Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Blog Has Moved

We've moved our family blog here and will no longer be blogging on this site. We wanted to shift from Blogger to Wordpress.

The new site is www.palmerjourneys.wordpress.com (just replace "blogspot" with "wordpress"). If you're using an RSS reader, here is our new RSS feed.

And we have a new post up about Laela's birth early this morning.

We'll see you on the new site!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Achieving Unity Through Personal Revelation

What is the connection between personal revelation and unity within our families and the Church?

While you’re pondering that, here's a brief history of radio:

As early as 1802, scientists were proposing that electricity and magnetism were linked. This led to the discovery of the electromagnetic field, which is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, along with nuclear forces and the gravitational force.

The discovery of the electromagnetic field led to two key inventions: the telegraph in 1809 and the telephone in 1871.

By the late 19th Century, it became clear to scientists that wireless communication was possible through electromagnetism.

Nikola Tesla, the scientist credited with the discovery of the radio in 1893, wrote:
“The idea presented itself to me that it might be possible, under observance of proper conditions of resonance, to transmit electric energy thru the earth, thus dispensing with all artificial conductors.”
This idea led to numerous experiments and the development of an apparatus that became the radio.

In 1919, the first human speech was broadcast to the public. FM radio was patented in 1933, and the first FM radio stations appeared in the late 1930’s.

Here’s my point about the radio
: Scientists did not create radio waves. Radio waves have always existed; scientists simply found ways to tap into and harness them.

Joseph Smith Taps Into God's Signals

Joseph Smith discovered something similar in 1820, after reading the famous scripture in James that states clearly that God answers prayers.

The impact of Joseph’s First Vision is incalculable. In a brief visit with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph discovered truths that had been hidden, corrupted, and debated for centuries.

He discovered that the Godhead consists of three separate Beings. He discovered that God and Jesus Christ have physical bodies.

After he had received priesthood authority and the Church was established, continuous revelation clarified doctrine, dissipated darkness, and eliminated confusion. We learned that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.

Furthermore, we learned that God is always transmitting messages to His children.

Just as Tesla and Marconi did not create radio waves, Joseph Smith did not create personal revelation; he simply tuned into signals that have always and are always being transmitted from God.

The Need for Continuous Revelation

During the Apostasy, it was commonly taught that revelation from God to man had ceased and that we were to rely solely upon the Bible to know God’s will. This, of course, was a recipe for confusion, bickering, and disunity even to the point of bloodshed.

Without authoritative revelation, it was impossible for mankind to unite around definitive doctrines. But as we learn in 2 Nephi 29:9,
“…I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and…I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
Radio waves existed at the time of Adam and Eve, but we did not discover how to tune into them until the late 19th Century. Similarly, God has always and will always transmit revelation to man.

The only variable is whether or not we choose to tune into His revelations through personal worthiness.

As we learn from Moroni,
“…remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.”
How to Receive Personal Revelation

The same elements that led to Joseph Smith’s revelations are the same elements that are required for us to receive personal revelation. The two most important factors are humility and purity.

We must obey the truths we know at any given time. We must be willing to lay our perceptions and desires upon the altar of sacrifice.

As we humble ourselves and strive for purity and righteousness, God replaces our false perceptions and impure and misguided desires with His light and truth, His desires, and His will.

In an essay entitled The True Wireless, published in May of 1919, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the radio, wrote,
“The history of science shows that theories are perishable. With every new truth that is revealed we get a better understanding of Nature and our conceptions and views are modified.”
So it is with spiritual truths. Through personal revelation, then by obedience to our revelations, we begin to see things as God sees them. We act as He would have us act. We do what He would have us do. We become what He would have us become.

We are purified and elevated. In other words, we become one with God. Our will is united with His.

Jesus Christ spoke of this unity in what is known as the “Great Intercessory Prayer” found in John chapter 17:
“Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…”
Personal Revelation Leads to Unity

Think of the question we started with: What is the connection between personal revelation and unity within our families and the Church?

The connection is that when one person tunes into the mind and will of God, personal revelation occurs. When numerous people tune into God’s will, unity among those people occurs. They become unified around and through God’s perfect knowledge and perfect love.

So how can we achieve unity within our families and within the Church? By having access to the mind of God, through revelation, by being pure and humble. Unity is a function of righteousness.

If a radio station transmits on the frequency 92.5, we must tune our radio to that precise frequency if we want to receive a clear signal. If we’re just one decimal point off, the signal will be fuzzy.

In the same way, sinning is like turning our spiritual sensors to the wrong frequencies. As we sin, signals from God become “fuzzy” and distant, and will fade altogether unless we repent. The purer our lives, the purer the signals we receive from God.

Not only do we become more attuned to a direct connection with God, but we also become more in tune with the counsel we receive through His servants, the prophets. In Mosiah we read a perfect example of this process:
“And they were called the church of…Christ… And…whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church…And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets…he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”
The unifying process is this:
  1. God transmits His will through the words of His prophets and through direct, personal revelation through the Holy Ghost.
  2. As we become pure and submissive, the signals that God is always transmitting become increasingly clear.
  3. As we obey the revelations we receive, we become one with God. Unity within our families occurs as each member of the family submits to this process. Unity within the Church is achieved in the same way.
The only way we can be united with each other is if we have individually submitted to God and are thus united with Him. In fact, Henry B. Eyring taught:
“The joy of unity…is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others….God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity. We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve.”
Elder Eyring also taught that,
“Revelation is the only way we can know how to follow the will of the Lord together. It requires light from above. The Holy Ghost will testify to our hearts, and the hearts of those gathered around with us, what He would have us do. And it is by keeping His commandments that we can have our hearts knit together as one.”
Staying Unified Daily

What can we do on a daily, practical basis to increase unity within our families and the Church? Live worthy to receive personal revelation, and seek it constantly.

If we’re offended by a family or Church member, we can pray for the ability to judge righteously and the strength to forgive. Through revelation, our minds and hearts will find greater opportunities to serve. Through the humility that revelation requires, we can overcome pride and selfishness.

President David O. McKay taught,
“As I think of the future of this Church and of the welfare of the young men and women, as well as of the mothers and fathers, I feel impressed that there is no more important message to give than ‘to be one,’ and avoid things that may cause a rift among members.

"I know that the adversary has no stronger weapon against any group of men or women in this Church than the weapon of thrusting in a wedge of disunity, doubt, and enmity…Unity of purpose, with all working in harmony within the structure of Church organization as revealed by the Lord, is to be our objective.”
Just as Tesla tuned into radio waves in 1893 and Joseph Smith tuned into God’s will in 1820, may we also tune into the revelation that God is transmitting through purity and humility, then live in strict obedience to the revelation we receive.

As we do so we will enjoy peace, harmony, joy, love, and unity within our families and within the church.

Movie Recommendations

We are extremely picky about our movie choices, which makes it extremely difficult for us to find anything we're interested in watching, especially at the video store.

About six months ago we joined Netflix and we're ecstatic about the convenience and selection, the control it gives us in our media choices. It turns out that there are tons of excellent movies -- we just never hear about many of them through traditional channels.

We especially like that we don't have to wade through garbage at the video store. We won't even take our kids into Blockbuster anymore. Every time we do they're blaring horror film previews, not to mention the soft porn you see plastered all over covers.

Below are a few of our favorites. We'll continue adding to this list over time (since we currently have 142 more saved in our queue).
  1. Amazing Grace (5 stars)
  2. August Evening (4 stars)
  3. Beyond Belief (4 stars)
  4. Beyond the Gates (3 stars)
  5. Beyond the Gates of Splendor (3 stars)
  6. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (4 stars)
  7. Children of Heaven (4 stars)
  8. Darfur Now (3 stars)
  9. The Elephant Man (5 stars)
  10. Emmanuel's Gift (4 stars)
  11. The Future of Food (5 stars)
  12. God Grew Tired of Us (4 stars)
  13. Grace is Gone (3 stars)
  14. In America (5 stars)
  15. John Adams HBO Series (4 stars)
  16. The Kite Runner (5 stars)
  17. The Namesake (3 stars)
  18. Paper Clips (3 stars)
  19. Saving Private Ryan (5 stars)
  20. Searching for Bobby Fischer (4 stars)
  21. 7 Pounds (3 stars)
  22. The Soloist (4 stars)
  23. Sweet Land (4 stars)
  24. Slumdog Millionaire (4 stars)
  25. Under the Same Moon (4 stars)
  26. War Dance (3 stars)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Libby Says

Libby and Avery were having a conversation that was making absolutely no sense whatsoever about dogs. Libby totally misinterprets what Avery says (understandable) and it's hilarious.

Libby starts crying, "Avery says that she wants scary dogs to come on Halloween and they're going to eat me...but I don't want them to...'cause I'm too beautiful."

Earlier today in the car Libby says, "I want to drive a minivan...when I grow up...when I'm a teenager...when I turn 5."

I don't know why she pauses between what she says, but it adds to how funny it is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avery & Angels


Yesterday Avery was on the floor coloring while I was finishing breakfast. All of a sudden she looked up, pointed at the ceiling, and said, "Angels." I said, "Angels?" She pointed again, looked all over the ceiling, and repeated (in her baby voice), "There is angels." Then she went right back to coloring.

It was so out of the blue and precious, it made me want to cry. She's so lucky.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things Libby says

Yesterday, Libby was frantically undoing her pants as she entered the bathroom in a hurry. As she passed, Daddy said something to her and she said, "Hold on. I'm on-dressing." But she didn't think that sounded right, so she then said, "I'm off-dressing."


Tonight, as I tucked her into bed, she said, "I want to be a truck driver...(her eyes lit up) and a school bus driver...(then she cradled a pretend baby in her arms very tenderly) and nurse...and clean toilets...and do laundry...and clean the kitchen floor...and wash the dishes...and vacuum..."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spank Daddy

Libby whispered to me, "Spank Daddy real hard." (For the record, we don't spank our kids. It's a playful joke at our house).

I said, "What if he starts to cry?"

She said, "Daddys don't cry. Only girls."

Science Saturday: Light Spectrum


video

I Love You

The kids were being particularly cute and sweet to each other one day. I said, "Guess what?...I love you guys so much."

Libby said, "We'll be your best friends forever."

Say Something Nice or Don't Say Anything At All

It was the end of the day. The kids weren't talking nicely to each other in the car and I was out of patience, so I said, "If you can't say something nice, then just don't talk."

A few minutes went by without any talking. Then Libby turned around to face Alex and said, "I just really want to kiss you."

I'm not sure what Alex said - other than "No" - because I was busy praising Libby for talking so nicely:)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Freedom Garden Grows On

“We will see the day when we will live on what we produce.” -Marion G. Romney
"There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food even if it is only a garden in your yard and a fruit tree or two. Those families will be fortunate who, in the last days, have an adequate supply of food because of their foresight and ability to produce their own." -Ezra Taft Benson
“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments … can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods." -Spencer W. Kimball

If you've never seen the documentary The Future of Food, you need to as soon as possible. It will make you scramble to grow a garden like a chicken with your head cut off.

With that introduction, here's the garden update:

Texas has two growing seasons. The things to plant now are corn, zucchini, squash, and cucumber.

After watching The Future of Food, I was convinced to buy heirloom seeds. The "normal" seeds you buy from the store are genetically modified. As such, they are either sterile, or if you try to replant them, they'll grow weird stuff. Heirloom seeds are pure; you can harvest and reuse your own seeds from the plants.

Little did I know how incredible these seeds are. In the spring, using store seeds, nothing was up for at least two weeks. This time, I was shocked to see everything up within 4 days.

Heirloom corn, 4 days after planting:


Heirloom cucumber, 4 days after planting:


Heirloom zucchini, 4 days after planting:


And get this: On the fourth day (the day these pictures were taken), I turned the water on at 8:30 a.m. When I came back at 9, there were plants up that weren't up an hour and a half earlier. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Now check out our plants exactly 2 weeks after planting (and remember that nothing was even up by this time with our previous seeds):

Corn:




Cucumber:



Squash:


Zucchini:

I can't get enough of this stuff.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Remember

So much of the gospel is founded upon and revolves around the concept of remembering.

The most fundamental covenant that we make -- baptism -- is a covenant to remember. We covenant to remember Christ, and in turn, God promises us that we will always have the Spirit, which has as a fundamental role to “bring all things to our remembrance.”

The more we remember Christ the greater our ability to remember Him, thus increasing our desire and capacity to serve Him, which in turn helps us to become like Him.

As I have studied the word remember, both its linguistic origins and scriptural and prophetic usages, I’ve learned that it is used to convey three specific meanings:
  1. To recall
  2. To retain
  3. To study

Recall

A few more synonyms to further explain what I mean by "recall" would include renew, recollect, revive, remind, awaken, return.

Because of the veil, we are prone to forget things we have learned in the past, including the most important things regarding our salvation.

In Helaman chapter 12 the prophet Nephi laments:
“…at the very time when he doth prosper his people...then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God...how slow are they to remember the Lord their God.” [emphasis added]
There are numerous scriptures that command people to “return to God,” the context being, of course, when the people have become prideful and wicked because of forgetting God.

A recurring phrase in the Book of Mormon is the prophets “stirring up the people in remembrance of their duty.” God commands us to “recall” things that we have learned previously and to return to them; in other words, the concept of recall, as it relates to remembering, is also synonymous with repentance.

Retain

Other synonyms of retain include to think about or to think of, to be mindful of, to observe, to keep, to obey.

To help us retain the gospel, we are commanded to pray unceasingly, to read the scriptures daily no matter how many times we’ve already read them, to attend church meetings even when they’re boring from repetition, to attend General Conference, and even given church callings.

The institutionalized aspect of the gospel seems directed toward the goal of retention; helping us to daily observe, keep, and obey the commandments. We’re asked to make and keep covenants and then we are given physical reminders of those covenants in order that we might retain in remembrance those things necessary for our salvation.

The key here is to always be in situations where it’s easy to retain a remembrance of our covenants. Surfing inappropriate websites, listening to inappropriate music, going to the lake on Sunday instead of to church, shirking in our church callings -- all of these things and others inhibit our ability to retain saving knowledge and to always remember Christ.

Study

Other terms that help describe this concept include seek, ask, ponder, pray.

How can we retain in remembrance something that we have not yet learned through personal study? In Alma chapter 5 Alma asks, “Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them?”

In other words, he is asking them if they have studied and remembered history.

By knowing and understanding history we are able to learn from the mistakes of others so that we can avoid them ourselves. Santayana said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Historian David McCullough added, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

In Doctrine & Covenants Section 88 we are commanded, “…seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” In Section 90 we read, “…study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.”

Elder Marlin K. Jensen taught us that one of the most significant things that we should remember is church history. One excellent way to do this is to do our own genealogy.

In his journals, my fourth great-grandfather, Thomas Sirls Terry, tells of a difficult period of his life in the winter of 1850, and then writes,
“You will see by reading the past that I have been thrown into various circumstances in life. Being of poor parentage, but yet honorably so, you will see that in all of my ups and downs in the world that I had the spirit of perseverance. In my travels through life, when misfortune seemed to press down hard upon me, I always pressed forward the harder and would accomplish that which I undertook to do. And when famine and starvation stared me in the face, and hunger had so weakened my mortal frame, that when at labor I would have to sit down to rest in order to gain strength that I might perform my day’s work, still I hung on to my faith and integrity in the Lord…Therefore, my dear children, let nothing of an evil nature persuade you from a righteous course through life, and carry out your righteous decrees and be firm in your determinations.”
Until we study the gospel, the scriptures, church history, genealogy, and history out of the “best books” we have nothing to remember, retain, recall. Through study, pondering, and prayer we learn about the gospel, and then we are invited to live the gospel daily using all of the tools and resources that have been provided for us.

The Remembrance Formula

After analyzing these three aspects of remember, 1) recall, 2) retain, and 3) study, we are able to put them all together and learn a critical formula for safely navigating mortality and returning to God.

The formula is to first, acquire knowledge by study, pondering, and prayer, second, always retain in remembrance that knowledge, and third, when we forget and sin then we must recall that knowledge and repent.

Consider this: In the word and concept remember we find the entire plan of salvation.


Implicit in this formula are duties of Man and reciprocal duties of God. It is our job to study, to put things into our mind in order that we might have anything to remember in the first place. It is His job then to, as we learn in the book of John, “bring all thing to our remembrance” by the gift of the Holy Ghost.

When we have forgotten the gospel and become prideful and sinful, it is our job to recall what we have forgotten and to repent. When we have repented, it is His job to forgive us and make us whole and clean; if we remember His gospel, He will forget our sins.

As we learned from Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “Coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him is…the ultimate purpose of all remembering.”

Let us study the life of Christ, learn of him, then retain a remembrance of Him by always being in the right time at the right place and fulfilling all of our church duties, and then, if we forget at times, to quickly recall and repent.

As King Benjamin taught:
“…this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”


Charades

Tonight was Family Night. We decided to use "sports" as our theme for charades for the night.

Libby (4 yrs.) was doing great. She did gymnastics for one, ballet for another, and she was an animal for some of her turns.

She was also the final act of the night before we had treats, and we could not guess what she was for the life of us. She was holding her hands by her sides and jumping up and down, then side to side.

It was time to be done; we wanted our treats. We desperately tried to get clues as to whether she was doing a sport or if she was a person or what. But we were just getting more confused.

We said, "Okay, just tell us now." She said, "No, guess! Use your brain!"

So we decided to randomly start guessing things and just throwing stuff out there.

"Zipper!"
"Pine tree!"
"Elevator!"...

Steve said, "Catamaran!" And Libby beamed and delightedly exclaimed, "Yes, yes, that's it!"

I said, "What's a catamaran?" Steve didn't even know.

The point is, I'm pretty sure it was Daddy that guessed right every time it was Libby's turn. He can do no wrong. She really loves her Daddy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Day in Round Rock

I'm immensely enjoying this summer day.

First, we went to a Pioneer Day celebration pancake breakfast at the church and Libby and I wore the bonnets I made. It was hot. It was humid. I'm pregnant. I wasn't comfortable in my long black skirt, socks and shoes, long sleeve shirt, and bonnet.
But then... we came home to our air-conditioned, comfortable home and had naps. And it only got better. Although it was nothing out of the ordinary, I have to write it to remember it.

At lunch Libby says, "Mom, is Alex still in CA?" I said, "Yes, he'll be there for a while." She said, "I. Love. Him."

I ask Avery if she wants chocolate milk or strawberry milk in her bottle. She says "be-be-be" for "strawberry" and I think it's the cutest thing ever.

Daddy worked this afternoon, Alex is in California, but my girls and I spent the rest of the day outside.

Our yard makes me so very happy. Our porch is long and wide with ceiling fans and a porch swing. The big trees shade almost all of the grass and the trampoline and playscape so it's cool enough for even me to at least just sit outside and watch the kids. It's pretty too. I have an expansive view of the park across the street and all the trees there.

With nowhere for us to go for the rest of the day, I don't care that my hair is getting frizzy from the humidity or my makeup is slightly melting. The water from the hose that the girls are playing with is splashing all over my feet and legs, and if they spray it on me I wouldn't care. I'm able to drink in every moment of their play.

Libby is wearing her swimming suit; Avery is in her diaper. They're eating popsicles and it's melting all down their bellies and dripping down their arms to their elbows. They offer me a taste now and again.

A butterfly lands very near the girls. The girls get down on their haunches, and it allows the girls to study it until a drip of their popsicle lands too close for comfort and it flies away. Avery does the sign for butterfly and she watches her little hands.

Avery loves my toenail polish. She points to my toes and very distinctly says, "toenails," then proceeds to bite them. She thinks it's funny.

Libby washes her stickiness off and then washes Avery with the care of a mother so as not to make Avery cry.

After Libby hoses off the patio to clean the mess from the popsicles, she spies a little black bug and starts to mother him, then starts to squish him. I tell her not to hurt a bug in its home outside, that I only kill bugs that are in our house. He's saved.

Libby now has to save him from Avery. She's trying to teach Avery to be nice to the bug, so Avery lays down on her belly to spy him up close.

Libby has a million and one questions about this bug, from what she can do for him, and what he would like, and if it's okay to do this or that. All the while Avery is also jibber-jabbering and mimicking Libby.

Libby makes the bug a home with an ice cream container. She finds a heart-shaped leaf in her hunting but for some reason decides it looks good to eat. She eats it despite me telling her it will taste gross and it's not a leaf she's supposed to eat.

Avery is thirsty and says "gu, gu," because that's what she says for water. It came from reading together and seeing a drink on the page and I would pretend I'm chugging it. So "gu, gu" has always meant water to her.

Today is not unusual. It's like this 4 or 5 days out of a week. But as I'm sitting on the swing, my unborn baby girl is kicking around a lot and I'm reminded that when she comes I will be enraptured, enamored, entranced, engrossed with this new life and I won't notice these little things about my Liberty and Avery as much. It makes me teary.

I have no doubt these are the best days of my life.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Sewing Fun

In the girls' closet was a boring jean dress that even Libby never wore when she was little enough. So today I sewed a butterfly on it and turned her underpants into some bloomers.


Here she's concentrating on showing me her karate kick. (Hey, when you're trying to get a 1-yr-old to hold still for a picture, you do things like that.)


This is a dress I made for Libby. It's all wrinkled because she wore it to church but I forgot to take a picture. The last thing they need is more dresses but I just can't stop myself.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's Hot. I Have Proof.

After church one day, we found our super-hyper, ADHD squirrels like this. I thought this little guy was dead because our squirrels don't sit still for a second. But then I saw his significant other on the branch behind his, so there were actually two lifeless squirrels on this day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

You Know You're a Home Body When...

1. The idea of family vacation isn't terribly exciting in the first place.
2. Our idea of "family vacation" is visiting Houston for a couple of days to hang out with family.
3. We have a great time and accomplish all we set out to accomplish while away, and yet we still wonder why we take trips at all.
4. We want to kiss our floor and fridge and air conditioner and bed when we get home.
5. Alex (9 yrs. old) says, "Man, I just cannot stop saying how happy I am to be home!"
6. Avery (20 mos.), who hasn't seemed happy since we left, is immediately relieved when we walk in the door.
7. At 8:45 a.m. the morning after we get home half the house is still sleeping.
8. Why is my family only sick when we leave the house?
9. Steve and I have vowed not to take another trip until our youngest is 4...and our last baby isn't even born yet.
10. We came home to our first beautiful red ripe tomato from our garden.
11. Our idea of home is a place we never feel the desire to escape, even for just a couple of days.
12. We don't like to drive.
13. We don't sleep when we travel.

Now you know that if we make or have made the effort to come and visit you, you must be very special!

Pictures of our 4th of July in Houston:

On the way home, Steve stopped to help a car on the side of the road. We had a lot of reasons not to stop (at least I thought so), but he did it anyway. We had reasons not to let them into our car and give them a ride (at least I thought so), but we did it anyway.

One was a gay black man, he smelled like smoke and alcohol, and when we stopped for the bathrooms he was smoking and drinking. The other woman had a child 18 mos. old and did not have a car seat. I had to double buckle Alex and Libby so our guests would have seat belts and a car seat.

It was an incovenience and there was a risk we could get ticketed, but the bottom line is...I'm glad we did it. They needed someone's help; they were so grateful. Thanks, Steve, for being a good example of compassion and charity, even when it's not completely convenient to do so.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Libby's 4th Birthday

Libby's birthday is today (Sunday). We celebrated yesterday since it was a better party day for us.

We've been talking for months and months about how she can have gum when she turns 4, which turned into how she's going to have a "gum party" for her birthday.

Libby helped make her rainbow cake (only a couple of egg shells got in) and she decorated it with gum balls. We went to Chuck E. Cheese as a family, came home for cake and presents, and hung out with some family friends into the evening.

Alex gave her gum "tape" with a dollar inside the container, and he bought her a microphone and a huge gemstone ring that opens up from Chuck E. Cheese. I made her a pink silky pillowcase to match her pink silky blankie, and her friends' gifts were coming to Chuck E. Cheese with us, as well as make-up, a purse, and hair clips. Grandma Judy and Grandpa Chad & Grandma Jackie sent money in the mail, so now she says she's rich.

This birthday has really been a big deal for her; it marks her becoming "bigger-bigger." At Chuck E. Cheese, Steve was on a ride with her that simulates a roller coaster. They accidentally chose the "haunted" setting, and Steve was worried that it would scare her, not knowing what it entailed.

He told her, "If it gets scary, I'll cover your eyes, okay?" To which she responded, "No, I'm four now. I'm bigger-bigger."

I was worried she might be disappointed with the pillowcase gift, but she LOVES all her gifts. She carries her pillow around now; she loves it that much. She wore her new skirt I made for her, her birthday purse, and her birthday make-up to church today (that Alex helped her to apply).



video

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sewing Creation

This is my latest creation. I made this from two pictures I saw of similar-type skirts. It's Libby size. I made a lot of mistakes during the process -- I miscalculated measurements, I took out many, many stitches, I did a lot of figuring and refiguring. It was worth it.Why I can't stop sewing, I do not know. I can't sleep because I'm thinking about my projects, eating is an inconvenience and bother, my back aches and it's okay.

I'm indulging myself with this hobby because I know that it will soon end...oh, and because Steve is extremely supportive of this creative process that I'm enjoying. Please just be patient with me while I blog about it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Swimming

Swimming these days has been fun for the whole family. Yes, I bought a big ol' swimming suit that fits my prego body and I swim too (but there won't be any pictures of that).

The kids love it! Alex can dive and jumps crazy off the diving board. Libby refuses to get out of the pool, she loves it so much.

Avery loves it too and will stay just as long as the rest of us want to. If she hears the word swim, she won't stop saying "swimsuit" in her little baby way. Then I'll put her in the car and she'll cry until I assure her that yes, we are going to the pool but we have to drive there first.

At a birthday swim party recently, Libby walked straight over to the edge where her friends were already in the pool and just jumped right in. It was the craziest thing. Fortunately, she was wearing her floaty swimsuit so she came to the surface right away, but boy was she shocked that she went under like that! (And please don't worry about my kids, I'm extremely vigilant around water).





Sunday, June 21, 2009

Scout Camp


Scout Camp is cool, that's all there is to it. Four full days of fun and Alex did not want it to end. He made me promise that he can go next year.

He's feeling very outdoorsy now, and informed us that he wants to live where houses are a mile apart so that he can ride a horse everywhere he wants to go.

Homemade Dress #2

Awww, they're matchy poo-poo now.

This pattern taught me ruffles and elastic. I'm movin' on up.

Did you know that pattern sizes are a lot bigger than sizes you buy in the store? So I've also learned how to take in the sides and modify it in other ways so that it fits them better.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Homemade Dress


Her name is Liberty. We call her Libby or Boojy. Don't those names just fit the personality that you can see here?!

I'm feeling really good about making this dress. I followed a pattern, I did sleeves even. Just knowing that I can do this now gives me satisfaction and makes me happy.

Art Class for Alex Day 2

He's inspiring me to want to take art class too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Small Sample of This Week's Harvest


Onions, broccoli, green beans (we're getting about 60 green beans per day now), green onions, green peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and our first cucumber of the season.

I can't begin to describe how magical and spiritual I think this whole process is. What a profound privilege to take part in the wonder of creation. It might sound weird if you've never gardened, but it's seriously incredible. I'm addicted.

(By the way, notice that corn is conspicuously absent from the picture. We have a sinister, furry fiend that apparently loves corn as much as we do. I have a trap set tonight, so with any luck I'll be posting what should be a highly entertaining video tomorrow.)

Sisters

As Avery grows up, she plays with Libby more and more. It's super duper cute to watch them play. The other night Avery was "pretending" to be the baby and Mommy Libby was changing her diaper. It reminds me of when Rhyetta and I used to play house when we were little.

So Avery wants to be like her big sister, of course. And since Libby sucks her thumb, Avery thought she would try it out.

It's also super fun to watch Libby teach Avery the way of the world because she's gentle and kind with her approach. Libby told me to get the potty out of the garage for Avery, and if you look at Libby's face you can see that she's teaching Avery what to do on her potty. Hee-hee.

Special Moments

At the exact moment that Steve called me from the garden to tell me that picking the apples from the apple tree was an outright spiritual experience for him (we're prone to be dramatic like that), I was capturing this moment during dinner clean-up.

Daddy Love

First we have Alex, who has never in his whole entire life wanted to cuddle. When he was a little baby I used to whisper, "Please just be my baby and let me hold you." I was so confused as to why other babies were just sitting contentedly on their mothers' laps. Can you see how uncomfortable he is? In this picture we were teasing him and coaching him on how to cuddle, telling him that he's got to relax and just breathe.

Then we had Libby, and ahhhhh, what a cuddly and content little baby she was.

But Avery takes the cake on her desire for closeness, for freely giving hugs, and kisses on request.

Pioneer Farms

Every Friday morning our family goes to Pioneer Farms to do the morning feeding of the animals there. The farm is run solely through the efforts of volunteers. There are horses, donkeys, sheep, chicks, cats, pigs, cows, and chickens.

We initially started doing this because of Avery's love of animals, but it's only spurred our desire for getting some land ourselves and having our own small farm...very small farm...with a great big garden.

Make sure you check out the pigs we've been feeding because one of them will end up in our new deep freeze in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Perfection is in the Journey

I'm settled at the free throw line, tossing up shot after shot. Enjoying the moment. Pondering the wonders of the universe, as I'm prone to do.

Suddenly, I'm struck by an astounding thought: Suppose after shooting one hundred free throws, I make sixty-five. Then, I keep shooting indefinitely and never miss another shot. Thus, every time I make a shot, my shooting percentage increases.

So if I keep shooting forever, never missing a shot, my percentage will increase forever. Yet it will never reach one hundred percent (or so I think). How is it possible for it to increase for eternity and never reach one hundred percent?

This thought seized me and wouldn't let go. I had to find the answer. Luckily, I have a brilliant mathematician friend. I contacted him, and here was his response:
"The pure theoretical answer to your question is that if you did shoot infinitely long, then you would eventually reach one hundred percent. In mathematical terms, the limit of (x-40)/x as x goes to infinity is 1 (or one hundred percent). Intuitively, infinity minus forty is still infinity (since it never ends)."
Whoa.

Is it just me that's reeling?

What a mind-boggling, piercing, hope-infused concept. Mathematically, if we continue to progress eternally, we are perfect.

Perfection is attained through eternal progress, not in never making a mistake. It is in the repeated showers of repentance, not completely avoiding the mud puddles of sin. It is a state of perpetual motion, a continuum, a progressive journey -- not a static position or condition.

Even Christ's perfection was achieved "line by line." As Ezra Taft Benson taught:
"The Lord asked the question of the Nephites: 'What manner of men ought ye to be?' Then he answered by saying, 'Verily I say unto you, even as I am.' (3 Ne. 27:27.) What manner of man was Jesus during those thirty years when He was personally preparing Himself for His three-year public ministry? Turning to the Book of Luke in the New Testament, we read these words: 'And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.' (Luke 2:52.) From modern-day revelation we learn that Jesus 'received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace [not from sin to grace, but from grace to grace], until he received a fulness' (D&C 93:13)."
Though Christ was never stained by sin, neither did He arrive on earth as he would eventually become. He became perfect through eternal progression.

Burrow even deeper and we expose the truth that Christ's "infinite atonement" made this concept of progressive perfection possible. Furthermore, Christ is the "Alpha and Omega," the beginning and the end -- the Infinite One.

Perfection is built into infinity, and infinity is Christ. Those who come unto Him are therefore perfect every moment they repent. It's not that perfection is a future hope or ideal, as in, "I can't wait until I am perfect." Through the atonement, we can be perfect here and now, on this tiny speck of an eternal timeline.

If we can't be perfect in any given moment, we can never be perfect, since infinity is not bound by this mortal existence. We reside within eternity. All imperfection is erased by 1) our choice to improve eternally, and 2) the nature of eternity itself, which is the nature of Christ.

Keep moving forward and you're perfect -- you're not moving toward perfection; you are perfect. What matters, then, is not your current position, but the direction you're heading. Everyone who consistently gets closer to God is perfect.

So how does it feel to be perfect? And how does it feel to be surrounded by perfect beings? I don't know about you, but I'm glowing.

(And if your mind isn't boggled enough, consider this: If you start one mile away from your home and cover half the remaining distance every ten minutes, how long will it take you to get home? Answer: Eternity.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gymnastics

Alex's season of gymnastics has come to a close. It's on to art class and judo.

He's a gymnastics natural, that's for sure. I hope he'll want to continue with classes in the fall.