Tuesday, November 12, 2013

25 Things You Didn't Know?

A few days ago, a friend of mine typed up a blog post on who she was, so I decided to do a similar post. 


1. I hate Classical music. It gives me headaches. 

2. I have had 8 teeth pulled, had braces for 3 years (and had them taken off early because "I was done with them"), had one chipped tooth, 2 root canals and a plethora of cavities.

3. I was hit in the eye with a Super Soaker when I was 8 and had my eyebrow busted open, resulting in 5 stitches. I also baseball slid a 150 cc dirt bike when I was 16, resulting in 5 more stitches in my arms and a lot of road rash. 

4. I kissed nearly 40 boys before marrying my husband. (Whoops.)

5. I love ice cream. But it always has to be vanilla based, never chocolate or strawberry.

6. Some real life dreams I've had include: Being a part of Motorcross, being a Firefighter, and being a politician. 

7. I love to eat. One of my older brother's friends in high school told me that I could out-eat him in a pizza eating contest. I agreed. 

8. Sudoku & 1000+ piece puzzles are relaxing to me. 

9. If it weren't so expensive & time consuming, I would be a body builder. The nasty, fake-tanned, overly buff, look-like-they-are-on-steroids type of body builder. That might be hard to do, considering I love to eat. Random fact: My father-in-law won Mr. Arizona back in the day. 

10. I have been obsessed with the universe/galaxy/solar system/stars/sky for as long as I remember. One day I hope to own my own telescope.

11. I don't like cell phones much. I hate learning how to use them, I hate how unreliable they are, and I hate how much money they cost to have every month. Half the time, I find myself wondering where my phone even is

12. I hate gossip. Unless you are among the 5 or so people that I consider myself extra close to, you won't hear me saying my honest, raw opinions on other people unless I feel confident that I would say them to the person's face. With that being said, if your name comes up negatively in conversation, chances are great that I will stand up for you. I don't gossip often, but I also don't tolerate it. 

13. I have only dyed my hair 3 or so times in my entire life. I'm also working towards cutting & donating my hair for the 4th time in 11 years. 

14. I'm a busy body. I'm not the type that sits on my couch to relax, or enjoys being in the shadows while others have fun. I'm always ready for adventure and I've been that way for as long as I can remember. Therefore, having infants was really hard for me, because I didn't like holding a newborn while I watched others have fun. I like to be in on the action. I also sit on my couch maybe 3 times in the entire 10 hours my husband is gone at work. I'm always up and doing things. It's a blessing and a curse.

15. I run my entire house. That includes paying bills, filing papers, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, dishes, seeding & mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, fixing things that break, organizing the garage, cleaning the cars (inside & out) and other odd jobs. 

16. I love clothes and fashion. But I'm picky. I also shop sales, always. I will shop at Goodwill, Walmart, Target, Nordstrom Rack, JCPenney & random local Thrift Shops as long as it means I find great things for great prices. I have a really "loud" sense of style. I've been that way for a long time! I'm the one that will wear things no one else will.

17. I am the opposite of a hoarder. I call myself a purger. I hate having too many things, so I am always looking to have only the things I need. After moving 13 times in 8 years, I realized I needed to only move my essentials. 

18. I cannot cook to save my life. When recipes come out right, I am so proud of myself. I have been known to start fires (Real ones. Ones that need fire extinguishers.) and set off smoke alarms on a regular basis. 

19. I don't drink soda often, and I used to really dislike it. 

20. I get anxiety when I babysit, and I reeeeeally don't like doing it. But I do it to serve, and to pay it forward for when I might need someone to babysit for me. That's strange, because I used to LOVE babysitting. 

21. I love school, and I'm so ready to go back! I have 3 semesters left, and I am a sucker for expanding my knowledge. 

22. I don't know how to do hair or make up. And I'm okay with that. I only spend a few minutes in front of the mirror every single day. 

23. I'm done having kids. There's a very slight chance we'll have another (or two if we get twins? My daughter was a twin and they run in the family) but we are 95% sure we are finished. A big family isn't for us, and we are perfectly fine with that.

24. I support Gay Marriage & equality. (Hot topic.)

25. I love to dress feminine-like, but I am very much a tom-boy at heart. I used to wear backwards hats to school (yikes). I love to play sports and get out my energy. I'm not a germophobe and I am not afraid to get dirt on my clothes or skinned up knees. I also love to ride motorcycles and hope to own my own at some point so my husband and I can ride together. Random fact: I've never broken a bone, despite my crazy ways.

I tried to pick out some of the things that many people don't know. I always like to get to know people better! Thanks Beth, for inspiring this post! I enjoyed thinking of things to write about. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ten Things to Think About.


Sometimes, life is hard. Life is confusing. Life just kind of sucks. But I've learned over time that listening to myself is often the prescription I need for the illness of trials. 

No one prepares you for life with kids. They don't come with manuals, equipment or warranties. And even if someone were to slap you across the face with raw parenting stories, it would do next to nothing as long as you've never had children. 

I feel like I was force fed ideas, theories, horror stories, glory stories, tips, tricks & anything else you can think of about parenting. I thought I was ready. Two kids later, I've learned a thing or two and now it's my turn to share. We'll start at the beginning. 

1. Conception. I had been married for nearly two years before marrying my now husband. The last six months of that marriage, I hadn't used birth control. Low and behold, no baby. I married my current husband and had been trying to conceive for 6 months and finally got pregnant. Prenatal vitamins, hips in the air, sex all the time...you name it. Guess what. You will either get pregnant or you won't. Is it exhausting? Yes! But before being hard on yourself or thinking that your body is "broken", take that stress and let it go. This is probably one of the top reasons your body won't let you conceive. Once it's out of the picture, the inner wheels start turning. If that isn't the case for you, then by all means, look into other options. But please, do not beat yourself up. I've learned that things come to us when they are ready to. And sometimes we aren't ready for them to arrive quite yet. 

2. Exercise/Don't Exercise During Pregnancy. Sure, exercise is awesome for you! I would always encourage women to be up & about during pregnancy. I was very active with both of my children in the womb, yet my first pregnancy was a breeze and my second was a bit harder.  I was much more active the second time around, and yet I was hooked up to cardiac monitors, told not to drive and had shooting pain that took me to the floor many afternoons. Be active, but don't over do it. Enjoy your pregnancy without the stress of trying to be Barbie when you're done with it. 

3. Epidural/Natural Birth/Cesarean Section. I took 10 weeks of natural birthing classes before having my first child. I knew the exercises well and I was faithful to the program. I labored 18 hours, endured a bloody show and dilated to a 4 before things got serious. After using the restroom, bleeding, shaking and nearly fainting, I prayed. Well, my husband prayed for me. I was pretty bent out of shape and couldn't even mutter my date of birth when I was asked for it. When he was finished, he asked me flat out: "Are you doing this so you can say you did it and be a hero or are you doing it because it's actually better for the baby?" This was when I realized that I was trying to force my normally 102 pound frame packed with 50 extra pounds of baby, water and who-knows-what-else weight on it to give natural birth so I can feel like this woman. 
But you know what? I already am that woman! I had carried this child around for 9 months, eaten more protein than I knew what to do with so his brain would develop properly, taken prenatal vitamins that caused me nausea, laid awake every night with heart burn that I never knew could burn so badly up my esophagus that my ears felt like exploding, and worked 8+ hour shifts at a stressful job up until just before my birth. I decided the best thing for me was that wretched epidural. But I later discovered that it was anything but wretched. I had labored so long that the pain of the needle was non-existent. I relaxed in my bed, able to speak, able to laugh, able to understand and grasp my surroundings so that I could enjoy my baby when he got to me. That was an experience I would not trade for natural birth. My sister in law has a different story. She labors for 2 hours, and 17 minutes into her stay at the hospital, her bar-of-soap baby slips out of her cervix and all is right with the world. Natural births are 100% right for her. I have another friend who debated between natural birth and an epidural. When it came down to labor time, she ended up needing an emergency C-Section instead. It came as a shock to her and she wasn't prepared, but it was better for her and better for the baby. Nothing else matters. She said her recovery was awesome, it didn't hurt to use the restroom, she could resume sexual activity with her husband quickly after, and life in that department was just plain good. So the bottom line is, there are good experiences and bad ones with every method. Do what's right for you and what's right for the baby- but for the love of birthing women, don't do anything just to be a super hero during this special time in your life. 

 4. Breast Milk Versus Formula. This one really gets me. I, as stated above, was driven to be super mom. Breast milk it was, no exceptions! Plus, I was anxious to shed the 50 pounds I had gained over 9 months time. Slowly, but surely, it came off one lousy pound at a time. My son had reflux like I'd never seen. He threw up buckets. I cut dairy out of my diet and it helped. But he still left a sour stench of vomit on every piece of clothing we owned at any given time of the day and it just plain drove me crazy. He is such a mild child and has never been one to complain, so I didn't know how uncomfortable he had been until 6 months ago- when he was 2 1/2 years old. I had only nursed him 11 months. What was the deal? He had developed serious health issues, many of which were the fall out from untreated GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Pneumonia? Check. Sleep Apnea? Check. Asthma? Check. Check, check, check. Upon further evaluation, an x-ray revealed he had a thick layer of scar tissue around his esophagus from the acid burning it on the way down...and on the way up. My breast milk was HARMING my child. No matter what I removed from my diet, no matter how much or how little I ate, no matter what the lactation consultant told me, it was hurting him. I remember tasting it once, and it was as if I was drinking straight acid. It was like nothing I had ever tasted in my life. Imagine a bottle of cow's milk being left in your hot car for months at a time and then drinking it. That's what I think of. It was horrible. Fast forward 2 years and my newborn baby daughter is here. My breast milk was causing her so much pain that she would tense up and scream until she turned purple. I switched to formula. Same result. I switched back to breast milk. Nothing changed. When I would pump, my milk was green and grey, not the normal white. She ended up being diagnosed with GERD, had visits to the hospital and was put on medication for months because of stomach issues she'd developed. Again, my breast milk harmed my child. I finally tried another formula and it was not perfect, but it was better than the other 4 or so I had tried previously, and it was heads above the breast milk I was producing...for free. The funny thing is, my second child, who was back & forth between breast milk and formula (until exclusively fed formula) got sick less in one year than my first child who was exclusively breast fed did. My point? Don't let anyone tell you one is better than the other. Do what's best for you and the baby. People will tell you there is proof that breast is better than bottle, but I have first handedly discovered that science doesn't always win. 

 5. Losing Weight. I was so depressed to not be able to fit into my jeans immediately after giving birth. I had this idea that the baby would come out, and every pound I ever gained would just slip out with it. How wrong I was! Losing the weight is hard, and it takes time. Don't rush it, or you will either be depressed at your failed attempts to shed the extra poundage overnight or you will resort to unhealthy weight loss options. I specifically remember at one point thinking, "Forget it! I am obviously not losing an ounce so I am going to eat whatever I want." I completely threw in the towel. I was eating more food at one sitting and eating more fat than ever before. Guess what? I lost 10 pounds almost immediately. I was dumb founded. My little brain didn't realize that my baby liked that fat and was nursing it right out of me. The more fat I ate, the fatter my baby got and the skinnier I was. Bingo! My point? Relax. And take your time. The weight comes off eventually. But don't beat yourself up about it. 

 6. Baby Blues/ Postpartum Depression. I guess this topic is a bit taboo, although I'm not sure why. My postpartum depression lasted about 2 years with my first child. Yes, TWO YEARS. I was sick, sad, in tears, and very much a living zombie (is that an oxymoron?). I was also angry. I blamed others for my unhappiness. I was not myself at all. The memories of the days immediately following childbirth are dark, grey, and quiet. They are lonely. They are sickening. How could I enjoy this baby if I cannot get myself to get out of bed or when I have a steady stream of tears flowing down my face as my husband closes the front door behind him as he leaves for work? Life was not the same for me, yet everyone else went about their lives as usual. My husband still had to work, my mom still had to teach class in the mornings, my dad traveled. My other siblings were married and had their own daily routines. Life was spinning around me but I was going no where. The baby would cry and a jolt of nervous electricity would shoot up my body and strike my heart so badly that all I wanted to do was run and hide from the one thing that was keeping me in my state of depression. I wanted to eat spicy foods again, I wanted to sleep for at least 6 straight hours, I wanted to go places in the bitter cold winter air without worrying about my baby being uncomfortable. I wanted to drive without hearing a shrill scream in the back row from a child who hates his car seat. I wanted to stop calling Aetna to set my hospital bills straight from the long 24 hours I endured there. 

All I wanted was company. I went from working with adults all day to being at "home" with an infant I thought I knew how to deal with, but ultimately knew next to nothing about. I wanted someone to sit on my couch and talk with me for a couple of hours. Someone to hold my baby while I took a short nap. Someone to babysit while I cleaned or cooked or went out with my husband. Thankfully, my mom lived close by and played all of those roles, but there was only so much time one person could spend with me. Looking back, I wish I would have not been so reclusive. I wish I could have stepped up and spoke out and asked for help. Asked for someone to visit, to help me clean or possibly bring me a pick-me-up. I'm not the type of person to do those things, so naturally, I didn't. But many times we assume a person with a baby needs their space, and many women do. But I can promise you that not one of them will shut you out if you stop by unexpectedly and offer some help, a meal or a chat. And if you were/are anything like me, be brave and say something. That 2 years of PPD could end up being 2 days instead. 

 7. Belly/Back Sleeping Babies. I had one belly sleeper and one back sleeper. Both survived. Be careful of the advice you hear and take, because the advice you take now, may be the advice they tell you to stay away from in 5 years. Babies run the risk of suffocation when sleeping on their stomachs. Babies also run the risk of aspiration (vomiting, then swallowing it, often choking and sending particles into their lungs) when laying on their backs. And let's face the facts, babies just don't stay on their sides when you position them that way. Check on your baby as often as you feel necessary, but know that there is more than one position for a baby to comfortably sleep in without you having to worry much. 

 8. Staying Home Versus Working. They Are Both Work. I went back to work when my oldest was 9 months old. My husband was a stay at home dad. (Not a common situation.) I loved going to work, getting fresh air, getting paid to do my job well, and not getting pooped on all day. I had been promoted to Supervisor at a radiology clinic and loved what I did (most days). Having time to miss my little man was great. Upon coming home from work, I fed him, bathed him and put him to bed while my husband decompressed. I picked him up when he wanted, played with him and loved him unconditionally, to the point of spoilage. To me, life was good. After a year, we joined the Army and our roles reversed yet again. I stayed home with my now toddler and was unexpectedly pregnant with our second child. Being a stay at home mom with a newborn versus a 15 month old is quite the change of scenery. He was more ornery and strong willed than I remembered him.  He had preferences for things and he was a picky son of a gun. He challenged me to no end. I flat out didn't like him. We were approaching enemy status. For months and months I complained about being at home, I looked online for jobs, looked into daycare, and thought long and hard about leaving my job of being at home. It wasn't for me. I wasn't domestic. But not long ago, all of that changed. I suddenly got a hold of what I needed to do. I needed to stop resisting my life at home and accept it, love it. I got on the floor and did puzzles, trains, action figures. We read books, did "school", played outside. We went to the grocery store and Costco just to get out of the house. I didn't let having a newborn baby stop me. I strapped her into my front carrier, stuck my toddler in the front cart seat and off we went. The zoo, the mall, you name it. Cabin fever was not going to infect us. We had friends over for dinner, arranged play dates, drove to the park. I realized that filing paper work and helping calm an angry individual was just not the same type of work that I was doing at home. And to me, it wasn't as important. I was investing all of my time and energy into raising my baby birds so that one day, they could fly away from the nest and do good things in the world...the type of things I tried to do my entire life before having them. Before, I worked because I had to. We needed an income. But I also loved it. Then I stayed home because I had to. I had a newborn. But we also needed to save the money we otherwise would have spent on daycare, eating out after late nights at work, and the time we would have spent being stressed that our house was always a mess with laundry piling up and cilantro wilting away in the refrigerator. If I had to work again, I would. I would do anything for my family. And what's right for us is not necessarily what's right for you. Or the next guy. But either way, you are doing well. And you are doing your best, and it's enough. 

 9. Letting Your Husband Help You. Sometimes it feels like husbands hurt more than they help. Diaper on backwards, bottle lid not screwed on all the way, started the laundry without detergent in it, wet towel on the floor after the shower, you name it. But weren't we all that way once? We learn, we grow, we change into who we are. Every day we are changing. And no, your mission is not to CHANGE your husband. But to change your attitude towards him. One piece of advice I will never forget is to never turn away your husband's help. If he offers to carry the car seat, gladly hand it over. If he wants to open your door, let him. If he dresses the baby in purple polka dotted pants and a hot orange onesie, leave it. Nothing will hurt his feelings faster or make him want to help you less, than when you criticize him for not being "perfect". Well newsflash, you aren't perfect either so when you get to that level, let us all know. Until then, let him help you. You'll be grateful you did. 

10. Put Your Phone Away. I realized the times my children are most antsy/naughty/naggy are when I am using the computer or my phone. It's gotten so bad that I sometimes feel I have to sneak away to the computer, or hide in my bathroom to use my cell phone. Kids know when a distraction is among them. And instead of batting your children away so you can text a friend or play Angry Birds, appropriately cut out "you time" in your schedule to do those things. Yes, you'll need to take phone calls, send texts, compose emails...and your children need to learn to be patient and respect when you are busy- as long as its importance is warranted. Somehow they know when you mean business versus when you're in an intense game of Temple Run. I try to remember it this way: This is my job. My husband is not allowed to sit at his desk, play games, lounge around watching movies, and do a whole lot of nothing all day, so neither am I. I think about things I can do to effectively pass the time so I can tell my husband (or proudly keep to myself) that I worked my butt off being at home. I want him to know that his hard earned dollars are being spent wisely when I grocery shop. I don't want him to walk through the door at 5:15 pm and see that Cars 2 is playing on the TV...for the 4th time that day. I want to be able to tell him I honestly worked hard here at MY JOB. I want the house to be orderly, dinner to be ready, kids to be cared for, bills to be paid, and other tasks to be accomplished. Again, I am not domestic and this job has come very UNNATURALLY to me. I have had to work very hard to learn to plan a menu, shop on a menu, cook (I hate all of those things by the way), do laundry, pick up toys a million times a day, feed my kids healthy foods, balance doctors visits, and still find time to patiently bathe my kids, put them to bed and give my husband the attention he needs when he gets home. It is legitimately HARD WORK. And some days you just need a break. There is no reason to be super mom when you're tired, sick, or just don't feel like it. Make a to-do list and spread things across a week or two's time so you can slowly accomplish things. But vacuuming, dishes, and laundry will never be nearly as important as spending time with your children will be. And your phone and computer won't get lonely, I promise. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Humanizing Gays.

Humanizing Gays. 

             (My sweet and long life friend Austin and his friend.)

      It seems that no matter how hard I try to not flood my social media outlets with topics of politics, I never can do it. And the reason I fail at keeping my thoughts to myself is because in many situations, I have been on each side of the fence at some point, so I feel I can safely say that I understand 100% of you. Your thoughts, your reasonings, your distaste for something, and your passions. Today's topic? Gay Marriage. A couple of posts ago I wrote about the extreme silliness of the Chik-Fil-A feud happening across this country. Seems like something to laugh about now. But in all seriousness, these topics affect people. They are people's lives. And I'm out to show people how gays are human, just like the rest of us.

(This is Joe on the right- my friend and brother's long time friend from childhood.)
      I have often been at a fork in the road when it comes to Gay Marriage, asking myself if I support it, asking myself if I oppose it, asking myself if maybe I've just been culturally/religiously influenced by it all. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 7 people in my circle of friends and family who are homosexual and openly so. I cannot imagine the amount of harsh judgments they have received and continue to receive on a regular basis because their lifestyle is not yet 100% socially acceptable. My religious beliefs teach that God has reserved the sanctity of marriage for one man and one woman. And although I have chosen this path for my family, it does not mean that everyone will. Nor does it mean that anyone with a different opinion than myself should be subject to criticism. 

     I used to be afraid to think of the possibility of Gay Marriage being legalized, being taught about in our schools to our young children, being on television shows and so forth. Now I realize that it doesn't matter what I think. The world will continue forward without my opinions (which can be incredibly closed minded, and they usually change over time) and all I can do is teach my children what I want them to learn within the walls of my own home. I want to teach them love. I want to teach them sacrifice. I want them to know that charity knows no bounds and that when someone needs their help, they have an obligation to do everything they can to lift them up, without any regard to their gender, religion, social status, or sexual preference. Just the fact that we are citizens of the most envied nation on Earth makes us amongst the few to be as lucky as we are to have what we have. Why not take that energy and channel it towards positivity and productivity?

(My childhood friend Jaymes with his boyfriend and my friend Johnny)
     With all of these wishy washy thoughts on Gay Marriage, I decided I was tired of not being certain of how I felt. So, I turned to prayer. I pleaded with God very plainly, "Please help me to know what to feel about this." And do you know what He said to me? He asked me, "Well...how do you feel?" It was as if He was telling me to exercise my right to think for myself, using the knowledge and life experiences under my belt to make an educated and wise decision. Then it clicked. The feeling hit me like a ray of sunshine to my chest. I am embarrassed it took me so long to realize this simple truth. I realized that many times we forget that people with same sex attraction are PEOPLEThey are human beings with needs like any other human being. Food, water, clothing, shelter, love, compassion, hope. They are not a different breed. They are not lesser or greater than any of the rest of us. We are the same. And the Lord told me, "These are your brothers and sisters. Will you deny them of their freedoms because they don't live like you do? To belittle them and ostracize them would be inhumane." And that was that. 

     I love that. Because guess what? People who are gay will live together. They will share finances, pets, groceries, mortgages, cars, friends and family. They will do this without any regard to laws. And why shouldn't they be allowed to? I can live with my best friend, can't I? I can live with my cousin, my neighbor, my co-worker and who would complain about it? No one would. But when it's out in the open that these cohabitators may be more than friends or blood relatives, it is immediately shunned and relationships crumble. However, laws do not disallow gays from cohabitating. No one is telling them they cannot enter into a mortgage together. No one is saying they cannot be a co-signer on a vehicle for their partner. So what good is it to take away their ability to share medical records, to wear wedding rings with purpose to the symbolism instead of just hope, to have to file for divorce like the rest of us, to be considered "next of kin" to their partners in the case of an emergency? These are trivial things in the eyes of the Lord. They are MAN'S laws. Not His. The only thing we take from these people is freedom. We don't fight them being able to cohabitate. So why fight them on the things that affect us zero percent, yet affect them one hundred percent? To not be recognized as human in the eyes of the law is a disgraceful thing. Whether you aren't recognized because you are a woman, because you are of a certain ethnicity, because of your sexual orientation, or what have you. All I know is, I will not stand at the feet of the Lord and say that I treated my fellow brothers and sisters with disrespect because we didn't live our lives the same way.

(My cousin Shamron with her girlfriend, Beth.)

  You may wonder about that post I mentioned earlier, the one regarding Chik-Fil-A and the gay community. In that post, I mentioned why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints feel they cannot vote in favor of same sex marriage. The issue has not changed. Legalizing same sex marriage has the potential to crumble the very foundation our ancestors have labored to build. Essentially, it could dissolve separation of church and state. Some advocates of same sex marriage have suggested that any religious organization that does not honor gay marriage to have their tax exemptions withdrawn. This is the part where I say that I hope neither party will infringe on the other party's right to live freely and happily. I'm saddened there is so much grey area on this topic, but the concrete principles of humanity remain the same with or without it. And all I can do is live my life the way Christ would have me do. 

             (My cousin Charlie on the left, with her girlfriend, Emily.)

     The best part of changing your way of thinking is, it should take very little effort and you will be a much happier person. How can expanding your circle of love ever be a bad thing? You may ask, "What will this mean for me? How can I treat them differently?" The answer is easy.  It means that you will treat them like you treat everyone else. You don't treat your red-headed friends differently than your blonde ones. It's the same type of simple kindness. Do unto others. You'll be glad you did. And the very last question I have for you is, did any of these people look threatening to you? Because these are some of the happiest faces I have ever seen. 


Information on my very normal friends: 

Austin and I grew up together in Albuquerque, NM. Austin is one of the sweetest, kindness, most gentle people I know, and I am glad to call him my friend. We have so many awesome memories together.

Joe has been a life long friend of my older brother, who is just 18 months ahead of me in life. Joe is an awesome person with a huge spirit and loves to have fun, just like the rest of us. : )

Jaymes and I have known each other since we were young kids. He comes from a large family who I am blessed to know. Jaymes is a certified nurse's aide and med tech. He and Johnny reside in St. George, UT. Johnny is a designer with incredible talent, selling his products at johnnyvegasoriginals.etsy.com. They live on 2.5 acres with their chickens and dog. They have been together just over 4 years and consider themselves, "a normal, boring couple." 

Charlie's father and my grandfather are brothers. She is a very kind, loving, and big hearted person who makes a difference in the lives of young kids each and every day. 

Shamron is the daughter of my mom's oldest brother. She is gorgeous, and so is Beth. They have a business sewing the ever so famous boob scarf. They are excellent examples of kindness and love to all people. 

I am so lucky to be in this incredible circle of people. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

All In A Flash.

Wow, does anyone else feel like time has been just zipping by?
Yesterday, I was pacing around my living room floor, waiting for baby Claire to make her way out of my dang stomach.
And today, she is over 6 months old! 
Yesterday Titan was smooshing a blue icing-topped cupcake into his mouth to celebrate his 2nd birthday, and today he wears Superman undies and goes potty in this own toilet. 
Yesterday we were unloading all of our goodies into multiple storage units until we found a place to live. And today we are looking at houses all the time, waiting to bid on just the right one in the next month or so. 
Yesterday we lived in Georgia, going on walks every morning and dropping off letters to our favorite dude in the mail.
Today, we have had Derek home for over 9 months. 
Yesterday, it was Christmastime. 
And now it's already almost time to decorate for Halloween!
Yesterday, I brought Claire home from the hospital. 
Today, she chomps down entire jars of bananas, sweet peas, and squash.
Yesterday, Titan couldn't talk very much. 
Today, he is the biggest gabber ever. (Lots of babbling. And back seat driving.)
Yesterday, Derek had a job he hated. 
Today, he has the best job he's ever had.
Yesterday, I was new to the college scene; a peppy, eager 18 year old.
Today, I'm 25 and a half. 
Yesterday, Derek and I met for the first time in a young adult ward at our church. 
Today, we've been married almost 4 years. 

Crazy how time flies. It's literally whooshing past us. I can almost feel it! One day these kids are going to be off at school and I'm not going to know what to do with myself. I hope it doesn't go by too quickly, but based on how fast life has been moving as of late, I can't assume it'll slow down! Just got to make sure I enjoy every minute. I sure do love my little family. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Ramblings of an Independent Human Being.

There has been so much talk of politics lately. And before you get bored and exit out of this post, read on and see what a Mormon like myself thinks of all of this.

*Chik-Fil-A: Where to begin. First of all, this is a restaurant. Restaurants are about food. Not about gay marriage. So to me, this entire "people are up in arms about Dan Cathy, owner of Chik-Fil-A" is RIDICULOUS. You either like their food...or you don't. Use your freedom of choice and NOT spend your money there if you don't like what they're doing. But zoning them out is juvenile and nothing but a publicity stunt because someone got excited that they have a voice in America. Good for you for at least using your 1st amendment right. If enough people don't eat at Chik-Fil-A because of Dan Cathy's statement, then the rules of economics have been well played and he deserves to not have a business in that location. But are you really surprised that a God-fearing man, who closes his businesses across the globe EVERY SUNDAY so that their employees can attend church meetings if they choose to do so, made this statement? I mean- think about it! Sundays are one of the biggest money making days of the week for places like Chik-Fil-A because people are off work and families often go out to eat together. Taking a hit like this shows what kind of a person Mr. Cathy is because unlike most leaders in America, he is driven by his heart and passions instead of with his wallet. 

     For Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, Massachusetts to concoct a document to Mr. Cathy letting him know he isn't welcome in his city, is despicable. Why are these arguments only swayed one way? If a community of heterosexuals muscled out a business owner who supports gay marriage, people all over the country would have heart attacks. I find it especially ironic that Mayor Menino wrote to Mr. Cathy,  "Incredibly - your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston... I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." Found here.  Really, Mr. Menino? You do realize that by shooing Chik-Fil-A out of Boston because you feel they discriminate, you are actually discriminating against Mr. Cathy and his business? And not only him, but all traditional-marriage supporting business owners. Kinda shoved your foot in your mouth there. 

     Am I against people being homosexual? NO! People feel what they feel and it isn't my business to tell them otherwise. Some of the greatest people I know are homosexual. But do I value the traditional family? Absolutely! To say I don't would be to say my own family is superficial. And how ironic would it be that someone like myself, who tries to walk in the ways of Christ, unrighteously judges another for feeling or acting in a way that I don't agree with or understand? It is close-minded, harmful and a waste of time. Christ wouldn't judge homosexuals this way, so why should I? People are also incredibly misinformed about Mr. Cathy's views. Taken from the same site as the quote above, I read, "The fast-food chain later said that it strives to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," the Boston Herald reported." You cannot tell me this isn't true. When was the last time you went to Chik-Fil-A and got anything less than awesome service? They serve homosexual customers. They hire homosexuals. 

     The story goes like this...for all of you who were too jumpy to read and gather the facts before making bold and crazy statements. Read the full article here. Chik-Fil-A had an agreement with The Jim Henson Company. Chik-Fil-A was going to fill kids' meals with Muppets dolls/puppets and any earnings would go back to The Jim Henson Company. However, Lisa Henson went to Chik-Fil-A's owners and told them that instead of sending the money BACK to their company, to go ahead and donate it directly to The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD). Because Dan Cathy believes strongly in the traditional family, the Henson's and Chik-Fil-A decided to cut ties. Let me ask you this. Couldn't Dan Cathy just as easily threw a fit and told Lisa Henson that because she didn't tell him about the donations up front, he was going to sue her for all she's worth and try to boycott her company? Yes, he could have. But did he? NO!!!! Of course not! Because he is a religious man who believes in being kind. INSTEAD, the Henson's publicized this up the wazoo, and did everything in their power to bring Chik-Fil-A down. Way to go, liberals! Always turning everything around and being the victim of EVERY SITUATION. What did Lisa Henson expect, doing business with a traditionally religious man? My mind is blown at the stupidity of people in America. 

     Again, do I love gays? Sure. Do I think they should love who they wish to love? ABSOLUTELY! Are they any different than the rest of us? No! We are all trying to get by and live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. Do I think gays should marry? Why not? They are often more dedicated lovers, better caretakers and more open-minded, Christlike individuals. But the reasons members of the LDS church keep things like Prop 8 in place is described below. 

*Gay Marriage: The Mormon church gets quite a bit of flack from people all across the globe because of their view on gay marriage. Even people within our own organization do not agree with Prop 8. But let me tell you a little something I learned. Churches like ours keep separate from the government and we do not pay taxes. All of our funding comes from members of the LDS church paying 10% of their annual income so that we can do a number of things with it, such as build temples and churches, pay for missionaries who cannot afford to go out and preach the gospel, help support needy families, and donate to charity. Our church strongly supports the traditional family and does not allow homosexuals to be married in our church buildings or temples. My guess is that MOST churches are the same way. Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Prodistant, Methodist, Buddhist, you name it. This is why many homosexual couples don't attend a specific church. Many churches do not accept the lifestyle. At least not yet. It is a new concept to them because it is only recently becoming widely accepted. 

     Am I threatened by homosexuals? Absolutely not! But I want to state the facts and expose the reality of WHY people feel the way they do. Continuing on, if there became a law that churches must respect homosexuality and honor it by allowing same-sex marriages within churches, churches like ours would lose our tax-free status and everything we preach in our churches would be shot to Hell. Why? Because we would no longer be able to keep the sanctity of only traditional marriages alive. One of the basic and most important principles we teach within our church is the marriage between man and woman. Taken directly from The Proclamation to the Family, it reads, "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan." 

     We would be either forced to close our temples or forced to allow gays to marry in the same way heterosexuals are. Some of you ask, "What is wrong with that?" And to many, maybe nothing is wrong with that. But to others, this is a huge deal. When segregation was done away with, did people all of the sudden treat each other better? Absolutely not! Ask your grandparents what they think of interracial marriage and they'll probably keel over. Just because a law has changed, doesn't mean people's hearts do also. There is still segregation in the south. Last year my family and I lived in Georgia. One night, we went out to eat at a popular chain restaurant. We noticed all the whites sat on one side of the restaurant and the blacks on the other. We sat where we wanted. And we sat on the black side. Everyone in that restaurant looked at us like we were crazy. The blacks didn't want us eating near them and the whites couldn't believe we sat there. It's absolutely ridiculous, but people's hearts don't change too quickly. Segregation was technically outlawed decades ago, but it lingers on in the hearts of those who never got around to accepting it.

     Back to the religious talk- to ask members of the LDS church, or any church, to roll over and allow their religion to crumble like a piece of cornbread would be abominable. You'd probably use a long string of expletives and a certain finger to describe how you felt if someone asked you to throw everything you believe in the trashcan. Instead, we vote. And we vote for Prop 8. Most, but not all. And it isn't because we think homosexuals are awful. It's because we want to continue to practice our beliefs and we are only left with two choices in the end. Again, why are these things only swayed one way? People who don't love tattoos don't stand outside tattoo parlors with a sign that says tattoos are of the devil. I don't gather together my hundreds of non-drinking friends and try to get a business to shut down because they serve alcohol. If I don't want to drink alcohol, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS NOT DRINK IT! Brilliant! Mostly, you are allowed to do what you want to do without people bugging you. So let others do the same. There should not be a double standard on this. And although agreeing to disagree is probably a long shot, people should at least stop jumping down each other's throats and acting like this is a war. There should not be a gays vs. straights competition. If it wasn't for churches like ours having to change so much due to Prop 8 being overturned, then I say to Hell with all this stupidity and let everyone live as they wish. Do I care if gays cohabitate? NO! Do I care if they have children? NO! Often times I feel they make better parents than many out there. (As stated above). And because they have to adopt, they spend much time and many resources on getting their much desired child- which shows their dedication to parenthood itself. I have homosexual friends that I adore so much. One of my favorite celebrities is Ellen DeGeneres. She is the most kind and charitable human being, like many other homosexuals. To judge them for the way they feel or the life they live is just as despicable as all the other nonsense I spoke of earlier. And incredibly unChristlike, which is just ironic, coming from people who preach to be otherwise. Which leads me to my next and final point. 

*Mitt Romney: I have to admit, I used to not be a very big fan of his. He seemed arrogant. But he has grown on me. And between him and Obama, I say Mitt deserves the drivers' seat. Mitt stands for everything America was founded upon. Yes, times change. But can you really say America has changed for the better? We have a higher amount of illegal aliens than ever before. We have experienced an incredible economic downfall and the amount of unemployed citizens in America continues to rise daily. Our school systems are suffering. Children kill themselves because they are bullied, because often parents raise their children to be entitled brats that grow up to be small-minded idiots who eventually run our cities, businesses and other organizations. And although I do see eye to eye with many of Mitt Romney's beliefs on how America should be run, I have had a change of heart about pro-choice versus pro-life. But I urge you to NOT READ THIS THE WRONG WAY. Do I believe in the casual use of abortion? No no no no no. But do I believe women should have a choice? ....Yes and no. If I go out, get drunk, am irresponsible and make foolish choices which lead to unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, I should do the right thing and carry the baby for 9 months until I can give it up for adoption to a loving, deserving family. Same goes for girls who have consensual sex and get pregnant in any other situation, whatever age they may be. However, if I am raped, I should choose. If I am sick and my body cannot hold a baby and allow both the child and I to live, I eventually end up at a fork in the road. Do I die, when my child would most likely die anyways? Do I leave behind a husband and other children? No. But I would at least appreciate the ability to CHOOSE FOR MYSELF. For someone else to basically sentence me to death in this situation would be inhumane. Many do not realize that the Mormon church doesn't punish those who choose to abort in situations such as incest, rape or illness.

Whew! Let's recap, shall we?

*Do I love homosexuals? Yep.
*Should they love who they wish? Yep. 
*Would it be okay if they chose to live a straight life and fight gay tendencies? Yep. And good for you if that's what you choose. That would be very difficult. 
*Should gays raise children? If they wish.
*Was Dan Cathy wrong in making his statement? No. He was answering a question honestly. He should be given credit for that, especially when he probably realized so many would persecute him for his answer. 
*Were people wrong to be offended by Dan Cathy? Not necessarily, but don't hang the man. He has opinions just like you do. 
*Was Mayor Menino wrong to tell Dan Cathy to take a hike? Yes. It was immature and uncalled for, not to mention ironic because of his reverse discrimination.
*Is gay marriage wrong? In the eyes of many, yes. In the eyes of many others, no. To me? I say let whoever wants to marry, marry! But because it conflicts with the way I live my life from a religious stand point(my religion is more than a Sunday thing for me, it's an entire lifestyle), I must always vote in favor of Prop 8. It's definitely a bittersweet thing because I truly do not believe others should be told by the government how they should live their lives. I wish there were another way. 
*Are people wrong to not support gay marriage? Absolutely not. People should always be allowed to feel what they want without someone telling them otherwise. It's like me saying you shouldn't be allowed to dislike onions. Ridiculous. 
*Do Mormons hate homosexuals? No! But many are also close minded and do not get the concept that you can love someone entirely without loving their lifestyle or choices. 
*Do I believe in casual abortion? No way. Those people will answer for the murder of innocent children. 
*Do I believe women should have a choice? Yes. Especially under life-threatening circumstances. 

Wow, what a crazy blog post. I had to get it all out. Opinions? Thoughts? I'm ready to be hated, and I'm ready to be praised. But I at least did my homework and attached links to articles from where I got my information. Any other questions or comments can be emailed to me at laurensikora@hotmail.com


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things I Love!

I have been thinking about things that I love and I wanted to share. 

1. Sun bursting through my window in the morning

2. My beautiful children waking up happy 

3. Looking for houses and picturing my belongings there

4. Eating healthfully and feeding my kids healthy foods (if they'll eat them)

5. Rolling over in the night and getting a whiff of my clean-laundry smelling pillow

6. Claire's gigantic gummy smile

7. Titan's sweet spirit and the way he goes "ppptttthhh" to get my attention sometimes

8. When my husband laughs at my jokes and commentary

9. Getting up and making breakfast for Derek and eating it with him while the kids are still asleep

10. Finding bargains

11. Pictures 

12. Feeling connected with people. I LOOOOOVE Facebook and Blogs

13. Toaster Strudels 

14. Pinterest

15. My beta fish. He's my third baby

16. A clean house

17. Blankets, especially quilts

18. Being able to sleep with the windows open

19. A freshly vacuumed rug

20. Modern Family

21. The Draw Something app (Wanna play? Username is laurenslover08)

22. Friendly strangers

23. Free samples at Costco

24. A stocked up refrigerator and cupboards from a recent trip to the grocery store

25. Good music (Anyone else love Enya?)

26. The home section of Anthropologie (things normal people can actually afford and are cute)

27. When my kids play together and giggle. I die every time

28. Naps

29. Good books. Just finished Heaven Is Here and I'm a believer. I am currently reading The Book of Mormon. (Wanna read it with me? I started 4 days ago and I'm reading a chapter a day. I'm on 1st Nephi 4)

30. The weekends

This is just a small list of many things I love. The big things that I love the very most in my life are my family and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which allows me to live the happy life that I feel many people seek but never find. I don't usually get religious on my blogs or Facebook, but what better way is there to share the happiness I know than to put it up here for people to explore if they'd like to? Learn more here

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When I Have Money...

I've been thinking lately. I have slowly come up with a "When I Have Money Wish List". So, without further adieu, I will jump right in. When I have money, I'd like: 

* To get my rug cleaned. By a real cleaner. Not me and my power sprayer with my gigantic rug draped over my cinderblock wall. 

* To buy a house! With a backyard for my kids to roam around in. 

* A puppy. A french bulldog named Pierre. 

* More Disney movies, like Tangled, Cars 1 & 2, Toy Story 1 2 & 3, A Bug's Life, Tarzan and The Jungle Book. The VHS's have slowly become fuzzy and some don't work at all, but my little guy loves them.

* A real haircut. I think I cut my hair once a year (if that) and I usually just go to some cheapy haircutting place that always messes my hair up. 

* To go on a small vacation with my lover! I'm thinking a cruise...

* To buy Derek tickets to a Jack Johnson concert. 

* To put my kids in the Infant Rescue Swimming courses.

* Have a gym membership.

* Regular date nights with my best friend!

I'm sure there are more, but some have slipped my mind. We HAVE been saving up some money lately, just as a "whatever" fund. We usually put Derek's  bonuses in there. So yesterday we were talking about how out of shape we are and how time consuming and expensive it is to go to to a gym or join a city sports league. A lightbulb turned on in my little head and I thought, "Bikes! Let's buy bikes!" So hopefully pretty soon we can buy two bikes and some kid-friendly bike carriers/carts so that after dinner every night, we can toot around town on our cruisers. We'd be 1. Spending time with family still 2. Getting exercise 3. Getting fresh air 4. Having fun and 5. Wearing out the kids before bath and bedtime. Love, love, love the idea. It's a win all around. So stay tuned for pictures of our awesome bikes in the near future.