Early October update

When I walked in the door last night after driving 6-7 hours home from Gilbert, I told Lance I’d never make the drive alone again! Today I’m hesitant to use the word “never”, but still feel pretty strongly that it won’t be happening again any time soon.

Lila was sad for about 2 of the 6.5 hours. Not fun! I decided to “drive through” instead of stopping at a McDonalds playplace like I usually do. It was nice to get home 1.5 hours earlier than usual, but it wasn’t worth it. Baby girl needs to get out and play, and I need to get out and stretch! It’s physically and mentally exhausting to consecutively drive for so long, especially with a whining, crying, screaming, sad sweetie in the back.

Last week Lila and I drove to the Phoenix Valley to watch Spencer (3.5 yrs old) and Mallory (9 months old) while Mandi and Brandon went to NYC for a few days. Lisa invited us to come stay with her so she could help, and I’m so glad we were able to — because the help was needed! Mom even joined us for two days and a night. I’m glad she made the effort despite having a busy week ahead serving at the temple and judging the Graham County Fair.

Mallory is still nursing, but also takes baby food. She did pretty well all things considered. She only wakes up once a night (about 4:30 am) to eat, so that wasn’t that bad. She didn’t love formula or drinking from a bottle, but we survived. She is such a happy, easy baby and is a joy to be around. Her face lights up and mouth opens wide with excitement at the smallest things. It’s the cutest.

Spencer is a firecracker and says the funniest things. Mandi is doing such a good job raising him and Mally. She is so good about explaining everything to him. That, and just his given personality, contribute to his thoughtful demeanor. He wakes up early and goes to bed late, though his sleep schedule is improving. I had Lila and Mallory in the back bedrooms with me, and Lisa kept Spencer in her room. He woke up before 7 a.m. every morning, but she’d let him watch TV before waking up with him at a decent hour. In that way, we were able to handle all three kids pretty well.

Jace and Brittany, who were on fall break from school, were also a big help. Spencer and Lila LOVED them. On the drive home, Lila kept asking “Jace, where are you?” It was fun to attend one of Brittany’s home volleyball games, though I felt kind of silly walking in five months pregnant with a 9 month old baby on my hip. I wanted to say “she isn’t mine!” If people only knew I’d left a 3.5 and 2 yr old back at home — ha!

We played board games, went to the park, went for RZR rides, made Playdough and made yummy food while at Lisa’s. Lila and Spencer fought like crazy, but they also played really well together. Lila adored Mallory but her love was a double edged sword. Sometimes she was so helpful — she’d entertain Mallory if I couldn’t get to her in time, etc. But sometimes she was too helpful and would want to share her snacks with Mallory while we were driving in the car! Talk about confusing when I’d say “Lila, share your crackers with Spencer. Lila, DON’T share your crackers with Mallory!”

I’m so grateful for my sisters. Mandi and Brandon were gone four about 4 nights, but were only in NYC for 2 nights. They left at 4 a.m. one morning and got back at about 11 p.m., which is why it felt like 4 nights to me instead of 2. Being tired and pregnant and having just gotten back from a long trip myself, I wasn’t super excited to drive to Arizona and be away from home again. But at the same time, I was happy to do it because I understand. There are very few people I’d leave Lila alone with, and Mandi is one of them. I’m happy to be that trusted person for her kids. I think alone time with your spouse is SO important, and I hope we can continue in the future to make this a tradition.

Baby boy is moving a ton, and I love it. It’s definitely the best part of pregnancy. I’m in a good stage where I’m obviously pregnant but not overly huge. My body sometimes aches, especially after sleeping on hard beds that aren’t mine, but for the most part I’m feeling really good. Mandi gave me some baby boy items of Spencer’s and it made me feel a new wave of excitement for Baby Boy to arrive. I wonder how he’ll fit into our family, what his personality will be like, what Lila will think, how he’ll sleep etc. I’m anxious to hold him and love him and feel that special bond that exists between parent and child.

I renewed and upgraded our Disneyland annual passes today. It was painful to click “purchase” because they are so expensive! We went from the $330 each passes to Lance’s passes being $579 and mine $799! Because Downtown Disney no longer offers cheap parking, we decided to “Go Big” and upgrade to passes that include parking and have fewer blackout dates. Now we’ll be able to go on most Saturdays. Plus we figured this is our only chance to do this before Lila turns three next year and we have to start paying for her. By then, we’ll likely downgrade or take a Disney break.

Am I Good Enough?

I haven’t been loving teaching primary lately. Teaching CTR 6 is much different than teaching Valiant 11. I had a small class of 11/12 year olds who were interested in what I was teaching them — who participated, read the scriptures with asked thoughtful questions and brought meaning to a lot of the lessons. Teaching six 6 year olds is, like I said, different. I can barely manage to get them all to sit in their chair, let alone listen and actively participate!

The crazy thing is that I know they are listening, even when they are wiggling and climbing all over the place. It’s amazing that I can ask them what I taught last week and they can usually remember not just the topic, but details. And, I constantly remind myself, one of the most important goals I should work for as their teacher is to help them feel the Spirit and enjoy coming to Church, so that they’ll continue to want to as they grow older and the gospel can take a more active and meaningful role in their lives.

With all of that said, I don’t attend Relief Society and I miss it. Luckily I get these lesson recaps emailed to me each week. And luckily, this one spoke directly to my heart. In many areas of my life, I feel not necessarily less than, but that I want more. I want to be better. I want to reach and attain more. It’s a constant fight to find a balance between pursuing more and enjoying what I have right now. I’ve marked what stuck out to me.

Elder Cornish: Am I good enough?

If you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for grace—you positively are going to be “good enough.”

Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.

Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions “Am I good enough?” and “Will I make it?” are “Yes! You are going to be good enough” and “Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.” The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father, who yearns more than anything else to have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever. He truly gave His Only Begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life! Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from, this eternal truth. Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it! That is His work and His glory.

I love the way President Gordon B. Hinckley used to teach this principle. I heard him say on several occasions, “Brothers and sisters, all the Lord expects of us is to try, but you have to really try!”

“Really trying” means doing the best we can, recognizing where we need to improve, and then trying again. By repeatedly doing this, we come closer and closer to the Lord, we feel His Spirit more and more, and we receive more of His grace, or help.

All we have to do to receive this heavenly help is to ask for it and then to act on the righteous promptings we receive.

The great news is that if we have sincerely repented, our former sins will not keep us from being exalted. Moroni tells us of the transgressors in his day: “But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.”

If we will sincerely repent, God really will forgive us, even when we have committed the same sin over and over again. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made …, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

This does not mean in any way that sin is OK. Sin always has consequences. Sin always harms and hurts both the sinner and those affected by his or her sins. And true repentance is never easy. Moreover, please understand that even though God takes away the guilt and stain of our sins when we sincerely repent, He may not immediately take away all of the consequences of our sins. Sometimes they remain with us for the rest of our lives. And the worst kind of sin is premeditated sin, where one says, “I can sin now and repent later.” I believe that this is a solemn mockery of the sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ.

I witness to you that if you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for the grace, or help, of Christ—you positively are going to be “good enough,” that is, acceptable before the Lord; you are going to make it to the celestial kingdom, being perfect in Christ; and you are going to receive the blessings and glory and joy that God desires for each of His precious children—including specifically you and me. I testify that God lives and wants us to come home.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts”. So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch.

Please believe! Please take hope! Do your best! Keep trying! Receive His grace!

Psalm 8:5 – little lower than the angels
Isaiah 43:4 – precious in my sight
Abraham 3:22-23 – noble and great ones
D&C 18:10 – worth of souls is great in the sight of God
Acts 9:15 – chosen vessel
Psalm 139:14 – fearfully and wonderfully made

How I want to Improve in 2017: The Year of Positivity

A well-known blogger I follow doesn’t write up a list of New Year’s resolutions, but instead dubs each year “The Year of ____.” One year that blank was Productivity. Another it was Honesty. This year it’s Creativity.

I like that. Instead of choosing multiple things I want to improve on or achieve, I could focus on a basic theme throughout 2017. But what? By nature, it’s easier to categorize my life and then list goals underneath each umbrella.

Be positive
Seek to include instead of be included

Study the Book of Mormon 5 days a week along with my Primary lesson preparation
Attend the temple once a month — generally first Wednesday or Thursday

Spin at Bike2theBeat once a week
Ride my bike in the mornings twice a week (Tues and Thurs)

Eat more leafy greens in salads and smoothies

Save $2,500 a month/$30,000 total for the year
Buy a SUV for Christmas!

Spend uninterrupted time (at least 1 hour) each day playing with and teaching Lila

Encourage Lance to mountain bike at least bi-monthly
Show more gratitude

Make at least $10,000
Seek out work from Gallup/Email Susan
Start research and interview process to write Dad’s biography

For-Purpose Solutions
Add my title in LinkedIn
Encourage and help Lance spend time growing business

Arizona (February)
Stevens Disneyland (April)
Anniversary trip* (April)
Lunt reunion (June)
Lake Powell (July)
Hawaii (September)
Arizona (October)
Arizona (December)
Greece (December-January)

*San Diego, San Francisco, Channel Islands National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Catalina Island, Big Sur, Crystal Cove cottages, Napa Valley.

I think I want to make 2017 The Year of Positivity. It just feels right. Ultimately I want to be a happier, more positive person, and I want to be a source of positive light and strength for others.

Bucket List 2017

The title is misleading. This isn’t a bucket list for 2017, but my bucket list as of 2017. I started it in 2015, so I figured it was time for an update. There are SO many other things I want to accomplish and places I want to travel, but these are the bucket list items I think are realistic for the next couple of years:

Snorkel, hike and roadtrip through Maui (Check: April-May 2015)
Explore Chicago (Check: June-July 2015)
Have a baby (eek!) (Check: September 2015)
Visit Moab, Arches and Bryce Canyon (Check: November 2015)
Visit the Redwood Forest (Check: September 2016)
Hike Angel’s Landing at Zions
Backpack through the Grand Canyon
Visit Big Sur
Site see in San Fran
Travel to Greece
Have Baby #2 (eek!!)
Start an Etsy shop
Write a book, possibly the biography of a loved one
Buy an SUV with cash

Obviously this is a to-be-continued type of list.

April Wrap-up

Written November 2017

Most of these are just cute pictures of our Lila Baby. Two photos may need a description: 1) Lance and C at the cabin popping an air bubble that they hoped would be filled with water 2) a picture of the beautiful, snow capped mountains and blooming trees I took when out on an assignment for work. I sent it to my Mom, who I knew would appreciate the Utah season.

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Sept 2015 - April 2016 578 Sept 2015 - April 2016 581 Sept 2015 - April 2016 586 Sept 2015 - April 2016 599 Sept 2015 - April 2016 607 Sept 2015 - April 2016 638 Sept 2015 - April 2016 670 Sept 2015 - April 2016 676 Sept 2015 - April 2016 683 Sept 2015 - April 2016 685 Sept 2015 - April 2016 686 Sept 2015 - April 2016 694 Sept 2015 - April 2016 790 Sept 2015 - April 2016 791

We went outside

Written October 2017

These photos (surprisingly) make me homesick for snow! I’m so glad we had the opportunity to live in Utah when we did. I don’t know if we’ll ever live there again, but we’ll hopefully always have a reason to visit.

Obviously January was filled with plenty of outdoor adventures. I don’t remember going skiing so soon after Lila was born, but I must have because I took the shots of Lance below on New Years Day at Solitude.

Also pictured: A leisurely stroll in the snow (thanks to the Bob stroller Dawn bought us!) up Spanish Fork Canyon, a random picture of our cars covered in snow (I don’t miss cleaning them!), another Sunday stroll — this time at Salem Pond, a snowy walk up South Fork canyon along a stream, a snowy walk up Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil Falls with my co-worker/friend Sammy Jo Hester, and our attempt at snow-shoeing along the Provo River up the canyon near our basement apartment. I remember we rented snow shoes from the BYU Outdoor Store but we didn’t last long. It was cold, they were cumbersome, and it started to snow pretty heavily only a few minutes into our jaunt. Still — we love the outdoors and were determined to introduce our new babe to the beautiful world, despite the cold! She stayed warm strapped to Lance in a baby carrier, and usually slept the entire time.

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2015 Bucketlist

The title is misleading. This isn’t a bucket list for 2015, but my bucket list as of 2015. But let’s be honest, I plan to check many of these off before 2016.

  • Snorkel, hike and roadtrip through Maui (Check: April-May 2015)
  • Start an Etsy shop
  • Explore Chicago (Check: June-July 2015)
  • Write a book, possibly the biography of a loved one
  • Visit the Redwood Forest
  • Have a baby (eek!)
  • Hike Angel’s Landing at Zions and visit Moab, Arches and Bryce Canyon
  • Buy a house
  • Serve an LDS mission with my boy

Obviously this is a to-be-continued type of list.