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The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: July 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Few Friendly Reminders

Lately I’ve had an issue with perma-grouch.  I feel grumbly and annoyed about pretty much everything.  All the time.  I’m guessing it’s pregnancy-related, but I’m starting to be a little concerned that it’ll stick.

I’m guessing it’s not coincidental that I rediscovered the talk Unleashing the Dormant Spirit by Enzio Busche today.  I found this talk several years ago and liked it, so I filed it away for future reference.  The whole thing is good—I’m a big Enzio Busche fan (his book Yearning for the Living God is fantastic)—but I especially like this part in which he gives a lot of somewhat random advice in bullet-point form:

• Embrace this day with an enthusiastic welcome, no matter how it looks. The covenant with God to which you are true enables you to become enlightened by him, and nothing is impossible for you.

• When you are physically sick, tired, or in despair, steer your thoughts away from yourself and direct them, in gratitude and love, toward God.

• In your life there have to be challenges. They will either bring you closer to God and therefore make you stronger, or they can destroy you. But you make the decision of which road you take.

• First and foremost, you are a spirit child of God. If you neglect to feed your spirit, you will reap unhappiness. Don’t permit anything to detract you from this awareness.

• You cannot communicate with God unless you have first sacrificed your self-oriented natural man and have brought yourself into the lower levels of meekness, to become acceptable for the Light of Christ.

• Put all frustrations, hurt feelings, and grumblings into the perspective of your eternal hope. Light will flow into your soul.

• Pause to ponder the suffering Christ felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the awareness of the depth of gratitude for him, you appreciate every opportunity to show your love for him by diligently serving in his Church.

• God knows that you are not perfect. As you suffer about your imperfections, he will give you comfort and suggestions of where to improve.

• God knows better than you what you need. He always attempts to speak to you. Listen, and follow the uncomfortable suggestions that he makes to us—everything will fall into its place.

• Avoid any fear like your worst enemy, but magnify your fear about the consequences of sin.

• When you cannot love someone, look into that person’s eyes long enough to find the hidden rudiments of the child of God in him.

• Never judge anyone. When you accept this, you will be freed. In the case of your own children or subordinates, where you have the responsibility to judge, help them to become their own judges.

• If someone hurts you so much that your feelings seem to choke you, forgive and you will be free again.

• Avoid at all cost any pessimistic, negative, or criticizing thoughts. If you cannot cut them out, they will do you harm. On the road toward salvation, let questions arise but never doubts. If something is wrong, God will give you clarity but never doubts.

• Avoid rush and haste and uncontrolled words. Divine light develops in places of peace and quiet. Be aware of that as you enter places of worship.

• Be not so much concerned about what you do, but do what you do with all your heart, might, and strength. In thoroughness is satisfaction.

• You want to be good and to do good. That is commendable. But the greatest achievement that can be reached in our lives is to be under the complete influence of the Holy Ghost. Then he will teach us what is really good and necessary to do.

• The pain of sacrifice lasts only one moment. It is the fear of the pain of sacrifice that makes you hesitate to do it.

• Be grateful for every opportunity to serve. It helps you more than those you serve.

• And finally, when you are compelled to give up something or when things that are dear to you are withdrawn from you, know that this is your lesson to be learned right now. But know also that, as you are learning this lesson, God wants to give you something better.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Some Thoughts on a Little of Everything

On the new house:

-The house is so great.  I love it.  I’m still working on getting things put away, etc. so it’ll be a little while before I’m ready to post pictures.  As a side note, it’s a major bonus that the previous owners were immaculate.  Aside from a few paint colors I’m not crazy about (and really they aren’t bad, just not what I would have chosen), there’s not much we want to change in the immediate future.

-It’s amazing how quiet it is in our neighborhood.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but our previous apartment was right next to a nasty pond filled with ever-quacking ducks.  It never stopped.  Plus we had obnoxious teen boys living above us and a family of angry, yelling foreigners living below us.  Between all that, there was never a quiet moment.  The first few nights in our house I almost had a hard time falling asleep because it was so quiet.  It’s also great that we don’t have a streetlight shining directly into our bedroom window.  Going in for our goodnight kiss is a little trickier now because our room is so pitch black, but we’ll take it.

-It was also a major bonus moving into a house with an already beautiful yard.  I’m a little worried that we’ll kill everything.  I’ve never had my own grass before.  Or my own flowers.  We’re still trying to get a handle on the sprinkler system, so fingers are crossed.  Every night after things have cooled down a bit I spend an hour or so out in the yard deadheading/weeding.  It’s a little uncomfortable given the whole pregnancy thing, but oddly enough I look forward to that time of night.

-On Monday we got a washer and dryer.  It’s wonderful.  This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had a washer and dryer in my house that I can use whenever I want.  When we lived in our first apartment together—the cute blue house—the landlord was kind enough to let us use her washer and dryer every Friday, which was by far the best setup up until now.  However, we could only do laundry on Fridays and her washer/dryer were ancient little machines.  I can’t even imagine how expensive they were to run, and yet she did so much laundry.  At least a load a day.  I can’t even fathom how she dirtied that much laundry all by herself.  Anyway, it’s nice to do laundry whenever I feel like it.

-Another bonus of having our own washer and dryer is that our clothes actually smell good after being washed.  Every morning I put on a clean shirt and think, “Holy cow, this shirt smells good!”  It’s amazing!  After years of laundromats (and the previously mentioned ancient machines) I’d kind of forgotten that laundry is supposed to smell good afterwards.  Laundromats tend to make things smell mostly… hot.  That’s the best way I can describe the smell.  It’s not exactly a bad smell, but not a great one.

On a few projects:

-Seeing as life as I now know it is going to change pretty drastically in about seven short weeks, I’ve been trying to knock out as many projects as I can.  Before we moved I painted our kitchen chairs (all different colors!), and now all I need to do there is an extra coat on the red one and touch up the other ones.  I need to make some cushions, so that’s also on the to-do list.

-I’ve also painted the drawer fronts of our dresser.  I still need to do the body of it, but I’m waiting until my husband’s next off Friday to do it since I can’t move it on my own.  I tried out some DIY chalk paint topped with some finishing wax, and I’ve got to say I really like the results.

-In a moment of oh-my-gosh-I-have-only-two-months-left-and-absolutely-nothing-ready-for-my-child stress I set up Baby Ching’s crib.  When I first got out the instructions it had an illustration of one person assembling the crib with a big X and then two people assembling the crib with smiley faces.  My husband was busy mowing the lawn, so I decided to get all the parts out of the box and make sure everything was there.  Then I looked at step one of the instructions, and I was confident I could do that part on my own.  So I did.  Step two also looked very doable, so I did that too.  I kept going, telling myself I’d stop as soon as I couldn’t do it by myself.  Twenty minutes later I had a fully assembled crib on my hands.  I’m really not sure which part required two people, since it was a piece of cake for one pregnant girl.

-I’ve also been sewing up a storm.  I found a free pattern for a Boppy-esque pillow on Pinterest.  Actually, it was a pattern to make a Boppy cover, but I figured stuffing it would make a Boppy.  Anyway, it was super easy and quick.  Except I ran out of fiberfill, so I need to get some more.  Pillows are so cheap, and yet Boppys at the store are $30.  Blows my mind.  I’m also in the process of sewing a nursing cover.  I love the material.  It’s a bottle blue and white Greek key pattern.  I also got it in my head that I could make two fitted sheets for the crib from a twin-sized flat sheet I don’t really use anymore.  After some experimenting with how to sew up the corners (my mattress is foam and pretty flexible, so elastic wasn’t necessary), I’m surprised to say they turned out exactly how I wanted them.  I thought I might need little pieces of Velcro to keep the middles of the long sides in place, but I don’t think I’ll need it, since it fits so well.  Win!

On a few of my favorite things in the tech world:

-This is something I’ve been using for a while, but I love it so much it’s worth mentioning:  Windows Live Writer.  I never realized how obnoxious blogging from Blogger was until I started using this program.  And it’s free (for Windows computers at least—I’m a little doubtful about its availability on Macs).  It’s a Microsoft Word-esque program where you can do your text, pictures, links, etc. and then it magically posts it to your blog with zero formatting issues with one click of the “Publish” button.  Plus the draft is saved to your computer.  It’s wonderful.

-With all of the hullabaloo about Google Reader going extinct, I started to hear about other alternatives.  I never used Google Reader, so the extinction didn’t really matter to me, but all the talk about these other readers made me curious.  The two big ones appeared to be Bloglovin and Feedly.  After doing a little research, I decided to try out Feedly, and I’m in love.  Once again, Blogger seems so inferior.  Plus, it has an app.  I love that app.

-There are a few other apps I really like.  Firstly Camera+ is great.  It’s one of the few apps I have that wasn’t free (although it was only $.99 at the time), but it’s well worth it.  Somehow it takes way better pictures than the normal camera app.  And it has a stability feature that takes the picture only when you’re holding it still, eliminating fuzzy pictures.  I never take it off that setting because it’s always an issue for me.  It also has some cool editing features, and then you can save the pictures to your camera roll.  I also really like the Dropbox app.  Dropbox in general is pretty cool, but the app is absolutely wonderful when it comes to pictures because it will upload your pictures from your camera roll right to your desktop.  It’s so ridiculously easy.  I’m guessing iCloud does something similar, but I’m so satisfied with Dropbox that I don’t really care to try iCloud out.

-A significantly less productive app I’m addicted to is this game called Tiny Tower.  It’s not quite as bad (or embarrassing) as my previous addiction to Disney Fairies Fashion Boutique, but I’m in pretty deep.  I’ve got 41 floors and 75 residents.

-Lastly, I discovered podcasts last week.  In particular, a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class.  I’ve been listening to it while I unpack and have been learning about all sorts of interesting things.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Delightful Baby Boy in Graphic Tees

Ever since finding out we’re having a boy, I’ve been making detours through the baby sections of clothing stores to get a feel for what’s available in baby-boys-wear.  I usually end up averting my eyes as I walk through the baby girls clothes (somehow you always have to walk through the girls clothes to get to the boys clothes).  Otherwise, by the time I get to the boys clothes I am horribly depressed by the comparison.  There are so many freaking cute girl outfits, and the vast majority of boy clothes are very meh.

As I’ve been perusing, I’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in baby boy graphic tees.  I’m not sure if there’s something similar going on in baby girl world (I try not to look, remember), but it seems fairly pervasive in baby boy world.  Thus, I’ve rounded up a few pictures of these oddly themed tees.

It might just be the social worker in me that dislikes these graphic tees, so its very possible that mainstream folks won’t see anything wrong with these tees.  In fact, I’ve linked each picture to the corresponding website where they’re available for purchase in the event that you fall in love with one.

The most common theme in graphic tees is overwhelmingly obnoxious cockiness.  Yes, I understand that every parent thinks their child is adorable, but there’s no need to put it on a shirt.  The cuteness should speak for itself, really.  Plus, I’m hoping my baby boy grows up with a healthy sense of humility.

Big DealMajorSeriously HandsomeLadies ManChicks Dig

Another theme I noticed was rudeness.  I want Baby Ching to be polite and kind.  So why would I put rude phrases on his shirts?

Bug MeGet Lost

Many shirts tag the wearer with a very negative label, and I think this is possibly the most disturbing theme.  In intro psych courses you learn about the looking glass self theory, which basically asserts that people tend to become what other people think they are.  For example, a kid forgets to do his homework assignment, so his teacher says, “You’re so irresponsible!”  Even if this kid is really a fairly responsible guy, knowing that his teacher thinks he is irresponsible can eventually cause him to believe that he really is irresponsible.  And when a person believes he is irresponsible, he has a tendency to become irresponsible.  The same principle applies to these shirts.  I just don’t think you can put a child in a shirt that says “rebel” and realistically expect him to be a thoughtful and obedient child.

Captain CrabbyCrabby but CuteGrouchyGrouchy BackLittle MonsterRebel

Along the same vein are the shirts that label the wearer as a trouble-maker.  Technically they’re part of the “negative labeling” theme, but there’s enough specific to trouble-making that they require their own category.  Not only do they fall under the looking glass self idea I mentioned above, the message is just sort of disconcerting.  They remind me of a bumper sticker I saw the other day that said, “I was probably drunk.”  Not exactly classy.  Nothing says, “I hope I end up in juvi,” like a shirt that says, “Here comes trouble.”  It sends a weird message that deviance is expected and acceptable.   

Up to SomethingAttitudeTough to HandleTrouble

Lastly, there’s the mother-worshipping shirts.  These are just ridiculous.  Moms rock, but a shirt to confirm the fact is unnecessary.

Mommy is BossBananasWildSee Mommy

I think it’d be fun to see graphic tees revolving around traits I actually want my children to have.  You know, like “Super Dependable,” “I follow the rules,” “Honest Babe” (that one is kind of clever, yeah?), etc.  My husband does do graphic design, so maybe one day you’ll see us cranking out a baby apparel line.