Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Do You Do if Someone Gives You Her Fat Clothes?

If someone gives you her fat clothes, what do you do? In my case I smiled and said thank you, but I also took it as another hint that I need to lose some weight. I have been exercising some since I had my baby five weeks ago and I am thinking about eating a lot more vegetables and seriously cutting down on my grain consumption.

This picture is of my sister. I think this is the second time in ten years or so that she has given me her fat clothes. She had a baby over three years ago. Before she had the baby she got thin. Then she got pregnant, gained a lot of weight, and now she has slimmed down again. We women sacrifice a lot to have these babies. I gained around sixty pounds when I was pregnant with my last baby. I just get so incredibly hungry when pregnant and eat a LOT.

But I also get incredibly hungry when nursing and eat a lot as well. So since I have been either pregnant or nursing or even both all of the time the past 16 years (except for a brief three month stint) I have been chunky. Except for after I had my first daughter, I got thin. I think it's because I hadn't discovered butter. I have so many clothes for different phases of my life: a little bit pregnant, really pregnant, nursing but fat, nursing and not so fat. I am tired of all these clothes and want a complete wardrobe overhaul. I guess my sister picked up on these vibes and that's why I attracted her clothes. I tried one of the skirts on yesterday, and thankfully, it is actually loose on me. Hooray!

I am looking at two different eating guides. One is The Original Fast Foods book, which Lara Gallagher mentioned at the retreat I was just at last weekend. "I have that book!" I thought. "I should go home and actually use it." It recommends eating a pound of greens a day. That sounds hard but I am sure I would be healthier for it. Another eating guide is The Body Ecology Diet. My friend is into that. It would be really nice to get my body's ecology into balance so that my cravings are down and I lose weight.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Weekend of Feasts

Over this last weekend I got to experience three feasts. First I went to a retreat for moms organized by my friend Katie Hansen of Bountiful, Utah. Around forty moms from Utah and Idaho spent the night in cabins up in the mountains close to Ogden Valley. For $30 moms got to have dinner and breakfast served to them, have a sleepover with other moms, and listen to fabulous speakers to nurture their souls. What more could you ask for? I have pictures of some of the speakers here. I took these pictures at my conference that I held last April. My camera is currently broken, thanks to some children of mine who will remain nameless, so I couldn't use my camera at the retreat. But here are some of my archived pictures of Aneladee Milne, Diann Jeppson, and Jodie Palmer, who spoke at the retreat.

Those of us with nursing babies slept (?) in one cabin and those without in another.
You can see pictures of these cabins at my friend Lara Gallagher's website under the heading "I Wouldn't Change a Thing" if you scroll down a bit to get the subheading "The Book."

I wondered if any of us sleeping with the babies would get any sleep. We did. My baby, at five weeks old, was the noisiest. He woke up only once to nurse (after I finally got him to sleep after midnight) and settled back to sleep. The sleepover featured a colloquium (a fancy word for a discussion of a book we all read) and simulation the night before and then three speakers on Saturday morning. What a feast for the mind.

When I got home from that I was suffering from carbohydrate overload (the chocolate chip muffins, poppy seed muffins, and cookies at the retreat were hard to resist). I wanted to crawl into bed but instead I got a foot massage from my husband while I nursed my baby and then I fixed dinner with some food my body was crying out for: greens and protein. We had fish and salad. That was my second feast. I ate the dinner while I watched the Relief Society general broadcast on That was my third feast. If I had gone to the church to watch it I would have slept through it and I wouldn't have been able to eat dinner while watching. The food offered at the "light dinner" at the church beforehand probably would have been jello salad, anemic iceberg lettuce and white rolls which are the last things I needed. So I am glad I stayed home to watch and eat.

Anyway, I learned so much at this retreat. The official name of what it was about is "The Hebrew Way." See What is the Hebrew way? This is what I figured out from listening to the speakers. The Hebrew way is the covenant way. This is the way the ancient Hebrews lived. We can still live this way today. One of the speakers, my homeschooling mentor, Kelli Poll, said that if you are a member of the LDS church you are surrounded by the Hebrew way. She also mentioned that simultaneously we are surrounded by the Roman way. I pondered this a lot because Kelli didn't go into details. I think what she meant by the Roman way is the contract way. The covenant way is the way God calls us to live. He invites us to make covenants with Him. The contract way is the man-made way.

It is amazing to think about how we live in this dual world. If we really think about it, the covenant way can apply to everything we do and are. It affects what we do, what we say, where we go, where we marry, whether or not we have children and how many, our educational system, our political system, what we eat, and who we are. If we make covenants with God we acknowledge that we are His, that we are made by Him, and that we want to go back to Him, and that he has provided a Savior to bring us back.

If you really want to understand the contract way of life read the book by Richard Maybury Ancient Rome How it Affects You Today." He points out that the prevailing trend in today's culture is to think that the government can and should take care of everything for us. This results in too many laws that are man-made instead of being based on natural law. Maybury never mentions God, but I believe that natural law is God's law.

So the Hebrew way is the covenant way, or living by God's laws. It is acknowledging that there is a power higher than ourselves, God. God knows the best way for us to live and He reveals that to us. God calls us to live his way. He will strengthen us to do this if we turn to Him. By coincidence I had been reading about the covenant way in Elder Todd Christofferson's talk from last General Conference before I went to this retreat. I love the remark he made, that if we live the covenant way our faith is enlarged, and we feel the Spirit communicate to us God's pleasure in us. This pleasure helps us to want to live the covenant way even more. The contract way often involves only going so far and then giving up. The covenant way involves commitment and asking God for help. It's a choice we are faced with every day.

When I was much younger if you would have mentioned "The Hebrew Way" to me my eyes would have started glazing over. It sounds like living in the desert the way the old guys from the Bible lived. I am so excited to realize it means so much more than that. Latter-day Saints have so many connections to the Hebrews. Joseph Smith received the golden plates at a time of year held hold holy by the Jews. You can read more about in an Ensign article by Lenet Hadley Read entitled "The Golden Plates and the Feast of the Trumpets." Just do a search with her name at and it will come up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Product Review: Dunstan Baby Language

I thought it would be fun to review a product. Since I am in the new baby mode, this product has to do with babies. It's a set of DVDs to teach how to understand crying, the language of babies. "Dunstan Baby Language" comes as a set of DVDs with a pamphlet. The creator, Priscilla Dunstan, claims that babies cry in a universal language. She has boiled all babies' cries into five meanings. I am sure you are dying to know what they are. OK, here you go...

"Neh" means "I'm hungry...feed me!"
"Owh" means "I'm me go to sleep."
"Eh" means "I have upper me burp."
"Eairh" means "I have lower me pass gas."
"Heh" means "I am me find a new position, change my diaper, or get me warmer or cooler."

Wow, if only it were that simple. I have been trying this out on my new baby and I can't always hear those distinctive sounds in his cry. The DVDs show babies making these cries and I can hear them there but they don't always match up with my rour week old baby's sounds. Last night I think I figured out that my baby's "eairh" sounds more like "hah."

The creator claims to have a photographic memory for sounds, which she has had since she was a little girl. I guess that makes her an expert on sounds. She became an opera singer and then had a baby. She noticed her baby made these distinct sounds when he cried and thus her baby language system was born.

The DVDs could be consolidated into one. They could be jazzed up a little with a slightly quicker pace and quicker music. Some people might think they are rather boring. My husband and I went on a date over a week ago and the meeting we were goint to for our date got canceled. I suggested we go back home and watch these DVDs for our date. He wasn't too excited about that. He ended up watching the replay of the BYU-Oklahoma game which was much more exciting.

I think the creator should have a little test at the end of the DVD where you are shown the different cries of real babies and you get to guess which sound they are making and then you are told the answer. That would really help those of us nonexperts on sounds.

These DVDs are worth watching and learning about, but I would borrow them, like I did. Fortunately my public library has them. I encourage you to find them there or see if your friends have a copy. Don't shell out $30 for something you are probably only going to watch once or twice. Check out for more info.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The End of an Era

Today I went to Relief Society. "Oh wow," you are probably saying sarcastically. "What else is new?" I know, you think that R.S. attendance is typical of me, but actually it was maybe only the fourth time in over two years. Right up until my baby was born four weeks ago I had a nursery calling, and I had it for two years, so that's why I haven't been attending R.S. I went once or twice during those two years of nursery because we had an overabundance of nursery workers for a week or two.

So today I actually got to sit still and feel bored, which is rare for a mother. It happened during the break between Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society. My baby was actually asleep in the sling and no one was sitting by me, and I didn't want to get up and move and risk waking the baby up. I wished I had remembered to bring my scriptures or my Joseph Smith manual so I didn't feel like I was wasting my time. Where are those unfinished thank you notes for baby gifts that I have been working on? I actually had some time to work on them. Finally someone came in and sat down by me so I got to have a conversation with someone besides myself in my head.

I saw my former nursery leader who was my "supervisor" in nursery across the room. it occurred to me that we have experienced the end of an era, the era of our nursery service together. This friend of mine, Sara, and another friend, Elissa, were there in nursery with me and we had some great times connecting and doing crafts with the little children. Elissa even brought her fancy tablecloths and cake trays and we had a party for Mother's Day, right in nursery, with all the mothers of the nursery children who played hooky from Relief Society and came and ate sugar in nursery. I have included some photos of this. Nursery can get a little monotonous. I so appreciated Elissa's gift of livening it up with chocolate-covered strawberries and all. No more parties in nursery for us though, we all got released right after my new baby was born. We had each been in for over two years, and it was definitely time to let someone else do the service, if you know what I mean.

The teacher today passed out chocolate. That was fun. Relief Society has improved! The lesson was on baptisms for the dead, using Joseph Smith's words on the topic. I felt inspired to find some of my ancestors who need this important work done. I have always fallen for the myth most multi-generational Mormons do, that the temple work of my ancestors is "all done." But how could that be? I asked my dad about it today and he said that his mother's mother's line needs some work done. He also said my great-grandmother was orphaned at a young age. Wow, I didn't know that.

I was thinking about starting family history research to learn more about this great-grandmother, Etta May Jensen Hansen, and I felt overwhelmed. Then I remembered that a new family history class is starting in our ward next week! Maybe I will start attending. I have learned about family history work before but I have forgotten so much and I have never actually done any research on my own. (shhh, don't tell my brother and sister-in-law who are gurus about family history, they would disown me!) I can pretend that I am learning all of this the first time. Yes, a new era is beginning, an era of time when I am feeling the spirit of Elijah and I might actually have time to do something about it since I don't have a new calling yet, other than the one of being a mom to a new baby. (I have a great story from Stephen Covey about that but I will save it for another time.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Shift in Seasons and Happy Birthday

This week we have had rainstorms. They definitely mark a shift in the seasons for me. I feel a crispness in the air that tells me fall is here. This totally fits my life, as now that I have a new baby (4 weeks old on Sunday) I have had a shift in the personal seasons of my life. I now have a little buddy again who is with me constantly, snuggling with me in bed at night and coming with me in the car as I drive older siblings to their classes and riding in the sling next to me during the day. Before this baby was born, my youngest was 3. I was feeling a lot of freedom! As much freedom as a homeschooling mother of six can feel. Now I'm back to feeling like one hand is tied behind my back as I go through the day, navigating through nursing and burping and changing and getting enough sleep for myself and fixing meals for my family and refereeing sword fights among little boys and encouraging some semblance of learning in our homeschool. It's a good thing though; I love my new little guy and there's nothing else I would rather be doing.

It was sixteen years ago today that I gave birth to my firstborn. I am feeling lots of deja vu feelings. The day my firstborn was born, we had a major storm, the first storm of the fall season, just like the fall storms we had on Monday and Tuesday of this week. My new baby woke me up early this morning. It reminded me of waking up at 1:30 AM on September 16, sixteen years ago, to "birthing time surges" (aka labor pains) with my firstborn. I still have all the baby clothes and blankets from when he was a newborn which I am now using with this newborn baby. Both babies are boys and they look a lot alike. As one of my friends remarked to me after I had my third boy, "You just keep having the same baby." Yes, my boys do look like they came from the same cookie cutter.

I can't believe my oldest is sixteen! He's a great kid and has brought a lot of light into my life. He's been very easy to raise and fun too, what with his active, inquiring mind. He never was a kid who asked, "why?" He was a kid who told us the answers. You know what he wants for his birthday? A facebook account. Talk about easy to give. I am not sure that's what is best for him, his dad and I are still discussing that. My son has been a huge blessing in my life, I'm so glad I get to be his mom. In three short years he will be on his mission. I'm pleased he is doing so well with his education and spiritual preparation. Happy birthday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boys, Boys, Boys

As luck would have it, just the week I wanted to hide, when I was 40 weeks pregnant, we had a Cub Scout pack meeting on Tuesday and a court of honor on Thursday, my actual due date. I would have stayed away but two of my boys were both getting rank advancements and would not have been happy if I said I couldn't come. I didn't plan this very well 8 and 11 years ago when I had these two boys did I? They are 3 years apart and I've got a five year old boy too so I am in for YEARS of scout meetings without a break. I also have a 15 year old so I've already been to years of scout meetings and the novelty has worn off. (I have learned that the secret to enduring pack meetings and court of honors is to have a good book tucked in my purse.)

One of the most uncomfortable things I've done is waddle up in front of the whole stake (for some reason the court of honor for my 11-yr-old Scout involved the scout troops of the whole stake) on my due date to get the rank advancement pin with my son. One of the sisters in my ward came up to me afterward and told me I looked miserable. Well, thanks! Yes, I was miserable. Just three days later I had my newest son and he weighed in at 10 lbs! I've included a picture of me at the pack meeting, very pregnant, getting the pin for my son's Wolf rank.

Now that I am the mother of five, yes, count them, five boys I think I am finally getting the message that it would be a good idea to learn more about how boys think. Decades ago when I was 12 or something I pulled a book off of my parents' bookcase, So you Want to Raise a Boy by Cleon Skousen. I learned some amazing stuff from that book. Maybe it's time to reread it. I am learning that boys like weapons. I am learning that they like to be wild. That is OK. One of the Scout leaders in our ward says that the reason he LOVES Scouting is that he gets to play with fire, climb the face of cliffs, handle knives, and do all the dangerous things his mother told him not to do. I think Scouting is the way for boys to channel their wild energy in a safe way.

I have been reading the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. He is Christian, but not LDS. Despite the theology that I disagree with, I agree with a lot of what he says. His main point is that God is wild at heart and He shows that through the wildness of nature. Every male is wild at heart and wants to be part of some adventure. If we accept this wildness and let each boy/man discover that he has what it takes to be a wild man then we will be happy.

So I am letting go of telling my boys to be quiet and I have always let them have their weapons. I give up the idea that my home is a sedate place. Things won't always be in perfect control or order. I have trained my boys in doing dishes and housework and baby tending and I also encourage their Scouting adventures. I hope someday my future daughters-in-law will thank me for raising such wonderful boys who are loving and disciplined, yet in touch with their wild side too when it is needed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Fabulous Alternative

A few weeks ago my friends treated me to a blessingway, which happened before my baby was born. Not every pregnant mother needs a baby shower, but every pregnant mom could be blessed by a blessingway. This is where the guests come and instead of bringing material gifts, they bring good wishes, a wish for the mom and a wish for the baby. It sounds rather romantic, doesn't it, like it's straight out of Sleeping Beauty. Instead of playing silly games, like guessing what baby food is in which jar, the guests can engage in meaningful activities. This is something every mom could benefit from, whether it's her first baby or her ninth.

I have been to a few blessingways. I've enjoyed the activity of writing down the wishes and then taking turns sharing the wishes aloud, so that's what I wanted to do at mine. KeeNan, my good friend, brought a little photo album and had the guests write the wishes down on small cards to slip into the album.

We enjoyed a potluck dinner and shared birth stories. (No fair telling horror birth stories to pregnant women. Fortunately, my friends shared happy stories.) My friends who organized the blessingway, Sally and KeeNan, provided a tray of beads. As each guest shared her wish she picked a bead to string on a bracelet for me to wear to remind me of my friends' good wishes. Rebecca, one of the guests, gave me a foot massage with some lotion and scrubs provided by Sally. That is one treat that a pregnant woman with edemic feet can't get enough of! Bless you, Rebecca. If you google "blessingway" you will find some other ideas for activities.

So if you have a friend who is pregnant, consider giving her a blessingway. If she already has children she probably already has plenty of baby clothes and doesn't need a baby shower. A blessingway will bless her in ways that a baby shower doesn't.