Thursday, 31 January 2008

Family History

Okay I have a confession to make. (I seem to make these a lot!) One of my resolutions for this year was to do at least something every month to work on Leo's family history. It's the 31st. I haven't done a thing. And I received a notice today that I have to empty out my kitchen cupboards for them to spray for nasties tomorrow. Joy. Although, I suppose it is better than putting up with mice like the Fellows had to when they lived here.

But, nonetheless, I am going to write one letter tonight to mail off to Colombia. Or rather, copy one letter that Leo's written for me before, look up another parish that's a possibility and send it off. So tomorrow I'll report back. Mass scorn that I didn't do it should keep me focussed.

On that note, I'll tell you another confession. One time in Florida I got in a fight with one of the old ladies working at the Family History Library. I went to the Family History Library to get a copy of the Bevans line that I come from because I was doing an Activity Day's lesson on family history and I wanted to show the girls how cool of stuff you can find while doing family history. And so I was going to show them how I'm related to Pocahontas.
So I knew before I went to the library that the line was on the old CD's the church had out, and that ususally every library keeps a copy of those basic CD's. And I had already looked online but due to the many "versions" online, even on the church's site, it was hard to impossible for me to trace it that way. So off to the library I went. The nice, seventy-year-old lady working there did not understand what I wanted at all. She also did not seem to believe that I, a twenty-three year old, would know anything about family history and the library and the programs the church had on the internet, etc. Basically, the more she tried to help me, the more I grew impatient because I had already tried ALL of what she was showing me and I knew what I wanted. Apparently it came out in my attitude because she grew rather hostile as well. Anyway, luckily, I spotted the CD's I wanted, grabbed them for dear life and quickly downloaded the info I wanted. The lady, condescendingly told me I wouldn't need two floppy discs for the info because "Nobody's family tree takes up that much room." At this point I was pretty fuming too, but I bit my tongue and didn't tell her it was just a portion of my family tree and simply smirked as I inserted the second disc to continue downloading. (I know, I know, I'm far from being humble.) Before I left I did try, (kindly, I promise!) to tell her you can import files into the PAF 5 program from the earlier versions, as she was telling another person there you couldn't, plus she was slowly retyping names into the program from a print off from an earlier version. Anyway, I think she pretended not to hear me. So I guess it wasn't a fight so much. But I think the Spirit had definitely left the room, if not the building.

And just for fun, a cute picture of Ana when she was a baby. Wasn't she adorable?!?!?!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008


Here's a random video a friend of ours sent Leo. He thought Leo would like it because of the planes. I liked it because, well frankly, it's ridiculous. Plus, here's a Lego version, which is just plain stellar that someone made a Lego animation of the song. Weird. Anyway, for anyone curious, the song is in Romanian.

Busy, Busy

Life's been fairly busy of late, hence the no blogging. Plus, Leo's been home a lot this last week so who wants to blog then?!?! Anyway, here's the highlight of the last week. Leo took me on a date to The Art Institute of Chicago. It was amazing!! We had such a good time. We also have very similar tastes, both loved Impressionism paintings, and can't stand modern art. Also, we went out for Mexican food after. I love tamales! I always crave them, even when I'm not pregnant.
Anyway this is what my eldest busy kid was up to.

All this tape was off the back of Christmas cards I had hung up, and then was taking down this week.

I don't know that Elena is quite happy about it or not.

Ana. Ana. Crazy girl.

Leo's been busy with homework, although all he talks about these days is when he'll apply to Skywest.

In the space of thirty minutes, this is what my other busy daughter was up to.
This is what happens when your toddler thinks she can drink milk from the cereal bowl. I was of course busy cleaning her up afterwards.
She really likes cereal.
Ana was also busy taking a million more pictures on my camera of her dog. Errr. She apparently really likes her new quarter collection too. Thanks Aunt Megan!
Elena is so funny lately, I just want to squeeze her all the time!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Really Quick

Here's some new pictures of the kids.
Elena's got her mouth so full of egg-in-the-basket, she can't even chew.
This was after she stuffed a whole Almond Joy in her mouth.
Ana tried to replicate Elena's mouth stuffing.
Ana with her new dog, Tim. At least that's what his name was yesterday, it may have changed by today.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Prenatal Mush

So, since I feel like I've been lying around in muck lately (basically my favorite place is in bed) and I don't feel like doing anything and then when I have to do something (like feed my children) I am horribly crabby, I decided I needed . . . well, normally I'd say chocolate, but that's not appealing in my current condition, so I decided I needed to exercise more.

Yep, I need more energy and despite feeling like I'm going to die (no exaggeration) in a twenty min. workout (mind you, it was a workout I did 4 weeks after my last delivery and laughed at it's easiness) I can't procrastinate any longer. This is all leading up to a very important question. My prenatal workouts videos from my last pregnancy are getting a bit dull, any suggestions for a new one? However, bear in mind that any suggestion of walking for 30 mins or whatever will blithely be ignored as I do not go outside in this frigid, horrid place--at least as little as possible. Also, workout videos are my speciality, considering that if I don't see someone counting out the number of reps in front of me, I tend to think three is as good of number as fifteen, etc. and that's how many I do.

This is one of the videos I do have. It's pretty good, I usually only do one of the twenty minute segments on days when I feel lazy. (Well, this is all describing my last pregnancy, as this time around I've been a complete wimp altogether.) It has a sort-of Latin dance section that's more cardio and then a yoga section, which is not real yoga which is why I like it. Then it has a pathetic labor prep section, and equally lame ab section, and a decent stretch section.This is my true grit-your-teeth workout. I love it! I used it all the time while I wasn't pregnant too and it's harder than my other non-pregnancy workouts (I have a couple Lotte Berke Method DVDs). Only problem for using it all the time is then it doesn't have an ab section, and remember how I don't do things unless someone is counting off? Anyway, it's great, it goes fast and while I sometimes get bored in the Leisa Hart workout, I don't have a chance to get bored in this one.

I also have the postnatal workouts of both Leisa Hart and Karyne Steben and since I'm reviewing, I figured I'd review those too. Leisa Hart's postnatal one is only good for the ab section which is awesome! The dance cardio section is incredibly cheesy 80's style dance junk (she should have stuck to the far superior Latin style dancing) and then it is truly yoga. I don't really like yoga. The Karyne Steben one is nice in that it has sections that you can start right after delivery. I also liked it because it's one of those exercise with your newborn ones. However, downside of that, it's doesn't really work once your baby can roll over I found.

So after all that, again, any suggestions for a new video? There's lots on Amazon, but I've been burned too many times buying exercise videos to want to risk my meager funds on something not well recommended.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Portraits of Eve

Okay so this is very long, but my mom sent it to me and I really enjoyed it. It's along the same lines of what our bishop was talking about too. Anyway, it's a good reminder.

Portraits of Eve: God's Promises of Personal Identity
Before we, as daughters of Eve, ever blossom to the full fruition of our femaleness, we each wear a variety of faces in the different roles we play in the drama of life—daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, neighbors, and friends, to name just a few. Our countenances display charity, envy, patience, anxiety, pride, humility, generosity, greed, peace, perplexity. These portraits mirror joy and grief together, and through this exchange the lines are "woven fine." We are all learning of God's slow, steady way of sculpturing the experiences that cannot be escaped "till we have our face."
Which face is really mine? What is my role in life? What if the faces change so fast and the demands become so great that we hardly know who we are any of the time? How can we ever hope to be in control all of the time?
May I try to give some modest reassurances. First and most important, if we look closely in those many-mirrored faces, we will always see God's infinite care in the process of making us who we are and what we are becoming. We see the gentle way he kneels to brush back our hair or even to wipe away a tear. He adjusts the angle of the light and works his wonders with lines and scars and shadows. Ever so softly he whispers for us to endure difficulty or discouragement for what it may hold of illumination and eternal beauty. Under his hand our inner person becomes the outer person, and the artist shapes his perfect image.
While we participate in this process and reflect in sanctity and solitude, these perceptions and impressions of our relationship to our Father in heaven can give us great peace and purpose. When we embrace these healing moments of worship, it is easier for us to keep this perspective and not succumb to the constant swirl of faces and roles and activities. With the complexities of rapid change in today's world, it is easy to lose sight of our divine possibility or even to value our viability. In the rigorous demand of it all, we may wonder whether we can simply survive, let alone triumph.
In his book In Search of the Simple Life, David E. Shi has written: "Americans today lead lives of `quiet desperation.' Under all the glamour and glitter of affluence is the disturbing fact that the three most frequently prescribed drugs [in America] are an ulcer medication, a hypertension reliever and a tranquilizer." (Layton, Utah: Gibbs M. Smith, 1986, p. 1.)
We live in an enormously stressful world. Everyone seems to be either hurried or worried or both. There are pressures of pacing ourselves with many time demands, and there seem to be increasing worries about what is expected of us, how much we should expect from ourselves, and how we can find the time, energy, and means to accomplish it all.
The scourge of our times is anxiety. Perhaps some of our anxiety comes, ironically, because the bounty and the blessings of our times have provided us with opportunities and choices our ancestors could never have considered. With automation and technology we have more discretionary time. With greater knowledge we are enjoying better health and more energy. And with more affluence we now have more opportunities to provide growth and special experiences for ourselves and our families. Our mothers and their mothers before them could not have dreamed of such freedom to choose, nor the abundance of such choices.
These blessings, however, add immensely to our anxiety when the choices we face suggest contention not only between right and wrong but, more often, between right and right. Should I car pool the kids to one more ballet lesson or take a class on "How to be a better mother"? Do I spend the evening with my husband or do I run off to the chapel to hear the lecture on "What every man wants from his wife"? We worry and wonder if we should study to obtain more rewarding relationships or spend the needed time to cultivate them. And who comes first: our husband? our children? the Church? our extended family? our neighbors? nonmembers? the dead? And what about ourselves?
Sometimes we know not where we should turn, nor which task should be done first. We feel frustrated, sometimes frightened, and often utterly fatigued. And too often we may feel like absolute failures. Where do we go for help? How do we stay fixed and focused? How do we stay centered and settled instead of floundering in a mindless mass of confusion? In short, how do we make order out of chaos?
I choose to believe that the Lord would not place us in this lone and dreary world without a blueprint for living. In D&C 52:14 we read: "And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived." He has given us patterns in the scriptures, and he has given us patterns in the temple ceremony.
I have chosen the patterns of the temple to share my own personal unveiling of the faces I have been asked to wear. I humbly pray that through my own intimate sharing, you may find a few threads of applicability as you search for your individual identity and eternal certainty.
The temple is highly symbolic. It has been called the University of the Lord. I find myself continually learning when I attend the temple with an expansive mind. I strive to exercise, to stretch, to look for deeper meaning. I look for parallels and symbols. I look for themes and motifs just as I would in a Bach or a Mozart composition, and I look for patterns—repeated patterns.
My habit of looking for sacred symbols and my testimony of finding answers to personal problems were passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter to me. I have learned through generations of Eve's daughters the very close connection between our temporal challenges and the spiritual world, and how one assists the other as it pertains to those who attend the temple. So that you will understand my deep feelings about this, I have chosen to share my first experience about the temple's sustaining power.
I was twelve years old, living in Enterprise, Utah, when my parents were called to be temple workers in the St. George Temple, fifty miles away. In telling me of their call, my mother spoke to me of what temples were, why people serve there, and what spiritual experiences some of the saints have had there. Certainly she believed that the seen and unseen worlds meet and mingle in the temple. My duties were to get excused early from school once a week and hurry home to tend five unruly brothers, the youngest of whom was just a toddler. I remember complaining about this assignment one day, and I will never forget the power with which my mother said, "When Daddy and I were set apart for this assignment, we were promised that our family would be blessed and protected, even by `attending angels.'"
Late one afternoon on one of my parents' temple days, when I was feeling particularly exhausted from providing entertainment for my young charges, I put the baby in a buggy and, with the other boys, walked five blocks to visit with my grandmother.
After a warm greeting, Grandma suggested that we play on the lawn while she went to the store for refreshments. I was distracted with the other children and didn't notice the baby beginning to toddle after his grandmother. Suddenly, and with great fear, I realized that he was out of sight. Instinctively I ran toward the car just in time to see the back wheel turn completely over his small head, crushing it into the gravel beneath. In panic I screamed at the top of my lungs. My grandmother felt the distinct bump, heard my scream, and knew exactly what had happened. However, instead of stopping the car, she panicked and drove back over him again. Twice the wheel of the car moved completely over the head of this beloved baby brother for whom I had been given full responsibility.
The wailing of two hysterical voices quickly caught the attention of my grandfather. He dashed from the house and gathered up the baby (who my grandmother and I were sure was dead), and the three of them frantically drove fifty miles to the nearest doctor. I prayed and cried—cried and prayed. However, children remember promises made even when adults might forget, and I was curiously calm and comforted. I remembered the part about "attending angels."
After what seemed like an eternity, my grandparents called and reported that the baby was fine. He had a badly scratched face where the tire had scraped his head and cheek, but there was no cranial damage. Yet twice I had clearly seen the force of that wheel on his head.
At age twelve one cannot know many spiritual things. I especially did not know what went on in the temple of God. But I knew from my experience that it was sacred, and that hovering near, with approval and protection, were heavenly angels. I knew something of heavenly help beyond the veil.
In D&C 109, that section which teaches us of the holiness of the temple, verse 22 reads: "We ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them."
That is a powerful promise to those who feel overwhelmed with the pressures and stresses of daily living, a power and promise I first encountered at twelve years of age. Now, with the many experiences I have had since that age, I can declare that this is true. The temple provides protection and it provides patterns and promises that can settle and strengthen and stabilize us, however anxious our times. If we master the principles taught there, we will receive the promise the Lord gave us through Isaiah: "I will fasten him [or her] as a nail in a sure place." (Isa. 23:23.)
The Lord often allows us to wallow in mindless confusion before the teacher within us follows the path that lightens our way. Jeff and I were young married graduate students with two babies and heavy church assignments when President Harold B. Lee shared a prophet's counsel on "order in chaos." An anxious physician, worried that, because of his profession and church responsibilities, he was neglecting his own son, asked President Lee, "How should I handle my time? What is most important in life? How do I do it all?" President Lee replied, "A man's first responsibility is to himself, then to his family, then to the Church, realizing that we have responsibilities to excel in our professions as well." He then stressed that a man must first take care of his own health, both physically and emotionally, before he can be a blessing to others.
As a young woman I wrestled with this counsel, considering carefully how one taking care of herself first manages to lose herself for others. As the years passed, I saw how the truth in President Lee's counsel seemed to fit perfectly the order spoken of in the temple. The temple teaches priorities, it teaches order, it teaches growth, it teaches joy and fulfillment. Consider the following teachings from the temple (I have taken the words from the scriptures so that I will not inappropriately trifle with sacred things).
In the fourth chapter of Abraham, the Gods plan the creation of the earth and all life thereon. In these plans (which take thirty-one verses to outline), the word or a form of the word order is used sixteen times. The Gods organize and give order to every living thing. "And the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and they will become very obedient." (Abr. 4:31.) If we are to become like the Gods, we will begin with order. We will choose to obey the laws and principles of heaven which lead to order.
One of the first truths taught in the temple is that "every living thing shall fill the measure of its creation." That is a powerful commandment! Consider it in light of President Lee's counsel. I must admit that when I first heard this directive I thought it meant only procreation: having issue, bearing offspring. I am sure that is the most important part of its meaning, but much of the temple ceremony is symbolic, so surely there are multiple meanings in that statement as well. How else does a woman fill the measure of her creation? How does she become all that her heavenly parents intend her to be? Growth, fulfillment, reaching, stretching, and developing our talents are part of the process of becoming like God, the ultimate "measure of our creation."
How can we be fully successful wives or mothers or missionaries or temple workers or citizens or neighbors if we are not trying to bring our best self to these tasks? Surely that is why President Lee said we need to be strong physically and emotionally in order to help others be strong. That is the order of creation.
Anyone who reads a newspaper or magazine is constantly reminded that proper diet, appropriate exercise, and plenty of rest increase our daily capacities as well as our life span. But all too many of us put off even these minimal efforts, thinking our family, our neighbors, and our other many responsibilities come first. Yet in doing so, we put at risk the thing these people need most from us: our healthiest, happiest, heartiest self. When they ask for bread, let us not be so weary and unhealthy that we give them a stone.
The issue for me, then, is accepting that we are worth the time and effort it takes to achieve the full measure of our creation, and believing that it is not selfish, wrong, or evil. It is, in fact, essential to our spiritual development.
My oldest child tried to teach me this principle years ago. I had not been feeling well on a day I had promised to take this then three-year-old son to the zoo. As my aches and pains increased, I finally said in exasperation, "Matthew, I don't know if we should go to the zoo and take care of you or if we should stay home and take care of mother." He looked up at me for a moment with his big brown eyes and then stated emphatically, "Mama, I think you should take care of you, so you can take care of me." He was wise enough even at that age to know where his best interests were ultimately served. Unless we take care of ourselves, it's virtually impossible to properly take care of others.
Medical experts are confirming, from studying people who are overworried as well as overworked, that many illnesses are stress related. Therefore, the basic questions to ask while selflessly serving others are, How much tension in our lives is too much? When does it become counterproductive? Jennifer James, formerly of the psychiatry department at the University of Washington, gives us some suggestions:
"Everyone needs a certain amount of body tension. It keeps us upright. But how much is too much? Have you checked your body lately? How are you feeling? How about your neck—how stiff is it? Or your shoulders? Can you find your balance? Are you centered? Are you irritable? Have you yelled at anyone lately? How about your stomach? Your stomach will always tell you the truth, unless you give it antacid and teach it to lie. We know how to tell that we're tense, but we sometimes ignore it. The question is, why?
"We know that exercise gives almost instant relief from tension. We know that if we give up caffeine and sugar, stop smoking, and give up being workaholics we can relieve stress. But we don't choose to.
"Some people think that someone else will take the responsibility—their parents, their friends, their spouse, maybe even Mother Nature. But if you don't take care of yourself, no one else will. What is your choice? Why are you choosing not to take care of your stresses? Do you think that you don't deserve to feel better? You do." (Success Is the Quality of Your Journey [New York: Newmarket Press, 1986], p. 23.)
Our physician in Provo, who is also one of my stake leaders, scolded me one day during an examination when he noted that the lowest thing on my list of concerns was caring for myself. He looked me sternly in the eye and asked me to remember the promises made in the endowment, and then he asked me to think about the promises of the initiatory ordinances. Our children and our children's children and all of our posterity depend in some measure upon our physical health. Caring for our physical health is, then, a prerequisite to President Lee's second priority—emotional health.
We have been created to become like the Gods. That means we already have inherent within us godly attributes, the greatest of which is Christlike charity. And the key to emotional health is charity—love. Joy comes from loving and being loved. When this divine attribute is at work in our feelings for our family, our neighbors, our God, and ourselves, we feel joy. When it is immobilized with conflict toward others, toward God, or toward ourselves, we are depressed in our growth and we become depressed in our attitude.
Depression, conflict, or negativism is often a message to us that we are not growing toward the full measure for which God has created us. Our pain—emotional pain—is a demand that we stop and take time for change in our life because we may be getting off course. As Elder Richard L. Evans used to say, "What's the use of running if you are on the wrong road?" Of course, we all get on the wrong road occasionally; we all have conflicts and discouragement and make mistakes sometimes. But I love this thought from Sister Teres Lizia: "If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of [personal disappointment and weakness] then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter." The key word is serene. If we bear our weaknesses and mistakes, hurt feelings and misgivings, serenely, and if we accept the down times and learn from them, they will pass and return less often.
We receive mixed messages today that self-love and a sense of self-worth are forms of selfishness and conceit. However, I know from my own experience that when I don't fully accept myself and all of my warts, blemishes, and imperfections, I am crippled in my charity toward God and my neighbors. Let me encourage you not to feel guilty as you aspire to appropriate self-love, which comes in part by honest self-knowledge and acceptance.
Perhaps we all agree on this premise, yet we are unsure about the process for achieving it. It is easier for me to understand when I see it applied to someone other than myself. For example, I begin to love my neighbor when I create experiences that will allow me to get to know her and understand why she acts and reacts the way she does in different circumstances and settings. The more I know her, the more I understand her. And the more I understand her, the more I love her. My knowledge of God also increases when I spend more time with him in prayer, in his holy writ, and in his service. And the more I know and understand him, the more I love him.
This same principle applies to ourselves. Appropriately loving ourselves requires looking within ourselves deeply, honestly, and, as Sister Teres suggests, serenely. It requires a loving look at the bad as well as the good. The more we understand and know, the more we love.
Our Father in heaven needs us as we are, as we are growing to become. He has intentionally made us different from one another so that even with our imperfections we can fulfill his purposes. My greatest misery comes when I feel I have to fit what others are doing, or what I think others expect of me. I am most happy when I am comfortable being me and trying to do what my Father in heaven and I expect me to be.
For many years I tried to measure the ofttimes quiet, reflective, thoughtful Pat Holland against the robust, bubbly, talkative, and energetic Jeff Holland and others with like qualities. I have learned through several fatiguing failures that you can't have joy in being bubbly if you are not a bubbly person. It is a contradiction in terms. I have given up seeing myself as a flawed person because my energy level is lower than Jeff's, and I don't talk as much as he does, nor as fast. Giving this up has freed me to embrace and rejoice in my own manner and personality in the measure of my creation. Ironically, that has allowed me to admire and enjoy Jeff's ebullience even more.
Somewhere, somehow the Lord "blipped the message onto my screen" that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. For example, the quieter, calmer talent of playing the piano reveals much about the real Pat Holland. I would never have learned to play the piano if I hadn't enjoyed the long hours of solitude required for its development. This same principle applies to my love of writing, reading, meditation, and especially teaching and talking with my children. Miraculously, I have found that I have untold abundant sources of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream. When we frustrate God's plan for us, we deprive this world and God's kingdom of our unique contributions, and a serious schism settles in our soul. God never gave us any task beyond our ability to accomplish it. We just have to be willing to do it our own way. We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become.
Self-knowledge is not selfish; it is a priority spiritual journey. Paul exhorts, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you?" (2 Cor. 13:5.) We must each prepare right now to intensify our own inner journey. In no other structure—in no other setting—can we receive more illuminating light shining on our self-realization than in the temple. As we go there often, the Lord will teach us that we have been created that we might have joy, and joy comes as we embrace the true measure of our creation.
In the Doctrine and Covenants we read: "Do thou grant, Holy Father, that all those who shall worship in this house may be taught words of wisdom . . . and that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing." (D&C 109:14-15.)
After our physical and emotional health, our next priority is family, and a Latter-day Saint family begins where it ends: with a man and a woman, united in the temple of the Lord. In the temple we come to understand that "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:11.) Abr. 4:27 reads: "So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them." It takes both male and female to make the complete image of God.
When we were married, Jeff and I became a new entity. Together, Jeff, with all of his maleness, and I, with all of my femaleness, create a complete and unfragmented new whole. When we are integrated, Jeff shares in my femininity and I share in his masculinity so that the whole, fitly joined together, is much greater than the sum of the parts. But Satan does not want us to be one. He knows that the marital body in its unity and wholeness has great power, and he insidiously insists upon independence, individuation, and autonomy. So eventually the body is fragmented—broken.
May I share a thought from Madeleine L'Engle: "The original relationship between male and female was meant to be one of mutual fulfillment and joy, but that relationship was broken, to our grief, and turned into one of suspicion and warfare, misunderstanding and exclusion, and will not be fully restored until the end of time. Nevertheless, we are given enough glimpses of the original relationship so that we should be able to rejoice in our participation." (The Irrational Season [New York: The Seabury Press, 1977], p. 9.)
There are two perspectives that I keep in mind because they help maintain oneness for Pat and Jeff Holland.
First, we come together as equal, whole, developing, and contributing partners. Most of our movement together is in a lateral relationship. We move side by side, together, simultaneously, much like doubly-yoked oxen. But there are times when, for the sake of godly progress and development, I follow my husband in a vertical relationship. A house of God is a house of order. We all fall in line behind someone in that straight course that leads to eternal bliss. I am so grateful that I fall in line with Jeff.
Much of the time I act autonomously and independently. In fact, Jeff will agree that I am about the most independent woman he knows. But when we make major moves, and even some minor ones, and when I'm concerned about the children or my church assignments, or when I experience weakness and pain, I listen to and obey his counsel because I know he obeys our Father's counsel. I know that is the order of heaven.
If God created us to be one together, we must be number one for each other. "But from the beginning God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh." (Mark 10:6-8.)
I firmly believe that my husband comes first—before friends, father, mother, community, church, even children. We were together, alone, in the beginning of our marriage, and, heaven willing, we will be together in the end. Fortunately I think we have both been mature enough to realize when the children's needs have superseded our own, but our children now concede that the best thing we ever did for them, the greatest security they have enjoyed, was our loving of and caring for each other.
When our daughter, Mary, was about nine years old, she sensitively noticed that both Jeff and I were looking a little frazzled and frayed around the edges and so pronounced, "Mother, it's that time again. Take daddy and go away together." The children recognize that our time together is one of the most restoring, redeeming things we can do for them as well as for ourselves.
I love the Lord's injunction to Emma Smith—even to all wives: "The office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, . . . thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness." (D&C 25:5.) I feel that I am at the pinnacle of my creation when I am comforting and consoling my husband. Nothing is more rewarding or brings me more joy. The sweetest sounds I hear are spoken when Jeff whispers to me, "You are my anchor, my foundation, my reassurance. I could never do this job without you."
And I love equally Paul's counsel to all husbands: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Eph. 5:28-30.)
Second, marriages are formed to procreate, to bring forth a posterity—having joy and rejoicing therein. A crucial part of any priority in a marriage, then, is children, even as I readily acknowledge that some couples have not been blessed with that opportunity. Indeed, most of my anxiety in life centers around my children. Since the world I live in is so full of complexities and challenges, I fear and tremble occasionally as I anticipate theirs. We are already seeing signs of their times. Enoch saw visions of their future; he saw their troubles and tribulations; he saw "men's hearts failing them, looking forth with fear." (See Moses 7:58-69.)
Jeff and I both agree that after our own effort toward individual and marital spirituality, our greatest spiritual priority is conscientious, devoted parenthood, to see that our children "shall not be afraid of evil tidings; [that their] hearts [are] fixed, trusting in the Lord." (Ps. 112:7.) We have determined that our children will be peaceful, fixed, and trusting in the Lord—in large part at least—only so far as their parents are peaceful, fixed, and trusting in the Lord. I believe that the most powerful influence in a child's life is imitation, especially imitation of a parent. If we are hurried and worried or unbalanced in any way, surely our children will be hurried, worried, and unbalanced.
To live calmly and reassuringly for our children requires time—peaceful, loving, centered time. This means learning how to say no to some of the other demands that come along, without feeling guilty. I haven't learned yet how to do everything, but with the incredible practice I have had over the years, I have become an expert in saying no without feeling guilty. I receive one or two major speaking requests almost daily. But one person can do only so much. Jeff and I have counseled together, and we try to set aside appropriately proportioned time for ourselves, each other, our children, our church responsibilities, and our community. That is a lot to try to juggle.
So I have learned to say no to some things in order to be able to say yes to others. The most important yes we can say to our children is, "Yes, I have time for you." And for me that means both quantity and quality time.
I had two wonderful years serving full-time as a counselor in the Young Women's general presidency of the Church. For many reasons I am grateful the Lord called me out of the home for those two years of service. I was able to contribute to the lives of children who may not have the advantages we enjoy in our home. At the same time, my husband and children learned the importance of sacrifice and of serving each other, and the joy of knowing Christ will compensate and carry us when we are called according to his purposes.
Having a full-time opportunity outside of the home also taught me something of the challenges that are created when trying to juggle family and the expectations of the workplace. I am mindful of the tasks facing women who have to work while children are still at home. I certainly make no judgment nor wish to give offense over that difficult and sensitive matter. But I do know that through my experience, the Lord taught me valuable lessons about the needs of my children.
Contributing people, by their own success, work themselves into a position of more obligation. As my months of service continued, I began to see the mushrooming effect of those demands running headlong into my responsibilities as a wife and parent. As Deborah Fallows has written, "The more `successful' the position is, in terms of prestige, power, money, and responsibility, the more commonplace and restricting its tyranny can be." (A Mother's Work [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985], pp. 18-19.) In the workplace it is easier to ask our children to yield to the demands of our schedule rather than ask an employer to do so. Children haven't yet learned to speak up for their needs.
One afternoon my daughter, Mary, came home from school a little earlier than usual. Now if I had been in Salt Lake City, I wouldn't have been home to receive her, but that day the Lord positioned me where I was needed most. She entered the kitchen in tears about a conversation she had had with friends and a teacher over some controversial and disturbing issues. This led to the warmest, most intimate and enlightening experience we have ever had in her teen years, enough so that it prompted her to say, "You know, Mom, if you hadn't been home, we never would have had this conversation because I wouldn't have felt the need after a peanut butter sandwich and a little TV."
Since the conversation had to do with virtues and values that are incredibly important, I have thanked the Lord frequently for just that one moment. Our best quality moments with our children often come not when we're prepared and trying to have them, but as surprising, fleeting episodes that we couldn't have anticipated. If we are lucky, we are there to catch those moments.
Being away from my children for long hours over two years helped me to understand that when one or more of my children are overwhelmed or confused or struggling, there is a distinct way that I will respond as their mother—different from how a baby-sitter, friend, or even their grandmother, however loving or confident she may be, would respond. Ironically, it was through my full-time service to a church program that I learned fully to appreciate that no one else can mother my children as well as I can, and that my greatest task and joy is as a wife and mother in my own home.
Deborah Fallows sums up my feelings exactly: "To meet my standard of responsible parenthood, I have to know [my children] as well as I possibly can and see them in as many different environments and moods as possible in order to know best how to help them grow up, by comforting them, letting them alone, disciplining them, enjoying them, being dependable but not stifling. What I need is time with them—in quantity, not [just] `quality.'" (Ibid., p. 16.)
Noted psychologist Scott Peck has written: "The parents who devote time to their children even when it is not demanded by glaring misdeeds will perceive in them subtle needs for discipline, to which they will respond with gentle urging or reprimand or structure or praise, administered with thoughtfulness and care. They will observe how their children eat cake, how they study, when they tell subtle falsehoods, when they run away from problems rather than face them. They will take the time to make these minor corrections and adjustments, listening to their children, responding to them, tightening a little here, loosening a little there, giving them little lectures, little stories, little hugs and kisses, little admonishments, little pats on the back." (The Road Less Traveled [New York: Touchstone, 1978], p. 23.)
Essential to every child's mental health is the feeling, "I am valuable." And where we choose to spend our time reveals to our children exactly how valuable they are. In this way, children provide parents their greatest spiritual development. Our children are our practice in being eternal parents.
The final priority in our spirituality has to do with building the kingdom of God. I always try to remember that all of our major priorities are related, that the Church is an earthly structure provided to help me in my eternal responsibility to my God, my family, and those others upon whom I can have righteous influence, living or dead. The Church helps me so much in those tasks that I am more than willing to take my turn, to play my part in helping others in their progress.
Of course, the Lord knows that our church service, besides blessing and helping others, increases our own personal development. I fully acknowledge that because of my church service, I have begun to develop talents I wasn't sure were there—talents of speaking, writing, teaching, music, learning, and especially loving. Above all, the Church provides a structure for developing my Godly attribute of charity.
Sometimes choosing between family and church is the most difficult of all the choices we face. But here, too, our prophets have given guidelines for deciding what is essential and what is secondary. When every home is patterned after the order of the temple—"even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (D&C 109:8)—the kingdom of God will come. But since neither we nor our homes are yet perfect, and because many are yet pioneering with less privilege than some others have had, we extend ourselves through the structure and programs of the Church to teach, bless, serve, and sacrifice for others who are not in our own family until we are equal in all things. We are all blessed immeasurably for our service in the Church. It is the most beneficial way we have to keep the two great commandments: to love God and our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Let me end just as I began, by coming full circle. In a very personal way I have shared my perspective of the organization and order that the teachings of the temple have provided for me, but not with the idea that your life should be exactly like Pat Holland's, for each of us will have peace only as we are filling the measure of our own creation. My prayer is merely that I have been able to trigger your thought processes for establishing priorities for your own life. My hope is that this message will create in each of us a desire to mentally mark out our purpose in life so that we will not fall easy prey to petty worries, fears, and weaknesses, or to temporary failures, setbacks, and unhappiness. You see, like you, I have those wonderful days when I wake up feeling warm, cozy, with feelings of purpose and peace that all is well. But dynamic tensions are at work in each of us. Burdens of mystery, divine discontent, and inner turmoil keep us from complacency, creating Christlike energy searching for new truth.
On those days when I feel off center, our of focus, or off balance, when I feel that I don't have enough time, insight, or strength to solve my problems, I know that comfort is as close as the temple. Before I go to the temple, I retreat to a private room in my home, one where, from frequent prayer, I feel I have come closest to my Father in heaven. There I kneel and express my deepest feelings of love and gratitude. I also pour out my troubles to him one by one by one, laying every burden and placing every decision at the Lord's feet. Thus prepared, I then take myself out of this world of fashion, frenzy, and occasional phoniness and go the House of the Lord. There, dressed like my neighbor, and with no windows and no clocks to distract me, I am able to see this world objectively. There I remember that the whole of this life is a journey of the spirit to a higher and holier sphere. I remember that the success of my journey depends on my adherence to the sequential steps God has put on my individual road map.
While serving another sister in the temple, someone who didn't have my privileges during her lifetime, I have time for solitude, private prayer, and meditation. I have time to listen and to contemplate the steps I can take, those steps that are right for me. The Lord often shows me how to effectively make choices between right and wrong—and between right and right. He blesses me to see what is essential and what is secondary. I feel comforted regarding my discouragements, and I am able to see those moments as merely messages guiding me back toward my own individual divine destiny. If the Lord in his love and graciousness does that for me, I bear you my testimony that he will also do that for you!
We are children of heavenly parents who have invited us on a journey to become like them. They have provided for us, just a shadow away, a sacred home where we can go and remember that there is joy in this journey, that our paths do have a purpose, and that life can be lived as lovingly on earth as it is in heaven. May all of our faces—our many faces of Eve—reflect the radiant spirit of the Lord and the great glory of God which is ours.

(LDS Women’s Treasury: Insights and Inspiration for Today’s Woman [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 104.)

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Just thought I'd take a minute and post some pictures of our afternoon in downtown Chicago with Leo's parents. It was fun till you realized how cold it was outside. We mostly hung around Millenium Park, but we drove down the Magnificent Mile as well.

Ana was devastated that she couldn't go iceskating too. It was too cold for me, I wasn't even tempted.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Continuing the Family Theme

I just found these photos of my brother while searching for photos of my mom. As you can see, my brother Derek is a fairly normal looking person. He's kind (he took me out for icecream a couple times, and once on a "date" back when I was 15 and we had hamburgers), he's smart (a doctor actually--he goes by Doc), and a wonderful wife who I hope won't mind me posting all this. :) Then you meet this fellow, some sort of Doctor Rasmussen/Mr. Hyde transformation takes place.
Derek has always been amused by what he can do with his hair, or the lack thereof. In high school he came home with a mohawk once--Mom shaved it off the same night. Another time he put his hand on his head and shaved off around that (his hair was only a 1/2 inch long to begin with), and still another time he had an arrow on his head with the arrowhead at the forehead, the shaft running back and then feathers just above his neck. He has four kids now. You'd think he grow out of it. But hey, if Brooke doesn't mind, who am I to say anything? Derek with three of his kids.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

My Mom

This is a recent exchange from our private, family site. I, as usual, was whining about doing the dishes. (Funny, a sink full of dishes awaits me right now.) And my mom replied:

Kami - I will finally let you in on the family secret of doing dishes~!!!!! Just get up and do them right after the meal -- it takes 3 minutes!!!!! Then there is no piling up, no agonizing, no dried on hard food to get off. Your counter is clean, the dishes put away and you are happy!!!!!!!!! Get in the habit and it is soooooooo easy and fun!! Especially if Ana or Leo is drying and Leo kissing you along the way. Dad likes it!!!!!!!!

That phone is permanently attached.

Kayli saw it first (while she was at my house) and wrote back:

Mom!!!!! YOU ARE HILARIOUS!!!! I said "Kami, did you read what mom wrote to your dishes question?" so she was walking in to see, and I said "Guess what she said," and Kami said, "Just get up and do them." She was EXACTLY right!!!!! HA HAAHAAAAA!But FUN mom? Really? Don't you know it is much MUCH more fun to go out and lay on the floor and put your feet up on the couch and digest for a little while, and then play with your kids, and then put them to bed, and then go do something fun like watch a movie or read a book, and then cry and pout about them in the morning?!!!!!!

Dad, Mom and Anders (a grandkid)

To which Andrea replied:

Amen, Kayli.

Mom and Dad

Personally, I didn't really dare reply.

Mom and Dad again

But Mom wrote back:
Morning dishes are NEVER fun!!!!! I'd rather stay up and do them than have to face them in the morning and try to feed kids and such around them!
And then proceeded to lecture me on the phone the next time we spoke about how her and Aunt LaVerle realized when they had small children it was just easier to do them right after the meal. (So, Aunt LaVerle, are you willing to verify that?) :)

Anyway, I'm going to bed, dishes be hanged.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Cookies and Such

I've had so many things I've wanted to write swirling through my head these last couple days and now that I finally have a minute, I can't think of any of them. Perhaps it will come back to me as I write. Here's some pictures in the meantime.

Ana was quite happy making and decorating cookies this past week, which is good because the break from school seemed to drag on an awfully long time to me and I wasn't nearly as patient as I might have been. Luckily she started back to school today. In the last picture Ana had stuffed socks down Elena's shirt and took the picture. I think it was on the wrong camera setting, but it was the only new picture of Elena. She's not been doing well lately. Her two top molars and a third tooth on the bottom are all coming in and she's been whiny, feverish and having diarrhea. I can't wait for them to come through.

Ah, I remembered one thing I wanted to write. I'm pregnant. (Yes Hanah, you guessed correctly!) I didn't want to come out and say it before because my in-laws are coming this weekend and I wanted to surprise them, but Ana didn't know it was meant to be a surprise and so. . . it's not. Leo had the brilliant suggestion to name our baby Juan Wayne Latorre, if it's a boy. Hee. Hee. What a goof. Actually, we pretty much have the names picked out. (Of course, Elena was never on our list.) If a girl, we're thinking Sofia or Isabel, and if a boy Nicolas or Sebastian. Ana's very disappointed, she wanted either Ashley or Mike. Hmmm. . . that's never going to happen. Poor Ana. Guess she'll have to keep those names for her own kids. Oh, but hey, we're stuck on middle names for the girls, any suggestions?? With the boys, it would be Nicolas Orlando and Sebastian Jack, after our dads. I say Isabel Mercedes or Isabel Grace but Leo doesn't like those. With Sofia it was supposed to be Ana Sofia but that's out now. :) Inspiration on my part, I tell Leo, since Elena was supposed to be Ana Sofia and then we'd have had two Ana's.

Anyway, life is good. I haven't had morning sickness nearly as much as my last pregnancy (knock on wood), I've only thrown up a handful of times. My last pregnancy I spent 5 1/2 months bent over the toilet and was at my lowest weight since junior high. Morning sickness was a misnomer, it was constant sickness. I think part of the reason (or all of the reason) I'm not so bad this time is that I'm not working night shift anymore. Night shift just messes with your body. Uggh. The doctor's office I'm going to was great anyway, they sent me home with a list of things to try for morning sickness and told me if that didn't work to come back for an anti-nausea prescription. Yahoo!

Also good about pregnancy, I was completely motivated to exercise all of my last pregnancy and feel the same this time. Normally, I could care less besides a niggling little worry in the back of my mind that I'm going to be decrepit in my old age. On that topic, I remembered something else I wanted to write about. The last Sunday of December our Bishop spoke at the combined meeting. It was a pretty impressive talk. I think this is the only ward I've ever lived in where the general consensus of the ward members is that the Bishop ought to be translated. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but he is very intelligent and it shows. (Not that translation is based on intelligence--but you get what I mean right?) Anyway, he's a "social scientist" as he put it to Leo and me when he met with us when we moved in and answered his survey. Literally, it felt more like we were being studied. Hee. Hee. He's a psychologist and teaches at Northwestern, as well as doing statistical analysis of behavioral data of some sorts. Rumor has it he keeps up on Mormon social behavioral studies and has published "scholarly" papers on the scriptures as well. Of course this is all just rumor, and I'm guess I'm gossiping in passing it along, but really, my intent is just to give you a picture of our bishop. I have a friend in the ward that she says she feels like she's being analyzed every time she's around him too--so it's not just me. Anyway, he's really nice and so is his wife and I've had their daughter babysit a couple times. But back to the point of all this, his talk.

He started out with D&C 131:7-8 7,

7.There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

8 We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.

And then progressed about how even though we talk of our spirits vs physical bodies, that really are bodies are spiritual too (as per the above scripture) and hence needing attention. He also gave the example that we would not be as receptive to serve or as alert to feel promptings of the Spirti if we are physically tired. He gave a 4 pg. handout (on our physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental selves) and only spoke about the information on 1/2 the first page. It was a good lead into New Year's resolutions. I just loved how everything he talked about (this was on the physical dimension) he backed up with solid scientific facts that explained how the body works and why it's important to do that, hence "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" translated into how our blood glucose levels drop at night and we need fuel to get body functioning again; and how never to exercise until you've eaten because otherwise you're body burns muscle (not the stored fat) so it's completely counterproductive, etc. Very informative altogether. And it was very pragmatic as well allowing for some wiggle room, according to him, most people will be alright if they eat healthy 80% of the time, giving 20% for the occasional splurges on cheesecake or what not.

Not that cheesecake matters to me right now (it's too rich for me at the best of times except for a couple of bites); I have hardly touched all those chocolates I made before Christmas. I might not be throwing up every other hour, but still nothing looks appealing to me, even chocolate. Ahh, pregnancy, what it does to us poor women.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The Dark Is Rising

While Kayli was here I made her watch all my previews for movies I want to see and then we watched a few more. Including this one. That would be The Seeker. It was lamely renamed, the original title from the book was The Dark Is Rising and came from this children's classic fantasy series.

It IS my FAVORITE children's fantasy series ever. (My favorite adult fantasy would be The Attolia series--that may be YA, not sure. Love it though.) Anyway, as you can see from the preview, the movie looks completely LAME. Why do they persist in ruining perfect books?!?!?! The Seeker (surprise, surprise) had the second worst debut of all time for a film released in more than 3,000 theaters and quickly managed to pull into first place in 'biggest theater drops'. Here's a couple reviewers comments, "Dispiriting and certain to enrage the only people who stand to care about it.” (Hit the nail on the head there.) "The producers have tried to gin up the story for multiplex audiences. They've succeeded in making a movie for no audience at all." (That would be me, as I have no plans on watching it.) "The fantasy novel's success was its magic rooted in its ties to Arthurian legend and British folklore, these "grandiose elements" are absent in The Seeker." (Right again.)

Well, anyway, the original series is based on Arthurian, Welsh, Celtic, British, etc. folklore and is about the war between the Dark and the Light, the basis of that war being the principle of free agency. (Interesting from an LDS perspective, eh?) I did just read a review however that condemned the series for being "pagan". Hee. Hee. Since when were Celtic myths Christian?!?! I think the mythology and use of legends are my favorite part of the stories. Anyway, I really don't want to tell more, but just to let you know, I do have a few things about the books I dislike, number one being that all the mortal children FORGET everything at the end. That's just stupid. Second being that the final "apocalypse" battle wasn't all that great. Not nearly the let down that Harry Potter's final battle was though. Uggh. The only hope for Harry Potter 7 is that they make the movie much, much better than the book. But for anyone who likes Harry and Narnia, read this series--it's heads and tales better than those.

Only on Facebook!

Well, what a New Year's! My sister Kayli's family came from Indiana to visit and the whole first night they were here I spent over the toilet trying to understand how anyone could be bulimic. Then the next day, Leo had it. I was feeling better by that afternoon and went to the New Year's Eve party we had been invited to without him. Poor Leo. Kayli and Brett enjoyed it a lot, that is until Ethne began vomiting. They left around 11 PM, but Ana and I stayed till after 1 AM. That's the latest I've been out for, well, a very long time. I came home to find Brett bent over the toilet. And then of course Jethro had it by morning and during their long drive home. Muy mal. What a rotten visit for them. I really wish it had gone better. Hopefully they still had a little fun. At least they were able to see Leo a little bit--they had begun teasing me that he didn't exist since he's never around.

Hazel's funny, she has this habit of plopping herself on any available lap, storybook in hand, expecting you to read it to her.
Hazel and Me
Ana and Jethro were running around and Ana was struck by an attacking wall, blooding her nose and splitting her lip. I think the wall won that round.
This is where Facebook begins to tie in. Kayli peer pressured me into joining Facebook a while ago and well, it's been rather fun. I've heard from quite a few high school friends and relatives. Then when Kayli was here, she was searching with Brett for people he went to high school with, which led me to (of course) search for anyone Leo went to high school with. And I found one. His best friend from high school in fact--Andrei. After twisting Leo's arm to write Andrei a message (my Spanish is not so premium), I became "friends" with Andrei on Facebook. Hee. Hee. And guess what I found on his site? Yep, these pictures of mi honey. He's in the very top right corner of the one above and well, the cutest guy in the picture below. Andrei is beside him with his tongue sticking out. I also found amongst Andrei's friends other kids Leo went to school with, including a girl he said was arrested for placing a bomb on a bus. Yeah, glad Leo no longer lives in Colombia. I also found several cousins of Leo's, the disparity among them is also amusing. He has a cousin that's a Christian Pop singer (en español of course) in CA and another back in Colombia who has a drink in hand in every single picture of himself. Life is funny where it takes you, eh? Facebook is funny that way too.