Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Eat a Strawberry

The 14-year-old girl got creative recently, and took the following photos during her after-school snack. These were just too cute, colorful and delectable not to share...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Letter to My Sister Regarding Attendance at the Birth

Dear Robyn,

As I mentioned here on my blog yesterday, my labors are so long, that I believe if I called you when the contractions began, you would have time to book and board a flight from where you live in California, arrive in El Paso, pick up Mom, drive the 3.5 hours it takes to get here, find the hospital, and little Daniel still wouldn't have arrived into the world. You said that if you didn't have a pressing scientific experiment in the works, that you would come, so great!

Because you have an amazing scientific mind, and are planning on attending medical school one day, I know you are going to be fascinated by this experience. However, because you have never attended a child birth before, let me give you some idea of what my state of mind will be during this process....

First, by the time you get here, I will have probably been in active labor for many hours. I will feel exhausted, frustrated, tearful, distracted, and perhaps even angry. I might not act happy to see you, but please know that were I in my normal state of mind, I would be ecstatic you were present.

You will probably try to be funny around John and Mom. In most cases, you succeed very well at this, but there may come a time when that will be very annoying to me. I will be in the depths of a torturous experience and I will not think it's fair that someone would want to laugh while I am going through this. I know, unreasonable, but I've done this enough times to know. I might want you to be quiet, and I very well may express this to you by saying "Shut up, Robyn!" Please forgive me.

During transition, I will be in my darkest hour (or hours). I will not be aware of much that is going on around me and my actions and demeanor will be such as you've never seen before. I usually don't want to make eye contact with anyone, and I will want absolutely no distractions at all at this point, even though I will be in my own world most of the time.

When it comes time to push, I will feel scared, exhausted, nervous and child-like. I will probably express my fear by saying, "I'm scared." Just be your encouraging self and I will be fine. If you want to try to be funny again at this time, I should be okay with it. Also, you should know that you might actually see me poop. Sorry. But, knowing you, that shouldn't bother you one bit. I may scream a bit at this point as well, as I will be experiencing the so called "ring of fire" as the baby comes out. This should only last for a couple of seconds, though. Once his head is out, I'll feel much better.

After the birth, I will feel an amazing rush of energy, unlike anything else I've ever experienced and we will have a wonderful time getting to know Daniel. You will get to see what a placenta looks like, and I'm sure you will have a plethora of questions for the medical staff. Hopefully John can translate all of your questions for you, and will be willing to.

Okay, then, I think those are the main points you need to know. Do you have any questions? Thanks for supporting me in my decision to have a natural child birth, Rob. I'm so glad you're right there with me on this!

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's Kitchen Cabinet Time! Click the pic to see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Dear John Letter Regarding Labor Coaching

In case you don't know it by now, I'm somewhat of a natural type girl....natural consequences, natural healing, natural nutrition, and of course, natural child birth. For the last 7 out of 8 of my deliveries, I have opted to deliver my babies without an epidural. (My eighth delivery was a scheduled cesarean section as both the twins were breech.) There are so many reasons for this decision, which I will share in a subsequent post. Suffice it to say, whatever husband I am married to at the time has a lot of work to do himself during my deliveries. Most would assume that because this is my ninth delivery, my baby will come fast. This will most likely not be the case. My labors last anywhere from 10 hours (my third) to 51 hours (my sixth). In fact, I asked my sister in California if she would like to attend the birth because I'm sure that I would have time to call her, have her book and board a flight from California to El Paso, pick up my mother in El Paso, then drive the 3.5 hours it takes to get to the hospital where I will deliver in Mexico, find the hospital and still arrive in time for the birth. She said yes, if she's not in the middle of an important scientific experiment to find a cure for a debilitating disease. Come on, Robyn! Where are you priorities? Just kidding, I understand if science needs you more than I.

Back to the point, John's first birth attendance was with our first child together, or course, and my labor was 36 hours long. He did an absolutely amazing job supporting me in every way possible, along with our doula (which is a professional labor coach) and giving birth to the current 3-year-old boy was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. Yes it was painful, torturous even, but the love John showed to me during the process is something I will never forget. We'd only been married for less than a year, but we became so much closer because of going through this together.

The last time I gave birth, the process was completed in two minutes, as Twin A was born at 1:24 PM via c-section and Twin B at 1:25 PM. Not much coaching was needed during this process, so coaching the upcoming birth may require that I remind John about a few things. This is the purpose of the following Dear John letter....

Dear John,

As you know, I feel like you did an amazing job when you coached me during the 3-year-old's birth. You were so exhausted after the birth, that you passed out on a hard, uncomfortable, ugly chair almost immediately after he was born. I felt sorry that you didn't get the adrenalin rush I did after the birth.

However, it's been almost four years since that occasion, and I would like to remind you of a few things you and our beloved doula did to assist me during that beautiful occasion.

1. If you see that my breathing isn't even during a contraction, breathe with me to show me the rhythm I should be using. You'll know the rhythm from my contractions up until that point.

2. Most likely, my labor will be very long and there will probably come a point when I start to cry and tell you that I'm considering asking for an epidural. Please, at that time, remind me that I can do this naturally, that I chose this way because it's the safest way, both for me and our baby, that I have done it many times before, and that every pain I have brings me closer to meeting our baby boy.

3. Do not at any time suggest that I receive medication or an epidural. If there is someone in the room who is suggesting this, please ask them not to suggest it as well.

4. When the doctor is checking to see how far I am dilated, please do not let me hear. I will most likely feel like I should be more dilated and I will feel great disappointment at hearing I've not progressed as far as I had hoped.

5. Remind me that I can try different positions for relieving the pain, such as walking, leaning on a table, sitting on the birthing ball, ect. 

6. During transition, if you see that I'm crying out and throwing my head back, remind me to make low gutteral noises and to keep my chin down. I don't know why this worked so well last time, this tip our doula showed us, but it did.

7. Please remind me to focus on whatever focal point I've chosen. Although during our first natural birth together, you printed and framed a photo of one of your gorgeous pink dahlias for me to use for this purpose, it turned out that the third button on your shirt was a more effective focal point. It helps a lot for me to have this kind of focus, no matter what I choose at my point of focus.

8. When it comes time to push, remind me that I can try different positions, such as kneeling, standing or squatting. I may not accept that invitation, but I may appreciate the reminder.

All righty then, I think those are the important points I need you to remember. Thank you for being here for me through this and I love and appreciate you!

Love, Your Wife

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Protecting Our Homes From the Evils of Pornography

Welcome to the 81st weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: For this week's "YOURS" feature, I thought I'd do something a little different. Last Monday, there were just too many good recipes to choose from, so I decided to pick three and create a menu of sorts. Here goes!

Let's start with a salad first. Nikki, from "Nikki and Danny", posted a delicious-sounding broccoli salad recipe on her blog. Some of her ingredients include cheese, craisins, sunflower seeds and red onion. I'll bet it's a beautiful salad as well! For her recipe, click HERE.

Now for the entree. Alessandra, over at "Ale's Random Tips" posted a wonderful recipe for spinach pizza. Being somewhat a vegetarian, this very much appealed to me and if you'll check out her photo below, I'm sure it will appeal to you as well...

For Alessandra's recipe, click HERE.

And finally, the most important part of a meal....the dessert! Single Mormon Chick at "The Law of Chastity and the modern Mormon girl. Am I the only one?" posted an amazing recipe for chocolate truffle brownies. I have been having unbelievable chocolate cravings recently, and this recipe just really whet my appetite! If only there were pictures! However, just the word "truffle" had me sprinting over to her site, and I know this recipe will be wonderful. For Single Mormon Chick's recipe, click HERE.

Thank you, all of you, for contributing to Homemaker Monday! I am definitely going to bring home groceries for these recipes this week and give this menu a try. My family is going to love me! And by the way, if you don't already have an "I Was Featured" button, please feel free to take one from my left sidebar!

MINE: Homemaking means making our home a healthy, clean, safe, love-filled place for our families. We must also keep our families spiritually safe, which means living in a way such that The Spirit of God can dwell within our homes. In the Mormon church, rather than hearing a sermon from the leader of the congregation every week, the members are asked to take turns speaking to the congregation. They are usually given about two weeks notice, and sometimes are assigned a topic on which to speak. Other times they are allowed to choose their own topic. Two weeks ago I was asked to address our church congregation on the subject of my choice. After seeking guidance from The Lord, I felt compelled to speak to the teenage boys in our ward (the Mormon word for congregation) about the evils of pornography. Here is what I said...

"Good morning brothers and sisters. Because everyone likes to talk about their experience when being asked to give a talk, I thought I'd share mine as well. Two weeks ago, I innocently walked into the chapel, shaking the hands of each member of the bishopric as I did so. When I got to Greer (an extroverted, stocky man in his 50s) he wouldn't let me hand go, and said, "Hey! Guess what list you are on? You're on the haven't-spoken-in-church-in-a-long-time list!" I pulled my hand out of his, said, "ughhh", and walked away, listening to him laughing behind me.

I knew my turn had come though, and that there was no getting out of it, so I decided to make a preemptive strike. I went up to Greer after church and said, "Okay, you want me to speak. When?" Brother Mike (another member of the bishopric), the sweet man that he is, overheard me, walked up to us and said, "Greer! You can't ask a woman who is about to give birth to speak in church!" Greer said, "Why not? She'll be fine." He did concede to offer to let me speak now or in April, after the baby was born. I figured it would probably be a lot easier to prepare a talk with 8 kids at home, rather than 9, I am!

I had asked Greer if I could pick the topic of my talk and he agreed. The reason I had wanted to pick the topic was because for the past two years, since the last time I spoke in church, I knew this day would come. I had lots of wonderful, inspirational topics in my head that I was planning to choose from, but when I went home that day and began to pray about what I should speak, none of these topics were the answer. The topic that came to mind is one that difficult, uncomfortable, and awkward to speak about.

The second signal that I was to speak on this subject came last week, when I went into the clerk's office. I had had a break in Primary and I had come seeking chocolate, which John has hidden in a special drawer in his office. He wasn't there however, and I tried to open the special drawer, but it was locked. I decided to wait for a few minutes until he returned, and in the mean time, I started looking at piles of pamphlets in a bookcase in the office. My eyes were attracted to one particular pamphlet called "Let Virtue Garnish They Thoughts" (shown below). It was a pamphlet I had never seen before, and my hand was directed to it. I opened it and was surprised to see that it was written about this very topic of which I felt inspired to speak.

In speaking on this subject, I feel like Jacob in The Book of Mormon. Do you remember when he had to speak to his community about sins certain members of his congregation were committing. He said...

'And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God;

And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul.

Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.' (Jacob 2, 7-9)

In my writings just last week, I mentioned how sacrament meeting can be difficult for young people sometimes because most of the talks are addressed to the adults of the ward. Today, I am addressing my words to....

(Here, I named each boy aged 12 through 17.)

I am also addressing this talk to your parents, your youth leaders, the young women with whom you associate, the brethren of the ward, your wives, and anyone who has influence in your life. That should cover just about everyone.

The topic I felt inspired to speak on is pornography and how it relates to sexual sin.

First, let's talk about what pornography is. The word pornography originated from two Greek words. "Porno" means prostitute or harlot and "graphy" means to write. So the word originally meant "to write about harlots". I found this very interesting, because pornography didn't originate as erotic images, but as erotic writings. In the the pamphlet I was guided to, "Let Virtue Garnish They Thoughts", this is given as the definition of pornography....

'Pornography depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. It may be found in written material (including romance novels), photographs, movies, electronic images, video games, internet chat rooms, erotic telephone conversations, music, or any other medium. It is a tool of the adversary.'

Why is pornography evil? Here is what the "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts" pamphlet says...

'Pornography can be devastating. Indulgence in it will deprive you of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It will darken your mind. It will weaken and eventually destroy marriage and family life. Those who indulge in it soon feel alienated, unworthy, and unacceptable to God, to themselves, and to others. They become self-centered, and less able to enjoy healthy and righteous interactions with others. They waste valuable time and money, jeopardize their standing in the Church, and diminish their ability to serve others.'

I would like to break down each one of these reasons for why pornography is so evil...

Why does pornography deprive you of the companionship of The Holy Ghost?

Pornography is a mockery of the sacred procreative powers God implanted in us as His children. In case you don't know what procreative powers means, it means to ability to create life. Procreation is central to God's Plan of Happiness as this is the way in which all of his children would gain their physical bodies, one of the primary reasons we came here to earth. Often the ultimate effect of viewing pornography is committing sexual sin. Sexual sin means to use the procreative powers God gave us outside of marriage.

Did you know that sexual sin is considered the second worst sin that one can be forgiven for, only second to murder? Did you ever wonder why? I believe that one of the reasons is that when one murders someone, they are taking away that person's agency to choose. They are taking away any opportunities they would have had to improve themselves, serve in the community and become closer to God in this life. In addition, they wreak devastation to family members and friends of the victim, who will never see the victim in this life again. A murderer robs his victim and the victim's family of so many essential things.

Now, when a person commits sexual sin, that person is abusing the procreative powers The Lord gave us and will likely create a human being in the process. The person committing sexual sin will not be prepared for caring for this human life, and oftentimes cannot or will not do so. This robs a human being of the right to be reared by two parents. The Family, A Proclamation to the World states, "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."  Without both parents, children are robbed of training and opportunities they would have otherwise had  In worse situations, the mother of the child, not wanting the responsibility of caring for another human being besides herself, will sometimes chose to abort the life of the fetus, which is committing murder, with all of the consequences that entails as I mentioned above. Over 1 million women in the U.S. choose this option every year. So thus we see that both sexual sin and murder involve deeply affecting human lives.

Because pornography most often leads to sexual sin and it's consequences, we can see why The Holy Ghost would be not be able to abide in us if we are indulging in this practice.

How will pornography darken your mind?

We can see that the use of pornography will drive away The Spirit of The Lord, which is light. When that light is taken away, there is only darkness left. Have you ever been in a dark room with a flash light, then turned the flashlight off? What is left once you take away the light?  Darkness. When The Spirit of God leaves us, we leave room for Satan to have free reign within us. This is one of the reasons losing The Spirit is such a horrible thing. I'd like to talk about other effects of losing The Spirit.

Did you know that having God's Spirit with you is like having a best friend who has a crystal ball and can tell the future? God knows everything that will happen in our future, and, if we listen closely, He can guide us in our lives by the power of The Holy Ghost. This is a gift that we all, as members of The Church of Jesus Chrstis of Latter-Day Saints were given at the time of our baptisms. The Holy Ghost, knowing what our future holds, can warn us of dangers and guide us in decision-making. He can also comfort us when we feel bad, and testify of truth. To break down these purposes even further, let's talk about each one.

1. Having a being who can warn us of dangers is a very comforting thing to me, especially living here in Mexico during this difficult time. This is one of the main motivators to me to do the things I need to do to keep The Spirit with me. I want that assurance that I am doing everything I can to be worthy of this special blessing God has given us of warning us in times of danger.

2. Having a being who can guide us in decision-making is huge. Conor and Dylan, you have many life-changing decisions you will be making in the next few months. Taking a wrong turn in any of these decisions could have a profound negative effect on the rest of your life. In turn, making the correct decisions, as guided by The Holy Ghost, will help you to lead a happy life if you continue to seek the guidance of The Holy Ghost.

3. Having a being who can comfort us in difficult times is something that has been a huge blessing in my life, personally. I never realized what a blessing this gift was until I lost my husband, and having The Holy Ghost as a comforter was like anesthesia to my pain. I was terrified to do anything at all which would cause me to lose The Spirit, because I knew if I did, I would lose that comforting feeling of love that God was providing through The Holy Ghost.

4. Having a being who will testify truth is essential as we seek to become the person God wants us to become. Knowing the truth will help us choose the path that will lead to happiness. Being confused about the truth will cause us to wander aimlessly in life, being unproductive, confused and unhappy. I'm sure many of us know people in this situation who are confused about the truth. What an amazing blessing it is to have the gift of truth as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!

As we consider all of the blessings that are ours because we have the gift of The Holy Ghost, we must never indulge in pornography and thus drive away this powerful help and guide out of our lives.

How can pornography weaken family life and marriage?

Pornography is one of the most addictive vices there are. Dallin H. Oaks...

...quotes one man who was a cocaine addict and a pornography addict. This man said, "In my eyes cocaine doesn't hold a candle to this. I have done both. . . . Quitting even the hardest drugs was nothing compared to [trying to quit pornography]". When one is engaged in this addictive behavior, that person does not think of the needs of his family or the needs of those around him. He thinks of his need to quench the unquenchable thirst that is pornography. When viewing pornography, chemicals are produced in the brain that cause a high similar to drug use. The desire to feel these chemicals grows exponentially as pornography use continues, until, as with drugs, just viewing is not enough. One feels that in order to have the same chemical stimulation that one must act out what he sees on the screen. This is when the sexual sin I discussed earlier comes into play. Even if a man does not commit sexual sin, his mind is focused only on his addiction, and not the needs of his wife and children. This is when the corrosion of the family begins.

And again, even if a man never commits sexual sin, pornography has another huge detrimental effect on a wife or a future wife. Pornographic images are not realistic, and when a man marries, and has indulged as a teenager or is indulging as a husband in this evil practice, he becomes dissatisfied with his wife because she does not look like or does not do what he sees on the screen. For a wife to feel that she is a disappointment to her husband in this way is one of the most painful things a wife can endure, and many families are broken up because of this.

Thus we see how the use of pornography will weaken family life and marriage.

How can pornography make one feel alienated, unworthy and unacceptable to God, self and others?

When one is viewing pornography, he is in the clutches of the devil. When you are serving the devil, you feel uncomfortable in a righteous or spiritual setting, such as church, the temple or even wholesome activities with family and friends. Under the devil's influence, you are being taught that you are worthless, unworthy and unforgivable. Please do not allow yourself to become servants of Satan by viewing this material.

How can pornography make one become self-centered?

As I stated before. Pornography is addictive, and when one has an addiction, they think of little else, expect their own needs. Being self-centered is completely contrary to God's plan, and Satan rejoices when God's children are in the grasps of an addiction such as this because he knows that they will become useless servants in the vineyards of The Lord

How can pornography waste time and money?

Obviously, we can see how pornography can waste time, but how can it waste money? We all know that pornography can be viewed for free on the internet. What you may not realize, however, is that every time you click on an internet page with ads, the person who owns that website may be paid for your visit. For instance, on my blog, I have ads that deposit a small amount of money into my account every time someone visits my blog. This extra cash I will use to help support my sons and daughters on their missions. Likewise, when a pornographic site is viewed, a little change goes into the pockets of the people who own these sites. What do you think they do with this money? I can assure you that they aren't using it to send their children on missions. They are using it to build up the kingdom of Satan, and when you visit these sites, you are directly contributing to building up this evil kingdom as well, and if you do not repent for this, it will stand as a witness against you at the last day, the fact that you helped build up this evil enterprise.

How can pornography jeopardize one's standing in the church?

Dallin H. Oaks said, "The immediate spiritual consequences of the hypocrisy of pornography use are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: "When we undertake to cover our sins, . . . behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man" (D&C 121:37).

How would you feel if because of pornography use, you were not able to bless or pass the sacrament, not able to give a blessing to a child or your wife when called upon, or not able to serve The Lord in the capacity of a calling? The priesthood is the power to act in God's name. Please do not forfeit this enormous blessing and power because of the desire to use pornography

How can pornography diminish one's ability to serve others?

As I stated in answer to the previous question, when one indulges in pornography, he loses the ability to use the power of the priesthood. Additionally, as I stated earlier, because it is such an addictive vice, he has no desire to serve anyone else but himself as he seeks for ways to fulfill his own needs.

Now, before I discuss how we can remove ourselves from the clutches of pornography if we are already engaged in it, let me share one more thing Dallin H. Oaks mentioned in his 2005 conference address. To the Young Women he says, "please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you." I have been so very impressed with the way the Young Women in this ward dress. Sometimes I would just like to take you to some of my old wards and show the girls there how it's one. However, if you are ever tempted to dress immodestly, please remember the words of Dallin H. Oaks, and do not become walking pornography, thus contributing to all of the problems I mentioned earlier.

If you are already engaged in pornography use, there are ways to be released from its evil snares.

First, you must admit you have this problem and not rationalize that there is nothing wrong with it. If you have come across pornography accidentally on the internet, this is not necessarily something you need to discuss with your bishop, but you should definitely tell your parents what happened, discuss it with them, and pray to your Heavenly Father to ask his help in removing those images from your mind. If you find, however, that you are purposefully seeking out pornography, even only occasionally, this is the time to go to your bishop to confess your problem and receive his help. The bishop is not here to judge you, but to help you repent and help you remove yourself from this addictive behavior and I can promise you that he will do this in a loving, caring way.

During the time you are working to give up this sin, it is essential that you continually pray to Heavenly Father for help. He loves you and wants nothing more than to help you succeed. There is a universal Christian prayer, called "The Lord's Prayer", written in The Bible and in The Book of Mormon...,

...that Christ gave us as a format that can be used for our prayers. One of my favorite parts of this prayer are these words, written in Matthew 6:13...

13 aAnd blead us not into ctemptation, dbut deliver us from evil:

When you are praying, personalize it, asking something like, "Lead me, Jen, not into temptation, but deliver me from evil." You don't have to use these exact words, this being just a model for prayer, but pray in earnest that God will help you avoid this temptation.

Do you part to avoid pornography as well. Talk to you parents or spouse about your problem, so that they can help you in a loving way. Fill your life with light, because in a light-filled room, there is no room for darkness. Ways to fill your life with light are to pray day and night, read your scriptures daily, especially The Book of Mormon, do nice things for people, develop your talents or find new talents you didn't know you had, exercise, engage yourself in your studies or learn something new from good books. There are so many good ways to spend your time and bring light into your life.

Please know that God loves you and will forgive you if you have indulged in the practice of pornography. One of the scriptures in The Bible that has touched me the most over the years, during times I have felt inadequate beause of sin, is this verse in Isaiah Chapter 1:18...

  18 Come now, and let us areason together, saith the Lord: though your bsins be as scarlet, they shall be ascwhite as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Jesus Christ, through the Atonement, does have the power to cleanse us from our sins no matter how great they are. Please take advantage of this sacrifice me made for us, the sacrifice of suffering unimaginable pain in The Garden of Gethsemane, then dying on the cross for us...

(Art by J. Kirk Richards)

He did this for this very reason, to cleanse us from our sins. Satan would have you believe that you can't conquer this addiction and can't be forgiven for it. Do not listen to this lie. Please remember what Jesus Christ has done for you.

There is one last thing I would like to say regarding this tool of Satan and why I chose to address you Young Men today. Satan and his legions know that this is the time in your life that you are preparing to go on your missions and to become husbands and fathers in Zion. If he can keep you from going on your missions by making you feel selfish or unworthy, he has succeeded.

Do you remember the story of Ammon? You know, the one who smote off the arms of the wicked Lamanites who were trying to scatter his fellow-servants flocks of sheep? Do you remember that he was a tool in bringing thousands of Lamanites to the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Do you ever think, well, when I go on my mission, I'm probably not going to have that kind of success. Let me tell you something. If you bring just one person to the knowledge of the truth through The Holy Ghost, think of the domino effect that could have. Say you baptize a family with a 10-year-old son. In 9 years time that boy will most likely grow up and go on a mission himself, influencing who knows how many people and baptizing people himself. Then he will have children who will serve missions and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each of this generation will, in turn, take the gospel to others throughout the world, and those people will do the same. Thus the number of people who receive the gospel just because you went out and helped to convert only ONE person grows exponentially, and you could very well be like Ammon, a tool in converting hundreds or even thousands of people to the Gospel before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Please know what a valuable tool you are to The Lord and that He has chosen you from the beginning of time to preach his word to the world in this day and age. Don't let anything stand in your way of accomplishing this, especially one of the adversary's most pernicious and effective tools, pornography.

In closing, I bear testimony to you today that I know God lives, is our Father, knows our every action, our every thought, our every motivation and intention. I know he loves us just as our earthly father loves us, but with a greater love that is incomprehensible to us. I know that He wants us to succeed in life and never has or never will ask us to do something that He hasn't given us the power to do. He will never tempt us above that which we can bear. I know that he answers prayers and has given us a way to be cleansed of our sins and return to live with Him, through the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that He has blessed us in this day and age with a latter-day prophet, who communes with Him to receive revelation for His kingdom here on earth. I know He has given us the freedom to choose and that no man or entity can make us choose evil over good. I'm so grateful for the Plan of Happiness He has prepared for us, and may each of us live that we might enjoy the blessings of this plan. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

"Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts" Pamplet (view as a pdf file)
"Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts" Pamplet (order online)
"A Tragic Evil Among Us" by Gordon B. Hinckley
"Pornography" by Dallin H. Oaks

OURS: What homemaking inspiration do you have for us today? Please feel free to include your link below, rather it's a new post or one from your archives. Thank you so much for joining us today! Have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's Homemade Library Time! Click the pic to see.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raising Girls

Look at this lovely delicate hand, adorned with a white bow and a shiny plastic ring...

The thing is, this is the hand of the 3-year-old boy...

Obviously, the 8-year-old girl or the 14-year-old got a hold of him sometime during the evening and put him to bed in this state. You've gotta love girls!

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's Chopstick and Sock Time! Click the pic to see!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That you might know the heart of the 13-year-old boy...

Last weekend, the 14-year-old girl had the entire basketball team over for a sleepover. Needless to say, the 13-year-old boy wasn't invited. However, due to a chronic case of insomnia, he woke up at 3:30 in the morning and prepared this breakfast for the mass of giggling, screaming, blushing girls as they slumbered downstairs...

Several things impressed me about this preparation....

1. He cleaned up his mess, putting all of the waffle ingredients away and wiping down the island.

2. He set out plates and forks.

3. He had the forethought to place a knife on top of the peanut butter jar to facilitate spreading.

4. He stacked the waffles so very neatly.

5. He set out not only the old bottle of syrup, but a new one as well, knowing that the giggling girls would surely run out.

13-year-old boy, you impress me!

And now, that you might know the heart of the 18-year-old boy. His facebook status on the day of the sleepover...

"11 girls under 13 years old... somebody save me."

Thanks for listening.

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's "Go Fetch" Time! Click the pic to see.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You asked to see it: My Lovely Lady Lump

Me, at exactly 37 weeks...

The 14-year-old girl just saw this post and said that I have more like 5 or 6 lady lumps. I'm choosing to dismiss that comment.

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's Spring Bulb Planting Time! Click the pic to see!

Please join us for the Make It From Scratch Carnival!

Welcome to this week's... carnival! Being the host, I got to be the first to see all of the wonderful things people are making from scratch in the blogosphere. Rather than tell you about them, here - let me show you!

Abi presents Hot Ham and Cheese sandwich spread posted at lighter side.

Kristen presents Homemade Graham Crackers: Make Your Own Monday #6 posted at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

Kristan Roland presents Oreo Brownies posted at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.

Jen Steed presents Handmade Book of Days posted at Happy Little Homemaker.

Mrs. Money presents Make Your Own Toothpaste | Ultimate Money Blog- Save Green and Live Green! posted at The Ultimate Money Blog.

Heather presents Semper Fi Apron and Chef Hat posted at Marine Corps Nomads.

Kristia presents Grilled Lime Chicken with Mango Red Pepper Salsa posted at Family Balance Sheet.

Leigh presents Veggie Might: Make Your Own Ketchup posted at Cheap Healthy Good.

Savvy Brown presents Homemade Brown Sugar Body Scrub | Savvy Brown posted at savvy brown.

Kevin Poulis presents – Your Guide to Everything Gardening posted at

Dimes2Vines presents Homemade Salsa posted at Dimes2Vines.

RecycleCindy presents Recycled T-Shirt Bathmat Rug posted at My Recycled

Alex presents Smell in Dishwasher How to Stop It posted at Home Life Weekly.

Wenchypoo presents Rethinking Protein Sources...Again (L-O-N-G) posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket.

Liss presents Yes, I'm giving you the finger... posted at Frills in the Hills.

...and Jen presents How to make pre-bake and freeze rolls or bread sticks! posted at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.

Thank you so much, to all who have contributed and to all who have visited today. The next Make It From Scratch carnival will be on February 23rd over at "Frills in the Hills". To submit your entry, click HERE. Have a great day!

Please join us RIGHT NOW for the "Questions About Mormonism" Live Chat!

NOTE: If you are here for the...

...weekly blog carnival, you are in the right place! Just please scroll down to the next post. Thank you!

Welcome to the "Questions About Mormonism" weekly chat.

(Painting by J. Kirk Richards, one of my favorite artists. I love how Christ's eyes stand out in this painting.)

If you would like to participate, or just "lurk", please just click on the "COMMENTS (SHARE YOURS!)" link at the bottom of this post and leave your comment in the comment window or just read what others have to say. I will be sitting here by my computer from 10:00 AM until 11:45 MST to share my beliefs as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or, as we are otherwise known, a Mormon.

Today's message features images of love put to the tune of a popular Mormon hymn taken from the following scriptures in John chapter 13...

   34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye alove one another; as I have loved you, that ye also blove one another.

  35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have alove one to another. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did....

Now let's chat!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Homemaker Monday: How to Make Pre-Bake and Freeze Bread Sticks or Rolls

Welcome to the 80th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Kristen over at "Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker"! She posted a wonderful recipe for homemade graham crackers. I love it when people come up with homemade versions of grocery store favorites. Rather than feeding her kids hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and a vast number of chemicals I can't even say, her recipe uses whole wheat flour, honey, and real butter...

These look so fun to make and I can't wait to try this recipe with the kids. Thank you so much, Kristen, for linking up with Homemaker Monday every week and we look forward to hearing much more from you! For Kristen's entire post, click HERE.

MINE: This week, I'd like to share how to make pre-bake and freeze rolls or bread sticks to have on hand and pop in the oven for a quick, homemade treat.

The first step is to make the dough for the rolls or bread sticks of your choice. Because this it probably my most popular recipe, let's use the super-quick and easy whole wheat bread sticks...

Rather than reposting the entire recipe here, I'll just give you the link to the original recipe. It's HERE.

Once you've rolled out the sticks and placed them on a greased cookie sheet, bake them as you would if you were to serve them immediately, except cut the baking time in half, in the case of these bread sticks, for about 6 minutes. Here's how they'll look...

See? They really don't look done, right? Because they're not.

Next, place the whole cookie sheet with the bread sticks into the freezer and flash freeze for 1 to 2 hours, then remove the bread sticks from the cookie sheet and place them into Ziploc bags to keep in the freezer.

When it comes time to bake the bread sticks for your next meal, preheat the oven as you would for the original recipe, in this case to 375 degrees F, and finish the baking process, which should be between 15 and 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

This trick is definitely useful to me right now as I prepare and freeze food in preparation for the birth of our baby boy. Hope you find it as useful as I have! Thanks for listening.

OURS: Okay, I'm so excited to see what great homemaking ideas you have for us today. Last week we experienced the largest participation yet in Homemaker Monday....25 links! Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy perusing all of the awesome tips today. Have a great Homemaker Monday!