Monday, December 19, 2011

Nature Center

We have a free Nature Center just 15 mins. drive from our home. For some reason we never went there until just a few weeks ago, and since then we've returned once more because it was so fun! The Nature Center has a temporary exhibit that includes an indoor play gym--invaluable in this Ohio winter weather.
And a Winter Wonderland backdrop that Lo wouldn't stand still at for a pose no matter how hard I tried. He just kept running around exploring the whole time we were there.
A life-sized game board leads kids through one section of the exhibits. They can roll a dice and move along to various activites on a sort of obstacle course. At this microphone the kids were supposed to chirp "bird calls," so Lo said something like "chirp chirp."
They had lots of tunnels to crawl through as well.
We didn't get photos of much of the outdoor part of the nature center, but it has a lot of animals. A fox that was a cinnamony-chocolate color, so beautiful, a hawk that flew up and grabbed the top of its cage with huge talons, and a teeny tiny owl, to name a few. The animals are all rescue/rehab cases that will soon be released back into the wild.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookies Run Away

We've had some holiday cheer lately. Here we are at the company Christmas party, always worth attending. This year Lo loved the bounce house and inflatable obstacle course the most. But he also really enjoyed Santa! I think it helped that we dressed him as a "mini Santa," and Lo recognized they were matching. He says that word a lot, "matching." I made the mistake of explaining that Santa comes when people are asleep and leaves toys and candy, so now having no comprehension of time, Lo wakes up most mornings asking if Santa came already.

The video clip is from a special event at the library. They read a gingerbread man story to the kids and then everybody hunted around the library for runaway cookies. Lo Lo really got into it! He thought it was fascinating that the cookies were "yay my-ing" (Lei Mai..."hiding") and thoroughly enjoyed decorating his own cookie at the end. Listen for him saying "Cookies run away" on this clip. So cute. We love our Lo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Taking the challenge

The First Presidency message for this month is on Gratitude. Perfect since we all have a lot to be grateful for considering Christmas and commemorating the birth of the Savior. At the end of the article is a challenge to write down 100 things for which I am grateful. I did this exercise before in my journal, but it was years ago and I think took weeks for me to accomplish, just jotting down grateful thoughts as they came to me.

I will take on this challenge again. I know it will increase my happiness and help me see how I can use the blessings I have been given to better serve others.

Part I: Ten Physical Abilities for which I am grateful
1. Being allergy-free. I thought of this one last night when I caught a whiff of dust in the air and remembered my husband is severely allergic to dust. Poor guy gets painfully swollen sinuses and congestion while I don't get bothered at all. I need to be more consistent to wash the bedsheets weekly in hot water to help alleviate his allergies. Also recently I found out a few little boys I know are deathly allergic to nuts. How I would miss eating nuts! So I'm just extra thankful to have no allergies that I can think of.
2. Bearing children. It was an exhilarating, sacred experience to feel life growing in me when pregnant with Lo. It was also wonderful to feel the sensations of the birthing time--discomfort included, I'm not kidding! I felt absolutely alive and empowered by the whole deal. And I know not every woman gets that blessing in this life, so I am grateful it came to me.
3. Sight. I have a few close family members with visual impairment, so I have seen first-hand their challenges. I have independence, joys, and ease in life because of my vision. And to think I sometimes complain about having to wear glasses/contacts. In this moment I am just grateful to have access to such tools to enhance my sight when there are some who never get to wear a pair of glasses though they may need it all their lives!
4. Hearing. Yesterday I heard church bells chiming carols. It lifted my heart.
5. Hands. I have fun learning ASL with Lo. And how many other things my hands can do! Picking up my child, stirring dinner on the stove, all the every-day tasks that I often take for granted.
6. Walking. I walk a lot of places, including grocery shopping on a regular basis since Jerry and I share a car. This past week we vacationed in Toronto and got to walk all around that exciting city. Jerry kept wanting to ride the street cars, but I preferred walking.
7. Eating. Yes, this is an ability. I have always enjoyed food. One little boy in our nursery class consumes his calories through a stomach tube, and I have noticed his parents call it "feeding time," rather than "eating time." I am grateful to be among those who can eat.
8. Smiling. Sometimes Jerry and I joke about our smiles. "What if I really smiled like this," Jerry would ask, pulling a goofy face. "Would you still have married me?" We laugh, but really there ARE people who either cannot smile or who choose not to smile or some people who just don't like their smiles. But I am grateful to be able to smile and be truly happy about that toothy part of my face.
9. Talking. I lost my voice over the past week due to some type of cold/respiratory illness. There were some moments that I desperately wanted to speak, even just to comment on Lo's antics, let alone communicate basic needs or wishes. But I could only whisper or make hand motions. Now that my voice is returning (albeit scratchy still) I am conscious of the glory of speaking out loud. It is so helpful in connecting with other people.
10. Sleep. I have suffered from chronic insomnia, so the nights when I sleep without problem are something to cherish. Last night I slept 6 hours straight before I had to wake up to go to the bathroom, and it is amazing how refreshed I felt after that kind of stretch. =) Granted, I could not get myself to fall back asleep again after getting up for that bathroom run, but we'll focus on the positive here. I am pretty talented at being able to nap during the day with Lo when I ever need it.

So there we go! 10 things I am grateful for. I'll do this project in installments over the next month or so.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A few days ago our church broadcast a Christmas Devotional. Normally Jerry and I would have watched it online that evening, but since we had been visiting friends that day and got home right at Lo's bedtime we decided to just view the archived devotional later.

Still not having watched the devotional, yesterday I went shopping for Christmas gifts and felt an undeniable pressure and anxiety surrounding me. Then, after returning home, I finally got around to reading the online summary of the Christmas devotional. An instant peace filled my heart and pushed away the holiday stress. If there is anybody else needing to refresh their spirits and remember the true joys of the season, check it out.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Optical Illusion

Since I am a little animal crazy, we ended up getting a couple more fish last month or two even though we are moving soon. Better find new homes for them in the next few weeks...

This betta is the most gorgeous blue color, no? We named him Lan Yu ("Blue Fish" in Chinese). When I snapped this photo, he appeared to be leaping out of the water dolphin-style. But really he is submerged. A mirror halfway under the water makes the illusion happen. Cool!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Our Thanksgiving weekend was perfectly what we needed--no travel, sunshiny weather, and time off work for Jerry (though he popped in to his office on Saturday and took Lo Lo with him--cute stories developed around that happening which maybe I'll remember to share later). "The Meal" was eaten with a family in our congregation. Since their kids are all at least a few years older than Lo, he played great with them. Jerry and I got to just eat, chat, and relax without mediating toddler battles. Seriously, it was the most enjoyable few hours I've had in a long while.
I brought to the meal: a cherry-cheese pie--my first time to bake one of these, and it turned out beautiful--; two varieties of sweet potatos--one in the crockpot, which wasn't the favorite of the two, but still worth doing for the convenience and one more traditional sweet potato dish with marshmallow topping and I got to bring home an empty dish from that one, so I felt proud; also I made a wonderful "green and white" salad which recipe my mom had forwarded recently via email--thanks Mom. And Aunt Jennifer, the original source. =)

These photos are from a park near not as near as I wish to our home. It is unbelievably awesome--huge and unique. The sandbox has a 20 foot long dinosaur skeleton embedded in it that kids can unearth; the playhouses "talk," and some of the slides...well, let's just say Jerry and I had as much fun on them as Lo. The first time we went to this park was with playgroup. Lo played for two and a half hours running almost continuously afterwhich he came home and took a three hour nap. These photos are from that day. Since the day after Thanksgiving was so gorgeous, Jerry and I took Lo to this park again. Haven't uploaded photos from this weekend yet, so that's why I'm posting these ones from our earlier visit. This park is a place we could play ALL. DAY. and not get bored. This video clip shows a few views of the park around 2.5-3 mins. which still doesn't adequately explain how amazing this place is. Clearly it is a special place.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Faithful Hearts

A few days ago I was startled to realize a feeling of anxiety--even terror--had entered my heart about the concept of parenting. I had a feeling of being overwhelmed and worried, feeling less than adequate for the task, etc. It wasn't a very pleasant day. But in my New Testament study yesterday morning, I came across these verses in James 1:2-4 that reminded me God is there, even when it seems He is silent. I felt my faith renewed and my patience with myself and my son increased. Those verses alone may not be "magical" at all times and for every person's situation, but for me in that moment of reading them with prayerful heart, the words invited God's spirit to comfort and teach me. I am grateful for the scriptures!
Jerry and I side-by-side watched this new Mormon Message clip--sort of a different one, no? Personal interview style. We were especially touched by the parts where Elder Nelson says to have realistic expectations and to focus on improvement rather than perfection--"perfection comes in the next life." It wasn't as dramatic as Elder Nelson's flight experience, but during our flight home from visiting Hong Kong exactly one year ago, we felt extended turbulence that held everyone's attention. It was disturbing enough that I recall thinking, "Is this going to be how my life will end??" with some real contemplation. My little brother who was on the flight sitting in a different section also said he had similar thoughts. At that moment in a dipping plane ride, I probably didn't have the perfect calm of an apostle, but didn't feel what I would call real fear either. I felt my life was generally in order, because I have always tried to live according to true principles. I am thankful to have a clear knowledge of God's plan of happiness. I am thankful to have been blessed with strong faith to help me through the challenges of life. It is my greatest "possession" to know the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true!

Hope everybody else out there feels as blessed as me on this Thanksgiving day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

baptism, lies, Chinglish, and patience

1.Yesterday we attended a baptism. Before going, we reviewed with Lo Lo what baptism means, and showed him pictures of it, etc. At all the prior baptisms Lo has attended at this point, by the time of the actual submerging in water he was out in the hallway for one reason or another. But yesterday for the first time that I can remember, he got to see the ordinance performed. His eyes stared wide and unblinking from his perch at water's edge, and as I guided him back to his seat afterward he said loudly, "I do that baptize!" Then he proceeded to repeat those words to the point that I had to remove his chatty self out to the hallway. He REALLY wants to be baptized and still talks about it. Hope he still feels that way 6 years from now. :)

2.Today during sacrament meeting at church, Lo insisted several times that he needed to be taken out. "Diaper change," he kept requesting. So I took him out and was none too happy with him to find his diaper held not a single drop of wetness. It was clean, dry, and oh so sneaky of him to get out of sacrament meeting. I never knew a kid could be so conniving even this young.

3.We had a few Chinese friends over for dinner tonight. I was proud of Lo's proficient Chinglish communicating with our mixed lingual crowd. He used phrases like, "More Ji," for example, when he wanted the chicken passed to him. (Ji is Chinese for chicken). The one Chinese lady said Lo Lo was a Guai (good boy) (not sure if I butchered that pin yin) because he was sharing his toys. =) He does have his good moments.

4.I need to always make sure to remember the good moments. Focusing on the positive, because today was actually not my favorite overall. At one point during nursery I even told one of the other nursery leaders, "What on earth am I supposed to do?" She smiled serenely and said "learn patience." I am taking her advice to heart. Just thought I'd share my newest goal...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthday Celebration

I know some people don't do parties for children who are very young, and I'm still not sure where I stand on the issue. I do think gifts at toddler parties aren't necessary, IMHO. Kids this age don't expect it. We didn't do more than a family get-together for Lo's first birthday. But he has so many cute friends in this area, and celebrating with them would be exciting for Lo with his social personality. Plus also, I like parties. =) As Jerry kept reminding me, the party is as much for the child in me as it is for our child Lo. I'm ok with that.

For Lo's birthday we intended to do a "Things That Go" party since he loves trains, trucks, airplanes, etc. Months in advance, I started making a helicopter pinata (with the gleeful help of Little Hands Lo of course). Cakes got baked and sat in the freezer for weeks, decorations and party favors piled up in the closet...and then as the time drew near for Lo's birthday I got intimidated. A few reasons for my hesitation: the schedule seemed FULL right around his birthday--Halloween parties and hayrides, and the beginning of November full of church events that couldn't be held later in the month because of Thanksgiving. Furthermore, location stymied me: it happens to be freezing most days in early November, so we couldn't hold the party at a park, renting locations is more expensive than we wanted to spend on a toddler's party, and our apartment is too small to have more than a handful of preschoolers running around. To top it all off, by the time his birthday hit, Lo was about a week into healing from a cough/cold. So we mulled over not doing the party at all. But Lo was kinda asking about that pinata he'd seen sitting on top of our fridge for months...and we had a mountain of Halloween candy to get rid of via said pinata...So we hijacked the weekly church playgroup for Lo's birthday celebration. He'd caught his cold at playgroup to begin with, so I rationalized the other kids wouldn't mind a little additional exposure. ahem. I had a little too much fun doing that train cake. The engine is a pound cake, made from scratch and super delicious if you ignore the gallons of food coloring in its frosting layer. The coal car is actually rather healthy, again made-from-scratch banana nut bread with whole wheat flour. Crushed oreos for the "coal." The third car in the lineup was the most popular for eating; gingerbread with homemade lemon ginger frosting. The kids at the party were jumping up and down with excitement when they saw the train cake. And I had lofty dreams of adding another car or two plus a caboose to this train cake lineup. Thank goodness Jerry convinced me to rein it in, lol.
I am yelling like a crazy woman in that pinata clip because I could envision all too clearly the possibility of some kid getting whacked in the face with the pinata stick. Yes, chaotic. Yes, lots of fun. We'll probably do a pinata for Lo's birthday every year as I cannot imagine a better way to disperse the leftover Halloween candy. At home we kept things simple, singing the Happy Birthday song to Lo myriad times throughout the day in several different languages, opened a gift. Didn't have birthday hats, which Lo kept asking about. He must have learned about birthday hats from watching Signing Time birthday episode. Something to include next year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drawing on the Pumpkin

A tagalong post to the Halloween festivities of last month. We let Lo decorate a pumpkin (or "Puppin" as he called it) with a sharpie marker, and then I carved out the spots he had drawn. It turned out looking like some kind of deeply philosophical modern art. =)

The background talk about "plug your nose" is because Liam's friend Leigha (also 2 years old) tends to throw up when she sees pumpkin guts. Not sure why I think that is funny but there you have it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

National Adoption Month

The word "entitled" gets tossed around a lot these days. Men and women of the world seem to believe they are entitled to self-seeking lives with such lifestyles sometimes resulting in unwanted pregnancies. Now consider the word "entitled" in this context: according to God's plan, "children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity" (The Family: A Proclamation). I re-read Elder Andersen's talk this morning as part of my gospel study and felt again how important and sacred is the responsibility to raise up children. I applaud any woman who births a baby, especially those women for whom aborting the child might have seemed a tempting or viable option at some point in the pregnancy.

Furthermore, Elder Andersen's talk reminded me how vital for children to be raised in loving, 2-parent homes whenever possible. I am pro-child, pro-adoption. As November is National Adoption month, I want to take the opportunity to again declare that adoption is inherently part of God's plan for happy individuals and families. An individual birthmother may at times receive inspiration to single-parent her child, but in the majority of cases I believe the best interest of the child is to be placed in a loving 2-parent family. I know these thoughts might be offensive to some--but my convictions come from careful study of the scriptures, inspiration from the Lord, and even the latest in child development research, which shows children are much more likely to thrive in homes where they have both a mother and father actively involved in the rearing process.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthday Boy

Interspersed with darling birthday photos from his 2-year session a couple weeks ago, we present with pride our very own 2-year-old Lo! 
Contemplative, content.  And cold.  :) 
Talking: Lo frequently uses 4-5 word sentences in English (a few recent examples: "Daddy, take more photos;" or "Mommy, I have that spider bee."  His grammar is a little off most of the time, but pronunciation is more and more clear.  We LOVE his talking.  Another cute talking he does is to say "um" when he is thinking.  Like if I ask him a question that requires choice, he'll say "UM," and pause for a second before answering.  My little grown-up Lo. 
Jerry claims this was the first time he ever had Lo Lo do the "shoulder ride" on him. 
Kindness: Lo often gives spontaneous, appropriate "thank you's," crowing "Thank You Mommy!!" When I hand him a block for example, or give him a snack.  And while eating, he often says, "Mommy's turn," and hands me his floaty-filled drink to share.  :)  We are working on using soft hands with playmates.  He is a huggy, loving child, but on occasion intersperses those hugs with hitting for no apparent reason.  The pediatrician said it is normal for kids this age to be inappropriately physical, and to just keep lovingly reminding "soft hands."  She suggested Lo needs more opportunities to practice playing with other kids his age, maybe adding another play date or two each week.  Said maybe the hitting comes from being over-excited at the social opportunity.  I'm doing some reading on the subject...oh, how parenting humbles me. 
That foot turned to one edge is EXACTLY what Jerry does in photos!  Our wedding photographers commented on it.  Appears to have some genetic propensity...
Singing: Songs of a toddler melt my heart.  Sometimes we have the treat to overhear the soft, happy notes of Lo's made-up songs while he plays by himself.  He often imitates our singing/sings along.  He sings clearly the words "Happy Birthday" and "Do Re Mi." 
Bare feet in the sand feel great!
Counting: A few times I have heard Lo count correctly "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" but more often he just says "One, Two, One, Two..." etc. We trained him to say "Two" when people ask "How old are you," because we didn't want to have to untrain him from saying "One," but now that he is finally REALLY "Two" he only says he is "One."  What the heck??  Who taught him to say he is one year old? 
Where'd those feet go??
Games: He LOVES hide and seek, using the Chinese term "Lay(4) My(2)" (I am guessing on the pin yin because it is Cantonese). He pronounces it "Yay My" and says it with such glee and delight I cannot help but play the game with him a million times a day. 
Is that not the cutest face. 
 Shapes and Colors: He knows all his colors in Chinese and English, pointing accurately to a request given in English, Mandarin or Chinese.  Verbally stating mostly English but sometimes says them in Chinese.  Shapes he loves in the shape sorter and seems to recognize the different edges readily, but verbally only says correctly "heart," "star," and calls an octogon "Stop," and a circle "ball" or "O." 
We have loved having the beach just minutes away from us...will miss it when we move to Idaho in a couple months.
 Another game: Jerry taught Lo to sort his play-plastic foods into "Healthy" and "Bad" piles.  Lo is correct most of the time, but sometimes emphatically tries to tell me lettuce is "UNhealthy," for example.  He seems to care a little too much about my approval of him getting the answer right or wrong.  Tries hard to guess if he isn't sure. 
Center of our lives
 Feelings: Lo feels at varying times obvious embarrassment, pride, shame, elation, love, anger, confidence, probably so much more emotions than even what I've just thought of off the top of my head.  He is such a complex, amazing creation.  I guess all kids are.  But really, my own seems so much more intense than what I notice in other kids.  Lo has a definite dominance to his personality, a sort of aggression that will someday come in handy in life if he can channel it appropriately.  :) He is outgoing, social to the max, and never seems to fear new situations.  He's the type of kid who will jump into the pool first, follow bigger kids onto paths he is too small to handle, and so forth.  Daring, exciting, energetic and yet contemplative with a love of reading, drawing, and gluing noodles to paper.  I have great hopes for this combination of talents. 
This just might be my favorite pic of Jerry and me to date. 
Jerry and I think Lo is a good combination of both our strengths, and we even notice our son showing aptitudes perhaps beyond what he got from his parents.  It is a miracle to watch his personality unfold with each passing day.  We are so happy to have this great little boy in our family.  Happy Birthday Mr. Terrific Two-Year-Old Lo Lo!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The 12 Days of Halloween

Lo and his favorite friend Claire at the ward Halloween party
For Halloween this year we borrowed 2 tiger costumes from a wonderful woman at church. She said Lo would want one to wear indoors (thinner material) and another one to wear outside (a cozy warm version). Our cute little guy had a great time practicing his tiger roar, one of which is on a video I will have to post later (taking too long to upload right now).  We ended up keeping Lo home from trick-or-treating on Monday because he came down with a cold over the weekend and still seemed to be feeling unwell. Thank goodness we'd already had plenty of Halloween fun. After reviewing our calendar, I realized we had done about a dozen Halloween activities throughout the month of October. From a special event at the Children's Museum to Halloween themed storytime at the library and so forth, we partied all month long!

I dressed as Pippi Longstocking for our ward party.  Yes, that's my pet monkey hanging on the end of one braid.  =)  And the dress: made by yours truly, about one hour before the party started.  The whole costume was free, just made from things around the house except for a pair of striped leggings ($4). Hilarious.  Also note my white witch pumpkin on the table.  It won 1st prize in the pumpkin carving contest (it was the only entry). 

At the children's museum we opted to dress Lo as an army guy instead of the tiger, since we knew he'd want full mobility to enjoy the activities there.  The museum did some special spooky science experiments.  For example, Lo got to catch a bubble full of misty stuff.  He got to submerge his hands in slime.  And he made a skeleton out of glued noodles on paper.  We did another version of that craft at home--note to self, great project for this age range!
Lo getting weighed on the pumpkin scale...I think he was around 35lbs, which has been his constant weight for about the past year.  Also in the photo is Uncle Mike and my cousins Spencer, Emily, and Audrey.  It was so fun to have them visit during the second week of October. 
 We had a few pumpkins and gourds hanging around our house over the past month.  Lo had fun rolling them around, saying "roll, roll."  He talks with such clarity these days.  
Playing on a pirate ship at the company's Halloween party. 

We decorated Halloween cookies to give to the ladies I visit-teach.  Lo Lo was so pleased with himself, he kept telling everyone who saw the cookies, "I make that." 

Another fun Halloween treat we made is this candy sushi.  I figured it was like even the treats were in costume!  We brought a couple plates full to the ward party and it was gone within minutes. More fun to look at than to eat, in my opinion. 

Lots of fall colors out at the church farm in Hiram.  We visited there this month with Uncle Mike and Aunt Jennifer. 
Not so much Halloween-y to have beautiful trees, but definitely still a part of why we love the month of October.  Good-bye October.  Hello November!  Did everybody notice today's date is awesome: 11-1-11.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


My friend Priya took photos of Lo Lo last week (more to come!). We were happy to find a Halloween creepy crawly caterpillar at the park where we did the photo shoot.

He was absolutely PROUD of himself to have this little bug crawl around on his arm.

But all good things must come to an end, and we eventually let the caterpillar loose so it could "go home." When I showed Lo his photos, that's the part he talked about the most, the caterpillar going home.
I looked it up and found out our caterpillar was a wooly bear variety, which will turn into this type of moth, forgot the name, but something like a tiger moth:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Lo begs me every day to have friends come over and play. "____play at my home?" he asks sweetly a thousand times. Fill in the blank with any number of friends' names. He says them with such funny pronounciation. Here he is with Leigha. He actually doesn't say Leigha's name that I am aware, but he asks if her sister Emma can come over and I know he means Leigha too. =) Here is how it sounds: "Emma bay my home?" He has to focus and furrow his brow to get out the "h" sound in "home." Oh, I LOVE all the talking these days! Seriously, people say they get tired of how much their kids talk, but I cannot imagine getting to that point. Give me time, I know... It cracks me up how kids this age undress themselves. Here we have Leigha in her diaper, and last Sunday there were 6 kids in nursery with their shoes off by the time class ended. Again, a fun age. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Random sampler

Our apartment has a field of horses adjacent to it. Sometimes we feed them carrots or grain. Also I have nightmares about Lo Lo climbing through that missing slat in the fence sometime when I am not watching and getting kicked in the head...=/ I love how this stage of Lo's development is marked by a desire to help and participate in all projects. Here is our helpful son putting away tables after a church activity a few weeks ago:

At that same activity, there was a woman there who wore a similar tie-dyed shirt to one my mom wore when we were back in Boise this past summer. The two women have similar hair styles/color, and from the back look like twins! Lo Lo kept trying to convince me this woman was his grandma; he has no idea how crazy that would be if his Idaho grandma suddenly appeared at our church event out here in Ohio. After we saw her face, he realized she was not his grandma. That night we asked him, "was grandma at the church today?" And he said with certainty, "No." Kids are so cute.

Sorry for the blurry shots. These were all photos from Jerry's phone that just got uploaded and I figured might as well post them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bao Bao

Stuffed animals have a way of accumulating, don't they. Here is Lo's collection after just the last two years: He kept making his animals give each other hugs, saying "bao bao" in the sweetest little boy voice. Note the puppy Lo is pointing to has arms full of smaller stuffed animals. (I helped him stack that many in the arms). And this is what we do all day while Jerry is at work. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Goals old and new

I have been basking in a spiritual renewal ever since this weekend's General Conference. I feel more motivated than ever to do good things. I am also glad to start again with my daily reading of a General Conference talk. Faithful readers of this blog may recall I had a New Year's resolution to do such a thing, but about 4-5 months in, I realized my reading of the usual monthly Ensign magazine had dwindled as a result of my focus on the General Conference talks. Anyway, since I had already studied all the most recent conference talks, and the ones from the previous conference before, I ended up just halting that goal for the most part as I focused on enjoying the cover-to-cover reading of the Ensign magazine. But now I'm ready to re-start that daily conference talk goal.

I also have another goal after listening to General Conference this latest time around. I want to memorize scripture verses on a regular basis. Still not sure what verses/how many, but I think I'll focus on relearning the seminary scripture mastery verses. Stay tuned. The reason I want to do this goal is because of Elder Richard G. Scott's talk that promised, "a memorized scripture becomes an enduring friend." After all the moving and ups and downs of my life over the past few years, I feel ready to revisit some stalwart friendships with key scripture verses.

Another goal developed from conference: pray for the prophet and general authorities on a regular basis. This one is a family goal. I feel remiss since we normally only found ourselves praying for these church leaders in the few weeks leading up to each semi-annual conference. President Monson gave a plea in the Sunday Morning session: "Remember me and all the general authorities in your prayers." Jerry and I especially are praying for Elder Robert D. Hales after noticing the transformation he has undergone in the past year. Take a look: October 2010:
October 2011:

Let's all pray for him to continue healing. His talk was touching to me as I realized how much of it must have come from recent spiritual lessons in his own life about having patience in mortal affiction.

Anyway, I could go on and on about all my favorite speakers but I'll just quickly report back how it went with Lo Lo and the Conference Sweets Bowls. For the most part we had to be the ones to point out what the speakers were saying. "Look, did you hear him just say 'Jesus' or 'temples'" etc. but ONE time Lo got excited all on his own when a speaker said "Jesus Christ." He pointed ardently to the treat bowl marked by a picture of the Savior, saying "Jesus, Jesus." We happily doled out an M&M. I can see how this project will be good to use as Lo grows through childhood. Lo Lo was also happy to join with saying all the "amens" and watched intently the first two speakers in the priesthood session on Sunday morning. We viewed it as a family because Jerry did not go to the broadcast the night prior.

I hope General Conference was as uplifting and fulfilling for you all as it was for us. Now lets all go and be changed for the better because of what we have heard and learned.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Sweetness of the Word of God

How interesting it is that General Conference has become something like a holiday in my mind. I feel excitement as I think about it, akin to anticipating Christmas, summer vacation, birthdays, and such. It seems I see signs on every corner reminding me Conference is coming. I am thinking more and more of how to help that Lo get something out of this great upcoming weekend.

I remember hearing that in Jewish tradition, when a child begins learning from the scriptures they are fed apples and honey, so that an association can begin in the mind about the sweetness of the Word of God.
Enter: General Conference treat bowls. I picked up some M&M's yesterday and also dug out our leftover Nerds (Halloween candy from last year, lol).

Then, I placed a few pictures of important Gospel topics we are trying to help Lo Lo understand. When a speaker mentions one of these topics, we will let that Lo take a piece of candy. He is 1 year old, soon to be 2; we are talking BASIC principles here--Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and Temples. I figured even delving into "prophets" was a bit abstract, although I plan to print out a Thomas S. Monson coloring sheet for that Lo to use this weekend as well.

I found this awesome idea for the treat bowls from one of my favorite blogs (yes, I am addicted to an adoption heart has always had a soft spot for the whole process of adoption...and this blog author posts a lot of good stuff on raising kids in a multiracial home, so I think that's what keeps me coming back for more...)

My version doesn't look as pretty as Mrs. R's, but here it is. Thankfully Lo Lo is highly motivated by candy, so I think this activity might actually get him to focus on the speakers for a second or two while we point out that they are saying "Jesus," "Joseph Smith," or "temples."

Any other good ideas out there for helping kids get the most out of General Conference?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to School

We've always known Jerry would further his education. This past summer, he graduated from his company's leadership development program so it felt like a decision was around the corner. We were not feeling great about staying in our current area for a variety of reasons, including wanting to move closer to family. Originally Jerry got the OK to transfer next spring to one of the plant sites on the West Coast, which would have been a better location for us (though still not ideal). About a month ago, we got word that Jerry could no longer transfer to that particular position--just the unpredictable nature of the manufacturing world. We've gotten used to surprises during the past few years with this company...! So Jerry decided to make a break for it and quit his job. He plans to return to full-time schooling for a bit of a career change--afterall in his own words, he's "not getting any younger," and we have decided it is an important goal for him to be able to get employment that is both gainful and personally fulfilling. Thankfully in the time since we graduated from college a few years back, we have been blessed to be able to pay off our student loans and build enough savings that we feel the freedom to make this move. It honestly feels like a miracle and biggest blessing that we have such opportunities and joy in life. My parents have also been a big help in giving us the courage to have Jerry in school full-time, since they are letting us move in with them for the year that Jerry will take to complete his program. Perfect timing since my little brother enters the MTC in December and his bedroom will be available...=) We are happy to let Lo Lo spend at least some of his toddlerhood surrounded by extended family.

Jerry has been accepted to Boise State University, starting classes in January 2012. After one year he will be able to take the CPA exam and ultimately make his career something in the field of accountancy. Hooray for change! After this move to Boise, we will have moved SIX times since our marriage just FOUR years ago, with more than half of those moves being interstate. Life is crazy but good.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

African Safari

For Labor Day we visited an animal park near our home. Though it is called an "African Safari," most of the animals there seemed more of the North American genre. But we did get to feed a giraffe! It stuck its nose right in our window. I'm only uploading the one video because I'm having issues with photo/video upload lately. We got a new camera; not sure if that's the problem. Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am making a pinata for Lo's birthday (yes, 2 months ahead of time, a tad excited), and I made the mistake yesterday of explaining to him what a pinata is. We watched a few Youtube videos of kids breaking colorful forms, followed by candy spraying everywhere, finishing up with laughter and joy. Lo talked about it nonstop eversince, even having trouble settling down for his nap because he was so looking forward to "break candy everywhere." (which he pronounces "pk nannee 'where."

So that night for our family home evening activity we made a makeshift pinata (handful of candy wrapped in a piece of tissue paper, tied to a string) so he could whack it open. It was pretty funny to watch him swing a stick around. And disturbing. Because now he says "hit, hit!" and loves hitting stuff, pretending it is a world of pinatas out there. This could be bad. Maybe the pull-string pinatas are more appropriate afterall...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Something about the British Commonwealth

My younger brother Justin got his mission call yesterday. He will be servingfor the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canadian Toronto mission, Spanish-speaking. I couldn't easily find a photo of him alone (what DID I do with all those CD's when we moved?) but he's the tall one in the middle here: My other brother Brandon, the one with red hair, served his mission in Australia. My dad served in London. His dad served in Jamaica. My mom's dad served in Canada. I served in Canada (Winnipeg). I'd say we mostly have some kind of British Commonwealth theme going on. So David, the youngest brother, will have to end up going to India or something. We'll see. :) I'm so pleased by my family's wonderful legacy of spreading Jesus Christ's gospel. I look forward to that Lo having so many good examples to look toward.