Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Resolutions are Important

Well, I just got back from vacation and with that and Christmas the house is in a complete uproar! But I'm taking a break from cleaning it for a minute to think about my New Year's Resolutions. I love this time of year. I love to evaluate areas where I can improve and set goals for the next year. I'm like most of you and only consistently keep my resolutions for a few weeks (or days maybe). But I feel like the process of making and trying to reach goals is important even if we're not always successful in keeping them. In the evaluating process, we stand back and look at the way we are living and see if it's in accordance with the way we'd like to be living. Then we try to make up the difference through the goals that we set. That process allows us to at the very least become aware of the ways we can change, even if we don't always consistently change every day. As long as we stand back and evaluate often enough (and probably once a year isn't enough) and progress a little bit every time we do, then we'll stay on the path to reach our goals.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Joy to Everyone

This is a beautiful music video that reaches across cultures in a wonderful spirit of Christmas. It was created by the BYU school of Music. The site is: http://www.joytoeveryone.com. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Smarter than a 4-year-old?

Today I spent about 30 min trying to open the door to the church. It was snowing and cold and Curious George was with me. We even came back home to get instructions from Daddy as to which key to use and which direction to turn it. C.G. kept insisting it was the other key. Finally, I was about to give up and have Brandon come open the door for me. As I was calling him, C. takes the other key, puts it in the lock and opens it on the first try! When I came home, I told Brandon. He didn't know the other key even worked in that door. It just goes to show that sometimes the faith of little children can move mountains!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Preschool Ideas Site!

For Mom's of toddler and preschool age children, this is the site for you: http://www.ideasforpreschoolers.com/

My sister created this site and she's put links to all kinds of pages with free and low-cost ideas to do with preschoolers. There are coloring pages, flannel board stories, learning pages, etc. Here's a quote from her blog:
"Ideasforpreschoolers.com is not necessarily about my ideas (although I have added a few) but about bringing all of the ideas from all of the great preschool sites out there together in an organized manner. This site is for children from 18 months to 5 years old.

In the top left column there is a link called "Learning Activities". If you click this you will see all of the things your child should know before going to kindergarten (as stated in the World Book Encyclopedia and Learning Resources). I then went through this curriculum and created a page for each and ideas on how to teach that particular subject.

I also have pages on specific "Game Types". So if you are looking for a file folder game, felt board story, coloring pages, dot to dot pages or paper doll templates, this would be the place to go.

On this site you will also find several links to websites that have craft ideas for preschooler, nursery rhymes and other preschool songs, audio stories, and more."
This is a great site! Check it out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jesse Bear Tales

Jesse Bear likes to climb. He climbs on the table, the piano bench and anything else he can get to - the higher the better. Unfortunately, he hasn't learned about gravity yet. He's fallen several times, but the effects have been softened by our carpeted kitchen and mom's arms (yes I guess there are benefits to carpet in the kitchen). After he fell again the other day, I got a bright idea. Here's what our kitchen looks like now:
Jesse Bear also loves to touch and taste. The brighter and shinier the better. So Christmas ornaments with dangerous hooks have been a problem for us this year. Here's my solution to that:
A little goofy looking only half decorated, but it beats the worry & maintenance otherwise!

Nativity Scene

Children are what makes Christmas sparkle! Curious George likes to use the members of the nativity as action figures. They have all kinds of adventures. The other day I noticed that he had added two additional characters to the scene.
I guess ya never know! They could have been there!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meaningful Gifts

Giving is always important, but the Christmas season tends to bring out the desire in us to give even more. When we act on that desire to give and share with others, we feel good inside. That feeling is often described as the spirit of Christmas. While giving is better than not, meaningful giving is even better. Some ideas of meaningful gifts include:
  • Gifts that satisfy a need
  • Acts of service, giving of yourself
  • Gifts that show your love or support
Here's an experience that happened to me when I was in college that taught me a lot about meaningful giving. It was the Christmas season which of course means that it's also finals time and students are very busy. I woke up one day very sick. I was supposed to study with a study group later on that day, but I was too sick to even get out of bed. All of my roommates had left earlier that morning so I was alone. I went back to sleep and woke up a few hours later to the phone ringing. It was my study group calling to find out where I was. I told them I wouldn't be able to make it because I was sick. A little while later, I heard a knock at the door and there was my study group. They brought me some food and did all the dishes in the sink. After making sure I didn't need anything else, they left to study. It was such a simple gesture, but it meant a lot to me. My friends took care of my needs - they brought me food, they served me by doing the dishes, and most important, they showed their love and support to me. Their gift of love to me was akin to the love shown by Jesus Christ to those around him. Jesus was always about doing good and serving his fellowmen. He performed acts of meaningful service and love everywhere he went.

Sometimes it's hard to think of meaningful gifts. It takes time and effort to find out needs and try to meet them. There are plenty of reasons and justifications that we can come up with for not giving. But giving is what we should do. No matter how much we have or don't have, we can always give. Sometimes the best gifts are as simple as a kind word or a smile. Let's cultivate and attitude of giving this Christmas season and look for meaningful gifts that will bless those around us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Looking Outward

I read a talk yesterday that was given by one of our church leaders, Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I thought it was really important especially during this Christmas season.

"As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness. President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: 'When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.' In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness."

I loved this! It's very important to remember. Many of us are feeling (or will feel) the pinch of the economy, which may lead us to look inward and forget about those around us. I love what he said about finding someone in a worse plight than us (and there's always someone) and helping them out. This will help dispel our own troubles and help us be happier. It is counterintuitive, like he said, but I've experienced the happiness that comes from serving others and I know it really does work. Service and Love and Giving really does make us happier.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Are Mormons Christians?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For those of you not familiar with the name, you may have heard the term "Mormons." This term comes from The Book of Mormon, one of our canonized books of scripture.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of our church leaders, has said "there [are] two principal reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused, erroneously, of not being Christian". He notes that the two reasons are:
  1. "Our view of the Godhead" - as three separate, physical beings
  2. "Our assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture".
He has given a detailed explanation about both of these topics in the following talks:
  1. "The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent"
  2. "My Words...Never Cease"
To quote from the Book of Mormon, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." (2 Ne. 25: 26)

We believe in Jesus Christ. He is our Lord, our Savior and Redeemer. During this Christmas season, may our hearts be turned toward Him. Let us be more loving and kind and giving as He has taught us.

If you are interested in learning more about Jesus Christ and his role as the Savior of the world, please see http://jesuschrist.lds.org.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brand New B& H Media Blog

Brandon gave a talk on Sunday where he mentioned how we like to watch movies together as a family. Afterward, someone came up and asked us if we would share our list with her of some wholesome movies. So I've put together a blog of some of the movies (and other media) that our family has enjoyed and put on our "good movies" list. If you're interested you can check it out. The site is: http://bhmedia.blogspot.com. Please leave comments about any other uplifting movies that you've enjoyed! We'd love to hear your lists!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Proposition 8 and Free Speech

We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As many of you have seen in the news, the temples of the Church have been targeted for Anti Prop 8 demonstrations & protests. The Church has issued this statement in regards to these protests on November 7, 2008. To read the Article go here.

"It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

"Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

"While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process. Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information."

Also on Nov. 7, Bishop William Weigand, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and former Bishop of Sacramento, offered a statement on behalf of the Church:

"Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage — the union of one man and one woman — that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia.

"The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included — but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.

"Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8.

"As the former bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, I can attest to the fact that followers of the Mormon faith are a good and generous people with a long history of commitment to family and giving to community cause.

"I personally decry the bigotry recently exhibited towards the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — coming from the opponents of Proposition 8, who, ironically, have called those of us supporting traditional marriage intolerant.

"I call upon the supporters of same-sex marriage to live by their own words — and to refrain from discrimination against religion and to exercise tolerance for those who differ from them. I call upon them to accept the will of the people of California in the passage of Proposition 8."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are We Prepared?

I've thought a lot about preparedness lately. Many of you probably have also. With the drastically fluctuating economy, it's easy to see how anything could happen and it could happen fast. Peace comes by being prepared for whatever lies ahead. In our church, our leaders have counseled us to be prepared. A great resource for helping you become prepared is: http://providentliving.org/. We've used this website numerous times. It contains helpful information about:
  • Family Home Storage - information about storing food and water. On this site you can calculate how much your family will need for a time period you select (a month, three-months or more). Also there is information about how how long food stores and where to go to obtain it. This is an excellent resource!
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response - information about preparing for an emergency or disaster and what to do in an emergency.
  • Employment - helpful information about finding a job and job links.
  • Family Finances - good information about avoiding debt and using a budget.
  • Social and Emotional Strength - overcoming additions, coming challenges that face families including divorce, parenting issues and pornography.
  • Physical Health - Information about exercise & fitness, nutrition & diet and medical care.
This is just a few of the highlight of this wonderful website. Let's seek to become prepared for what lies ahead in all aspects of our life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Optimistic Thoughts in Troubled Times

This morning I opened up yesterday's paper (I was running a day behind) and began perusing headlines. I don't know if yesterday was just a downer news day or what, but it was a little discouraging. These are some of the words & phrases I read:
  • Economic Meltdown
  • Protest
  • Havoc
  • Racist Threats
  • Prospects Dim
  • Tragedy Endures
  • Struggling
  • Failing
  • Making Matters Worse
  • Confidence Wanes
Almost every news story had one of those phrases in it. These are hard times! And if we read or listen to the news it is shoved in our face every day. Although it's important not to be naive to the negative things that are going on in the world, I don't think we should surround ourselves with it.

I try to put on filtered lenses as I read the paper or hear the news these days. Of course I still see the bad, but I try to look for the good. Here's what I found when I read today's paper:
  • Winds Calming
  • Big Boom
  • Rebuild America
  • Fresh Vision
  • Brighter America
  • Develop Courage
Let's focus on the brighter, rebuilding and booming America. Let's develop courage and fresh vision. These are hard times, but the future is bright.

Passing Proposition 8 is Not the End

We are grateful that Proposition 8 passed. It was so heartwarming to see the people step up in support of traditional marriage.

While we are aware that many do not agree with our stance on proposition 8, we respect them and their differences. There is no need for individuals on either side to resort to violence, vandalism, cruelty, threats or other negativism.

We realize that we have not heard the last of this issue and we hope supporters will continue to rally together in support of this important cause.

Here is a recent news article from protectmarriage.com:
Proponents of Proposition 8 Urge California Supreme Court to Hear Challenges to Measure's Validity

Friday, November 14, 2008

How can we survive the economic crisis?

I guess we'll step off the soap box now and get back down to earth and it's practicalities. Some of us are feeling the economic pinch right now and some will feel it in the short-distant future. I expect that most of us will feel it before this crisis is over. How can we survive the hard times that we face now and will face in the future? What can we do to keep afloat financially? Where can we cut back?

Here are a few ideas to think about as we trim our budgets:

  • Gasoline - for some of us this is one of the largest expenditures in our budgets other than housing. Although prices have recently gone down, don't be fooled into thinking they will stay for long. Now is the time to prepare for when the prices will go back up. Is carpooling an option? Walking or riding a bike? I'm always surprised at how fast the miles rack up in the car even just going short distances. Save money and walk (or ride a bike). The perk is you get your exercise at the same time!
  • Food - trim your food budget by cutting back on expensive snacks and packaged foods, try not to eat out much and cut back on expensive meats and comfort foods. By simplifying your meals and returning to basic foods, you'll not only save significantly on costs but start to eat healthy as well!
  • Limit Shopping - plan ahead and only go to the store once a week (or once or twice a month if possible). It's a fact that the fewer times you go to the store, the less money you will spend. If you run out of something that you use, try to do without until your next planned shopping trip. As you limit the number of shopping trips you make, you'll also cut back on the amount of money you spend on gasoline and food.
  • Utilities - think in conservation mode as you use utilities. Turn your temperature down and put on a sweater or an extra blanket at night. Lower your water heater temperature. Turn out lights that aren't being used and switch to florescent bulbs where possible. Don't run the dishwasher until it's full. Take shorter showers. And so on. Doing this will not only save you money, you'll be preserving our natural resources as well.
Well there's just a few basic ideas to start with. Do you have more ideas? We'd love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Americans Have Lived Beyond their Means Long Enough

At this time of economic crisis it's really easy to point fingers at who is to blame. Some claim it's the federal government's fault. Some blame it on the housing lenders. Most of us aren't willing to admit that we as an American people have been altogether too rash in our spending on every level. Greed has plagued the market from the top of of the government ladders all the way down to the basic family unit. Living beyond our means has caught up to us and we will be paying for it in the years to come.

It used to be that wealth was measured, in part, by what one owned. In general, people who were rich dressed better, ate better, owned more and lived in bigger homes. Today, this is no longer the case. In our day, we have seen how the convenience of credit cards and the ease of obtaining housing and consumer loans has blurred status lines. People who make $40K/year can now live in mansions, drive expensive cars, eat at costly restaurants and wear expensive clothing all purchased with credit cards and loans. Greed has led us to believe we must have everything that anyone else has in order to be happy, and we must have it right now.

The American people need to reinstate the basics of wise economic practices. To put it simply, we need to spend less than we earn. It is our opinion that government Band-Aids will not really solve the problems we face right now. In the end, the American people need to solve this crisis. We can start in our own families. We can discipline ourselves to pay of debts and spend less than we earn, no matter how much that is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We are grateful...

This is the month of Thanksgiving. Here are a few things that we are grateful for today:
  • ...to be Americans, living in this beautiful free country.
  • ...for the election process where the people can vote according to their consciences.
  • ...that the marriage propositions in California, Florida and Arizona passed and traditional marriage will be preserved.
  • ...for good, kind folks who have spoke out against bigotry and untruthful slander:
    Ruth Youth
    Values Advocacy Council, the Rock Church, Association of Christian Schools International
  • ...for truth and righteousness that still abounds in this country.
  • ...for peace and prosperity that Americans have. We are so blessed!
  • ...for our Heavenly Father and his watchful care over all of us.
We are optimistic about the future and pray that God will bless the new leadership of this country. The election is over and it's time now to unite as a country to make our nation the best that it can be!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Letter to Editor in California Paper

I think this letter to the editor of The Union (a Calfornian newspaper) really encompasses what proposition 8 is all about:

"Opponents to Proposition 8 claim that this amendment prejudicially takes away rights. The fact is similar limits already exist. The separation of church and state naturally limits (or takes away) religious teaching rights in public schools. So, where it bumps up against religious views, of course the teaching of gender to young children should likewise be limited. Without such limits, public school teachers seem mandated to teach gender beliefs that resemble a state promoted religion.

Correcting tolerance deficiencies for gay couples in California by redefining the age-honored institution of marriage is a colossal intrusion into hundreds of existing pro-family laws.

In comparison, this is like discovering a small electrical fire in a New York City skyscraper and dowsing the entire building with water. Is life really better when political correctness makes the average family in California feel like their values are being drenched with cold water? Come on, folks, this is America! Here, we can find less intrusive ways to correct existing tolerance problems.Vote "yes" on 8.

Ralph McKnight

Penn Valley"

Here is a great comment to this letter:

"The man is right. If Prop 8 does not pass, others will be forced to teach that same sex marriage is normal, and will likely be forced to perform such marriages in their facilities - public or private - or they reap the consequences of the law. Look at what has happened in Massachusetts. Parents can't know when their children will be taught about same sex marriage. The law has effectively taken that freedom away. We are free to live and believe as we choose, but those against Proposition 8 have taken this truth to the point where they want to infringe on others' freedoms in order to have their lifestyle choice written into law. Passing proposition 8 does not take away your right to live a homosexual lifestyle, but not passing it does take away others' rights to choose to believe against that lifestyle. Let's work to foster love for all people, black, white, heterosexual, homosexual, etc. rather than to take away rights. Vote yes on Prop 8."

To see the original article or make your comment to the newspaper see http://www.theunion.com/article/20081025/OPINION/110245596/1025&parentprofile=1056&title=Limits%20are%20important:%20Vote%20%27yes%27%20on%20Proposition%208

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does Prop 8 Violate Civil Rights?

Here is another video that explains why Prop 8 should not be compared to the civil rights movement.

Prop 8 and Parents

Here's a movie about another family from Massachusetts who have tried to stand up for their rights as parents.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Prop 8 may affect other States

How will Prop 8 affect states other than California?

Here is a some quotes from a newsletter published by the Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank had a public forum on Tuesday, October 14th. It talks about how Prop 8 will affect Utah specifically, but I think it applies to all of us. For more information on their forum see their web site: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org

"California's Proposition 8 matters to Utah because what happens in California won't stay in California," Duncan said.

"During his presentation, Duncan outlined specific reasons why California matters to Utahns:

1. Letting a handful of California judges get away with redefining marriage sets a bad precedent for other states.
2. The cultural impact of a redefinition of marriage cannot be confined to one state.
3. Same-sex couples who marry in California can go to other states and have standing to challenge other states' marriage laws in federal court.
4. All Americans should be concerned that our most populous state might endorse the idea that children don't need a mother and father and that those who believe they do should be treated as bigots."

"LaVar Christensen...said it is the birthright of every boy and girl to be welcomed into the world by a mother and a father. Christensen also spoke critically of the California State Supreme Court that created "out of thin air" the right for same-sex couples to legally marry and overturned the will of 4.6 million voters because they felt the shifting demands of society warranted the change."

"'The rights of man' that are being discussed and debated 'come not from generosity of the state,'" Christensen said, quoting John F. Kennedy, "'but from the hand of God.'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What can I do to support Prop 8?

Here are some ways you can support prop 8:
  1. Vote - this would be the obvious one if you are in California.
  2. Spread the word - let all your friends, family, and acquaintances know that you are in favor of prop 8. Mass e-mail, blog, get on facebook, chat, call, write letters, etc.
  3. Donate - you can make a donation at http://www.protectmarriage.com/.
  4. Endorse - you can endorse prop 8 at http://www.protectmarriage.com/endorse.
  5. Propaganda - yard signs, bumper sticker, posters, etc. can be found at http://www.protectmarriage.com/resource
  6. Volunteer - because of limited funding, the campaign is using a grassroots approach. There is something for everyone to do. And they need a lot of help. To find out more, see http://www.protectmarriage.com/volunteer
Here are some ideas of ways to volunteer from the protectmarriage website:

Another great resource is: http://www.iprotectmarriage.com/

Here's a video I found on that website. It is about a family in Massachusetts that is experiencing many of the same things we would experience if proposition 8 passes in California:

Do you have other ideas? What have you done?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Proposition 8 Videos

Will same sex marriages hurt others?

Sick and Tired of Intolerance?

Are others supporting Prop 8?

Will courts overturn it again?

Didn’t we already vote on this?

Don’t others deserve the same happiness?

Will existing rights disappear?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Proposition 8

We support Proposition 8 in California. Here are a few reasons why:
  • Proposition 8 seeks to define marriage as between one man and one woman. We believe that this traditional institution of marriage and the family is the basis of a stable and healthy society.
  • We think it is essential that the basic rights of all American citizens, including those who profess homosexuality as a way of life, be preserved. In California, homosexual couples already have the same rights that heterosexual couples do. Passing Proposition 8 will not take away any of those rights. If proposition 8 does not pass, the rights of those that do believe in the traditional institution of marriage will likely be infringed upon. Just two of the likely effects are: church's could lose the freedom to teach about and perform traditional marriages as a standard, and public schools will be required to teach children about homosexual relationships. For more information about the likely results if proposition 8 does not pass see: www.preservingmarriage.org and www.protectmarriage.com
  • Along with protecting the traditional family, the foundation of society, there is another important principle at stake. The majority of Californians already voted a number of years ago to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Four liberal judges chose to overturn that vote, thus Californians are being asked to vote on it again. This movement not only seeks to destroy the sacred institution of the family, it also seeks to take power out of the hands of the American people and put it into the hands of the few in high government offices.
  • California has historically been a weather vane of political things to come in the rest of the country. Even though this proposition is not on the ballots in the state that we live in, we believe that it is important to be involved in supporting it. If this proposition does not pass in California this year, it is likely that other states around the country will eventually follow suit.
What are your thoughts? The links listed above have some helpful ways that you can become involved in supporting Proposition 8. Does anyone have other ideas on how to become involved?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Introducing Us

This is a blog by Brandon and Heather. We have been married for 7 years and have 2 beautiful children. Brandon grew up in Idaho Falls and Heather grew up in Northern California. We met while in college and got married during our undergraduate studies. We both graduated from with Bachelors and Masters degrees. Brandon's Bachelor's is in Information Technology and his Master's is Instructional Psychology and Technology. Heather's degrees are both in physics, but she did her Masters with an emphasis in acoustics.

We want to use this blog to discuss important current issues. Here are some of the issues on our minds:
  • Proposition 8 in California, preserving the traditional institution of marriage and family
  • The economic crisis, staying out of debt and home finances
  • Healthy eating, adding whole grains, legumes and vegetables into meals. For more information on this topic specifically, see Heather's blog: http://healthyfamilieswarmhearts.blogspot.com/
What do you think about these topics?