Sunday, July 7, 2013

Doing More Good

I apologize for my long absence.  After having my daughter, I've been struggling with the adjustment to six kids, especially with one of them being a baby who constantly needs to be held. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and my contribution to the world.  Certainly my six children are a contribution and I'm trying my best to raise them well. But I don't think I am doing all the good that I can do.  I have too  many distractions that keep me from fully being the person that I want to be.

I recently read several biographies of women from the mid-1800's.  They were mothers of many children; one had sixteen!  In addition to being mothers, they were involved in their communities.  One of them opened her home to travelers; another helped with feeding and clothing the poor and needy.  The reason I read these biographies was because they were posted as notable people of history for the city in which I live.  Of the sixteen people that were honored on a wall at the city offices, three of them were women from that time period. 

I have read much about women in history and how women were oppressed and not valued, etc.  Today's women celebrate how much has changed for us--how we are able to do so many things that women in earlier times were not allowed to do.  Almost all of these changes have been positive, but some of the fallout effects of these changes have not been.

Women in earlier times were typically "confined" to the home.  They weren't allowed to work outside the home or vote or be public figures.  Yet these women that were honored on this wall still did much good even without these opportunities.  In fact, I'd like to argue that they did more good than most women who are in high career positions and in the public eye do today. 

As I was reading these biographies, I was thinking about how I have all these freedoms and opportunities, yet I waste much time doing things that are not productive nor contribute much to my community or society.  Yes, I am raising my kids, but I also waste a lot of time watching TV, puttering around on the Internet (reading articles, posting comments, connecting through Facebook).  I think that these women had to work so hard just to keep their tables from being bare and their homes clean and kept up that they didn't have time for all the nonsense we have time for today. 

This got  me thinking about how I need to improve.  We have so many modern conveniences that make our lives easier.  We also invest our time in so many busy activities (carting kids around is something women then did not do--the kids worked alongside them and also had time to run free and play without supervision--another thing I could talk a whole lot more about another time).  These activities aren't inherently bad, but are they really making our lives better? 

After reading these biographies, I really felt like I needed to focus more on teaching my kids worthwhile things--like cooking skills and learning how to garden (I really don't know how) with them by my side.  I need to write that book I've been wanting to write for a couple of decades now.  I need to put more time and work into my community, most likely through PTA because helping at school is something I'm comfortable with and know how to do.  I need to spend less time puttering around and more time serving and helping others and teaching my kids to do the same. 

I need to do more good.  I see many women doing good, but I wonder, with all the progress we've made, are women doing more good today than they were when their opportunities were more limited?  In some ways, it doesn't seem like we are.  I want to be a woman who really makes a contribution to the world.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Struggle

My daughter was born last week on March 14th, which is why I haven't posted anything in more than a week.

With every baby, I have struggled to breastfeed.  I am a perfectionist.  I am an avid reader.  I know all the facts about how nutritious breastfeeding is and how it's so good for both baby and mom.  I know it's supposed to be the best way to feed your baby.

But I hate it.

It's painful.  It's stressful.  It gives me anxiety.  I worry about how much they're getting because they seem to always be hungry.  It takes all my effort and energy.  I don't have time to eat or sleep or even use the restroom.  I'm in such terrible pain that I can't stand having my other kids within two feet of me.  I'm a grouch and I hate my life. 

Yet because I'm a perfectionist, I feel like a massive failure if I don't breastfeed.

My baby is one week and one day old.  On day five, I was a total wreck.  I was experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage.  The breastfeeding was not going well.  I was in terrible pain.  I had to go back to the hospital and spent the day in the ER, trying to nurse my baby with an i.v. in the crook of my elbow.  It was complete misery.  In between feedings, which only lasts about forty-five minutes to an hour, I was pumping because the engorgement was so painful.

After sobbing to my husband for about an hour that night, in the middle of the night, I decided that I just can't do it.  It's too hard.

So now I'm pumping every few feedings and giving formula when there isn't breastmilk to give.  My milk supply is diminishing.  I am going to bottlefeed and my baby is only one week old.  I feel like a bad mom.

But at the same time, I feel relief.  I am not as stressed out.  I am not dealing with massive anxiety and panic attacks.  I am in less pain.  I even feel somewhat happy.

I wish I could find a way to bottlefeed without feeling guilty, without feeling like a bad mom, without feeling like others are judging me.  I did try.  Probably not as hard as I should have.  Probably not as hard as others do.  But I had to weigh the pros and cons. 

I want to enjoy my baby, not loathe her.  She will be okay.  I have bottle fed five other babies after trying breastfeeding for various lengths of time, from two weeks to four months, and they have all turned out healthy and smart.  I know it's not the end of the world.

Yet somehow, it feels like it is in some ways. 

This is my struggle. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Believe in Christ

I Believe in Christ is one of my favorite hymns.  I love the music and I especially love the words.  The hymn embodies my testimony of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer.  There are many more hymns and primary songs that do this, but this is one of my favorites.

I believe in Christ; he is my King!  With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy, In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.  On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised. Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh, blessed name!  As Mary's Son he came to reign
'Mid mortal men, his earthly kin, To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path, Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: "Come, follow me, That ye, my friends, with God may be."

I believe in Christ--my Lord, my God!  My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I'll worship him with all my might; He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.  From Satan's grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!  From him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."
I believe in Christ; so come what may, With him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again To rule among the sons of men.
--Bruce R. McConkie, 1972

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love how everything fits together so neatly, how Christ's atoning sacrifice satisfies both the laws of justice and mercy. Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to return to live with Heavenly Father some day and to live with our family eternally.  What a beautiful concept and a beautiful plan!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Fatherless

FatherlessFatherless by James C. Dobson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book came out at an appropriate time.  I had just read about three articles before reading this book about the decline in population and its effects on the economy. 

I enjoyed this book.  The first several chapters were a bit confusing because he switched between the different major characters and I had a hard time following what was going on.  But once I got into it, I just wanted to read it.  I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in this series.

I felt that the issues he touched on--elective suicide of the elderly or disabled (he called it "transitioning"), fertility rates, genetic selection (choosing only embryos with "good" genes to weed out disabilities and chronic diseases), population decline, the disappearance of marriage, etc.--were very real issues, some of which are happening now and some of which I could see happening in the future.  These are some of the exact social issues that concern me, so it was a very interesting read.

The issue of "Fatherlessness", despite that being the book's title, didn't really come up as much as I thought it would.  It was more implied than actually talked about. 

I would definitely recommend "Fatherless" to my friends and family.

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Patience and Prayer

I must admit, this parenting thing is tricky.  There are days when I watch my kids interact and can't for the life of me figure out why they don't get that things are so much easier when they are nice to each other.  They make things so hard for themselves when they are mean.  We have countless family home evening lessons on how to be nice to each other, why it's important, and everything, but they just. don't. seem. to. get. it.

Patience is something I'm learning with all of this.  It takes great patience for me some days to grit my teeth and keep calm while trying to pry my fighting children off one another.  It takes great patience when I have to, yet again, handle a screaming six-year-old because something didn't go exactly right for him, or the eight-year-old, for that matter.  It takes great patience to bite my tongue and wait until a later time without the kids when I don't like how my husband handles the discipline.  Like today when he made them sit in a time-out for forty-five minutes because of how wild they were when we had some house guests.  Forty-five minutes is excessive for kids aged five to nine, especially when we spent the entire time quieting them.

I had an experience though.  On Thursday this week, I had a fabulous day.  I managed the tantrums and meltdowns of my children beautifully and got a lot done.  We went to the DMV, the store, and the library.  We did preschool and played some games.  I picked them up from school and took them to piano lessons.  I picked up my husband at the airport and came home and whipped up a last-minute dinner, even convincing myself to cook at home instead of stopping somewhere and picking something up.  We got the kids to bed and I spent the evening sewing.

I thought back on why my day had gone so well. I figured out two reasons.  The first was that I had gotten a decent amount of solid sleep the night before.  That was partially due to the fact that my husband was out of town.  His sleep apnea (he has actually been diagnosed and is going back in for more information and treatment!) and snoring keep me awake when my pregnant body doesn't.  He was gone and I slept very well that night.  That can't be duplicated most of the time and I wouldn't necessarily want it to be--him being out of town, that is--but I wouldn't mind separate bedrooms if we could ever do that (just for sleeping's sake!).

The second reason I think was that I had really said my prayers that morning.  I have not been very good with praying most of my life.  I find that I have a hard time really communicating with Heavenly Father and tend to follow more of a script.  Or I find that I can spend the entire prayer asking for things without thanking for anything or the other way around.  Or I forget what I really wanted to pray about and then remember later.  So this year I decided that I  needed to learn how to offer more sincere prayers and really focus on praying.  Focusing on it is one of the harder parts for me because there is always so much going on around me, especially for morning prayers, so I often skip them altogether in the morning.

But Thursday, I really, really prayed.  I focused on asking for guidance when faced with challenges my kids bring me and having the patience to communicate well with them.  I think that helped a lot.  The next day, Friday, I forgot about my morning prayers and proceeded to have one of the most awful days ever.  As I reflect on those two days, I think I need to really work hard at having more sincere, consistent morning prayers. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Am a Mom

I am a mom.  That means that my days are not mine.  My time is not mine.

However, I wouldn't have it any other way right now.  This is the life I chose to have.  My power to make a difference in the lives of my children is immeasurable.

Some day my children will be grown.  They will talk about their childhood.  What will they remember?

Will they remember me being there, present in their lives?  Or will they remember me being too busy with other things, things that are much more trivial?

When I chose to have children, I chose to give up some of myself for them.  I chose to put someone else's needs before my own.  I chose to make their lives a priority in my life.

I need to remind myself of these commitments, these obligations.  There are days when I spend too much time watching TV.  There are days when I spend too much time on the Internet.  There are days when I spend too much time reading a book.  I need to take more time each day with my kids as I realize this time is fleeting.

I am a mom. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Ultimate Bully

My children learn a curriculum about once a month at their school called "Bully Blockers".  I don't really know what they talk about in that, and I'm doing more research to find out, but last week there was a news story about another young man who had taken his own life (twelve years old) due to bullying.  So I decided to talk to my kids.

"What do you learn about in Bully Blockers?" I asked.

Mostly it was about how bullying was bad and how they need to be nice.  All good stuff.  However, my biggest concern is that my child will be bullied and not have the strength to get through it, that in being bullied, like this twelve-year-old, they will not be confident enough in themselves and will believe the bully and consider the worst.

So we took the conversation in a different direction.  After all, bullies have been around since the beginning, and because of that, I decided to go back to the beginning.

"Do you know what happened before we came to Earth?" I asked.

My kids mumbled different answers.  So I reminded them of the Primary song I Lived in Heaven.  We sang it and talked about the words.  This is what I told them.

We lived in Heaven before we came here.  Heavenly Father had a plan for us to come to Earth and get a physical body so we could progress and then someday return to Him.  He needed someone to help with this plan, to be a Savior.  Lucifer volunteered, only he wanted to make sure EVERYONE came back by forcing us.  Jesus also volunteered, but wanted to let us have free agency. (We had a little side conversation on free agency).

Heavenly Father wanted us to have free agency and Lucifer (Satan) wanted to force us.  So a war broke out.  Some people followed Satan and others followed Heavenly Father.  In the end, Satan lost and his punishment was that he could never be born and have a body, and all of his followers got the same punishment.  And they were cast out of Heaven.

Then I told them,  "You are on Earth because you followed Heavenly Father.  If you had followed Satan, you wouldn't have been born.  Just the fact that you were born means that you followed Heavenly Father."

"Do you know what this means?  It means that you fought Satan in the pre-existence and won."

They all look at me, realization sinking in.

Then my 6-year-old shouts, "We fought the ultimate bully and beat him!"

And I tell them, "You need to remember that, if you are ever bullied, that you are strong enough to withstand it because you have already fought the ultimate bully and won!"

Think about that.  I hope to teach my children their value in the eyes of God.  Like the book, You Are Special, by Max Lucado, that it only matters what God thinks of them and He already thinks they are pretty special.  Their self-worth and a more eternal perspective will be what strengthens them when in a situation of difficulty.  I just hope that I can teach them this when they are young and it will stay with them as they grow.

Satan is the ultimate bully and they have already beat him once.  That is a pretty powerful thought.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Austenland

Austenland (Austenland, #1)Austenland by Shannon Hale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I gave this book five stars because it was an enjoyable read for me.  I can't think of anything I didn't really like.  I don't want to over-analyze it because it was just a fun read, kind of a kick-back, read-in-the-bubble-bath, kind of read that doesn't require a lot of hard thought. 

There were some quotes throughout the book that I really liked, one in particular: "Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable?  who said that their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people?" (p. 112) That quote resonated with me because I tend to get carried away in seeking approval from others. 

I would recommend this to anybody who likes Jane Austen and also likes a fun, clean, romantic easy read.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Family Community

I have been reading the book, The Entitlement Trap, by Richard and Linda Eyre.  Chapter Three, Giving Your Children Ownership and Equity in Your Family, is very enlightening.  In it, they talk about how important it is to give your children a strong identity.  They talk about how this identity comes from their roots, their families.  Kids need to be able to identify with their families and have connections with them.  The Eyres give quite a few ideas on how to instill these connections in your children.  For example, by having strong family traditions (holidays and regular practices), developing a family culture and infrastructure, having weekly family meetings, family laws, and family mission statements, etc. 

I have been watching a weekly show recently called Teen Trouble.  In this reality show, a young man named Josh, who was a troubled teen himself, is now a teen behavior specialist and goes around to troubled teens and their families and helps direct them on the right path again and straighten out their lives.  One common thread I've noticed between the teens who've been highlighted is the fact that their family life failed them somehow.  Their parents clearly love them and have always loved them, but they never built this family "infrastructure", this family identity that the Eyres talk about in their book.

As I've pondered this, I've realized that there are many things about LDS culture that contribute to this family identity and that we can use to our benefit to really strengthen our families.  I always knew that things like Family Home Evening and family scripture study and prayer were infinitely important.  However, I never thought about it quite this deeply before, about how these three things contribute so very greatly to family connectedness and to really strengthening family bonds.  I never thought about how through these family bonds, kids can grow up in such a secure way, really feeling part of something.

I remember having a few Family Home Evening lessons on family unity, but I think I missed the point back then.  I understand it so much better now, even better as I'm reading this book.  Families are so important to the emotional and mental health of children and that is quite evident as we watch the current trend of the breakdown of the family, starting with a sort of anti-marriage sentiment that is sweeping through modern culture.  If Satan can make marriage seem trite, then families will be less important, and then individuals can be more easily torn apart.

We like to have a fancy family meal on Valentine's Day, either breakfast or dinner..

Family is the basic unit of society and a  unit that can be eternal.  It's no wonder why.  Heavenly Father sure knew what He was doing when He organized us into families.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I am stumbling right now.  I feel like God has not answered any of my prayers for a long time and that has made me reluctant to even bother praying.  I feel like all I do is try, try, try but nothing ever comes of my efforts.

My kids are constantly fighting and nothing I say or do seems to help.

No matter how much I budget and budget, I feel like the finances are crumbling.  I'm also in a constant state of worry due to the rising costs of everything.  Food prices are supposed to go up.  Taxes increased and lots of people are reporting how it's already affecting them (the tax changes).  I honestly don't know how badly it has hit us yet because my husband's company only paid him for one week at the beginning of January instead of two.  Something about the dates every few years makes them think they should only give us three weeks worth of pay in January.  That alone hit us hard, getting paid for only three weeks instead of four.  We had to get our car fixed--a repair we've been putting off for more than a year.  We had half of the amount in savings but had to pay cash the other half, which will cut down how much we can pay on some outstanding debt, debt we've been trying to get rid of for seven years.  I just feel extremely frustrated.  I budget the money, I try hard to stick to the budget, we pay our tithing, but it just seems like things are not working out for us.

I'm frustrated with my calling.  That's putting it lightly.  It really, really bothers me that the same people always seem to be called to the same callings (other people who go from presidency to presidency and me who has held the same callings in all the wards I've been in as an adult).  It seems I'm condemned to be a lifelong member of the Relief Society committee when I'm not teaching Primary.  I wish I could have the opportunity to serve in a capacity where I actually get to know other people on an intimate level (face it, in church, the only way to do that is to serve in a presidency with them) or to have other opportunities of growth (teach in Relief Society, serve on cub scouts or activity days, or teach in Young Women's, to name a few).  I wish I could figure out what it is I'm supposed to learn from being on the Relief Society committee because maybe if I learned it, I wouldn't have to do it anymore.  When I was in college, I was once given the calling "Sacrament Meeting prayer coordinator".  I knew they had made up the calling so I could have a calling.  Sure, it probably helped them out to have the prayers arranged before church on Sunday, but it was a nothing calling that didn't really allow me to get to know anybody.  I know that callings aren't the only way to get to know people, but for someone like me, who isn't naturally outgoing and aggressive in meeting people, it sure helps to have a reason to get to know someone.

So, I'm feeling very low.  People ask if I'm excited about the upcoming baby, and right now, all I can think about is how worried I am about money.  It clouds over everything.  I'm so tired of budgeting down to the penny and then little expenses keep coming up--one child needs new socks, another child breaks his (much-needed) glasses, something goes wrong with the car, another smoke alarm stops functioning properly, etc., etc.  I know life isn't supposed to be easy, but can't we ever catch a little tiny break once in a while?


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