Thursday, October 20, 2016

Would You Rather {special gross edition}

Here is a difficult truth...

The older I get, the grosser I get.

I was looking at a picture of myself from high school the other day, and as I glanced at my arm in the photo, I realized there is something drastically different between then and now: I've acquired hundreds of moles! My shoulders and upper arms are covered in them now, and in my seventeen-year-old photo, my shoulders were relatively unspotted.

Another thing I've started experiencing as I've entered my thirties is chafing. Nothing used to rub! Now I have to own products like Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel (which I used to buy to use as make-up primer, but now I use it for primer and chafing prevention) and Body Glide.

Those are just a few examples of the gross things my body has done. There are far more that I can't mention on the internet, but suffice it to say that there are rolls where there used to not be rolls, and there are marks where there used to not be marks, and there are things growing where there used to not be things growing.

Getting old? More like getting gross!

In my gross experiences, I've come up with a "Would You Rather" scenario.

Tell me...


Have bed bugs?

Have athlete's foot?

Have water warts?

Have lice?

All of my life, I've lived in fear of those four things, and I've never had any of them...

...until now.

Are you horrified?

Fortunately, I have the one that I would choose for "Would You Rather" if I had to choose between the four.

I have no idea where I got it from, but it's possible I brought it home as a souvenir from California.

Are you ready?

Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow.

(But if you're a grammar buff, you can probably figure it out).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Disneyland Part XII*

The morning after the Maroon 5 concert last week, we loaded up the van and drove to California and spent a week vacationing with extended family.

On day 1 we arrived in the evening and settled into our condo. Usually we share condos with family, but we ended up having one to ourselves. This was equal parts awesome and lonely. Awesome because we didn't have to worry about our kids waking everyone up, and we had plenty of space, and we could sleep in our underwear and do laundry whenever we wanted. Lonely because we had lots of other family members who were staying on another floor in condos of their own. They were there but not there.

On day 2 we woke up early and headed to the California Science Center. I have plugged the science center before, but it's been a while, so I'll just throw this out there... If you are ever in the LA area with some downtime, go to the California Science Center. It is free (just pay $12 to park), and it is really cool!

California 2016

The museum has some interesting exhibits on space - the types of things that make me completely sure that I am not cut out for space travel, like 185 lb. space suits.

Space Suit

The space shuttle Endeavour is there, which is amazing to see and learn about.

California 2016

Have you ever wondered how astronauts go potty? You can watch a video about it, and see the toilet at the museum. This, above all, is the most fascinating part of the exhibit (I was so enthusiastic about it that I even taught a Family Home Evening lesson about it later that night)!

In another exhibit, there's a touch pool where you can touch star fish and other freakish creatures of the sea.

California 2016

But why would you want to? Cuz sea creatures are Ew!

(I have major starfish aversion. I can't touch them! I just can't!)

Day 3 was spent at the beach. It wasn't the warmest of days, but when you live in Utah and you have the chance to go to the beach, you go rain or shine!

California 2016

California 2016

California 2016

California 2016 

That night, we went to dinner at Ruby's (all 17 of us!) and I loved their deep fried green beans so much that I had to go back a few days later and eat two more orders of them (I left feeling rather ill).

Green Beans

On day 4 we went to Disneyland, and we learned an important lesson. Are you listening? DO NOT GO TO DISNEYLAND ON YOM KIPPUR! It's was crazy crowded, and a lady who works for one of the school districts told me that it's because a lot of the schools are out for Yom Kippur. When we first got there in the morning, it was great, but by 11:00, it was shoulder to shoulder.

Zoe is tall enough to go on the big rides, so she took her first ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. She liked it so much, she got off the ride and planked.

California 2016
(Everyone gets that urge, right?)

On day 5 we went to California Adventure. The crowds were much smaller, but the crowd patterns were really weird. I had to wait in line for 20 minutes just to get fast passes to ride Soarin' Around the World (formerly Soarin' Over California). Tower of Terror was shut down for most of the day, and Little Mermaid was unexpectedly closed for the entire day.

Luckily, Scotty was watching Tower of Terror like a hawk, so when it opened in the afternoon, he was able to grab fast passes. They ended up running out quickly, and the wait was 120 minutes for the rest of the day. Since Tower of Terror is closing soon, it would have been devastating if we hadn't gotten on for one last ride!

California 2016

Sadly, they have already started working on the exterior of the building. I felt like they were burying my grandma alive. Give the Tower some dignity! Sheesh!

Scotty took Zoe on Tower. She hated it (of course), but it was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, so he had to.

Other than the strange crowd patterns, our day at California Adventure was really great. Oh! Except for one little thing...

Whenever I ride Screamin' with one of the kids, we wait for the front (it is seriously magical)! But when we rode at dusk, we ended up hitting several swarms of bugs with our faces. At the end of the ride, I had to pull dead bugs out of my eyeballs!

California 2016

So here's the lesson. Are you listening? NO FRONT ROW AT DUSK! Let someone else's face break up the swarms!

On day 6 we hung out at the condo for the morning, and my mother-in-law fell in the hot tub with her pants on (she'll be pleased I mentioned that). 

My in-laws flew out in the early afternoon, so it was just my family left. We went to the mall where we enjoyed foot massages at Brookstone, and I took Zoe and Daisy into Sephora and let them put on make-up. 

Day 7 meant it was time to go home. We packed up our van and took the long ride back to Salt Lake. 

This vacation flew by and seemed crazy fast! We feel like we didn't get our fix, so I guess we'll just have to go back again soon!

*An estimate since we have long lost track of how many times our family has been to Disneyland

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Beauty of Not Knowing

I almost let today slip by without writing, which would have been a bummer because, so far, I am on track with my 31 Day Challenge.

Today while I was indulging in my current reading selection, The Distant Hours, I came across a part where the main character, Edie, is looking at a photo from her parents' wedding and thinking about how young they were in the picture and how much they didn't yet know about their lives.

This made me think about Scotty's and my wedding photos.

Scanned Pics 014
(This is actually one of our engagement photos - our wedding photos, back from the days of film, haven't been properly scanned).

We were definitely young - I was 19, and Scotty was 21.

There was a lot we didn't know.

We didn't know what we would be when we grew up. We didn't know when or where we would buy a home. We didn't know what our education would end up being. We didn't know about our future jobs or our four children. We didn't know about the hard things we would experience.

Nor the beautiful...

Nor the sacred...

We didn't know that we would be overweight or that we would someday begin to spend a ridiculous amount of time craving sushi. We didn't know that our favorite restaurant would close or that we would love our mini van so much.

We didn't know how terrible we would be at yard work or that we would keep our ten-year-old carpet for thirteen more years (that number continues to rise). We had no idea that we would develop a deep love for strategy board games or that we would be very impatient parents.

The list of things we didn't know is endless, and in some ways, it makes us look foolish, but at the same time, if I could have known it all then, it wouldn't have done me any good.

After thirteen years of being married, we still have a lot of unknown ahead of us, and I like it that way.

"And he's so impossibly young, they both are; he still has hair, right across the top of his head, and no idea that it's not going to stick around... That photo is a frozen moment; their whole future lies unknown and ahead just as it should." 
-Kate Morton, The Distant Hours

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Other Side

I've had several opportunities lately to hear stories from people who have endured faith crises. It has been a common theme in my recent encounters, including speaking engagements I've attended, podcasts I've listened to, and books and articles I've read.

I can't help but think of the prophecy of the last days in Doctrine & Covenants 88:91, "And all things shall be in commotion; and surely men's hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people."

In a book I once read called 65 Signs of the Times, the author suggested that depression is part of men's hearts failing them. As you may recall, I've recently managed some depression of my own, and I know from experience that depression can bring about a faith crisis. I, personally, dealt with a heavy amount of spiritual darkness for about 2-3 years (read more about the spiritual effects of depression here).

Some people who suffer from depression or who face a spiritual crisis describe a feeling of God not being there. Some feel abandoned - like He left them, and others feel like it's their own fault - like they pushed Him away.

Remember the Del Parson painting with Christ at the door?

There is no knob, so all Christ can do is knock, and it is up to the person on the other side of the door to open it.

When I was in the thick of my spiritual funk, I felt like Christ (or Heavenly Father - I believe they are two distinct beings, but this description could go for my relationship with either one) was right there - just on the other side of the door. He was so close, and yet, I was completely incapable of opening it. This was a heavy blow to me because it made me feel like my dysfunctional relationship with God and my Savior was all my fault because it was my job to open the door. He was right there, but I couldn't do what I needed to do to connect (learn about one way we can shift our thoughts about our relationship with Christ here).

During that time, I lost my ability to pray. I thought about prayer a lot, and I pondered on the things I needed to discuss with God. The pleas were in my heart, but I couldn't kneel down and send them heavenward. My mind was so foggy and muddled that prayer felt impossible.

Additionally, I rarely felt the Spirit. I struggled to prepare my Sunday school lessons because I would study the topics, and I would feel nothing. I could recall times in my life where I felt such a strong conviction of truth, but I didn't have that ability to feel anymore, at least not anything positive. It was all behind the door with no knobs while I was left on the other side with a slew of negative thoughts and emotions.

In September, I went to an event called Time Out for Women with some of my in-laws. Michael McLean, a popular LDS songwriter spoke at the event about a faith crisis of his own. For nine years he had been in spiritual darkness. One thing he decided to do was to "Show up and shut up." He kept going to church, and after a few incidents with expressing some negative emotions, he decided to stay quiet for a while. Eventually he came across the book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. The book is a collection of letters that Mother Teresa wrote in which she expressed her own feelings of spiritual darkness.

For Mother Teresa, as soon as she began doing the work that she felt Christ called her to do, she stopped feeling Him near. She longed, more than anything, to have a relationship with God, but for over fifty years, she struggled to feel Him near (read a little more about Mother Teresa's story here).

Isn't it interesting how these things happen during crucial points of our lives? My own crisis began while I was serving as primary president. As I threw myself into service, I began to feel something leaving me. Soon after I was called to be the primary president, I took a leap of faith and went back to school while simultaneously taking another leap of faith and bringing my fourth child into the world. I didn't feel prepared to do either of those things, but when the Spirit pointed me in those directions, I decided to trust in the Lord. I believed with all my heart that I was doing what God wanted me to do, and yet, the door was closing between us. I was at a pivotal point in my life, and I found myself gasping for spiritual air.

Now, I wish I could say "the problem was THIS and the solution was THIS," but I don't have a foolproof formula for getting through depression or a faith crisis. Michael McLean didn't offer a foolproof formula, either. It's, indeed, different for everyone, but I've been blessed to have great results from medication. It has taken time, but I am ever improving, and I rejoice that I can feel the Spirit again. I am still working on praying, but it's getting better.

I felt extremely weak turning to medication. I truly believed that my crisis was my own doing, and that I just wasn't doing enough to get out of it, but now that I can see the difference it has made, I am not ashamed that I took the medication route. It helped get me to a place where I could act, and now I'm in a better emotional and mental place, and I am finally getting my spiritual groove back. I feel things again, and sometimes I feel them so passionately that I want to shout from the rooftops (I settle for texting my friends).

You know who else takes meds? Michael McLean.

In fact, he wrote a song about it. It's called "Pills," and you can read about it here.

I have a confession. For the last several years, I have not liked Michael McLean at all. I heard him speak a few years ago, and he came off as very pompous and arrogant. Little did I know, he was in the middle of his faith crisis. That just goes to show that we don't always know a person's heart. Now that I know Michael's story, I feel great compassion for him. Sometimes it's the person we least expect who is having the crisis.

One of the best things I've heard about depression came from a podcast from the Mormon Channel about mental and emotional health. In the discussion, a therapist explained that just because you have depression doesn't mean you are emotionally or mentally unhealthy. He said that some of the people he has helped over the years have had very severe depression, but they have been some of the most emotionally and mentally health people he has ever met. Recognizing you need help is a healthy skill.

I wish I could say I recognized it in myself right away, but I didn't. It wasn't until I heard someone I look up to describe her own struggle that I finally had the courage to question whether my spiritual crisis might be more than just my own shortcomings. That is why I've decided not to be quiet about it. Someone was brave enough to tell me that she needed help, and I admired her for it, so now it's my turn.

Another reason I'm writing this is because I want to share with you how much I have learned from this experience. I won't go into all of the specifics, I will just say that being on the other side of it has opened my eyes to so many incredible truths. I have learned by contrast - spiritual darkness vs spiritual light. This contrast has helped me recognize things in myself that I took for granted before. I am more aware of my strengths and abilities after losing them for a while. There was a time when I couldn't even go to the grocery store. Now, I am more capable, and I look at myself and think, "You bought milk today! You are amazing!" I find many more things to thank God for than I ever did before. I have not made a perfect return to my faith, I admit, but I am well on my way, and I know that I will continue to make progress. I'm very happy about that!

To those who may be facing a similar crisis, my heart goes out to you. I'm just beginning my journey on the other side of it, and I wish I could hold your hand and pull you over here. Please know that you are not alone. You are not weak. You are loved beyond measure, and there are good things waiting for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Maroon 5

I'm interrupting my hashtag posts to update you on some exciting events from the past few weeks.

I haven't discussed my love for Maroon 5 much in recent years, so you may not know that I adore them. I've been a fan since my senior year of high school - long before the name Adam Levine was recognizable.

His voice...

You guys...

I used to get in somewhat heated arguments with another blogger (who shall not be named) several years back about Adam Levine's voice. She said he sounded like a pansy, and well... she was wrong.

Last year for Christmas, Scotty got me Maroon 5 concert tickets. It was quite the scandal since he left me at a family Christmas party alone with our four children while he went to buy them. I didn't know where, exactly, he was going, but I knew it had something to do with my Christmas present. I just didn't understand why he had to go right then - and leave me at a restaurant with all the kids. "It better be good," was all I had to say.

When I opened salt and pepper shakers on Christmas morning, I wasn't very happy.

Fortunately, the salt and pepper shakers were followed up with Maroon 5 tickets. I was a little shocked. I never imagined myself going to a Maroon 5 concert. As much as I love their music, I have to admit, most of it isn't exactly, uh, "clean."

So, nearly a year later, we finally went to the Maroon 5 concert, and it was AWESOME!

Adam Levine is so easy on the eyes.

Maroon 5 Concert
{Yes, please!}

He plays the guitar like a boss and drags the microphone all over the stage. I do have to say that he does not have the moves like Jagger, but I'm okay with that. He doesn't need them. He has this little kick he does with his left foot (watch for it in the "Sugar" video), so that was fun to watch for.

Our seats weren't great - we were pretty far up there - but who cares? I was in the same (massive) room with Adam Levine for a moment, and it was beautiful.

Maroon 5 Concert

Saturday, October 15, 2016


My husband taught my kids to wipe their boogers on their socks. I rolled my eyes, but then I realized it's actually genius. I don't find boogers on the walls, and they go away in the wash.

Friday, October 14, 2016


My stern, elderly 5th grade math teacher once asked us all to plug our ears so she could pass gas (I didn't plug mine).