Sunday, February 27, 2011

15 months

We are being slow to get that Lo's records transferred to his new pediatrician (ah the headache of changing healthcare providers), so he has yet to get a 15 month well-baby visit. But he'll be turning 16 months next week, so we wanted to document a few of the 15 month fun facts before they get too out of date. When he visited urgent care last week for his ear infection, he weighed in at 31 lbs, but that is the only stat I know for him right now. He still seems biggish for his age, though slimming down. One of the main changes I've noticed with this age is that our baby is more conscious of us trying to direct him and I often observe his desire to please us. I don't know a better way to explain. But here's a story to illustrate: Jerry wrapped this towl around our baby in a "Buddhist monk fashion," and the old Lo would have shaken off the towl in order to more easily gleefully run around nekked. But the New & Improved 15-month Lo seemed to understand that we were attempting to pose him and just went along with it.
Which is also a useful trait when we try to get professional photos. Here's one of his 15 month photos. For this milestone we just did the coupon cheapie kind of pics at Sears, but there were a few that turned out adorable enough. As the photo may suggest, that Lo still loves his basketball, and still uses his trademark word for it, "Dome." He knows how to speak about 30 words so far, (I was writing them all down but got behind so I'm not sure of the final count), though he often says a word for just a few days and then it seems he gets bored with it and moves on to practice another word or two, at a time etc. And he often still just communicates with emphatic babbling or facial expressions/gestures. He says a few words regularly in Chinese: "Nai Nai" for milk, "Deng Deng" for light (a flashlight is his favorite toy), and hmm...it seems like there were more but I'm not thinking of them at the moment. Rats. Wish I'd done better recording. Here is one of my favorites of his new English words: "Knock Knock." He says this phrase while rapping his knuckles on a book to make a knocking noise, and he pronounces it so clearly and cutely. We'll have to try to get it on camera, though I'm not hopeful since he is notorious for noticing and foiling our efforts when we are trying to catch him on film.

videoThis month he became an official "stacker," and as the video shows, he doesn't just like stacking blocks; he was stacking his cups at mealtime. He has even tried stacking the shampoo bottles in the bathtub. Oh, and he is getting better and better at spooning food into his mouth independently. He still makes a mess most of the time, but I'm impressed by how much food actually makes it into his mouth.
videoHe imitates us big time. Obviously Jerry and I have been exercising regularly ;) as evidenced by the way Lo knows how to use the treadmill from watching our efforts.

We sort of dropped off on doing baby signing, I suppose because I am trying to focus more on Chinese. But that Lo still uses the old signs quite a bit, especially "food," "more," "please," and "done." He also picks up signs all on his own, either just from watching his friends or from reading a library book. For instance, he started doing the sign for "bib" consistently after seeing that one once in a book, and it isn't a sign I would have ever cared to teach him just because it seems not very useful, but oh well. And he does the sign for "stars" a lot now after watching other kids do it at nursery while we sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." The cutest new baby sign he started doing this month is one to express "Where did it go?" He made up a game where he hides an object, then asks "Where did it go?" holding his hands palm up out to his sides--shrugging. Anyway, he makes this quizzical sound at the same time, and then abruptly produces with a flourish the "missing" object. He even uses this sign to ask where people are, like after Jerry leaves for work, Lo Lo asks me "where did he go?" with his sign and question noise.

He loves to pray, and folds his arms all by himself sometimes even before we ask. He knows the routine when we sit down to eat! It is amazing to see him grow and learn. What a joy to have this child in our home.

He also loves reading books. One day I decided to count the books we read. But I lost count around 17. Anyway, it was a lot. Somewhere around 40 total is my guess. We read All. Day. Long. It feels like I don't know what else to do with him sometimes, so we just read a book. Some recent favorite titles of that Lo: The Napping House, (he makes all kinds of cute noises, like fake screams as the people fly through the air as he points out various details in the illustrations) and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. He gets so delighted about this one, laughing out loud at the mouse's scared face.

Since starting to attend Nursery, that Lo has gotten really into finger plays. He does the actions to "Itsby bitsy (eensy weensy?) Spider" and also really enjoys "Along Comes the Crocodile/No More Monkeys Swinging in the Tree" song/actions.

Another thing Lo Lo enjoys: undressing himself. He pulls off his socks as fast as I can put them on, and has even removed his pants and/or diaper on occasion.

He also identifies body parts. When asked to find his tou fa (hair) he grabs his hair and holds it up. When asked to find his bi ze (nose) he grabs MY nose. And he says the word "eye" while poking himself in the eye. Also knows du qi (belly button). Probably there are a few more I should be listing; he really seems to understand most of what we say to him in both English and Chinese. But this post is getting long enough, so I'll quit now...

Anyway, to sum it up, 15 months is a fun age. Looking forward to more fun times to come. =)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comfort

Over the weekend, that Lo had his first ear infection. I am so thankful Jerry had a holiday Monday and was thus more available to provide support through the nights preceding. The antibiotics appear to be doing their job, and last night went a lot better than the previous few. We probably should have gone to the doctor sooner, but I've had too many instances of them just saying either "nope, he is fine," or "well it is just a viral thing, so we can't do anything," that's what I half expected them to say this time around I guess.

Anyway, seeing Lo so miserable gave me flashbacks to when he was born. He was diagnosed with some type of infection (they never did conclude exactly what was wrong) and we all ended up staying in the NICU for his first week of life. Since I was rather overwhelmed at the time, I didn't journal much. I'd like to take the opportunity now to record a memory or two from that week that has resurfaced with the health issues of the past few days.

I remember in the NICU: one day I sat in our little hospital storage unit/bedroom breastfeeding that Lo. A nurse came in busily organizing some supplies, or cleaning or something. We chatted. In the course of our conversation, the nurse told me, "He's been breastfeeding really long on that side; he is just using you for comfort now." In my sleep deprived state of mind I heard this advice. The nurse stood before me in her uniform, a symbol of medical authority. And I sat hunched before her in my pathetic, unshowered, sweatpants-wearing state. I nodded and said "thanks." And continued to breastfeed. At the moment, I acted purely on instinct, having no presence of mind to think rationally about what might be "correct." Since then, I have evaluated my actions.

Here are my thoughts: My newborn had an IV line in his head. He had to give several vials of blood for some [unnecessary, I now realize] thyroid tests. He had been woken from naps by the malfunctioning beepings of hypersensitive monitoring machines. If he was "just using me for comfort," he was more than welcome to it! What else is a mother for, at her child's most difficult times, than to give comfort? It reminds me of something I heard once about a pacifier (binky) doing the mother's job rather than the other way around. Not that I'm anti-binkies, btw. I just think it is an interesting concept to ponder. 

As we were at the doctor's office yesterday, I was a bit saddened to see that Lo is not as able to use breastfeeding for comfort now that he is growing older. He wailed when the nurse held his hand in the pulse oximeter, and even though I tried to distract him with a breast in his face, his toddler-levels of awareness just couldn't get past the fact that he was frightened of his surroundings, and what the strangers might do to him. He still received comfort in my arms, and in Jerry's soothing voice and hugs as well. But the breastfeeding comfort just wasn't as powerful as it used to be. Even though weaning is likely months away, I can tell we are transitioning to new stages in the breastfeeding journey.

Another memory from the NICU: A nurse was shuffling some supplies underneath that Lo's bassinet. I lay on the cot next to them. The nurse turned to me and said, "He is a bright little boy!" I asked her what she meant, and she described how his black shining newborn eyes had watched her. "They normally aren't that aware of people at this age, but he moved his eyes to see me." I glowed with that irrational pride that only a new parent knows. Yes, he is a bright, wonderful child. We love our little Lo. It was such a relief last night to see him getting back to normal. We have missed his energy and antics.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Warm Winter Walks

This past week has warmed up some.  There is still some snow of course (it probably won't fully disappear until April or so), and that Lo still gets plenty bundled before we head out, but it is not so cold anymore that we get frozen eyelashes and nose tips within minutes of being outdoors, so that's a plus.  That Lo likes to play with the neighbors' yard ornaments.  Hope they don't mind. 

 I like how the snowbanks on either side of the sidewalk make a bumper/wall of sorts, so that Lo cannot run anywhere but on the sidewalk.  Helps me keep an eye on him.  And once when we went walking, we brought a ball to kick along the sidewalk.  The "snow bumpers" kept the ball from getting kicked too far out of range. 
Christmas decorations up in mid-February?  Sure!  Our neighbors across the street still have a lighted Christmas tree up on their porch too.  I noticed this phenomenon in Canada as well; in climates where snow persists for months after Christmas, people tend to keep their lights and holiday decor up longer--I suppose because we all need something to cheer us up amid all the whiteness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nursery

Here is a video of that Lo playing in the hall at church last Sunday. Lucky Jerry got to take care of that Lo all three hours while I escaped to nursery. And maybe we should have just kept Lo home from church, as you may be thinking after reading this post. I guess it was one of those borderline cases...



videoOne of my first callings (responsibilities) at church was to be a nursery leader. I felt at first as though I'd become doomed to spend every Sunday babysitting a handful of rugrats while all the other grown people at church got to enjoy uplifting classes and learn wonderful gospel knowlege. After a couple weeks I came crying to my mom about my sad situation. And she completely helped me have an attitude adjustment. Good ol moms.




She helped me come up with some goals and a schedule to give structure and meaning to each day at nursery. The goals were simple:

  1. Each child would love coming to church (and look forward to nursery instead of crying when their parents dropped them off).


  2. The children and me would feel the Spirit of God through a meaningful lesson each week.

There were a few sub-goals that helped achieve these ends, but overall we just kept a simple routine in the classroom, having some freeplay, snacks, music, lesson, activity, and story time. I ended up developing a deep love for those toddlers in nursery, and they truly did blossom while I served them. My testimony of the importance of nursery grew even more when I attended a stake leadership meeting where the speaker talked about how readily young children learn of Christ, but how easy it is for them to fall away during their teen years if they have not already learned to have a testimony of their own by then. It became my personal mission to help each of my nursery kids get their own testimonies of the reality of Jesus Christ and His power in their lives. I have an (appropriate) sort of pride when I think back on magnifying that calling.




When my Lo became an avid walker at 9 months of age, I soon found myself thinking, "this kid is too old for sitting through my 'grown up' classes each Sunday." And waiting until he was 18 months old to send him to nursery seemed an impossible eternity away. During the last General Conference, I prayerfully listened for inspiration on what to do to help Lo Lo have more meaningful times at church. It wasn't just me wanting to get more out of my own classes; I wanted HIM to get more out of church than just a feeling of frustration that he had to have three straight hours of quiet stationary play. I wanted him to have those same goals that I'd developed for my nursery kids a few years back: a love of church, and feeling the Holy Spirit at church.




During General Conference, I had the inspiration to order the most current nursery manual for myself. I decided that I would begin studying it and see what I could do to implement some of the ideas in it for our church times. But God had something better in store...He asked me to work in the nursery! And I get to bring that Lo! Even though my sweet baby has a few months to go before he is technically "nursery aged," he has benefited a lot from getting to come to nursery each Sunday. And I have been having honestly the most fun ever serving in this calling. I love preparing the lessons and practicing on that Lo during the week, and reviewing with him after Sunday has passed. I love getting to know the other kids and parents, and truly I do feel the Holy Spirit each Sunday at church.

I tried to edit out one of the faces because I wasn't sure how that girl's parents felt about her photo being online. The other kids all appear on their family public blogs using real names & places, so I am hoping it is ok to post. By the way, this isn't even our whole nursery. If everybody attends, there are eight kids, and in another few months, we'll have one more graduating into the 18 mo. or older club, so that will make nine! Keeps us on our toes sometimes, but they are all really sweet kids. =)



Last Sunday, that Lo had diarrhea right before we went to church. The nursery rule is that kids should stay out if they have any type of illness symptoms, unless the parents are certain the symptoms are due to allergies or teething, etc. I wasn't sure if Lo's diarrhea was due to teething, since he had been drooling/chomping his hand a lot lately. But to be safe, I had Jerry take that Lo during church while I stayed in nursery. When they found out why I had not allowed Lo to come to nursery that day, a couple of the parents of other nursery kids said, "Oh, we never pay much attention to those rules." I was horrified. I said awkwardly, "well, I do hope you'll try." But wow, now I feel nervous about Lo Lo coming to nursery. It is sort of the germiest place in the church, come to think of it. We wash the kids' hands before they eat, and sanitize their table, but cannot possibly police all the toys that go in mouths, etc.



So here is my plea to parents everywhere: do NOT bring your sick child to nursery. As difficult as it may be to take a toddler to an adult class, or hang out with your kid in the hallway while everybody else in the church gets to learn great stuff, just do what you need to do to be a good citizen. And consider getting yourself a copy of the nursery manual, so maybe you could do a lesson or two with your child on your own while they are sick home from nursery. I promise you will BOTH feel the Spirit of God and be edified.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine Report

We had a special Valentine's Day even while keeping a modest budget! The Saturday before Valentine's Day, we went to a fundraiser dinner for the Young Men/Young Women's camp fund, and enjoyed sitting at a table filled with friends. Great entertainment from our server for the evening, though I'm sure most of the time it was unintentional entertainment on his part. lol. The church provided a nursery, and I was happy to see that Lo settled right down to play. He seemed to recognize the nursery room since he has been going there for a few weeks now with me. Jerry and I had talked earlier about how we would need to leave the dinner by 7pm so we could get that Lo home for bed, but then the dinner was served a bit late, and we ended up staying until 7:40 at which time the nursery leader had to come get us because that Lo started to have a meltdown from being overtired. Rats. I hate to compromise his sleep. Holidays and travel are the two tempting times to push our baby beyond his usual schedule...but he was happy enough on the car ride home when we shared our cheesecake with him.
For his Valentine shirt, I tried to make a cute craft one using vinyl, bleach, and a red t-shirt. It was going to be awesome. But then it wasn't that awesome afterall. So here is the shirt he wore for Valentine's Day: "We steal heart not money." Chinglish; gotta love it. (we bought this shirt in HK).
On actual Valentine's Day, Jerry ended up feeling sick in the morningtime, so he came home to work from home for the day--but as soon as he got home, he felt just fine! Seriously, he wasn't faking it. But it worked out well for us, and it was nice spending extra time with him. We didn't spend much on gifts--chocolates, a balloon, and homemade cards and decorations.

In my home growing up, I remember feeling really excited to drag out the decorations each time a holiday rolled around. We did not have exorbitant amounts of decor for any one holiday, but for most of the major holidays we had some memorable favorites--the same decorations that appeared year after year. For instance, at Halloween there were stuffed pumpkins, plush and adorable with black button eyes, and equally squeezable stuffed rabbits at Easter. These stuffed bunnies were made out of white ribbed stockings, I believe, and sat in a basket lined with yucky fake moss material. I don't recall any Valentine decorations that made a regular appearance, but my mom was always good about putting our Elementary school artwork projects up on the kitchen bulletin board. And I was the kind of kid who spent hours upon hours getting my Valentines ready to pass out at school, even choosing thoughtfully the particular conversation hearts each individual friend would receive. So when Jerry and I got married, he started to see this worrisome trend of me wanting to go all out on holiday decorations. Since we were still students with limited budget, and limited space, he asked me to try to hold off on acquiring holiday "junk" until we have a home of our own. I admire his minimalist attitude, and I readily agreed to these terms--for the most part. But I still found ways to compromise, since we need to enjoy a little holiday festivities even while still in our apartment-dwelling newlywed days. So, to explain a bit about our smallish Valentine decor, I'll start with the photo shown above. It is a dollar store plastic box. Jerry got it for me last year as part of a group date scavenger hunt. Jerry knows I like containers. But I mulled over throwing it away (gasp!) because it sat around our house for a whole year and I realized I still wasn't sure what to use it for. But then I decided to institute a new Valentine tradition for us Tams. The love box now has pink notebook paper inside it, as well as a few heart-shaped stickers and a pen. We can have ready access to this box for writing love notes in the weeks preceding Valentine's Day! I set the box on our kitchen counter and sure enough, it encouraged me to write a few love notes to my sweetheart during the lead-up to Valentine's Day. Jerry didn't catch on to this tradition yet, but I'm sure over the years he and our kids will all share my vision. ;)



Next in our space-efficient decoration lineup: the True Love banner. It folds down into a flat little bundle when storage time comes, so Jerry has allowed it. :) My friend Nicole made this for me. Adorable; it makes me think of a box of chocolates. I also redid our mantle to contain photos from our wedding, the temple we were sealed in, and a picture of us in Hong Kong during a sort of wedding celebratory meal to fit more with the Valentine theme.




Heart Wreath; the only reason this decoration is space efficient is because I am using it for multiple holidays. My grandparents had sent money for Christmas (thanks again!) and we used some of it to purchase a collection of Christmas tree ornament bulbs at the after-Christmas sales. I strung a few dozen of these ornaments--the more Valentinesy colors of course--on a wire hanger that I had shaped into a heart. My instructions are never that easy to follow, so just google a tutorial for this project if you like the looks of it. I didn't glue my bulbs, so I might just un-string them to reuse someday on a Christmas tree.





And that Lo really likes playing with the remainder. They are the shatterproof kind of ornament, and we've really put them to the test as Lo Lo throws them down the stairs, steps on them, bites them, etc. He truly believes they are his toys, his wonderful bunch of colorful balls. So these Christmas decorations may never get put away.
p.s. one more Valentine tradition I have started doing is reading a book on strengthening marriage. This year's book is called Your Man is Wonderful, by Noelle C. Nelson. I remember learning about some type of therapy in my therapy theories class that teaches "the miracle you want to have happen is already in the process of happening," and this book reminds me of that principle. It is really positive and a good read, and though I haven't finished it yet, I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Happy Chinese New Year...last week. I wanted to upload a photo or two before posting about this holiday, so finally here we go.

First, a few musings on Chinese holidays. When I was a kid, I remember looking enviously at my peers who came from multicultural homes. There was my friend Graciela whose family all spoke Spanish at home, and then there were the Kurdish refugees in our junior high school (I had a crush on one dashing Kurd boy for awhile)...And that's about as multicultural as my life got, for I grew up in the rather WASPish state of Idaho.

But now I get the joys (and sometimes consternation) of having my own multi-cultural family. I am starting to realize that marrying a Chinese man makes not just our children Asian-American, but all of us get to be "Asian American" in some aspects. Parts of both cultures touch our everyday lives, from the ordinary to the holidays.


Enter Chinese New Year. It follows a lunar calendar, so the date changes on our western calendar each year. There are twelve animals on the Chinese Zodiac, and as tradition goes, each has its strengths and weaknesses. I was born in year of the boar; Jerry, year of the monkey; LoLo, year of the ox. And guess who is having a little Rabbit baby...! No, not Jerry & me. ;) My sister Jessica and her husby Matthew are expecting a baby around the end of July. We are so excited that Lo will have a cousin!


Aren't they a beautiful couple. I've been pondering what their baby will look like: blue eyes are a must, and probably a light brown hair that looks reddish in the sunshine. I'm sure their kid will have a cheery disposition, because both my sister and her husby have inately happy, fun loving personalities. And the Chinese would say a rabbit symbolizes calmness, peace, and harmony. So I predict they will be blessed to have a really easy baby, and this child will be the peacemaker in their home. I'm not really superstitious, but think a little positive thinking never hurts. =)


And what characteristics does our Lo have, being an Ox? The main traits are strength and determination--seems to fit our big boy so far. He was so determined to hold the camera while I tried to get a shot of him posing with his red pocket, that finally I just let him hold the camera while I took the photo. So it ended up being a photo of his foot with the red pocket.

Red Pockets are a fun part of the New Year celebration. People give them to children to symbolize good luck, and the envelopes contain money. We delivered some to the children in our neighborhood. It is cute to see how Jerry gets really excited about this and other Chinese traditions, since he has a lot of childhood memories associated with them--sort of how I feel excited about Santa Claus or the Easter bunny visiting because of how it brings me back to my youth.

I remember in my adolescent development class learning how the highest achieving, most well-adjusted kids were those who identified themselves as bi-cultural as opposed to those who only connect with the mainstream culture, or on the other hand, those who primarily associate themselves with a minority culture. I realize now that even though I grew up simply "American," my parents made an effort to connect us kids to our ethnic background of English/Scottish ancestry. We learned about our heritage and it felt like a strength to know we had unique traditions and cultures in our past generations. Also, Mormonism is considered a significant subculture in the United States, so any observant Mormon families can consider themselves bicultural, in my opinion. I am happy our Lo will grow up having the benefits of multiple worldviews.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Smorgasbord

I've been feeling like I had too many random photos that I just wasn't getting around to blogging, so here are a handful just thrown in all at once.  Just so I can feel like I've checked something off the list. 
 Painting.  This is one of the fine-motor skills we've done lately, and Lo seems to enjoy it (though we probably need to work on the way he grabs the paint brush).  It is one of those magic books that has colors appear when plain water is brushed on it.  So we have no mess, but plenty of fun.  =)
 Sometimes I get bored of making the same menu items for our family all the time.  For dinner, we often have foods like curry, fried rice, stir fry, homemade pizza, spaghetti, or some type of crock pot soup or roast.  But one night I decided to break from routine and we ate a dinner of appetizers.  Pictured above: cheddar/chives/sour cream potato skins; pecan ham pineapple cream cheese tortilla squares (yeah, I just made than one up, but it tastes wonderful); deviled eggs; lettuce wraps (we didn't have the right kind of lettuce handy, but they worked alright); peppered cheese tomato slices.  It felt festive and interesting to do this type of "appetizer meal" for a change. 
 I will probably have to stop doing bum shots entirely once Lo gets a bit older (how old is too old?  NieNie still does it for her boys!)  Anyway, I think we had just gotten him out of the bath and he ran down the hall to shoot a few hoops before bedtime.  He seems so skinny to me these days.  Seriously, when I compare bum shots to what he was a few months ago, the difference is striking.  Not sure what he weighs--I should be having his 15 month well-baby doctor's visit stats soon to post. 
 We have had a lot of snow here lately.  This is the view from our window a few days ago.  That Lo likes to look out the window and cheer for the snow plows and children trudging home from school each afternoon. 

 One of the couch cushion towers Lo Lo climbed in our living room.  He loves this past-time more than any other, I think.  He often tries to drag the cushions off the couches all by himself (which he cannot yet do, thank goodness).  Oh dear what have I taught him.  That's the webcam in the bottom of the photo. 
Lo hugging the camera.  He really does love his grandparents, though he doesn't get to see them often. 

Life is very good.  I will try to post more, but it is about priority number 15 on my daily to-do list most days, so we shall see.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Goal Checkup

Here are a few thoughts on how my goals have gone, now that we are a month into the new year.

1. That Lo and me are doing okay with our routine. Observe smiley kid in photo above, having plenty of fort-building playtime. But we need more socializing. Once a week playgroup isn't cutting it. Especially when Lo naps long (like today) and we end up missing playgroup (which is happening this very minute...boo).

2. I indexed 50 names so far, but that is only according to the counter device on the computer. Actually, I think I only indexed 1o names. And then had a bunch of blank spots. I am feeling a lot of worry about this indexing game, sort of like I might be making a ton of mistakes without realizing it. I have only the faintest idea how to index, even after taking the online tutorial. Lost, lost, lost. Scared, scared, scared. Where is the Spirit of Elijah when I need it.

3. Reading the New Testament is a delight. I had forgotten how much I love these first-hand accounts of the Savior's walk through mortal life. Beautiful. After getting a calling in the nursery a few weeks ago (hooray!) I ditched the Sunday School schedule, so now I have been reading a chapter of the New Testament each day, just going straight through. Currently on Matthew ch. 16. I read it online because the lds.org site helps me look up more of the footnotes and they have been adding a lot to my study.

4. Daily Book of Mormon study is happening, though some days it has only been a short few verses with that Lo. On my better days, I've used this scripture study time to do topic studies on whatever I feel needs work in my life.

5. Record daily entry in spiritual journal. Yes! This one has been going so much better than last year, and it really does add to my scripture study to look for personal revelation to put in the journal. I've done entries 25 days so far this year...not perfect, but doing fine.

6. Journal weekly: I've averaged at least an entry per week, but one time during the past month went 9 days without writing. Room to improve. I've heard it is harder to do weekly goals than daily, because weekly is more easily forgotten. True, true. But anyway, I'm sticking with the weekly goal and will just try to at least journal every Sunday night to help me remember it in the schedule.

7. Attend temple quarterly. We signed up to go on the stake bus trip to the temple in a couple weeks. I feel a bit nervous how it will go because of the long day traveling, and not having as much control over our stopping schedule--what to do when that Lo needs a break...but I'm having faith it will be a good experience overall.

8. No refined sugar at home: well, could be doing better. I made the mistake of hanging onto some Christmas candy instead of throwing it away, and then during my moments of weakness it was too accessible. And one time we forgot the goal while grocery shopping, with Jerry buying hot chocolate, and me tossing a new kind of candy bar into the cart. But anyway, I'm doing better than before I had the goal, so that is moving in the right direction.

9. Adding a goal of studying one talk each day from the latest General Conference. I've done it pretty consistently over the past couple weeks and have felt a real boost in my spirituality. Interesting to note how often the conference talk of the day seems to complement so perfectly whichever chapter I'm reading out of the New Testament. I always feel like the Lord is trying to tell me something.

Life is good. I love goals.

Looking forward to February!