Category: All Posts

Beijing Airport Security – Traveling in China

Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad can make you feel a little out of your element. It’s stressful, different and exhausting. We learned that some places to fly to are easier than others. This can be due to a number of factors. The location, the airport, the security, the weather, the airline… so many things can affect how smoothly your travel is. One place that will stretch your stress meter to the max is the Beijing Airport. Prepare for the pat-down of your life!

planes

Here I’ve tried to include our story and some helpful hints to make it run as smoothly as possible.

Secure Security to Make You Feel Insecure

You have not seen airport security until you have been to Beijing. Well, it might be rivaled by North Korea. But I don’t know for sure, I’ve never been there. I am not entirely sure what they are expecting to find, but they seem to have one of the tightest securities there is.

Our Experience with the Beijing Airport

We were flying from Beijing to Shanghai. We had been staying for a quick visit to see the Great Wall and other such historic landmarks. I have SO many stories from Beijing, but for now we’ll just focus on the Beijing Airport.

Camera Conundrum

camera equipment. An idea of how much we had to take out at the beijing airport
To give you an idea of the amount of equipment in one bag. (Not including cords, batteries, chargers and memory cards.)

So, because it was a site seeing trip, we had brought our nice camera. We’re photographers, so naturally we have some equipment, but we brought our cheapest DSLR, (Canon EOS Rebel T5i  which is amazing and takes terrific traveling pictures by the way.)

Well, the camera was a bit of a problem for the Beijing Airport security officers. They made my husband take every, single item out of the camera bag and show them. Yep. Camera, lenses, batteries, cords, straps, lens hoods, EVERYTHING. Each item was inspected as if the cords were harboring a thumb drive that would expose government secrets.

After putting each item meticulously back in place, he finally crossed the threshold to me and encountered the problem I was facing.

Infant Imposition

beijing airport security example
We don’t have a picture of the Infant Imposition because Austin was busy taking apart every piece of the camera… 😉

While he was taking his time putting the cords, batteries, straps, lenses, camera and memory cards back into their proper places, I was asked multiple times to hand my three month old daughter to the security guard there. I said no.
They persisted in asking and I kept telling them no. I might have been a little paranoid, but in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t. Even if the security guard wouldn’t have intentionally harmed my child or taken her where I couldn’t see her, she could have dropped her.

One of the security guards looked extremely frustrated that I would not comply. He tried slowing down what little English he knew. I told him no again and pointed at my husband, indicating that I would wait for him.

I handed Siena to Austin after he had finished putting the camera equipment away.  Then after I had been properly frisked, Austin handed Siena back and I held her while Austin was frisked.

after getting through beijing airport security
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Your baby will go back to sleep and it will all be okay. Just take a deep breath and try to relax.

Helpful Hints

  • Arrive early to the Beijing Airport so that you aren’t worried about missing your flight.
  • Be firm in your boundaries and what you are comfortable with.
  • Expect to be treated as the most threatening person to pass under the metal detector. That way if you are not treated that way, it is a pleasant surprise.
  • If you get tripped up, just breathe, say a prayer. It’ll be okay.
  • Make sure you have your passport easily accessible and all other documentation. This could include where you stayed, what you did, or any other information. The more information you have, the better.
  • On that note: Keep track of your passport. As most people know, an American passport is extremely valuable.
  • Some places in the Beijing airport it is best to not even have your phone out. There are ‘no picture areas’. Make sure you respect those rules.
  • But when you’re allowed to take pictures, make sure to capture all of the great signs that have been “translated” to English for your benefit.

Decorating Eggs for Easter with a Toddler & Baby

I wasn’t sure how decorating eggs would go. After all, Siena is only two years old and I was sure that Grayson would want to be involved, even though he couldn’t sit up all the way on his own yet. Imagine my surprise when decorating eggs turned out to be a blast!

decorating eggs
Don’t they look like they had fun?

 

Something’s Up

Grayson knew immediately from the living room that something was going on in the kitchen. As I was setting things up, Siena had joined me by sitting on her booster chair at the kitchen table. Grayson made loud grunts and yells from the living room as he strained to see what we were doing, so I had to quickly get him and let him join in the fun.

Ready for decorating eggs
Look how excited he is!

Decorating Eggs

We put Siena and Grayson at the end of the table so that everything was close and easily accessible. Then, I put some yogurt drops on Grayson’s tray so that he had something to do while the egg decorating began.

Grayson reaching for yogurt drops
Yogurt Drops!

Siena loved how the eggs changed colors.

decorating eggs and Siena holds up the first colored egg
“Wow!” This was the first egg that we colored.

She was excited to pick which colors she wanted us to dip the eggs into. We were happy to oblige. When they came out all colorful, she squealed with excitement and we got to let her sticker them up.

decorating the eggs with stickers
“Focused Face”

And if you can believe it, all 9 eggs survived! Not one cracked egg.

 

Giggle Fest

We got all of the eggs painted and then the real fun began.

He makes me laugh just as much as I make him laugh. He is SERIOUSLY the HAPPIEST baby in the world.

For some reason, I was the funniest person on the planet today to my son. He just kept laughing at me. And of course, my little girl was trying to copy me and get him to laugh too, so we got a video of his giggles and her sweet attempts to be like her mommy.

Daddy Time

decorating eggs with daddy

Even if it is something simple and silly, we love being able to spend time with daddy. Decorating Eggs may not be the most exciting thing for adults, but it was so much more fun with him. Siena loved showing off for her daddy and Grayson loved being a part of the whole family gathering.

 

Happy Easter!

We can’t wait until the Easter Bunny shows up tomorrow and to talk to our babies about the true meaning of Easter. Hopefully we can start to introduce what it means that Christ lived and died for us and and lived for us again.

More pics below!

I just had to include this adorable picture of my chubby cheeked boy!
Siena decorating eggs and poking her tongue out
My girl is just the coolest.

More Simple Things for Family Fun!

Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai – 10 Benefits to Having Family Visit

Everyone needs a fun uncle and cool aunt and we are happy to report that our kids have many. This last weekend we got to hang out with Austin’s brother (fun uncle) and his cute wife (cool aunt). It was their first time coming out here to Michigan and we loved having them.

fun uncle coco reading book to Siena

Siena and Grayson loved having some cool new friends. And after they visited, we have decided that a fun uncle and cool aunt are so great for our kids! In fact, I might even say they are necessary. So if you don’t have a candidate for cool aunt or fun uncle, they don’t necessarily have to be blood related. Just make some!

 

Benefits of a Fun Uncle & Cool Aunt

1. Someone else to entertain the Littles

It didn’t take long for Siena to latch onto her fun uncle and fun aunt. She called Colton, “Coco” and Natalie was “Nai” (rhymes with spy). She loved climbing and playing with both of them. Grayson was thrilled to have someone else paying attention to him all of the time.

littles sitting on the couch

2. Someone Else to Reinforce Mom and Dad’s Rules besides Mom and Dad

As obedient as Siena is, sometimes it is so nice for her to see that even fun Uncle Coco and cool Aunt Nai aren’t eating in the living room either. (at least while Siena is awake…) It helps her learn that it’s not just boring Mom and Dad who make such rules.

And, for the record, she has been doing great with that rule since they left!

 

3. Fun Outings we wouldn’t have taken otherwise

We got to explore all over downtown Detroit! We could do that anyways, but having visitors always seems to motivate us to get out of the house. With visitors, we have to show off our great city! Siena and Grayson loved being taken all over in the stroller like big kids.

fun uncle and cool aunt in front of comerica park

We also finally got to eat at a restaurant we’ve been dying to try.

 

Grayson asleep at the restaurant after being out WAY past his nap time.

4. A Break from Changing Diapers

Cool Aunt Nai was so excited to be helping with the ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ stuff that this Mom and Dad got some much appreciated breaks. This time, I wasn’t the only one who got to experience soft serve poops while changing his diaper. I seriously think he likes to show off his bowel movements because he will only ever do it when someone is actually in the process of changing his diaper.

For the record, fun Uncle Coco was not cool with the Coco colored soft serve and stayed FAR FAR AWAY.

 

5. A Break from Constant Feedings

As much as I love to spoon feed my son and look into his eyes while I feed him a bottle, that kid can eat! Do you know how much time I spend shoveling food into him? I can’t keep up most days. So it was awesome being able to tag team with Cool Aunt Nai.

 

6. A Break from being the Focus of All Attention

Usually my kids want to be the center of my attention at all times. If I look at one, the other one gets upset. If I check my phone, suddenly I am the climbing gym. Eating is a rarity, going to the bathroom alone doesn’t really happen and sleeping uninterrupted for longer than 4 hours will probably never happen again.

Imagine my relief when I could play with one and the other one had another adult to play with. Fun Uncle Coco was the new climbing gym and I got a little bit of free time. Still not much sleep though… we were too busy talking after the kids went to bed.

 

7. Great Influence the Kiddos can Trust when they get Older

I can’t help but think about how great it will be to have other role models around. They will have so many aunts and uncles that can be exemplary examples when they are teenagers. Suddenly our opinion may not be worth as much as a fun uncle or a cool aunt’s.

fun uncle coco and cool aunt nai

 

8. Someone to Play Games with After Bedtime

Once the babes are in bed, we have the fun uncle and cool aunt all to ourselves. We get to play games with them and have adult conversations. It was so fun to kick back, relax and get to know Austin’s brother and sister-in-law better. We love our games and play them all the time. I included links to some of our favorites in case you need new ideas.

9. More Daddy Time!

Because Austin doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun, he takes time off of work and we get more daddy time! We got to go on all of these adventures with him. In fact after they left, Siena couldn’t understand why Dada had to work. She loved having him around more.

daddy time out and about

10. Pictures for a Lifetime

And every time family comes to visit, we get to take a bunch of pictures because they’re not around all of the time. So, we had a blast taking pictures of the babes, of all of us and having fun with the family. Now we’ll be able to remember it forever.

PICTURE OVERLOAD ALERT!

More photos from the rest of their trip:

Standing outside the Red Wings Game waiting to go inside and get out of the rain.

 

The Red Wings have a tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice during the Playoffs. They didn’t make the Playoffs this year, but it was one of the last games in the Joe Louis Arena, so we saw many Octopus carcasses splayed on the ice.
Great game to see with some great family!
Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai
Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai
We got to go to this fun game because our awesome friends watched our kids that night!
I love it when he grabs his toes!
fun uncle with dada on their devices
Sometimes they were real lively. Here I think they were both creating some roller coasters… the story of their trip.
Just have to include any cute pictures of them ever taken.
Our animals or theirs?
Fun at the Farm
She loves her ‘tows’! (cows)

To read about more fun at the farm when I took the kids by myself, click here.

Patience – 3 Different Kinds – Which one do you struggle with?

Patience is always a Christlike attribute that I have struggled with. But I haven’t figured out what EXACTLY it is with patience. There are a lot of connotations and meanings of the word and as I was floundering in my spirituality recently, I think I have sorted out in my mind some of the different aspects of patience and why the trait seems to be so elusive to me.

So, if patience is something that you have questions about, hopefully this will answer some of your questions.

patience watching the clock tick

Connotations of Patience

For me, a whole list of thoughts or ideas comes to mind when I think of the word, patience. Here are some of the thoughts I have.

  • Waiting in a waiting room.
  • Trying not to get frustrated with those who make me wait.
  • Not getting a reward immediately.
  • My children having to wait for a treat.
  • Trying to bite my tongue when my husband is taking longer than I had decided he should take to complete something.
  • Watching someone struggle with something and having to teach them the same thing over and over again… aka children.

All of these can be frustrating if you are a person of little patience, like me. Not all of them are frustrating to me, but some are definite triggers.

But, I think there is a much more concrete way of looking at this word and dividing it, so that I can focus on one area where I struggle. I struggle with all of the aspects of patience, but there is one in particular that seems to get me down again and again.

1. Patience with Others

This aspect of the attribute is one that I seem to do okay with. While I may have impatience at the start, I usually notice and try to reign in my frustrations. After all, I am imperfect too.

Having patience with others is something that I think most people will find they are better at doing. We know we need to be charitable and we know we shouldn’t judge. We get those lectures all the time.

Impatience with Others

Usually, having impatience with others is a series of instances where a person does not measure up to your expectations.

Let’s break that down even further. This means that first, there is someone or something in your life with which you consistently interact. If you didn’t have this kind of interaction, there would be no need to have patience with them. Their offense would be fleeting and the impatience experienced with them would not force you to practice this attribute.

Second, you have unfairly imposed your expectations on someone else. For example:

  • I can’t understand why my child can’t read yet. I was reading by the time I went to Kindergarten.
  • Why is he always so slow getting out the door? It would have taken me 15 minutes to do this.
  • Why does she insist on making fun of me every time we hang out?
  • Does he have to keep tapping his foot in that annoying manner? Is anyone else tapping their foot?!
  • He should know how I’m feeling. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him.

Does any of this sound familiar? This is like the story of my life. I have thoughts like these frequently and have to work extra hard to exercise a little patience. I’m sure some of you reading this, are professional patience practitioners and are shocked that people like me even exist. We do. And we are probably impatient with you at times.

patience with your spouse

Overcoming Impatience with Others

Now that we understand how we can offend the divine attribute of patience in this manner, there are ways that we can overcome it as well. I have listed a couple of steps that help me.

  1. Identify what is making you angry. (Usually impatience leads to anger and that is when we recognize the emotion.)
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Forgive Self

I will list them all again, but go into further detail.

Steps to Overcome Impatience with Others

1. Identifying the Cause of Anger

Evaluate the situation and reflect on how it made you feel. Try to identify what particular action triggered that emotion.

2. Let it Go

Sometimes, you don’t need to understand why someone is behaving in a way that irritates you to your core. Maybe the foot tapper has a nervous twitch that flares up when he feels uncomfortable. Take the opportunity to try and be grateful that you don’t feel anxiety when you are surrounded by other people.

With this step, I usually need divine help to actually let it go. I say a prayer and I ask Heavenly Father to take away my frustration and be able to focus on whatever it is I need to do. I have always felt peace when I ask for His help. He knows the other person who is frustrating you and will always want you to have more love for them too.

3. Address the Issue

This one is the hardest to do. It requires a lot of love, a lot of listening and a lot of love. Yep, love twice. Don’t even try to do this unless you take the time to love the person first.

Child Learning to Read

In the example with the child who is having a hard time reading. You could try something like this.

“Kayla, I want to talk to you about something. We have been trying to read for a while now, and I can’t help but notice that you don’t seem to enjoy it. Why is that?”

Then, you have to just listen. Listen until you can’t listen any more. Chances are, your child wants to read just as desperately as you want them to.

patience with children learning to read

Spouse is taking too Long

I wanted to use another example where the priorities of the two individuals may not be aligned.

You are trying to go somewhere and your spouse just doesn’t seem to take the hint that you want to go NOW. You watch as they dilly dally, take their time finding their favorite jacket, don’t help get the kids ready or whatever it is that keeps them from getting in that car.

Now it is important to address the issue by communicating your feelings. And just start with a blanket statement of how you feel. It should literally be only 3 words. ONLY THREE.

I feel (feeling word). Here are some examples:

I feel frustrated.

I feel annoyed.

I feel upset.

I feel angry.

I feel ignored.

I feel forgotten.

Don’t say, “I feel like you…” That’s just another way of accusing them of doing something.

They will probably ask why you feel that way and you can then explain by saying something like this.

trying to be patient with spouse getting ready

“It’s been very important to me to get to Carl’s gymnastics on time. The teacher has already talked to me about it before and so when we arrive late, I feel embarrassed.”

Notice that you are still not accusing your spouse of anything. If you accuse your spouse, they will feel defensive because they might have been trying to get ready fast too. Or maybe they feel embarrassed because they took longer than they thought they would.

4. Forgive

Once you have either let it go or you have addressed the issue with the person and then let it go, it is time to forgive them and move on. If you are not ready to do this step, you have not adequately done steps 2 and 3. Go back, and try it again.

 

Here is another example of when I lost my patience with my daughter.

 

Patience with Self

This kind of patience requires you to recognize that you are imperfect and be okay with your imperfections. Obviously you want to become better. That is part of human nature. Of course we want to grow and progress, but a lot of times our growth is not dependent on our own time table.

Let me share with you a personal example that I am sure many people can relate to.

Getting Back in Shape

I am 6 months postpartum. At 3 months, was New Years! And guess who made some awesome New Years Resolutions. Some of those resolutions centered around losing weight.

I decided I was going to do a work out program that was supposed to take 3 months and then BAM! I would have my fit body ready to show off to the world. If anyone watched my Beauty and the Beast – Mom Parody you will know that that did not happen. There is evidence in the video of that.

scale and tape measure

I lost a little weight, but nothing like I had planned. In a fit of embarrassment and shame I cried as I thought about all of my great plans. I was going to get a new swimsuit, fit into my old clothes again and basically be a babe. Summer was just around the corner and this was the year that I was going to be ready for it.

Confusion and despair threatened to overwhelm me. I had done everything I was supposed to do and when I had done this 10 years ago, I had lost the weight super fast!

But, I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I have to have patience with myself and my body and it’s imperfections. That just means that I have to wait longer to get what I want. So, here is to the next 70 years of my life eating healthy and working out. I guess it will never end. What a great practice of patience.

stretching girl
This is what I will look like for the rest of my life I guess.

Overcoming Impatience with Self

The Steps in this one are the same as they are with overcoming impatience with others.

  1. Identify the cause of the anger.
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Forgive Self

This is a heart to heart with yourself. It’s easy for a lot of people to not worry about being patient with themselves. But this is so important. You are just as important as those other people you have impatience with. You have unfairly placed expectations on yourself that maybe you couldn’t meet.

 

Steps to Overcome Impatience with Self

1. Identify the Cause

Sometimes I just feel Meh as people describe it now. I don’t want to do anything or I just feel “off”. If I am feeling this way, it is usually because I am being impatient with myself. Some expectation wasn’t met and now I need to deal with it before I can feel like myself again. When I am feeling this way, I might just feel like laying on the floor with my cheek pressed against the carpet. Maybe I just can’t sit still. Or sometimes I am just depressed.

2. Let it Go

I only recommend this option if you have already taken the time to address the issue with yourself. If you already know why you are feeling this way and have taken the time to do an inventory with yourself, then you can start with Letting it Go. Again, this usually requires some divine help.

3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go

If you haven’t taken the time to identify how you are feeling and why, it’s time to dig deep. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone about it, write it down, pray about it, draw, scream or express yourself in some way. Find a way to work through those feelings and do it.

Once you have sorted out the cause of your impatience, say a prayer like mentioned before and ask Heavenly Father to take the feeling of impatience with yourself from you.

4. Forgive Yourself

Accept yourself for who you are. For me, I have to accept that I can’t lose weight as fast as I would like to. I did everything I could for 3 months and still lost the pounds at a snail’s pace.

But, I’ll be the tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare. I just have to keep going, keep trying to be better even though I may not be able to see the results that it is yielding immediately.

 

Here is another example of when I lost patience with myself.

 

Patience with God

This is the one that I struggle with the most. When I follow commandments or do something good, I expect that all of my troubles and trials will be taken away. I expect to be rewarded for all that I am doing and I get frustrated when God does not do things in my timetable. Doesn’t He see how hard I’m working? Do my efforts not make any difference?

I am sure they do, that’s where faith comes in. But He does them in His own timetable.

He knows what we want before we ask Him and we may ask and not receive it, or maybe not receive it right away.

That can be SO frustrating.

 

Theatre

I have always loved performing, being in plays and showing off. That’s just in my nature. You might never guess from meeting me because I don’t have a very loud personality.

juliet's balcony
This is the balcony in Verona, Italy referred to as Juliet’s Balcony.

When I was 14, there was an audition for Romeo & Juliet. I was so excited because duh! Juliet was 14 in the play. I was the perfect age and thought that I could surely get the part. After memorizing and memorizing, praying and pleading I went to the audition. I was nervous, but I had done what I needed to to prepare.

Guess what happened. TOTAL FLOP. I couldn’t seem to remember the lines, got nervous and basically just froze. I left knowing I wouldn’t get it. What a terrible, embarrassing feeling. I wanted to crawl into a hole inside of a cave and die.

And the embarrassment led to anger. Hadn’t I been doing everything right? Didn’t I practice and work hard? Why hadn’t I received help? If my audition had at least gone smoothly, I could have been happy with that even if I didn’t get the part, but it was a disaster!

We’ll come back to this story.

Overcoming Impatience with God

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the steps with this one are the pretty much the same as the ones in the other two impatience categories.

  1. Identify the cause of the anger.
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Try to Align your Will with His

This type of impatience is a lot harder for me to overcome. I usually don’t want to let it go. I want to just stay mad, bitter and insulted. Real mature, right?

 

Steps to Overcome Impatience with God

1. Identify the cause of the anger.

A lot of times this springs from feeling entitled. We felt like maybe we deserved more blessings. Or maybe we had an expectation of God that He didn’t fulfill, even though He never agreed to it.

2. Let it Go

This is not the same as ignore it. You definitely don’t want to build up frustration with God. You need to figure out what is going on, recognize that you had an expectation of Him that He didn’t necessarily agree to and accept that.

3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go

He will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS talk to you about anything because He loves you. Say a prayer and let Him know you are disappointed or frustrated so that you can start to reconnect with Him. Don’t you think He wants to know how you are feeling? You can tell Him you’re angry. He will even listen if you are angry with Him. He’s not going to get defensive or offended. He is the perfect listener and loves you and wants you to come to Him, even though you may feel like that is the last thing you want to do.

4. Try to Align your Will with His.

This is different than forgive Him, because there is nothing to forgive. He is perfect, therefore we know that He did not make the error. Now, we need to do the hardest thing and let go of what we want and try to see what He wants for us. I promise it is always better.

Romeo & Juliet

I was disappointed for a long time and even more devastated when I found out that the ENTIRE freshman class was going to go and see Romeo and Juliet because they were reading the play that year.

That could have been me! Everyone could have seen me perform. I don’t remember why, but for some reason, I couldn’t go. I think I had a doctor appointment or something, which was too bad because I wanted to go.

Then, the next day, I heard the reviews. “It was terrible!” “The worst play ever.” “All they did was make out the whole time.” “Disgusting.”

Imagine my relief when I realized, that could have been me. That night I said a prayer of gratitude that I didn’t get the part. First of all, I would have been extremely uncomfortable with making out with some boy I didn’t know at 14 years old, when I had never kissed anyone. And I would have been embarrassed that everyone in my whole freshman class would have seen me ‘making out the whole time’ in ‘the worst play ever’.

I think God’s will for me was much better than my will for me.

 

Here is another example of when I lost patience with God.

 

Patience

It is hard for me to trust God’s timing. When I want things, I usually want them right away because that’s just how I am. I want to check things off my list, quit stressing and move on, but God doesn’t work the same way as me. He knows what will shape me and help me become the person I am supposed to be so I guess I can trust him.

Bad Dreams Become My Own Personal Horror Story & Sweetest Moment

First Bad Dreams

I haven’t had to worry too much about bad dreams yet so far. At one point, when Siena was an infant we thought maybe she had had a nightmare, because she woke up screaming and after we snuggled her for a little while, she fell right back asleep. But that was the only time we had suspected anything.

little girl sleeping
The one time we can’t ever protect them, in their dreams.

Now that she is getting a little more imaginative and descriptive in her vocabulary, we are finding that maybe she is having some bad dreams every now and then. But this is the first time we have ever confirmed that we have positively identified what has been going on.

 

Absolute Exhaustion

It was late at night. I was exhausted and I crawled into bed in a fog. I was asleep almost instantly, which never happens. My body felt like I weighed about twice as much as I actually do and sunk into my mattress like an anchor penetrates the ocean floor.

 

The Voice

At some point I woke up, thinking I had heard a voice. I rolled over to face the doorway and the empty room. Nothing was there. I must have dreamed it. Or maybe the cat had let out a ‘meow’ to let us know he was bored or hungry. I rolled back over and fell instantly asleep.

Cat in the dark before my toddler woke up with bad dreams

Then I heard the voice again. This time adrenaline started pumping through my blood. I had just barely checked and the room was empty. I rolled over halfway, terrified that I was going to find a person in my room, illuminated by the LED Night Lights scattered throughout the house.

Still no one.

 

toddler awake with bad dreams sitting in darkThe Person

I finished my rotation so that I was now facing the door and closed my eyes again.

“Mama?”

The pulsing, shrieking music from Psycho started echoing in my brain. My eyes searched the darkness and I finally located the source of the voice.

My toddler daughter sat criss-cross applesauce on the floor, next to our cat and was stroking him calmly while watching us sleep!

Yep. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to peeing my pants out of fear before. (And in case you are wondering, I have peed my pants for other reasons. Different stories for different times.)

 

Bad Dreams

After regaining my composure and my racing blood rate I got up and took Siena back to her room. I wanted to tell her that it’s not okay to get out of bed, but instead had the impression that I needed to ask her a question instead.

talking with my daughter about her bad dreams“Why did you get out of bed, Siena?” I asked her.

She sat in her bed and pointed at something that wasn’t there. “Nigh-nigh… Rawr!” Her hands made little claws.

“Rawr?”

She pointed again and said, “Rawr!”

“Did you have some bad dreams? Did something scare you?”

She made her little ‘Mm’ noise that we have learned means yes.

“Okay. It’s not there anymore, sweet heart. It’s not real.”

“Rawr!” She made the claw gesture again.

Then I suddenly had a thought, or prompting. “Do you want to say a prayer so Heavenly Father can protect you?”

“Mm.”

And in one of my sweetest memories, we said a little prayer together that she wouldn’t have bad dreams anymore and that she would be able to get lots of sleep.

Tender Mercy

What a wonderful moment I got to have with my daughter at 3:00 in the morning. I’m so glad I didn’t just get mad and tell her to get back in bed. I would have never known that she had bad dreams. She would have still been scared and also felt like she couldn’t even talk to her parents about it.

It just took a quick thought when I took her to bed to ask her a question instead of telling her what I expected her to do. I’m so glad I listened to the little feeling I had.

with my sweet girl

This was so much better!

 

Once I did let my anger get the better of me when Siena kept getting out of bed. I felt much worse after that interaction.

 

Answer My Prayer – When it Feels Like You’re Not Listening

I am sure I am not the only one who has sat alone in my room and looked up, wondering if He really loves me. Am I the only one who wonders if He cares? Does He really know me? Will He answer my prayer?

Reassurance of a Parent

I have often wondered why, when I am feeling this way, when I really want to feel the love of my Father in Heaven, do I not immediately receive heavenly help? Wouldn’t my Heavenly Father want to remind me that I am loved, that I am not alone? Wouldn’t he want to reassure me that He is there?

answer my prayer the way I answer my daughter's request for a hug

Sometimes when I have prayed in anger at my lack of answers, I have told him that if my child needed to know that they were loved I would never hesitate to tell them. I would never hesitate to show them. If He was in fact my Heavenly Father, why would He not want me to know just as immediately.

Where are my guardian angels? Why can’t I feel the warmth in my chest? Is it too much to ask for a heavenly hug?

I wrestled with this question for months. Why wouldn’t He just reassure me of His love? Deep down, I was pretty sure that He did, but I felt like I needed to be reminded.

Unexpected

My answer came after much studying of the scriptures and General Conference talks. It came after praying and pleading with my Heavenly Father to just show me His love for me.

If I knew He loved me, I didn’t have to feel alone. When everything else felt like it was falling apart, I would at least know that He was with me.

After much praying, studying and crying, I finally stumbled across this talk. It was by Elder David A. Bednar, and He talked about ways that we can receive revelation from God. I wasn’t necessarily trying to find the answer to my prayers in this talk, I was just trying to draw closer to the Lord.

He used two examples during his discourse.

Example 1

When you walk into a dark room and find a light switch, you turn it on and immediately the room is illuminated with light. Suddenly you can see more clearly. Everything is shown to you at once.

answer my prayer like lightbulbs being turned on in a dark room

This type of revelation is infrequent and rare. It is most commonly used when you are in dire need of a course correction in your life, Elder Bednar says. This is one of the ways that we can receive revelation.

When this has happened to me, I have looked around me in shock that no one else seemed to feel what I was feeling. It felt so tangible and real. It also came when I really needed the assurance of God’s love. I have only felt this kind of revelation once or twice in my life that I can remember.

And to be honest, this is the kind of heartwarming, bosom burning answer from God that I was looking for. Elder Bednar goes on to say that while powerful, this kind of revelation is not necessary for receiving a testimony.

Example 2

Imagine you are  facing the east and watching the sun rise. First you would see evidences of the rising sun. The darkness would begin to lift and more and more of the surrounding wilderness would be revealed to you.

sunrise as an answer to prayer

In fact, you might not notice it was even happening unless you were watching for it.

Even though the source of this light is the most powerful source of light in our world, sometimes we do not even notice that we are using it.

This type of revelation, the kind that comes quietly is much more common and frequent. We can receive answers to prayers like this all the time.

 

Answer My Prayer

Suddenly I realized that He had been answering my prayer all along. He didn’t need to show me with trumpets and a burning bush. He was guiding me little by little in my life. My Heavenly Father could answer my prayer, simply by showing me that He was with me by BEING with me.

Just because He wasn’t answering my prayer the way I wanted Him to, doesn’t mean that He wasn’t answering it.

 

To Recognize When God Wants to Answer My Prayer

As I went through this experience, I realized something especially important. I wasn’t hearing the answer because I wasn’t actively listening. I was doing what I was supposed to; going to church, saying prayers and reading my one chapter a day.

praying to God to answer my prayer

But I wasn’t doing everything I could to discover what I wanted to know. In a way, I think I expected Him to answer my prayer without having to put in any effort. But when I didn’t go to Him, how could I hear his gentle whisper?

 

What I know

I know that God loves me. He loves all of us. I am constantly amazed at the evidences that He knows us each individually and wants us to return to Him. I know that He is always with us, always wanting to help us. We just have to draw close to Him and ask. As we are near Him, we will always hear His answer.

answer my prayer like a sunrise so it lasts longer

I am so grateful He answered my simple prayer with a simple answer. I learned way more about how to be close to Him than I ever would have if He would have just obliged my demands. He certainly knows me better than I know myself.

 

I have had God answer my prayer on many occasions. I am sure that I will write more, because His love constantly amazes me. General Conference is always something that inspires me and during this last one I received an answer to my prayers about loving everyone.

Copycat Toddler – 7 Times When You Wish they hadn’t Seen

My daughter has reached an age that most mommies know well. If I tickle Grayson, Siena tickles Grayson. I blow on his belly. Siena blows on his belly. If I poke his nose, Siena pokes his nose. She’s my little copycat.

When we color, I could pick red and she will want red. If I choose a blue, guess who’s got blue too. She’ll copy what I say and mimic my actions. My little girl wants to be just like her mama.

posing with my little girl, my copycat

So, because I was sure I wasn’t the only one who has had such antics from their toddlers, I asked for some juicy copycat toddler stories from the mom experts I know. Here they are in their juicy glory.

I saved my daughter, my copycat for my embarrassment at the end. Enjoy!

 

Slam it, Dammit!

As a little girl being so attached to my Grandma, there was nothing she couldn’t do that wasn’t ok. Until one day as she was trying to shut the trunk of her car. For some reason it just wouldn’t catch and stay closed. After several attempts you could see she was frustrated and offered one word in anger at her trunk. “Dammit.” This was so not like her.

I, as a small child had never heard such a word.  But as she stood there trying to figure out just what was wrong with the trunk, she hadn’t realized her shadow, me. She looked down at me, completely embarrassed and I looked up to her and said, “slam it, dammit grandma” The look of horror came across her face as she looked down at me and processed the words that had just come out of her 3 year old granddaughter’s mouth. That day she was reminded to be careful of what you say as you never know who can hear you.

-Karen, One Helluva 3 year old & Homemaker

 

Choice Vocabulary

I am an incredibly clumsy human. When my oldest was about two and a half, I was making an effort to be less dramatic when I injured myself. So I would just say, “balls!” and move on.

One day I was getting her out of the tub and she stubbed her toe on the metal frame (I had an annoying sliding glass door in the bathtub). She sobbed out a tiny, sad, “Baaaaalls!”

I decided I needed to adjust my vocabulary from that point on.

-Liz, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Like Pregnant Mother, Like Son

When I was pregnant with my second son I had a lot of morning sickness.

So, since I was sick all the time, my first son would grab a mixing bowl and pretend he was throwing up just like his mommy! Ha!

-Gabriela, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Haircut Copycat

My mom used to watch my grandpa cut hair in his barber shop. One day a woman came in with a little girl. So while grandpa was cutting the woman’s hair, my mom, who was about 5 or 6 at the time, took the little girl in the back and gave her a haircut too.

barber shop of grandpa

So then, grandpa not only couldn’t charge the mom for the haircut, but he had to “fix” the little girls hair for free as well.

-Catherine, One Helluva Daughter & Homemaker

 

The Little Things

My kid says “shoot” every time something goes wrong.

He also loves doing the big frustrated sighs I do.

Oh and my grumpy faces. Oops!

-Gabi, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Five Little Fingers… or One

Let me tell you about a time I will never forget when my daughter was about three years old. We were pulling out from the Sears parking lot onto a busy 4 lane road. It was early spring, so there were still some patches of ice on the asphalt. I was also driving my parents car, a stick shift, and the clutch was different then mine.

So, I was hesitant to pull out in front of someone without plenty of room in case I stalled the car. The inpatient “gentleman” behind me had already honked his horn a few times at me. So my redheaded temper got the best of me when he did it again.

I extended my middle finger to show the “gentleman” my exact opinion of his honking.

Then I hear, “what does this mean?” from the back seat and see a little tiny hand displaying her middle finger for the “gentleman” too. I was so ashamed of myself. I laugh now, but I can say I never did that again while the kids were with me…and had to explain to her that that was an adult thing that meant ugly adult words.

-Tanya, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Holes is Holes

I have always had a hard time breastfeeding. I did with Siena and again with my son. So, my all time favorite invention has been the Nipple Shield, which literally saved my daughter’s life and made me feel like I could handle being a mom.

When Grayson was born, I used them again for as long as I could breastfeed. This was only for about four months.

Well, a couple of weeks ago (long after I have stopped breastfeeding), I was sitting on the couch with my husband and suddenly he points at Siena. I look, and she has the nipple shield on her belly button and her baby doll is apparently getting a drink… from my daughter’s belly button… through her mom’s nipple shield… Holes is holes, right?

my daughter, nursing her baby doll to copycat mama
She was very focused…

 

More Copycat stories and Mom Moments?

Have any fun copycat stories of your own? Please leave them in the comments below! I would love to hear more. Kids are so funny sometimes!

 

I seem to have a never ending supply of Mom Moments that make me want to cry, but will probably make you laugh.

Love Everyone – Knocking Down Pedestals is Essential

Pedestal PicThere has been a lot of talk about stopping the hate. I hear all the time about how I need to love everyone and I absolutely agree. We do need to learn how to interact with more love. My only hope with this article, is to break down one of the stumbling blocks to the admonition to love everyone. What is holding us back?

My theory is that people are having a hard time with the idea to love everyone, because they don’t recognize how many pedestals they have set up in their minds. Everyone has heard the phrase “being put on a pedestal”. This is usually applied to people who are admired or looked up to. We set them up to be our idols, for better or worse.

 

Putting Yourself on a Pedestal

It should be obvious why this one can make it hard for you to love everyone. But, let’s go over it. If you are placing yourself on a pedestal, it really makes it impossible to love anyone. You are so much better than everyone.

Maybe you think you are better because you have more money. Maybe you are more in shape than everyone else. Are you lifting yourself up because you are a superior writer. Perhaps you’re smarter. Maybe you are a more beautiful specimen. Perhaps you think you are a better parent. Maybe you are willing to forgive someone who isn’t willing to forgive you back.Perhaps someone has offended you, hurt you or disappointed you and you would never do that.

Whatever the reason, you are putting distance between yourself and someone else.

 

Putting Someone Else on a Pedestal

Wedding pic of us on a pedestal
Austin & I literally on a pedestal.

This is something that most people will not immediately view as a hinderance towards the mandate to love everyone. After all, if you are looking at someone’s great attributes you must love, respect and admire them.

And while you may respect and admire them, the love you have for them is more of your idea of them. You assume that they are above or are more talented at something. There is the conjecture that if they are talented at one thing, or have more money than you or thinner than you, their life must be better than yours. There is no way they can possibly understand how you are feeling.

An even more dangerous strain of thought is when you start hypothesizing about how they got there. They must be naturally good at that. He probably inherited all of his money. She must have great genetics. We frequently assume that if someone has something we do not, they don’t have to work for it.

By putting someone else on a pedestal, we choose to distance ourselves from them and believe that they are different from us. We usually assume they don’t have to work as hard, don’t have as many troubles as we do and the next logical conclusion to draw is that they also view themselves on the pedestal. They must think they are better than everyone else.

 

How to Love Everyone without Pedestals

One of the hardest things to do is to love everyone and the one thing that will single handedly help the most is to knock down all of the pedestals you have built up in your mind. Knock down the one you are standing on. Knock down the ones that you have placed your friends or acquaintances on.

And when you’re standing in a field of broken pedestals with everyone else, you will start to see the most amazing thing.

We are all human, we all struggle, we all want to be better. At times we all doubt ourselves and are scared of being alone. We want to make connections with those around us. You will suddenly see everyone as they really are and not as you imagine them.

Try knocking down a pedestal and watch what happens to your relationship with that person. It might not be immediate, but I promise it will be different. (Also, you may have to knock down the pedestal many times. Sometimes we struggle to remember.)

 

I’ve even put myself on a pedestal over my daughter before.

General Conference – An Invitation to Become Better

What is General Conference

Every spring and fall, I look forward with great anticipation to my church’s General Conference. If you don’t know what this is, allow me to explain.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. People commonly refer to us as Mormons. Every six months, the leaders of my church who are literal Prophets and Apostles speak to us and give us new direction on how to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. You can see it streaming online, broadcast on television and live in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Tabernacle before General Conference
Austin and I went to General Conference together for the first time when we were dating. We’ve watched it together ever since.

All of the members of the church take the weekend and listen to up to 10 hours of talks or discourses. It is amazing. And even though it is frequently only members of the church who know that it is going on, ALL are invited to watch and listen. Because, if you haven’t noticed from our 70,000+ missionaries around the world, we want everyone to come unto Christ.

 

Memories of General Conference

Since I grew up in the church, for as long as I can remember, I have been watching General Conference. We lived in Alaska, so the morning session started at 8 am. My parents would drag us out of bed and for the first session we would all lay in my parents’ room and try to stay awake while they talked…or at least try to make it look like we were awake.

By the time we had woken up for the afternoon session (which for us started at noon), we would have eaten and gotten a fresh wave of energy, so we usually busted out Monopoly and I would beat my brothers and sisters every time. It’s not their fault. They didn’t know that the key to winning was to get the orange monopoly every time. I figured this out early on in my Monopoly playing days.

Other times we would draw, do art projects, cook, or try to keep the noise down long enough to stay under my parents’ radar.

 

What I LOVE about General Conference

It seems like every time General Conference comes around, I try to think of questions I have that I would like answers. And I can’t ever seem to think of something specific. Because I have heard so often that we should go with questions and that we would definitely receive answers to our questions.

Temple Square with Austin
Hanging out at Temple Square in between Sessions

And pretty soon, my favorite time of year is upon me and I haven’t asked a question. I listen to the talks and suddenly all of the thoughts and concerns I have been having are addressed. Questions I didn’t know I had are being answered and I feel like even though I didn’t think I was prepared to listen, Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to hear.

This was my experience today, after the first two sessions of General Conference. Later, I perused my Facebook feed and everyone else who listened to conference said that General Conference was tailored to them. How is that even possible?! Because I know that it was tailored to me.

It’s possible because God knows us each individually and His Spirit can touch each of us to guide us specifically for our lives.

Every six months we receive revelation, specific to ourselves, individually and it is up to us to decide what we will do with it. We can just listen and log it away. Or we can let it change us to become a better disciple of Christ.

 

New Traditions of General Conference

Now, we live in the Eastern time zone. That means that our first session of General Conference doesn’t even start until noon. So, we have the entire morning and Priesthood session doesn’t end until 9:30 or 10:00 at night.

Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference in the Tabernacle
Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference. Sorry the pic is blurry.

This year we started a new tradition. Austin’s brother and his wife are coming into town tomorrow, so we spent the whole morning doing some Spring Cleaning. So, I guess our kids will grow up doing some deep cleaning the morning of General Conference. What a way to make them look forward to it every year! We’re awesome parents.

 

Tomorrow

I am so grateful for General Conference and I can’t wait to hear what our prophets and apostles have to tell us tomorrow. And I guess with that, I mean, I can’t wait to hear what God would have us know.

Austin & I in Front of SLC Temple
We had no idea that less than a year later we would be getting married in that building behind us.

This is literally the best time of the year. If you have never had a chance to listen, please tune in tomorrow for the most uplifting experience of your life. You will not regret it. I have included the link at the beginning and again here.

General Conference is literally, my secret key to becoming One Helluva Homemaker.

Feeling Alone? You’re not the Only One

There are many times when I am feeling alone. I think those times started increasing in frequency when I started staying home with the kids. It was easy to feel surrounded by people and validated when I was working or going to school.

But even then, there were many times when I would feel alone.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling alone. We have all felt that way. Whether you are alone surrounded by coworkers who you can’t seem to connect with or you are alone by yourself. Perhaps you are alone surrounded by kids who don’t get your witty sense of humor or recognize how much you love them. Maybe you are alone with a spouse or alone surrounded by friends.

Feeling Alone while surrounded by people drawing

Loneliness doesn’t have to strike only when you are physically alone.

A Mortal Experience

As hard as it is to feel alone, we can take comfort in knowing that this is a mortal experience. Everyone feels alone at some point or another. They have to. Because even Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God felt alone.

Evidences of Christ Feeling Alone

I don’t know everything that happened in the life of Christ and I am certainly no expert. But, it occurred to me while I was reading my scriptures today, that He prayed just as much or much much more than we do.

“And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.” 

Jesus Christ prayed to the Father all the time. He wanted to be close to Him. Just the simple act of Christ praying to His Heavenly Father shows me that feeling alone is a mortal experience.

I am sure He prayed for other reasons as well. In this case, He was praying to bless the people He was with. And I am only left to guess what else he prayed for.

The Greatest Scriptural Evidence of Christ Feeling Alone

When Christ was hanging on the cross, we have a lot of evidence that He was praying. And not only was He praying, but the scripture suggests that He was left alone, by the Father, which is something that we never have to experience.

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After Christ died on the Cross, the Pieta
This is one of my all-time favorite statues and we got to visit it when we went to Italy. The Pieta depicts Mary holding her son, Jesus after He died on the cross.

In our General Conference, that we have as a church semi-annually, one of our Apostles gave a great talk on this verse. I am afraid that I will not be able to give it as much justice.

But something that Elder Holland says in his talk is that Christ had to experience feeling alone. He said that even when we are alone, we are always only a prayer away from God. But if we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of God and because of the atonement, Christ had to feel everything that we feel.

Why it Matters

After Christ was feeling alone on the cross and diedSo, even when we are really, truly feeling alone, we can always know that we are not alone in what we are feeling. Christ has felt it too. He will be there to help you. He knows how we feel, He wants to help, because even for Him it was crippling to truly be alone.

If we want to not be feeling alone, all we have to do is pray and we will receive help. We may not feel it immediately, but He will eventually help us to feel that we are never alone, not truly. Because Christ has already felt what that was like, we can be assured that He will always be there so we don’t have to feel the way that He did.

Just Remember

If you can look outside of yourself, there are so many people around you who are probably feeling just like you. Try to help your friends and family remember that they are not alone, because you are there with them. We can always help lift those around us and you never know how much you will help someone.

When you are feeling alone, don’t you wish someone would reach out to you?

 

More

One of the times I was feeling alone was when I struggled with Postpartum Anxiety. It is still possible to come out on the other side.