.  Happy Easter 🙂