Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year and Resolutions

Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
- Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog

I'm a goal setter by nature, but I love it when the whole world (or at least most of it) is setting goals with me.  I can feel it in the air, everybody is inspired and charged up for doing better and making positive changes.  That is what goal setting is all about, right?  Making ourselves better.  My goals last year included writing my novel - check, graduating from college - check, and doing a better job of keeping my house clean - that one is debatable.

On the other hand, I hate it when people write resolutions or goals without having a plan to succeed.  What good is an offensive line without a plan as to how to get the ball down the field?  I plan on reaching towards my potential this year with my goals and I'm going to do it play by play, yard by yard.  It may even come down to inches next December, but I'm gonna score a touchdown in the end.

So, I offer you the suggestion that along with your goals, you make a plan to achieve them.  I'll share my four goals this year with you and my plan for accomplishing them:

1 - Run a marathon - Run or cross train daily.  Run a 5K in February, Ragnar in April, marathon in the fall.

2 - Earn my Personal Progress Recognition as an adult.  Every Sunday, devote some time to one or more goals.  If you aren't familiar with this program learn about it here.  It is implemented through our church.  Ask me for more information because anyone can do it.

3 - Be more crafty.  This is a rather vague goal, but for the last several years, I have been occupied with school and church responsibilities and have neglected some of the things I actually love to do but could not justify spending time on.  Well, game on people.  I am crafty and I'm going to display my crafty side one project each month.  I have a note taped to the wall next to my desk with various projects that include sewing Easter dresses, hanging curtains, learning how to make frames from crown moulding and more.

4 - Complete novel for printing.  I wrote my novel this year, but it needs tons of work...more than tons even.  So, I plan on editing one hour each day during the week or an average of 5 hours per week.  It may be more, it might be less, but I will have it finished by October 1st and ready to print...or query a publisher.

So, that is my list, how about yours?  What one or two things do you have on your list and what is your plan to achieve them?  How will you score your touchdown in 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011

So selfish

I am so selfish.

You see, I am not that great with little children.  Don't get me wrong, I love them, I'm just not patient enough to be the kind of mother I wish I was.  Ok, maybe it isn't that I'm not that great with them, I just don't really enjoy them as much as I would like to.   I'm better with other people's little kids because I only spend a few minutes with them at a time.  I'm so sick of the snotty noses, the crying, the whining, the diaper changing, blah, blah, blah, blah.  It just really isn't fun to me.  Ironic that I've had eight of them, isn't it?

On the other hand, even though I'm not a big hugger, I love to kiss and love all over my sweet babies.  I love their wet kisses and their hugs.  I love when I ask, "Who do you love?" and they answer "Mom!"  I love it when I go into their rooms in the morning to wake them up and they are so happy to see me that they practically jump out of bed and into my arms.  Man, I eat that stuff up.  They must not know I have a problem, I must be doing all right.

You have probably heard me say how much I love having teenagers, well I absolultely do.  Teenagers are the funnest ever.  They like to do the things I do; we can talk like adults, enjoy the same movies and music, and we love to watch sporting events together.  I especially love it that I don't have to interrupt conversations with questions like, "do you want me to wipe your nose?" or "Do you have a poopy diaper?"  I hate it when I do that.

So, that is a reality check for those of you who feel the same way I do but have never wanted to say it out loud just in case someone was standing there just waiting to judge you because of it.

Having said that, I find babies absolutely wonderful and enjoyable when they aren't doing the annoying things that I have no patience for.  I think it happens abouat 20 minutes out of every 24 hours.  I'm glad Derek is two now and most of the yuckiness is behind me.

I have to go now, I know my 20 minutes of happiness today is going to happen any minute now and I don't want to miss it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feminism

There has been a lot of discussion lately in my life from different sources, about feminism.  While doing some research for my literature class earlier this semester, I had to do some reading on this type of literature critique.  Then, on a friend's Facebook, I saw a post about a more contemporary view on feminism.  It really got me thinking about my views on feminism.

I just have to say, thank heavens for the women who forged the way for me to live the kind of life I lead.  I'm college educated, I am employed (even if it is just a few hours a quarter), I can drive, vote, and do lots of things women in my stage of life could not do many years ago.  But, I am still "just" a housewife (don't get me started on that term), what I mean is, that I do most of the cleaning, cooking and taking care of the children, and I do it by choice.

I don't have a job that requires me to be outside of my home earning a living, I have found ways to make some money here and there as needed, but I choose to be the main caregiver for my family.  This was an active and personal choice I made long ago.  I had big plans for a career; I was going to travel the world, make tons of money and run my own business...I was going to speak a foreign language.

The reality is that I chose the greatest career, that of motherhood.  I haven't seen wonderful places like the Eiffel Tower, the Mayan ruins, or the great wall of China, but I've seen the wonder in my child's eyes as he touches snow for the first time, scores his first touchdown, or gets offered a scholarship to college.

I am blessed to have a husband who earns a living that supports our whole family without me having to work outside of the home.  We make enough money to cover our needs and most of our wants.  We don't live extravagantly, but we do all right.

I run the business of managing a home and the education (secular and spiritual) of everyone in that home, I am a chef, maid, tutor, nanny, seamstress, bus driver, and work a myriad of other careers...I speak sarcasm, teenage grunt and I am the baby whisperer.

I am not against mothers who work outside of their home or those that choose not to have a family of their own, but only because they just don't know what they are missing.  I am anti-abortion, because I believe every pregnancy is a gift from God.  I'm not convinced that a person should raise a child by him/herself because I know how hard it is to raise one with the great amount of help I get from my spouse.

I wouldn't change my curves and rolls because they were hard earned during my childbearing years.  I know mothers who have given and given to the point of neglecting their own self.  While I am anti short-shorts and tank tops and my girls wear more than enough swimsuit to cover all the important areas, I am not ashamed to tell someone about the fabulous new bra I just bought that puts my bosoms back where they belong.  I am flattered when my friends call my high heel shoes "cha cha" because it makes me feel sexy, when the reality is that I am super uncomfortable.

I might be a contradiction from a feminist point of view, but what I do know is that I'm proud to be me and I don't regret any choices that I have made that have brought me to this place.  So, what is my view on feminism?  I'm not sure exactly, but I like being a woman.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It is who I am and frankly, I don't want to change

As I have been getting "older," several times over the last few years, I have wanted to have a makeover of sorts, you know, buy a few new outfits, wear makeup more often, do my hair every day.  I do good for a few weeks and then I sorta revert back to the "old" me.  I get it in my head that I need to act my age better, or dress the part of a 40 year old.  It isn't that I feel old or even think I need to wear old people clothes, that's not my point.  I just feel like I dress like a 13 year old boy because I wear tennis shoes and t-shirts every day, just like I did in the 8th grade.

When I was in the 9th grade, I tried a little harder and it was fortunate that on the days that I cheered for football, we had to wear our "game day" clothes and when I played basketball and ran track, we had to dress up for school on those days.

When I was in high school, I loved to go shopping at the thrift stores and buy my clothes there.  My friend Renee was so good at helping me get pieces that would look cute together and we paid practically nothing for our clothes.

I remember when I had my job at the credit union and Vance was small.  We were broke most of the time and because I had just given birth, I wore a lot of pants with elastic waistbands (gasp).  My boss had to pull me aside once and tell me I needed to dress it up better because I was starting to get a bit too casual.  I remember wearing the same skirt and blouse twice that week for lack of clothes.  I didn't have money, I worked full time, and I was a mom the rest of the time.  I was too tired to shop.

As I had more and more kids, I found the stretchy pants thing really worked for me.  I wore Ben's t-shirts because they were comfortable when I was big and pregnant and then when I was nursing.  I was always doing one or the other it seems for about 12 years.  When the kids were little, I spent my time shopping for them and if there was money left over (which there rarely was), I was too tired to go shopping for myself.

I've moved away from the sweatpants era when they finally put lycra in my jeans, it's like the best of both worlds now.  When I'm a grandma, I'm certain that I will be wearing the same thing.  (I hope that makes me a cool grandma, not a dorky one.)

My point is, that as I have not just gotten older, but I have also come to the realization that this is who I am.  I am the queen of casual.  When I put on a dress and heels, I think I look good, but I am just not comfortable and feel like I am playing dress up.  I know it is all in my head, but I just want to put it out there that I'm done worrying about wanting to "look the part" of whomever I thought I needed to be.  I am me and I like it.

I also have a pretty awesome t-shirt collection that any teenager would be proud of.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It took a village - Ramblings about graduating from ASU

Woo Hoo!!
Yeah for me!!  I did it!  I finally graduated from college.  I am proud and embarrassed at the same time to say that it took me 23 years and 6 months from the time I started back at Rick's College in the fall of 1989 to get me a Batchelors degree from ASU with a degree in English Literature.  It literally took a village to get me to this point; schools, teachers, friends, Facebook and especially my immediate and extended family.

I attended several schools; Rick's College, MCC, Rio Salado, a school in Albuquerque, but I can't for the life of me think of the name but it is now called Central NM Community College, AZ Dept of Real Estate school and then ASU.  Yes, that is a lot; I don't recommend it.

I went to school off and on for several years, between having kids #s 1,2,3,4, and 7 & 8.and jobs and helping Ben finish his degree, it was hit or miss what years I went.  I was pregnant a lot in college.

I had tons of people help me with babysitting over the years; my mom, all of my sisters, Evelyn C., Celeste K., Grams, Cindi B., Jana C., and many others who I was able to use for backup several times.  Thank you for taking such great care of my children so I could study or attend class.
My parents

A big thank you to my parents who never made me feel like this wasn't an important endeavor.  I'm sure there were times when they were biting their tongues thinking I was crazy for even trying, but they never once doubted my ability to get it done.  From day one, they supported me and even helped finance my first year away to college.





When I started thinking about school 4.5 years ago, Heavenly Father knew the desire of my heart was to finish this degree.  While it would have been so much easier if things would have gone according to plan and I would have started school when my original baby (Tawny) went to kindergarten, Heavenly Father knew how much I needed Derek and Anny to keep me grounded and my priorities straight.  Motherhood always came first. They have never known life without their mother going to school and although I only had them with a sitter once or twice a week for a few hours, they rarely complained.  While they  may be my "devil children," they are absolutely my angel babies.

Katy Age 10, almost 11

Drew Age 15


My older kids were used to me being gone with my responsibilities as RS President, but I figured once I was released that I would have so much time on my hands that going to school would be a cinch.  How little did I realize how many times they would end up making dinner, cleaning the house (more than their usual chores), and babysitting because I had class or needed to study or finish up homework     well into the evening or night.  While that was hard for them, they are going to reap the benefits of their homemaking skills in the future.

Skylar Age 13

Marly Age 17
These kids sacrificed time with me.  I missed a few school assemblies, sporting events, volunteer opportunities, and could not always offer rides when they wanted because of assignment deadlines for classes.  They also sacrificed having money to do things they enjoyed because of the cost involved in putting me through school.  My children are my heroes and if it weren't for their support and encouragement, I could not have accomplished my goal.









I hope my kids know how important it is to me, that they graduate from college.  It is something that you will always use, whether you want to be a stay at home mom, run your own business, or be a doctor.  I learned things about myself that I knew were there, but maybe tucked away, things like perserverance and courage. I hope my kids saw the importance of finishing this when you are young.  Raising a family and going to school is tough, tougher than I ever imagined it would be, but it was part of my path and I'm glad I was able to finish it when I did.

And, so far, it has been worth every single minute of effort I put into it.





My grad cap





I also want to add that it is way more fun to go to school with someone than by yourself.  Jana and I never attended school "together" as she was studying nursing, but she and I were always on the same page when it came to worries about kids, homework, tests and working.  She was always good for sushi break when we were at our stress limits and I am so lucky to have such a great friend in Jana.


Too bad my family are big UofA fans
I can't stop there.  Ben was my biggest fan although I know there were times when he wondered why the heck I was doing this because he knows I never actually want a "real" job.  I know there were many nights when he went to bed without me or even took the kids out so I could have some peace to do homework. He was Mr. Mom more than he probably wanted to, but I don't remember ever hearing him say anything negative about me going to school.  Well, that is if you can dismiss comments like "Anybody can get into ASU" and "ASU does not have a good football or basketball program."  Fortunately, I can take a joke and he knows that if we had lived in Tucson, I would have graduated from UofA.

And, although you may think this is silly, but I'm glad I had FaceBook for moral support.  There is nothing quite like reading comments from my friends congratulating me on getting a good grade on a test or telling me they have inspired them to go back to school.  I was not able to socialize as much as I would have liked over the last 3.5 years and I am so glad for the support of my local friends, my old friends, and my family.  When I needed a pick me up, they were there and when I needed a pat on the back, there was plenty to go around.
Goooooo Mom!!


Vance's photo by www.kimskinnerphotography.com



















I can only say I have one regret.  I wanted to graduate before Vance left on his mission.  I missed it by two classes or one semester.  But, he was sweet enough to get his picture taken in an ASU shirt before he left.  Thank you Vance for being so sweet and going to college with your mom.  His freshman year and my senior year...awesome.

Now, what to do about those student loans...
P.S.  Most of the photos were taken by my friend Karolee.  Thank you my friend.


Freezer Veggies

I am no genius, but I learned a long time ago that I hate that smell of onions that lingers on my hands for days after I cut up even just one.  Yes, I could wear gloves, but I don't.   We use a lot of onion around here, sometimes chopped, sometimes in strips, but whatever, we use a lot of it.  Since I mostly use it for cooking, I cut them all up at one time and stick them in the freezer.  
When I need a cup of chopped onions for a recipe I'm cooking with, I just bang the bag on the counter and dump out what I need.  The same goes for peppers.  I don't eat them raw...ever, but I love them cooked.  I cut them into strips and freeze them too.  I have several freezer bags full in my fridge and I probably go through a few gallons of onions and peppers every other month.  At least that is when I go get more and start chopping.  I do always leave one red onion and one yellow out so if I need them cut up for a salad, I have them.
When I find a great deal on something at the produce market, I like to stock up.  Lots of that stuff doesn't stay good for very long so I'm picky about how much I get and whether or not it will freeze well.  I grabbed some squash and zucchini out of the fridge that was not looking so good, so I'm taking a chance that when I cook them up, they will be just fine...another veggie I don't eat raw. 
I found this terrific post about crock pot freezer meals that I'm dying to try.  I think I do most of it already, but this is all combined into one bag you throw right into the crock pot. http://mamaandbabylove.blogspot.com/2011/04/freezer-cooking-with-slow-cooker.html
Do you have any favorite freezer tips or menu ideas you use in your home?  Share with me.  I love tips that save me time and money.



I have that "I just gave birth feeling"

You know how it is when you have a baby?  You are so relieved to have it out of you that within a pretty short time frame, you feel like you could conquer the world?  You can put on your own socks and shoes, sleep on your stomach, sweep more than just the major crumbs on the floor, vacuum, etc.  Well, the day after my last final at school, I did just that, I got movin' on all kinds of stuff around here, you know, a lot of the things I wrote I said I would...just not all of them.

Within a day or two, I was exhausted, worn out and too tired to care.  Then I started to read.  Well, that took my laziness to a whole new level.  It wasn't until I finished the Hunger Games series that I was able to get anything done.  Since then...

I did get something like 30 quarts of beans and chicken bottled, my deep freezer thawed and cleaned, the garage straightened, the old non-working fridge in the garage hauled away, bedroom cleaned, shopping done, house decorated, treats delivered, presents wrapped, time spent hanging with the kids, dates with Ben, babysitting nephews and eating.  I'm not sure how much of my actual list is complete, but I got a lot of other stuff done.

I hope I'm back for good now.  I have so much to say about my t-shirt collection, the heirarchy of the holiday meal assignments, gift giving, weight loss challenges and so much more.  Stay tuned.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Did You Miss me? What is next?

I’m back, and I did it.  I wrote a whole novel of 50,111 words in 30 days, 28 to be exact because I finished two days early.  I don’t want to give out too many details but this story has been in my head for months now and I needed to get it down on paper (or in the computer, depending on how you look at it).  It is a story of a woman who struggles with post partum depression and her incredible journey to recovery.  It was an amazing experience as I wrote late at night, early in the morning, sometimes instead of eating or cleaning and certainly a lot of writing instead of doing homework.  (Did I mention I have senior-it is really bad?)  Well, I’m glad I had NaNoWriMo to help me over the November blues.  As I sit here today with one final done and one more tomorrow, I find myself wandering around the house wondering what to do next. 

That is my next topic, my imminent graduation.  It is right around the corner on the 15th.  I am proud to say that as of last semester, I am graduating with Cum Laude honors, barely missing the necessary GPA for Summa Cum Laude, but I don’t really care anymore.  I have a better GPA than my high school kids right now and this pleases this overworked, sleep deprived, soon to be college graduate mother of 8.

Tomorrow is my written Spanish final – I aced the oral final last week and have gotten an A on all my tests throughout the semester.  I expect to pass both my classes even if I didn’t learn anything in my history of literature critique class.

So, what will I do with my free time?  I have a list

December 6 &7 – Read Hunger Games (I saw the preview for the movie and I'm dying to get it read)  And yes, it should only take me two days.  Clean out garage and prepare for garage sale.
December 8 – Clean out office/craft room  Here are the before pictures, Warning: I am not a Hoarder.

I'm almost embarrassed that I have let my office get this awful and I'm not even showing you a picture of my desk area, it is amazing I can even work there, but it was a matter of not knowing where to put things or not really having time to  put things away after telling my kids to just throw it in my office and I'll put it away later.  This week is my later...
December 9 - Clean out my bedroom closet.  I'll save you a picture for the before and after reveal.  If I show one more picture, you are guaranteed to call me a hoarder.  Hornet Football party tonight and Ben's birthday.
December 10 - Garage Sale to get rid of all the stuff in my office that was labeled donate and did not ever make it to the garage.
December 11 - Nothing.  I'm going to sit and watch the Family Movie night with my kids and write a letter to my missionary.

Well, that gets me a few days.  In between all those things on my list, I will also attend a few basketball games, do some Christmas shopping, some crafting and hopefully some sewing.  I have a few thank you cards to write and a tree that needs finished decorating..  The "old" me is going to make a comeback.  


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Checking Out

There are about 5 weeks left in this semester and I have tons to study for as I near the finish line.  I'm a glutton for punishment too, because I've chosen to participate in the NaNoWriMo!  Don't know what that is?  That's ok, I'm fairly new to it myself.  It stands for National November Writing Month and the goal is to write a novel in 30 days.  Think I can do it?  Of course I can.  Will it be a best-seller?  Doubtful.  But, I can cross one more thing off my bucket list.  My goal is to produce 2000 words per day towards the novel.  I've only got a few more hours of daylight so I better get busy.  I guess my point is that I'm checking out for most of the month and will be back in December.  I may post some updates here and there to let you know how it is going.  I might even ask for your help.  See you in 30 days!!

Check it out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Family Pictures

As you can tell from the last family picture above, I don't like to do things too ordinary.  I like to live life big...huge even.  So, this is my request to you, my beloved readers.  I need to get my graduation picture done soon so it can be included in my Christmas/New Years/Valentine card (depending on when I actually get around to mailing it).  I need your thoughts and suggestions because this needs to be epic.  The photo shoot could include just me or me, Ben and the kids, or me and my family and my parents.  Lots of options.  We will all be wearing maroon/gold and I will be in my cap and gown.  I would like it to be on ASU's campus somewhere so that it is obvious where we are.  Think about props, poses, location, etc.

Ready?  Go.  

I'm waiting.  Literally. I'm sitting at my computer right now waiting to hear what you have to say about this.  Think of something and get back to me.
Note:  I do not want to ever end up on www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com on accident...only on purpose.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bucket List

I know I just blogged recently about setting goals, but since I found this contest and wanted to enter, I figure I'll share some of my bucket list items with you.  I have tons, but here are my top 15:

1.  Graduate College.  I know, I've already talked about this one, but I can't wait to cross it off my list!  7 weeks and counting...

2.  Serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I have the potential to send off 7 more missionaries before I can go, but I will do it.  It will be awesome to serve with Ben.

3.  Hike the Grand Canyon.  We keep planning a summer trip, but babies, missionaries, time constraints and money have kept us from our goal.  I want to do it soon so that I can helicopter my dad and mom in to stay with us then helicopter them out.

4.  Learn to play the harp.  I really want to take lessons, but buying the harp is the expensive part.  Guitar is my second choice and I might try to pick that one up in the near future.

5.  Learn to speak a foreign language.  I'm doing well in my spanish class, but I need to practice so much more.

6.  Visit England and do some family history research.  I would love to visit the cemetaries, churches, and towns where my ancestors lived.

7.  Tour a castle in Spain.  I have wanted to go to Spain ever since my cousin served his mission there.  He would send me pictures and write letters about the beautiful country and it has been my dream since then to go visit.

8.  Run a marathon.  My ankle isn't going to last forever, but before I have it replaced, I really want to run 26.2 miles.  Crazy, I know.

9.  See all 8 of my children graduate from college with at least a two year scholarship.

10.  Write a book.  I have several that are in my head, just waiting to be put into my computer.

11.  I want to own a Bed and Breakfast with Ben.  It will be the Triple B (or something like that).  We will have 8 rooms and it will be in the mountains near Sunrise Ski Resort.  It will have a large football field and adjoining fields so we can host sports camps and girls' camps throughout the summer.  I want a big lodge with a stage and large kitchen to put on skits and talent shows for when my kids come back for family reunions.

12.  Be debt free.  Enough said.

13.  Earn my Young Women Recognition as an adult.  I did it when I was a young girl, but the program is so much different now...better.  I'm getting there one goal at a time.

14.  I want to own a sports car with leather seats.

15.  I want to write a song for my children and record it.  I want to be able to tell them how much I love being a mom and how they fill my life with joy and I want them to hear me sing it to them even after I am gone.  My grandchildren will know how much I loved their parents.

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 thingsthat I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to TodaysMama.com to get the details. 

So, what is on your bucket list?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I am the original inventor of the Sarcasm Meter

It bothers me when people don't know when I am being sarcastic or not.  When I'm talking to you face to face, it should be fairly obvious by my facial expression, hand gestures, tone of voice, etc.  I struggle with the written word and how to use sarcasm appropriately when I write.  So, a few months/years ago (I have no idea when), I invented the sarcasm meter for Facebook.  Yes, I did.  I wish I would have patented it or sold my idea to Mark Zuckerberg because maybe I would be rich today, but oh well.

Here is how it works.  If you are saying something extremely sarcastic, you should put a (5) at the end of said statement.  If you are completely serious but are concerned that your comment may be taken sarcastically, then you put a (0) at the end.  Obviously, if you are somewhere in the middle, you can choose numbers 1-4 to show your level of sarcasm.

While I find that I am pretty good at sarcasm, I realize that sometimes it can be taken wrong and feelings can be hurt.  I try to be very careful when I find myself dripping with sarcasm because I would never want anyone to be hurt because of my fun.  That is why my meter is so helpful.

Today Drew came home from school and related the following story: (This is in his words)
"When we were at lunch today, my friend Will said something super sarcastic and then his girlfriend turned to him and said, "Was that a 5?"  My eyes got big and my ears perked up,then I turned to her and said, "What did you just say?"  She looked at me and said, "I asked him if that was a 5 on the sarcasm meter.""

Drew said it was beyond belief.  Of course I am laughing and a little surprised.  My reply to the whole story was, "Did you tell him you knew who invented the sarcasm meter?"  His reply...


"No Way!"

Of course not.  What 15 year old wants the world to know his mother invented the sarcasm meter? (0) 
I cannot stop laughing.(0)  I'm also doing the happy dance (3), I'm so cool. (5)
I wonder what I can do tomorrow that will compare in "coolness."  Shopping at Costco? 
Yes. (5)

Trying to be the Cool Mom

My dad, Drew and Skylar
Several of my friends confirmed it today on Facebook so it must be true.  Now I wish I had a picture of me being the cool mom so I had proof.  I will let the sunburn on my arms and neck be my witness to those that see me.

I went golfing today with two of my boys and their Grandpa.  Poor hubs had to work today and well, someone had to do it.  I'm just happy they asked me.  Maybe I have always been cool to them and I just didn't know it.

Ben asked me to go golfing with him when Drew was just a baby.  I went and fell in love with the game that very day.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that lots of people think Ben looks just like Phil Mickelson and I think he is a hottie.  But, I knew (hoped) that ahead of me were many long years of pregnancies and nursing babies.  I told him that I had so much fun, I knew it would be an activity we could do together after I was done with kids so I could actually spend some time enjoying it on a regular basis.  I hadn't thought of that day until last week when the boys asked me to take them.

We invited my dad to come along.  He hasn't golfed since his surgery a few years ago and I think he was nervous.  He had a great time and after I snapped the picture, I stared at it longingly, hoping it isn't the last one I get to take of my dad with my boys.  I also hope he gets many  more golf outings with all of his grandsons.

So, I am in love again.  Of course, I'm not quitting my day job and going on the women's tour, you'd think by my score that I was going for the highest possible strokes.  I'm thinking I might have found my Christmas gift suggestion to Ben: golf lessons.  I need them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you ever want a Do-Over?

Sometimes I get so frustrated with my parenting that I wish I could have a do-over.  Lately I feel that way a lot.  I think is is part of my senior-itis kicking with my graduation only 8 weeks and 4 days away (but who is counting?).  I feel a little consumed by my two classes but at the same time I have this "who cares" type of attitude.  There is nothing stable about my parenting (or my emotional status) lately.  I'm all up in their grills one day and my house is spotless and homework turned in on time and then the next week my house is trashed, my homework is late or not done at all and the worst part is I don't even notice.

It doesn't help that I have tons of external things to blame it on...Jenny's funeral, the pneumonia, the weather, potty training issues (the three year old, not me), etc.  But, the reality is, I am not very consistent.  There you have it people, I have a weakness, it is consistency.  I can do really great one day/week/month and then the next, I have fallen off the wagon.  After a few weeks like I've had, I just want to go back to the beginning and beg for a do-over.  But, we all know that isn't reality.  The reality is that I can blame nobody but myself.

So here I sit, at 11:30 on Sunday night, waiting and praying for morning to come so I can have my own kind of a do-over.  The kind where I say to myself that today is a new day and I'm getting back on track with homework schedules (for everyone, not just me), chore charts, meal planning...everything.  Yes sirree, that is my kind of a do-over since I'm not getting the one I really wanted.  Look out Monday, I'm all over you like stink on a poopy diaper.  I'm even going visiting teaching and it isn't even the end of the month yet:)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dreams and Secretariat

I saw the Disney movie Secretariat at the movie theater when it first came out months ago, I even paid full price.  If you know how cheap I am, you’ll know how much I wanted to watch this movie.  I was hoping it would uplift and inspire me.  Secretariat was that kind of movie.

If you are not familiar, it is the story of a woman who takes over the business of running her father’s horse breeding/racing farm due to the death of her parents.  She does what she needs in order to succeed, even in the most difficult of circumstances.  
What I loved most was seeing the determination and at the same time, the uncertainty in Penny as she had to choose between living this dream or not.  After two years of living a dual life, late one night, her husband questions her ability to keep up such a tremendous pace.  Her response stuck with me when she replied, “When I went off to college, I felt like that colt, full of promise, full of adventure, like I could make something work.  I gave up a career to have our family – and this colt is part of our family now, I just want to see him run.”
 
While I don’t want anyone to believe for a minute that I feel like have sacrificed everything for the sake of raising my family, I do sometimes feel like women sacrifice more than their share.  Sometimes we lose our sense of balance when we give absolutely everything to our children and spouses while reserving little or nothing for ourselves.   I want my children to have the kind of parent that shoots for the stars and follows her dreams, no matter how difficult or uncertain the chances of realizing that goal may be.  In my small way, I hope I am showing them a bright example of how I want them to live their own lives.

Please don't misunderstand me, I absolutely believe that a mother’s place is in the home, no matter how old fashioned that sentiment may seem.  I also realize that for many women, not working is just not an option, I get that.   But, there is nothing that is more fulfilling in my life than watching my children succeed and simply being there for them when I can.  When my children succeed, I feel like I can take a small part of the credit for their achievements.

If my goals and dreams were taken away from me, or even shoved too far back in the closet until a “better” time for them to come out, I think I would lose a part of me that I would want my children to see as they grew up.  I think that is why I am so persistent in doing the things that I want to do, even if it means giving my children a bit more responsibility around the house,  expecting them to help out with their younger siblings more than their friends have to, and sometimes sacrificing my own personal time supporting my kids.  I can closely relate to the scene when Penny is missing her daughter’s performance and lays on her hotel room bed sobbing while listening to it through a payphone.  I don’t know how many football/baseball games, music recitals, field trips, etc. I have missed because I was taking a test or finishing homework.

So, what are my dreams?  First, I am going to graduate from ASU (December 15, 8:30am).  This goal is 22 years in the making.  It has been a wonderful and exhausting experience and my family has sacrified as well as myself, but I am so excited.  Another goal is to help each of my kids graduate with a major scholarship that covers at least two years of tuition and books (I’m 1 for 7 thus far).  My additional goals include traveling to Spain and visiting a real castle, maybe picking up Vance in Paraguay when his mission is done, going to England to work on family history documentation, and serving a mission with Ben.   I also dream of the day when my blog magically turns itself into a keepsake book, or when I get my own parenting book published.  I’m like Penny when she said, “This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it!”  Speaking of running, a marathon still eludes me, but that is next summer too.

This movie is less about a race horse and more about living out your dreams.  What are you made of?  What are your dreams?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adoption

I'm so blessed to have a stake calling in my church that allows me to work with LDS Family Services.  Each month, we are inspired and uplifted with information regarding our calling.  Today was not unlike any other meeting, but this topic has been weighing on my mind as I wonder who in our area could benefit from my services.  Each stake (geographical boundary that include 8-12 congregations/wards) has an agency representative assigned to them so the information I am presenting is available to all, members and non-members alike.  This post might be a little long, but it barely scratches the surface of all there is to say about this topic so I hope to include more later.

I wanted to give a little background on my experience with adoption and why I feel so blessed by it.  My husband was adopted, as well as his 6 siblings, I had the sweet experience of watching someone very close to me place her baby for adoption (and that is a fabulous story in itself ), and I remember the experience of my cousin being adopted after my grandparents had been her foster parents (another great story for another day).  So, my point is, that my testimony of adoption is strong, and I know it is another way that our loving Heavenly Father shows us how much He absolutely loves each and every one of us.

Today, I heard from three women who each shared their stories of why they chose to adopt.  Carlie suffered from endometriosis and while she was able to conceive one baby, it was with the help of expensive and invasive medical treatments.  While struggling with her medical condition, a friend made the comment that if it wasn't for infertility problems, there wouldn't be anyone to adopt all the babies.  This struck a chord in her and she decided that her infertility would not be a problem for her anymore, but a solution for an unwed mother.  She was blessed with the finalization of her sweet daughter just this past Thursday and is planning on taking her family to the temple on Saturday to be sealed for time and all eternity.

Another sister, Angie, suffered from cancer as a child, but the doctors reassured her that it would pose no threat to her reproductive organs.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  13 years after being married, she had a wonderful experience in the temple.  The person for whom she was going through the temple was an aunt who had adopted a child before her death. Angie felt like she could hear the voice of her aunt telling her that she would be blessed by adopting children just as her aunt had.  Angie is now the mother to 3 sweet adopted children.

Megan had a heart problem in childhood that seemed to heal itself after much fasting and prayers.  When she was newly married, she felt prompted to go to the cardiologist before getting pregnant.  The news the Dr. delivered to her was devastating; If she were to get pregnant, her heart would not be able to stand the strain put on it and she would possibly die.  Megan was devastated at this news and immediately sought counsel at LDS Family Services where they told her she had to be married for at least 2 years before applying to adopt.  This turned out to be a tender mercy of the Lord  as she needed some open heart surgery shortly after this and a year of rehabilitation to be able to take care of herself.  Once she was well, they completed the paperwork so they could adopt.  She is now also the mother of 3 sweet adopted children.

I wish I could go into detail about the miraculous events that transpired as they were interviewed by birth mothers.  Prayers were answered, miracles happened, and lives changed for the better.  The act of placing a baby for adoption is nothing less than the biggest sacrifice a parent can make.  In the book titled For the Love of a Child: The Journey of Adoption, the Introduction by Bonnie D. Parkin, then the Relief Society General President touches on many aspects of the adoption processs, including the need for repentance on the part of the birth mother.  She says,
          "What if you're pregnant and unwed?  Here are a few of my thoughts.  First, remember that you can be forgiven!  You can, and you must, move forward and receive every blessing promised by the Lord to His faithful children.  Then seek for the Lord's sweet forgiveness.  It will be difficult, it will be painful, but forgiveness will come.  Keeping a baby is not a penance to make wrong choices right - only the Atonement can do that."

In a letter from the First Presidency of our church dated 19 July 2002, it states:

"When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry.  When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents.  Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity."

So what does this have to do with my calling?  As an agency representative, I am the birth parent volunteer in my stake.  My job is to assist unwed mothers on their journey through pregnancy and beyond.  It is my job to be her friend and her unyielding support no matter what decision she makes with regards to her child.  I can offer her information, support, programs and whatever else the situation calls for.  Yes, I will encourage her to consider adoption as I support the leaders of our church and have a strong testimony of the divine principle of eternal families.  But, my job is to be the one person she can count on to support her, no matter what her choice.

My calling has really not been busy, but the church statistics show that on average there will be one girl per ward per year that will find themselves in this situation; I can only hope that my stake will prove the statistics are wrong.  But, if you know of someone who is in this situation, please know there is love and support on the road to forgiveness from a loving Father in Heaven, who wants us to succeed in our life's journey back to Him.

For more information check out these websites:
www.providentliving.org and click on social and emotional strength
www.southwestfsa.com if you are a couple looking to adopt

www.itsaboutlove.org for those who are pregnant, those looking to adopt, those who work in a professional capacity where they might know someone in either of those cases, or for leaders of our church in need of more information.
As always, feel free to send me a private message if you have specific questions to stacy@becauseihadchildren.com

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Little Boy

Vance age 4
I remember sending off my oldest to kindergarten and knowing that his world was about to be bigger than the four walls surrounding our home.  It was with a terrific amount of strength and faith that I sent him out in to the world, so to speak.  I knew that from here on out, my opinion wouldn’t always be the one he counted on, that the world was about to have its part in helping me raise my boy.
 
I have wondered and worried every new year as I sent him off on a new phase, if I taught him enough to be able to weather the storms of life with a sound knowledge of why he is here on this earth and what he needs to do to be successful in his journeys.  Every single one of my kids gets the same worries as they start a new school year or in his case, a new phase in his life. About every August I shed more than a few tears as I send my children off on their next new adventure; middle school, high school, college, full time employment, etc.

At the end of every one of those “firsts”  and most every day in between, my children came home to me.  I knew most of what had happened that day and we have been able to discuss strategies to cope with all those outside forces that pull us in different directions.  We have prayed together, studied our scriptures together, gone to church together, family vacations together, laughed and played together and even cried together.   I feel like I have been (along with their dad) the one steady in their life and that no matter what, at the end of the day, they would come home to someone who loved them and supported them.

That is all changing as my oldest son prepares to serve a mission.  This time, I will send him off into the world all alone.  He will not come home to me at the end of the day and ask for direction or understanding.  Never before has my faith in my motherhood been tested as it has been the last few months as I have watched him prepare.  Did I teach him correct principles?   Did I love him enough?  Did I teach him to be a hard enough worker?  Is his testimony of what he is about to embark on strong enough to get him through all the slammed doors and rejection he is about to face?  Is his foundation of gospel principles grounded enough to endure the endless amount of disappointment he may have to endure?  Will he ever come to a point where he is so discouraged that he begins to doubt his righteous endeavors?


The truth is, that I have absolute faith that his testimony is sure, that he knows he is a child of God, and that the work is is going to do is absolutely necessary.  I have absolute faith that the families he will bring the gospel to will be blessed to know that their families can be together forever, just like ours.  I have absolute faith that the Lord wouldn’t take my boy away from me for any other reason than to have him share the wonderful happiness that I have in being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and what it has brought to me…to us.   I have absolute faith that the little boy who walks out our front door in a few weeks will return in two short years as a man even stronger in his convictions of the truth with a love of the gospel more pure than I can imagine.

Someone once told me when he was small that I shouldn’t blink because if I do, he will be all grown up and I will wonder where the time went.  I don’t remember blinking, but at some point I did.

So, for the next two weeks, we will finish packing up his room.  I will take that one huge bin and hide it away somewhere that his siblings will never find; packed full of favorite t-shirts, music CD’s and other miscellaneous special items that he wants kept safe for the next two years.  I will send him to the doctor for a few more shots, we will run a few more errands together and gather those last minute items, I will beg him for more hugs and I’m certain there will be a few more happy memories made as our family enjoys our last two weeks together.

Until the 28th, and I’m sure for quite a while after, please excuse my roller coaster of emotions as I say goodbye to my little boy.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don't Judge

I want to keep this short because I really, really, really want you to click on the link I'll put at the bottom of this.  This topic has been on my mind lately but I couldn't put into words what I wanted to say.  The post on this blog says it perfectly.

My thoughts on this subject started when one of my kids came home from school a few years ago and was complaining about his teacher and his behavior toward the entire class.  The teacher said something along the lines of, "I don't get paid enough to babysit you."  My child was so upset at how angry the teacher was because he really did like him.  Since I believe in changing myself first before asking someone else to change, we discussed ways he could try and be a better student, be a leader in the class when they started getting out of hand, verbally thanking the teacher for things more often, etc. but nothing seemed to be making a difference over the next few days.

Later that week, I stopped by the school just dropped in and casually asked how it was going.  I asked him if he liked being a teacher and what made him choose that vocation, mostly small talk.  His reply took me by surprise.  He said he never wanted to be a teacher, he wanted to be a fireman, but had his degree and went ahead and got his teaching certificate so he could have a job while he waited for his "real" job.  As it turns out, he was unhappy with the way his life was going and was upset that he felt like he was never going to get that call to be a fireman.  There were some other personal problems that were causing him to be unhappy at the same time.  I addressed my concern with some of the comments he was making and he apologized for taking his frustrations out on the class.  We had a nice talk after that and from then on, there were no further problems and the school year ended on a great note.  

So, when my kids are complaining or whining about a teacher or a friend or a neighbor, I guarantee they are sick of hearing me say, "maybe we don't know the whole story" or "think about what might cause that person to behave that way" or other similar things.  I hope I have impressed on my children the importance of not judging.  It doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but we are trying really hard not to.

I'm not perfect, I've done it myself and I've been judged wrongly by others too.  The important part is to start today to do better and be better.  Don't judge others but also don't be too hard to judge ourselves, especially when we look around and see what everyone else is doing and start comparing.  Heavenly Father knows what we can and can't handle.  I truly believe there is a season for all things and we can't run faster than we are able.  

So, having said that, I want you to check out this story.  I appreciated reading it this morning and I think you will too.  http://bravegirlsclub.com/archives/2151  Happy Tuesday!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Memories

A week later and still coughing...

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since "that" day.  I can remember it clearly in my mind, especially recalling all those images from the news as we were glued to the television for days and weeks.  But, in light of that situation and the tragedy that it was, I have some good memories of that day.

We woke up that morning very early so we could all do our traditional birthday party in bed for Marly, who was turning 7 that day.  We sang the Happy Birthday song, we opened presents, then everyone got dressed and came down for ice cream and donuts.  After morning scriptures and family prayer, I sent everyone off to school.  It started off as a wonderful day.

Shortly after, someone called me and told me to turn on the television to the news.  I could hardly believe what I saw.  I made a quick call to Ben who had just arrived at his office.  They turned on the big screen at work and just watched.  I too, just sat, and cried and worried and prayed.  Then the second plane hit, then the pentagon was hit, then the airplane went down in spite of brave heroes who tried to intercept their "would-be" assassin over a field in Pennsylvania.

My girlfriends and I quickly gathered and put together sandwiches, crackers, fruit drinks, water bottles and other things for people to snack on.  We drove them into town and donated them to the local Red Cross where dozens and dozens of people stood in line for hours to donate blood.  It seemed that keeping our hands busy made us feel better and being so far away from New York, we felt helpless.

For a long time after 9/11, flags flew everywhere and pride in our country exhumed from every home, office, store, and school; there was a surge of patriotism.  People volunteered their time to the cleanup effort, they donated money, they offered services to those in need.  There were songs written and peoms read in support of our heroes, those who died, and those who were missing.  At a time of great sadness, there was also a great hope for the future of our country.  It was an emotional time to be an American.  I loved it, in spite of the great sadness in my heart.

I took treats to my daughter's class at the end of that day.  The news had spread quietly through the school, but my kids didn't seem to understand the full effect of what had happened.  We had some quality visits over the next few hours regarding what had happened and there were many prayers offered, the simple ones, the ones that said "bless the kids whose moms and dads are lost" or "help our president" or "help our country."  We tried to keep the day all about Marly and did special things for her so that the memory of that day would be pleasant for her and not sad.  When I tucked her into bed that night, she thanked me and told me it was the best day ever.

Best day ever?  Well, in her mind at least I'm glad for that.

I sometimes wish we could bottle up that sense of pride and hope and community spirit and spread it around every so often just so I could feel it like I did that day and for so many days and weeks following.  It is events like that that remind me I need to do better, to try harder and to be more.  Sometimes it is overwhelming, but always it is do-able.  Love and serve; I needed to be reminded of that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Educate Yourself

It has been a rough 3 weeks as I try to recuperate from my bout of pneumonia.  I'm still not done healing and I can't seem to kick this nagging cough.  You would think 12 days of antibiotics would heal me pretty effectively, but I was told to give it a good 6 weeks to be back to "normal."  Hmmm, who has time for this?  


Anyway, in the meantime, I have been trying to rest and that means I have slept a lot.  So, no recent blog posts.  I hope to rectify that starting today, and that is the importance of continuing your education or becoming a life-learner.


You don't have to go sign up for classes at the local college, but if you have a desire to get a degree and it is a good time for you to pursue that then by all means DO IT!!  I'm in my last semester at ASU and I have senior-itis really bad.  So bad that I may have lost my desire to wear those special tassels with my gown at graduation that says I had a super great GPA.  Yes, it is down to this semester and these last two classes.  It has been a tough road, but I'm so appreciative that my family allowed me this opportunity to finish what I started back in the fall of 1989.  I will be applying for my sub certificate with a few local school districts in the area and hope to be able to work one day a week until my babies are in school full time.  But, that isn't my point...


It is crucial that each woman, married or not, have something they can fall back on in order to help provide for their family if needed...or be working towards something.  I have tons of friends who are licensed cosmetologists, work in nursing, keep the books for their husband's business, have their real estate license, etc.  Those things are great and I wish I had taken the time to learn something valuable all those years ago.  I'm so proud of all my friends who have decided to go back to school recently and those that have actually graduated, go you!


But, my point here is that it isn't too late.  With the technology available to us in 2011, there is really no excuse to not be learning something.  I have a few suggestions for things you can do to always be learning.


1.  Attend your ward relief society meetings.  In those meetings over the last 20 years, I have learned to make bread, can peaches, study my scriptures more effectively, become self reliant, teach my children, save money, change the oil in my car and so many more.  These classes are chosen based on the needs of your individual ward relief society.  Much thought and preparation go into them and they are generally free and also include great socializing and usually dessert:)


2.  Take a class at the local community college.  I can remember my friend taking her first photography class at MCC and she was so excited.  It has only been two years or so since she finished that class and now she has her own photography business alongside her husband and she loves it.  What if you took a pottery class and found out you had a knack for creating art with clay?  If they are good enough, you could sell them and make a little cash on the side.  Consider a writing class and hone up on your reporting skills then start writing for a small newspaper.  The possibilities are endless.


3.  Maybe you have your degree and just want to continue being a life-learner.  Did you know that BYU offers many free online courses that you do at your own pace?  http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/free.cfm  Who knows, maybe that family history class you take helps you build enough skills that you can offer to help others with their work.  Maybe you just want to increase your understanding of the Book of Mormon or other scriptures.  Check out what they have to offer.


4.  Find out what community courses are being offered at your local library or City Center.  In our area, there is an institute class being held every Thursday night and it has become a popular class.  The library offers classes on resume writing, computer basics, and how to ace your next job interview.  Some classes may come with a small fee, but they are generally free.


5.  Do you have a skill or knowledge in a particular field of expertise you can share with others?  Consider finding ways to share your knowledge with others.  I have a friend who provides a great fireside with her sisters on divine nature and seeing what Heavenly Father sees in you.  It is inspirational.  I have another friend who has a blog about things she is learning on her path to becoming a marriage counselor.  What is it that you can share with others?  I guarantee there is something.


Dallin H. Oaks said this in a BYU Devotional in 1975:  


"Education should improve our minds, strengthen our bodies, heighten our cultural awareness, and increase our spirituality. It should prepare us for greater service to the human family. Such an education will improve a woman’s ability to function as an informed and effective teacher of her sons and daughters, and as a worthy and wise counselor and companion to her husband."

And that's all I am going to say about that.





Monday, August 29, 2011

Liken the Scriptures

One of my most favorite things I learned about when I was in high school seminary was the principle of “likening the scriptures unto myself.”  I wouldn’t say that I am a scriptorian by any means, but I do love it when I read the scriptures and can apply it directly to my life.  While studying my Personal Progress goals recently, I came across this scripture and I just knew it was something I needed to directly apply to me, as a woman, a mother, and a wife because  I have so much to work on.   And, when you need guidance, what better place to turn to than the scriptures?


 I’ll put my notes in red after each verse that I applied to myself.  I’d love to know how you would apply any of these verses to yourself.

Proverbs 31:10-31
10 ¶Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  I need to value myself and have confidence in my role as a woman, wife, and mother.
 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that heshall have no need of spoil.  My husband trusts that I am capable of any task placed before me and he too values me.
 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.  I choose to love my husband with all my heart.
 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
 14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food fromafar.
 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to herhousehold, and a portion to her maidens.
 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of herhands she planteth a vineyard.  Mealtime and providing healthy food for my family is important. 
 17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth herarms.  Exercise is important to keep my body and mind alert and healthy so I can accomplish all that is asked of me.
 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goethnot out by night.
 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  Verses 13-19 I want to be a hard worker
 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.  I need to be more charitable and give service to those around me. 
 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all herhousehold are clothed with scarlet.
 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.  While I don’t think that sewing my own clothing is actually cost effective, I strive to make sure my family has clean clothes to wear and even if I choose to buy my clothing second hand, I need to be proud of myself for my thriftiness.
 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among theelders of the land.
 24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdlesunto the merchant.
 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  I need to be more careful when I speak and I should choose what I say carefully and not speak ill of others.  I want to be remembered as someone who spoke kindly to others and about others.
 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  I need to be actively engaged in good causes but always remember there is good, better, and best.
 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also,and he praiseth her.  I want my children and husband to be proud of me.
 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest themall.
 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praiseher in the gates.  I need to be more concerned about how Heavenly Father sees me and not worry so much about how others see me.