Reading, Writing, Resolutions

Welcome, 2019.

2018 wasn’t a bad year for me, we moved to a bigger house, nicer neighborhood; we got a minivan, I enjoy my calling at church, my relationship with my family is good. Nothing catastrophic happened. It had its ups and downs and self pity moments but I think every year will have that sprinkled throughout. So I’m not running away from 2018 and slamming the door shut behind me – but I do love fresh starts even if there’s nothing I’m trying to erase and forget.

That being said, here are my 2019 goals. I have to point out that yes, there are ten goals again (I didn’t do that last year) but that wasn’t completely on purpose, though I did scratch out a goal because 11 seemed weird.

  1. Read 30 books (3 on writing; 3 church)
  2. Query 5 agents by the end of the year
    • Edit first draft
    • Write query letter
    • BETA readers
  3. Journal once a week
  4. Keep up with the new church curriculum
    • Hold Family Home Evening once a week
    • Share my testimony more
  5. Send birthday cards to family
  6. 12 dates with Matt
  7. Go to the temple at least once
  8. Budget better
    • Stick to the shopping list and come in under budget
    • Re-evaluate wants vs needs
  9. Get fit/eat better/stretch
  10. Organize the house (we have more space but feel just as cramped sometimes…it’s all in how we use the space).
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It’s Official – I’m a Pageant Mom

So update on the pageant: Nicky participated! It may have helped that I said there would be a cookie feast for everyone who sings. It could also be because, even though he doesn’t sing, he’s had preparation and is fine to stand there.

He was the cutest little sheep. And I liked that he didn’t sing, made it humorous and entertaining. After the pageant they had the reception which was basically a cookie feast as I described. I even gave Nicky some punch but he said it was “too hot”. I took a sip, I think it was the bubbliness of the soda. Which I get – it’s why I don’t drink soda. They had Santa there and Nicky even sat on his lap and didn’t cry! In fact, as he was being helped on to Santa’s lap he already started to tell him what he wanted for Christmas (a puzzle like mommy’s). All-in-all it was a very good day.

Today is a New Day

I’ve been in a bad mood lately. I don’t really know when it began but I can tell you when I decided to make it end. I was hanging out with a friend, we’ll call her Kate, on Friday and she asked me if I needed help with the kids. There was something about the way she asked, her question having some pity/concern or something in it and it struck me that I haven’t been my best self lately.

I used to roll my eyes at things like, “happiness is a choice”, but really folks, it is and I’ve known that for quite some time (ps- I’m not naive though to the very real fact of depression and that is not something you just will away – but you can choose to seek help). A few years back one of my goals had been to leave people better than I found them and I found that because of that I was a better person. I think I’m going to institute that in my life again because my bad attitude hasn’t been leaving people better than I found them. And when I focus so much on complaining or fault finding with people and places in my life, it filters the way I see things and then I get sucked further into that mood.

So that was Friday when I decided to get over whatever it is I’ve been allowing to control my mood for months. Yesterday was great, not a whole lot happened but I was in a better mood, I was a better mom too.

Today church was amazing and it’s been a long time since I’ve thought that. It’s been good or okay. But today I got so much out of church and when I looked at the people around me I found good, complimentary thoughts popping up (honest second here – lately I’ve had mean thoughts pop into my mind). I’ve resisted liking my new ward and it wasn’t hard to resist it-it’s very different than my old ward. Much louder, less organized and such. But today I was just overcome with the feeling that I was surrounded by really amazing people. In Young Women’s (have I mentioned I’ve been called to serve in YW again?) the girls are incredible, they participate A LOT and what they know and what they have to say was just amazing–I was just impressed with each and every comment they made.

I’m so fortunate and for months I’ve been blind to that, or resisting it and I didn’t realize I was doing that or the effect it was having on me. I haven’t been taking the time to practice gratitude. Not just listing my blessings but to see the world around me in a better way.

Last week I taught on gratitude, and I gave the girls each a notebook and told them how President Eyring had shared how he looked for the hand of the Lord in his life (or his family’s life) each and every day. So I challenged them to look for the hand of the Lord in their life each day – and since I don’t issue challenges I’m not willing to do myself, I’ve been keeping my own notebook and at the end of every day I take a few minutes to ponder how the Lord has blessed me that day. It’s super hard but I’ve done this before so I know from experience that it gets easier. And I can feel my attitude improving. If you haven’t guessed, Kate was my mention for Friday because I needed that question to push me out of my rut.

Anyway – just wanted to say that and don’t know how to end the post so this paragraph will do that for me. I’ll post about Halloween and this weekend in a separate post.

Ring in the New Year – 2018

I’ve been giving my goals some thought (some less than others) but here they are.  I’m also going to tape them to my mirror so I remember what goals I set.  Here we go:

2018 Resolutions

  1. Query 5 agents by August
    1. Finish the 1st draft with necessary edits
    2. Have 3 BETA readers (at least)
    3. Research agents
    4. Write and polish query letter
    5. Send
  2. Reach goal weight by August 31st by cutting back sugar and working out more.
  3. Make my marriage a priority by having at least 12 dates with my hubs and holding family counsels.
  4. Go to the temple at least twice (DC will be closing in March until 2020 – just thought I’d explain the low number).
  5. Service – do one service activity a month.
  6. MOVE!
  7. Read 25 books.  At least two need to be on writing and three be church books.
  8. Mommy/Son dates – Take time for just Nicky and me by going on at least 6 outings together.

As you can see – I’m making dating my family a big priority this year – someone’s desperate… I’m excited and nervous about my goals – mainly the writing one.  I realized a few weeks ago that I hold back because I get anxiety about the whole submission process.  I figure if I make it a goal then my pride and stubbornness will overpower the anxiety and I’ll finally take the next steps.  We’ll see.  An unwritten goal is to blog and journal more – so hopefully you’ll hear from me more (if that’s what you want).

Fall into this update – see what I did there?

A lot has happened since my last post. At the beginning of October, I was released from my calling with the Young Women. For those of you unfamiliar with how callings work at my church, everything is volunteer. We receive a call from a member of the bishopric and then we serve for a number a years and then we are released. The Bishopric prays about who should fill what callings. A relief society president could become a primary teacher – it’s all based on inspiration and revelation.

I served with the young women for three and half years. We knew the release was coming, just not exactly the when. I got a heads up two weeks before and I didn’t take it well – LOTS of crying. But it was nice knowing in advance so I could just enjoy the time I had left with the girls. This basically sums up my feelings.

The Sunday I was released I was the one teaching- I gave a lesson of Gratitude…which I thought fitting, since I was sad but also very grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know the girls and be a part of their lives.

The next Sunday, I was asked to teach Relief Society the following week. I was beyond stressed. When I first left singles ward I thought being a relief society teacher would be a pretty sweet calling. But after years with the youth I was nervous about teaching adults again. I didn’t have much of an outline, just taught from a conference talk – no other guideline. It was awful! I asked a question and got absolutely NO response. I moved on and I was most of the way done with what I had prepared with 20-25 minutes left!! Luckily I asked a question that seemed to get people talking (or they finally took pity on me) and we only ended a few minutes early. The next week I got a calling to be a Relief Society teacher the second and fourth Sundays…so there’s that. They are changing the curriculum in January to be more the way the youth program is so I guess they thought I’d be a good fit since I already have experience with that. Oh and the YW President was called as the 1st counselor and so she’s still my “boss”- which helps me be more comfortable right off the bat.

Also at the beginning of October, my oldest nephew came for a weeklong visit, followed by a one day visit from his parents. So I was spending a lot of time in the West End with my family there.

Stormy/Nicky (Its easier just to use their real names) started “preschool”. It’s one day a week and they basically just play. But social skills are learning too and I already see a big improvement. Every couple of weeks I get to help out in the classroom and that’s more fun than I thought it would be.

Gertie/Izzy will be 6 months old next week! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. She’s at a really fun stage. Super cute, smiles all the time, and so curious about everything! She reaches for objects and is rolling over. We’ll be starting solids in the next week or so.

Chewy/Matt and I are in a weight loss competition with each other. Not really, but we are both losing weight and I’m very competitive. At first I wasn’t because I had so much extra, you know, having just had a baby. But over the last month or so I’ve really closed the gap. I still weigh more than my husband…but I’m only a few pounds away from him and my pre pregnancy weight.

Let’s see- what else. I’m still writing whenever I can and meeting with my writing group. I still take family photos and continue to work on my photography skills. Oh – and I’m making Nicky a new quiet book. We’re trying to be better about keeping him in the chapel during sacrament meeting – so I thought making a new quiet book might make it fun/easier. I’ll take pics when I’m done. So far it’s not too bad, as long as I don’t compare my work with my Pinterest inspirations of course.

That’s it for now. Here are some photos for making it all the way to the end!

Family Home Evening With a Toddler – Obedience

I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a laminator and have been making family home evening packets.  A lot of mine come from Pinterest, but this week I decided that we needed to learn about obedience (after Stormy ran into a parking lot and continued running even after I told him to stop) and what I found on the interwebs just weren’t cutting it for my two year old.  So I decided to gather things from different sources and compile my very own.

Now, we have a board we’ll use later when the kids are older to make assignments for family home evening (Christmas gift from my SIL – I’ll post a picture at some point), but for now, it’s all on mom and dad, so at least for now things should go together nicely.

We started with a prayer.

Then we sang the first verse of “Nephi’s Courage” from the Children’s Songbook.  Fun fact – I didn’t know that was the title until I had to Google it. I’ve always just called it “I will go, I will do.”

Then we had a story/lesson David’s Lesson, which I pulled off the LDS.org website from the Friend.  (I printed and laminated this for my folder)

For our activity we played Obedience Games that I found on a homeschooling website.  We did “Mother says” first but I think we’ll play one of these games once a day until my child stops doing suicide missions into the library parking lot.

We closed with a prayer and then it was time for treats.  Stormy and I made Rice Krispies Treats (there’s a video in that link too in case you’ve never made these before…not that I’m judging)

That’s all.

Stop It

A few recent events have got me thinking about how we treat each other, most especially the strangers we come near to, but don’t interact with and the internet we use to show our ugly side.

Last week my sister was in her car, at a stop light, when she looked over to find the passenger of the other car taking a picture of her with their phone. The passenger quickly retreated back in the seat when they made eye contact with my sister. This upset her. Why had that person taken a picture of a stranger? What would they do with it? You have to wonder that nowadays, will that picture now be a meme, meant as funny and possibly could be but at the expense of someone else? Or could it have been innocent enough – the individual taking the picture liked my sister’s haircut and wanted to do the same with their hair? Who knows – we never will.

The other incident was a post on Facebook. A friend had recorded, what I presumed was a stranger, dancing at a church event he was attending. If you know me, you know I appreciate those who can dance as though no one is watching, even though they are in the middle of a crowded room. I commented on the post to show my appreciation. The comments that followed however did not seem to be as positive, but not mean. Then a particularly mean spirited comment was posted, one that went on to attack the boy dancing, despite him being a stranger to the person who posted. The comment after that was from a friend of the boy dancing, who then tagged him in the video.  I noticed not long afterwards that the mean spirited comment had been deleted and more of the boy’s friends were positively commenting on the video. I checked back before posting this entry and there are so many positive comments and my friend explained that he had shown the video to the guy before posting it, and that they got along really well.  But the thing I am focused on is that one ugly, deleted comment.  

Because my point here folks, is that who we are and how we treat each other is, “never checked at the door” as Elder Holland would say.  I’m not here to preach how perfect I am and how imperfect the rest of the world is – I am just as guilty. I’ve been to thepeopleofwalmart.com; laughed at awkwardfamilyphotos; I make judgments on people who don’t follow the rules of common decency and walk on the correct side of the aisle at the store; I’ve poked fun at the pictures or videos of strangers doing strange things. But that’s beside the point, I shouldn’t do those things, none of us should. And with the internet it seems all too easy to put someone down.

Before the boy was tagged in the video it was easy for someone to post mean things, even though it was not anonymous like most websites where people troll. But the moment the boy received an identity, those commenting with identities (and profiles to display much more about them than just their names) retreated. Why is it that when we or the person we are commenting on lacks an identity we find it so much easier to be cruel?

We should strive to be kind always, otherwise how can we consider ourselves kind? I’m not saying we don’t slip, we lose patience from time to time, someone hurts us and our instinct is to fight back, with things like that we strive to be better after each failure (or at least we should), we apologize as best we can to the person we were ugly to. But what about what we post on social media? What we say about that stranger on YouTube who posted a video or had a video posted about them?  It’s almost worse online because we type our means thoughts. We type them and then we have one more chance to take them back, to erase them from ever being written but many times we hit SEND without a second thought. We hide behind a computer or phone screen and make snap judgments on a person we know nothing about.

I work with the youth at church, so this isn’t something new I’m thinking about – it’s just that recently I’ve seen (maybe realized) adults act the same as teenagers with cyber bullying.  One quote shared with the youth more than once in the past few years is from President Dieter F. Uchdorft from a conference talk a few years ago:

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

Might I suggest that we can change “sin” on that bumper sticker to anything: dance, dress, speak, look, think, etc.

I know I want to be better about how I treat people, those I know and love (and those I know and don’t love so much) but especially strangers.  I think we can learn a lot about ourselves by the way we treat those we do not know and do not have to look in the face while or after we have said things about them.  Be kind when you’re out and about (and if you see my sister, don’t take a picture.  She really didn’t like that), be kind when you’re on Facebook, snapchat, and other social media, be kind at home, work, school, even Wal-Mart.  And strive to be the kind of person people can trust when their back is turned to you.

And because I love Elder Holland so much and feel that one quote in a blog post isn’t enough – here’s one more.

HOLLAND

Googleimages – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/66498531971387763/