Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mothering and the Book of Mormon: Defeating Laman and Lemuel

Today's guest post was written by my cousin-in-law, Cyndi. I asked Cyndi if she wanted to participate in this series because she is one of the best and most faithful moms I stalk on the internet know. Cyndi is a wife and mother of four. She spends her days handing out fruit snacks, browsing thrift stores, and stalking potential board game friends (can you see why we are friends?). You can read a whole lot more at her blog Love Joy Lane.


One of my favorite “mother verses” in the Book of Mormon comes from 1 Nephi 17. Nephi and his family had previously left their home in Jerusalem and traveled through the wilderness for many years; in this chapter they had finally arrived at the seashore. Upon their arrival, Nephi, who is righteous, gives an account of their time in the wilderness.

In 1 Nephi 17:1-3 we read, "And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong… And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness."

In the same chapter, Nephi’s brethren, Laman and Lemuel, who are infamous for their murmuring, also offer up an account of their time in the wilderness.

In 1 Nephi 17:20-21 we read, "We have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions. Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy."

I love these two differing accounts of the same circumstances because they can teach us some valuable lessons as moms.

The first lesson that I learned from these scriptures is that attitude determines our happiness more than actual circumstances determine our happiness. Both lived through identical circumstances but came away with two different experiences. Nephi’s attitude allowed him to praise God and see the blessings that came to them during their time in the wilderness. While his brethren cursed God and desired that they had never taken their journey.

The best way to have more positive parenting experiences is to change your attitude. If you wake up thinking that your lot is hard – that your kids are too loud, too messy, or too demanding – then you will probably end the day with a headache, a messy house, and in desperate need of some “me-time.” When you can change your mindset and see your children as the blessing that they truly are – then your murmuring will decrease. Your kids will still be loud, your house will still need to be cleaned, and your time will still needed to be sacrificed – but you won’t be swallowed up in negative thoughts and feelings toward these things. I think one of the most empowering things you can do as a parent is to just stop thinking how hard it is.

The second lesson that can be learned from these scriptures is that not all of your children are having the same experience. Just because you live under the same roof and eat the same thing for dinner does not mean that your kids are viewing their childhood in the same way. Children come as unique individuals because their spirits are eternal in nature. They come with specific character traits and have different strengths and weaknesses.

I have learned this lesson well as I watch my second child grow. My second daughter is the complete opposite of her older sister. She likes a calm, predictable day at home while her sister enjoys lots of activities and lots of time spent away from home. For the longest time, I did not understand why little sister did not enjoy story time or walking the mall or play dates. I worried about her unhappiness towards these activities and fretted that she wasn’t having a fun childhood. Then one day I realized that her “fun” differed from her sister’s “fun”. Fun for her was reading books with just mom or swinging in the backyard or taking a two-hour bath. Parenting should be an individualized task catered to each child. My parenting style doesn’t just have to change when I have my second child; it has to adjust each minute of each day as I interact with my various children in the various circumstances that life throws at us.

The final lesson from these verses comes in the closing sentence. Laman and Lemuel have just rattled off all their grievances towards their brother and their dad and end with this telling line, “Yea, and we might have been happy.” If we didn’t come out here in the wilderness, we might have been happy. If we didn’t have to watch our wives and sisters struggle through pregnancy, we might have been happy. If we could have just stayed home with all our nice stuff, we might have been happy.

But would they have been? I doubt it. They would have just found other things to murmur about: “It’s boring here in Jerusalem.” “We never get to do anything exciting.” Or “This wine is no good.”

I think we have all had experiences with what I like to call “chronic whiners.” They are those who can find the bad in any situation and have to shake it out for all to see. They are those who are constantly saying, “If I had this, or did this, or if they stopped doing that – then I would be happy.” They are those that you end up “hiding” on Facebook.

I think that moms can easily fall into this mentality and even though we may not be chronic whiners (yet), we spend too many hours of the day dreaming about how we might be happy. Maybe I will be happy when I don’t have to change diapers. Maybe I will happy when they all go to school. Maybe I will be happy when we make it through the teenage years unscathed. One of the best slogans I came across while I was struggling as a new mom was, “Don’t put off your happy life.” Every stage of life comes with challenges. Embrace the challenges – learn from them and grow from them.

And unlike Laman and Lemuel, try to be happy today.


This guest post is part of my series, "Mothering and the Book of Mormon." To learn more about why I am writing this series, please read this. To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, check out or

Did you know you can request a Book of Mormon for free? No joke! See here.

I'll even send you one if you want. Marginalia included.

You can e-mail me: 

{fluentbrittish [at] gmail [dot] com}

I won't even try to baptize you!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grocery Store Bliss

This morning I went to the grocery store at 7:11 A.M. all by myself. No kids!!! It was as good as going on a spa retreat. For reals. I loved it so much that I stayed for an hour and a half.

I didn't have to take anyone to the bathroom. Not once!

I didn't have to pick up any knocked over merchandise. Not once!

I didn't have to pry my screaming child's fingers from the handle of the BIGGEST WORSTEST MOST ANNOYING SHOPPING CART ON EARTH. Not once!

I didn't have to tell anyone that they can't play arcade games or ride the mechanical warthog. Not once!

(Yes, mechanical warthog. What the heck, Walmart?)

I didn't have to face any stand-offs in the cereal aisle. Not once!

(This is where Daisy gets mad and stands or sits in front of the shopping cart and refuses to move so I have to go pick her up and try to navigate the shopping card with a 35 pound kicking and screaming child in one arm).

I didn't crash into any displays, poles, or short old ladies because I couldn't see where I was going over the infant carrier. Not once!

I didn't swear. Not once!

(You guys, I swear a lot. Hell and damns. All day. Maybe I should start thinking about New Year's Resolutions. Or get a swear jar).

My shopping trip was so blissful that I think it's going to be my new thing - going to the store without kids. I didn't realize how awful it is having them there with me until I tasted the sweet goodness of going alone. Ahhhhh! I'm hooked!

Friday, December 28, 2012

How NOT to treat cradle cap

All of my babies have had cradle cap. It started with Nicky, of course, and it drove me crazy. I would scratch and wash and scratch and wash. I just needed to get those nasty flakes off his precious baby scalp. I used a cradle cap treatment on him (I don't remember the name of the product, but it had Winnie the Pooh on it, so now whenever I see Pooh Bear, I find the nearest child and start scratching its scalp), but it didn't really help. It just made his hair sticky.

When Daisy started getting cradle cap, I decided to just leave it alone. That was much better. Even though the flakes were there, they weren't actively flaking... if that makes sense. I coached myself through those months by slowly repeating, "Leave it alone. Don't touch! Leave it alone. Don't touch."

Daisy was significantly less gross than Nicky was.

But now there's Zoe... and her beautiful, soft hair is infiltrated with cradle cap. I told myself, "Just this once!"

And I scratched some of it off.

And by golly, that got the ball rolling.

Because once you've scratched off a flake, they become ten times more noticeable, and argh! It's not pretty!

I recalled our first pediatrician telling me to use Vaseline on Nicky's cradle cap, a remedy I never ended up trying. So I decided to give it a test run on Zoe.

I lathered it on her scalp until she looked like this:

Christmas 2012

Then I let her hang out for 15 minutes while the flakes absorbed the Vaseline.

Then I gave her a bath.

Christmas 2012

And it was during that bath that I remembered how I never felt good about any of the advice that our first pediatrician gave us and how I stopped taking my kids to him because he was kind of creepy.

So, of course, the Vaseline didn't wash out after three rounds of shampoo (duh!) and three additional rounds of dish soap (double duh!), and I was left shaking my fist at that darn tootin' pediatrician!

After spending a bazillion hours washing and combing Zoe's hair, she looked like this:

Christmas 2012

So today's lesson: Don't put Vaseline in your baby's hair.

Just don't.

And if your baby has cradle cap?

Leave it alone! For the love of Pete! Leave it alone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mothering and the Book of Mormon: Lessons from Lehi Part II

Last time I posted about the Book of Mormon, I wrote about one of the ways Lehi inspired me as a mother. I admire way Lehi openly shared his spiritual experiences with his family, but that's not all I had to learn from him. Another thing that impressed me about Lehi was the way he received chastening from his son, Nephi.

In 1 Nephi 16, Lehi's family grew weary from their travel in the wilderness (their situation kind of reminds me of that point in a family vacation when everyone is sick of each other, except there is no Disneyland to smooth things over. Oh! And there's no food!) Things were bad enough that Lehi, himself, was fed up and starting to murmur.

Somehow, through all of the anger, Lehi's son, Nephi, was able to remain focused. He took the initiative to make himself a bow and a sling shot, then he spoke firmly to his father, reminding Lehi that the Lord would tell them where to find food. Nephi's words and actions were what helped Lehi humble himself before God and resume the course.

I recall this story at times when I fail to practice what I preach. I can't count the number of times that Nicky has reminded me to pray, to have family home evening, or to watch my tongue. I have to admit, I don't necessarily like being chastened by a five-year-old, but I try to make sure to acknowledge when he is correct, and I thank him for reminding me to live the way I am trying to teach him to live.

A while ago I read a blog post written by a mother in which she addressed the inappropriate nature of allowing children to correct adults. The things she said in that post didn't sit well with me because I kept thinking about how many times I've needed correction, and the only person around to provide that correction is a child. I don't know what all of the boundaries are, but I think there is a difference between correcting an adult and disrespecting an adult. Nephi, of course, was an adult when he chastened his father, but regardless of his age, I admire the way his father handled it.

It is here in our families where our hearts can be softened and in humility we desire to change, to become more childlike. It is a process by which we can become more Christlike. Have some of life's experiences taken from you the believing heart and childlike faith you once had? If so, look around at the children in your life. And then look again...If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth.
~Jean A. Stevens


This post is part of my series, "Mothering and the Book of Mormon." To learn more about why I am writing this series, please read this. To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, check out or

Did you know you can request a Book of Mormon for free? No joke! See here.

I'll even send you one if you want. Marginalia included.

You can e-mail me: 

{fluentbrittish [at] gmail [dot] com}

I won't even try to baptize you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Moment

I sat down to write.

And then the baby cried.

And that's pretty much how life goes right now.

So I'll see you when I see you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Gift

Each year at Christmas time, I try to think of something I can do to honor the Savior - a "gift" for Him, if you will.

Last year's "gift" has a complicated back story, but the short version, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, is that I was feeling very irritated toward an individual, and after weeks of being aggravated over this person's behavior, I decided to let it go. I had allowed negative emotions to affect my Christmas, the very season that is supposed to be centered around Christ. As I contemplated the significance of Christ's life, I realized that I was doing something very harmful. Not only was I neglecting the atonement, I was impairing my own ability to feel the spirit at Christmas time.

So there you have it, my gift of 2011: I let it go.

This year, as the Christmas season approached, I kept thinking about the importance of service and how the best way to give a "gift" to Christ is to serve others. I had this idea to do 100 acts of service during the month of December. Obviously they would not be grand acts of service, but that's what I think would be cool about it - I would have to be service-minded all season long, and I would have to perform the types of kindnesses that should (and could) be every day actions, like letting someone go ahead of me in the line at Walmart or picking up something someone dropped. The point of it all was to be intentional about it - to look for opportunities to help others and then act.

But guess what!

This happened:

Three Kids


Three kids!

And I can't even brush my teeth without having to change a diaper, break up a fight, or put a band-aid on someone, so naturally, I never got started on my 100 acts of service.

So, note to self: do that next year.

Instead, I am spending this Christmas season looking for the ways Heavenly Father has used others to bless my life, and I've realized that a lot of people love me. I mean that in the most humble way possible.

They love me! They really love me!

I am so blessed to have so many "instruments" in my life who are doing Christ's work. They have cared for me, served me, and even forgiven me (and wow! Am I thankful for the people who have forgiven me!)

I only hope that I can learn from their examples and extend the same kind of love toward others.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you

A few years ago in Sunday School, one of the wiser members of our church made a comment regarding opinions. He said something along the lines of, “If you pay close attention, you will notice that the people who are generally likable  and the people who are genuinely looked up to in our society are people who are very careful about sharing their opinions. They are people who think before they speak.”

Until that point, I’d always been pretty free with my invaluable opinions without ever giving it much thought.
If someone I knew bought a rice cooker, I would openly tell that person that rice cookers are stupid.
If someone mentioned Twilight in my presence, I would give them a thirty minute presentation about why I think Edward Cullen is a weenie (umm… sorry Twilight enthusiasts. I assure you, I've stopped doing this).
I’ve spent most of my life letting people know where I stand because – heaven forbid – someone not know how I feel about unnecessary kitchen appliances, fictional teenage vampires, and every other minute aspect of life.
After hearing that comment in Sunday School, I became very aware of the opinions around me – my own and those of the people I socialize with. It didn’t take long for me to realize how correct Brother Wise Man was in his comment; people are truly more likable when they are tactful and respectful about the opinions they share.
I’ve noticed, in the past few months, how destructive antagonistic opinions can be. They stir up negative emotions and create unneeded contention. It seems to be a common habit in our world for people to constantly declare dislike and hatred for every little, nit-picky, insignificant thing. This is one aspect of social networking that I don’t like – someone updates their status on Facebook to say:

i absolutley hate those stupid FAKE cowboys at school! i wish they could see how ugly and retarted they look!!
(directly copied from my "friend's" wall)
…and immediately upon reading it, I  feel angry and want to share my own opinion (which is that people who can’t spell ‘retarded’ shouldn’t be using the word to describe other people), and I’m not even a stupid FAKE cowboy at school.
Did my "friend" (who is obviously a teenager who has a lot to learn) accomplish anything worthwhile by making that statement? No. She fueled a forest fire, and it’s a FACT that forest fires suck.
I realize that I used an extreme example here, but opinions don’t have to be that negative to be destructive. Something as simple as insulting something that someone else loves can have the same effect. Just ask my neighbor, Stacy, about the time she insulted The Book Thief.
Talk about a forest fire…
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, but lately I’ve been focusing on the Gift of Shutting Up and the Art of Liking Things instead of constantly being critical.
In my opinion (sorry, can’t help it), it’s much better to be for something than it is to be against something. I don’t mean to imply that you should turn your beliefs around – that’s not the point of this at all. What I mean by that is that we should all put a little more effort into the things we like and the things we believe in instead of constantly focusing on declaring what we hate.
I might be against Edward Cullen, but I’m for reading.
I might be against rice cookers, but I’m for food.
(In fact, I’m one of food’s greatest supporters. If food were a politician, I’d totally let food put a sign in my yard. I’m just sayin…)
Should I test my relationships with rice cooker lovers by insulting something they love? There’s no value in that! I’m not going to single-handedly change the world by publicly hating rice cookers. I can, however, be influential by sharing my positive and valuable opinions.
Take for example, my opinion of crepes.
I love crepes.
Now maybe someone who has never had a crepe will go try one because I said something positive about them, and that person will really like crepes, too. Maybe we’ll go get a crepe together and talk about our smelly kids and have a really good time.
What if I hated crepes? I wouldn’t change anyone’s life by posting a crepe hating facebook status. If anything, I would make a crepe lover feel degraded and picked on.
That’s what negative opinions do.
Perhaps we should all share less of them.

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Currently {December 2012 Edition}

Reading: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.

Watching: Merlin. Or at least I will be after a trip to the library this afternoon.

Procrastinating: sending out "thank you" cards for baby gifts. I keep forgetting to buy cards when I'm at the store (not sure why since I'm at the store all the time these days).

Wanting: these shoes in size 9.5 (I would be equally happy with the zebra print ones - I just can"t decide), this book, Rummikub, and Just Dance 3 and/or 4. Consider this a gift-giving guide for my husband (and Honey? You're off the hook for Christmas, but my birthday is seven days after Christmas, so if one or two things from my wish list showed up, I wouldn't complain).

Craving: peppermint bark, fudge, and many other holiday indulgences.

Wearing: my regular clothes. They feel so outdated after being pregnant.

Relieved by: not being pregnant anymore. Oh my heck! I can't believe how great I feel!!

Stressing about: insurance stuff. Our insurance company just reclaimed all of their payments for this year and is re-paying them (I know! What?!?) So we are getting all new E.O.B.'s with corrections (not sure why since the amounts and codes are all the same), and we are getting bills from all of the providers in the meantime. They should zero out because they will get paid, but in the meantime, I am making a bazillion and a half phone calls. It is a nightmare!

Missing: Robin Hood.

Addicted to: my hospital mug. I only have babies because I want a mug. This time, I got TWO!!! Woot!

Dreading: hitting that phase after having a baby where I start feeling pressure to lose weight. For the past four weeks, I have felt great about my post-partum body. I've thoroughly enjoyed not having to worry about it, but I can feel the change coming. I hate that!

Needing: new underwear.

Annoyed by: how quickly Nicky's school clothes need to be replaced. I bought him six pairs of pants in August. Two have knee holes, one has a hole in the crotch, and two are too short. The remaining pair will have knee holes any second now. He has also gone through two pairs of shoes already. The third pair will have toe holes before Christmas, no doubt.

Feeling guilty about: how messy my house is. I have no excuses. I just won't clean today (or yesterday .. or the day before that...)

Tired of: Christmas shopping. I used to think it was fun, but now I HATE it. I guess it would help if I had unlimited funding and a babysitter.

Thankful for: having enough. I feel so blessed, especially this time of year, that we have everything we need.

Enjoying: the warm weather. We have had almost two weeks straight of temps in the 50's and even 60's. I wouldn't complain one bit if the weather stayed like this.

Looking forward to: The Hobbit and Les Mis. It helps that one has Richard Armitage and one has Hugh Jackman. I'm just sayin'... (and now that I'm looking at some of their photos, Richard and Hugh could be brothers. For real).

Hoping: that I'll be able to do a service project with my kids before Christmas.

Loving: having a newborn. It's the best thing ever!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Media Card Memory Lane

So this thing happened.

I have a Blackberry (I know, I know. Blackberries are so not cool anymore, but you know what? I don't really care. It calls people, and that's all I really need out of a cell phone). The 'ole Blackberry has a camera, and sometimes I use it to take pictures.

(I'm so with the times! I take cell phone pictures! Woot!)

(But they are really blurry and low quality).


So anyway... the thing...

The Blackberry has a media card where it stores pictures. Well, a while ago, the phone said, "Hey! Your media card is full, so I will now store pictures on the camera."

I was like, "Whatever you say, Phone."

And then lo and behold, all of my pictures were gone. Trapped in Media Card Land! And I don't know how to get to Media Card Land. I spent all of ten seconds googling solutions before I said, "Meh!" and moved on with my life.

That was about nine months ago.

Then on Sunday, I tried opening my photos to show my friend how Nicky got his leg stuck in his bike last week:


Well, the photo wasn't there, but all of the photos from the media card were!

And frankly, I have no idea how that happened, but I was so excited because, despite my "Meh!"-ing, I was really sad I lost all of those pictures.

But Britt, why didn't you just put those pictures on your computer to allow space on your media card?

Psht! As if I know how to do that!

So now all of my photos are back, and I did some voodoo work and figured out how to e-mail them to myself so I can save them for-evah and evah on the internets.

But Britt, how did you get that picture of Nicky's leg stuck in the bike when you specifically said it wasn't there?

It was on facebook.

So I'm thrilled to have those photos back, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, I am going to force you to look at some of my favorites. Consider this a walk down Media Card Memory Lane.

Oh, look! Here's the day Daisy started potty training (aka: August 9, 2011).


As you can see, she grasped on to the concept immediately.


Needless to say, she is still working on it... a year and a half later... 

Let's not talk about it.

Speaking of Daisy, it's amazing what that girl can do. Her artistic abilities surpass those of most children her age.



Or something like that.

Sometimes she can be really cute.





And sometimes she even sleeps!




And so does Nicky.



Sometimes I take my kids out in public. Like to the zoo.


 Or to the dentist.


 Or Bingham Copper Mine.


 Or Wheeler Farm.


Or even rock climbing.


When we're feeling really adventurous, Scotty and I take the kids to Disneyland. That means we give Daisy pretty much anything she wants to keep her from screaming her head off in the back seat of the car for 12 hours.



Often, there are huge catastrophes when we are out in public.

Hey Daisy, you have a little sumthin' sumthin' on your lips. What have you been eating?


Oh, worms from Walmart! No big deal!


We have a lot of fun when we're not eating invertebrates. We take baths in the back yard.


We play with balloons.


We play dress-up.



And we get breathing treatments when we have pertussis.


And now that we have another little sister, we put gel in her hair.


Okay, okay. So that last one isn't from Media Card Land, but I had to sneak Zoe in here somewhere.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time's a Flyin'

Why does it go like this?

Baby in the womb = time draaaaaaags

Baby out of the womb = Oh my heck! I almost have a one-month-old!!!

I've been feeling rather antsy lately about getting things documented. This phase of sweet newborn-ness is so short, and I want to remember it. I started working on writing Zoe's birth story (my journal version, not the internet version which you can find here), and every beautiful moment flowed freely through my brain, but then I got about half-way, and I haven't had the time to sit down and finish it. I know that I've already lost some of it. My hormones are getting more and more settled each day, and the details of giving birth aren't as available. I also wanted to write, in detail, about the first two weeks of Zoe's life - how blessed and incredible that time was as well as how trying it was. Sick kids, water heater going out, gigantic snowstorms, sibling rivalry, psychotic emotional breakdowns - all that good stuff that only seemed survivable because I had a little baby looking up at me like:

November 2012 


And pictures? Oh my goodness! I haven't taken nearly enough - a true sign of having a THIRD child. Almost every snap shot I have of Zoe is a blurry cell phone photo. 

Since time is flying by, and chances are, I'm not going to get to write everything down that I want to, here are a few sloppy highlights.

Daisy loves Zoe so much that I fear for Zoe's safety. She is the most smothered little sister of all time. The novelty has not worn off! Daisy wants to feed her, clothe her, hold her, burp her, change her diaper, bathe her, and pay her hospital bills. (Okay, maybe not that last one). Daisy will lay on top of her, pick her up and carry her, and feed her anything she can get her hands on when I'm not looking. I have to keep the baby within arms reach at all times.

November 2012

November 2012

November 2012

One of Daisy's favorite things to do for Zoe is to make sure that she has "friends."

November 2012


November 2012

Nicky adores Zoe, too, but in a much different way. Mostly from afar. He will wave to her, talk to her, and make sure she isn't cold. He is very sweet and very "hands off" most of the time. You can tell, though, by the way he looks at her, that he adores her. Nicky has made some of the most hilarious comments since we had Zoe. I wish I could remember all of them. "Why does Zoe hibernate?" is the one that comes to mind. Zoe wore jeans one day, and Nicky said that he didn't like her clothes because they made her look like a kid instead of a baby. He often asks me why Zoe has such a big head. Yes, her head is in the 90th percentile, but it doesn't really look that big, so I don't know where he gets that from. 

Both Nicky and Daisy think that any day now, Zoe will be able to sit up, crawl, walk, or eat "real" food. I explain to them that she will learn to do those things while she's growing. They always think that means she will do those things tomorrow

Scotty is smitten by Zoe as well. Zoe made it eleven whole days before coming down with a cold, and Scotty has been very helpful taking night shifts holding Zoe upright to help her breathe.

Our car is certainly overcrowded. There is not an inch to spare! I dream of a mini van (no, really, I do) so the poor kids can have some space to breathe. BUT I love my car, and I'm going to keep it for a while longer. The biggest problem is that Zoe has to go in the middle, and that puts her next to Daisy, which is just plain dangerous. Daisy won't leave her alone in the car, and Nicky spends every drive we make yelling things like, "Mom! Daisy is covering Zoe's mouth!" "Mom! Daisy is touching Zoe's eyeballs!"

Seriously, folks? I should never leave the house. It's just not safe!

So... mini van. I needs one!

Well, that's about it for now. I didn't get to share everything I wanted, but I'm running behind in getting Nicky ready for school. Daisy is finger painting on the kitchen table with yogurt, and Zoe is laying in a pile of spit-up. 

I will leave you with my quick analysis of life with three kids:

There are always at least two that need you at any given time, and at least one of them is expressing that need in some form of screaming. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mothering and the Book of Mormon: Lessons from Lehi Part I

As I began reading the Book of Mormon near the end of my pregnancy, I found myself more caught up in the story of Lehi, Nephi, and their family than I've ever been. I've always known there is a lot to learn from their family, but in reading their story this time, I found myself more emotionally connected to their experiences. I even shed a few tears, something I'm usually far too hard-hearted to do. Because of some personal trials I've faced this year, I feel like I can sympathize (and maybe even empathize) a lot more with the emotions and struggles of Lehi's family (though, thankfully, I haven't been asked by God to leave my home and roam in the wilderness).

One thing that surprised me is how much there is to learn about mothering from Lehi. Sure, he never was a mother, but he worried over his children, he dealt with defiance and discontent, and he even spent a few moments murmuring (not that I would ever do that. Wink, wink!)

I noticed throughout Lehi's story that he always shared his personal, spiritual experiences with his children. As he prophesied, received revelation, and had dreams, he would gather his family together to talk to them about the things that he learned. 1 Nephi 1:16 mentions that Lehi "hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children..."

Because of this, Lehi's son, Nephi, desired to know for himself that the things his father taught were true. Through prayer and revelation, Nephi gained his own, personal witness of God the Father (1 Nephi 2:16).

Later in the Book of Mormon, Enos, like Nephi, gained a testimony of God through prayer. Enos was taught the nature of God and eternal life by his father, and those things "sunk deep into [his] heart" (Enos 1:4). When Enos poured his soul unto God, his faith "began to be unshaken in the Lord" (Enos 1:11).

This is a pattern that we can follow in our own families - a joint effort by fathers and mothers. In our most recent general conference, L. Tom Perry said:

I believe it is by divine design that the role of motherhood emphasizes the nurturing and teaching of the next generation. But it is wonderful to see husbands and wives who have worked out real partnerships where they blend together their influence and communicate effectively both about their children and to their children.

As women and mothers, we have the opportunity to experience many sacred things. While some of these experiences should be held private, it is often appropriate to share them with our spouses and children. Even though the scriptures don't mention it specifically, I am sure that Sariah, like Lehi, spoke to her children of sacred things. I think of when Sariah declared that she knew "of a surety" that the Lord had commanded her husband to take her and her children out of Jerusalem and into the wilderness and that He had protected her sons and provided a way for them to follow the commandments (1 Nephi 5:8). Certainly there were many other things Sariah knew of a surety and taught her children.

Right now my kids are quite young, but there are some small, tender experiences that I can share with them to help them see God's hand in our lives. I can tell them about answers I receive to prayers or about the times I am comforted by the Holy Ghost. As I point out these occurrences in my life, it will help my children to identify similar experiences of their own. Hopefully they, like Nephi or Enos, will eventually have the desire to seek after their own witness.

...Parents can share their testimonies often with their children, commit them to keep the commandments of God, and promise the blessings that our Heavenly Father promises to His faithful children.

-L. Tom Perry


This post is part of my series, "Mothering and the Book of Mormon." To learn more about why I am writing this series, please read this. To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, check out or

Did you know you can request a Book of Mormon for free? No joke! See here.

I'll even send you one if you want. Marginalia included.

You can e-mail me: 

{fluentbrittish [at] gmail [dot] com}

I won't even try to baptize you!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Thoughts

The other day, a friend and I were having some Thanksgiving conversation when I confessed to her that I am 28 years old and have never cooked a turkey. I picked the right friend to tell because she replied with, "So? I'm 38, and I've never cooked a turkey!"

(Phew! Apparently there are many of us!)

This year, I was determined to roast a turkey because I have this fear that someday the survival of the world will depend on my ability to do so.

While I am a fan of devouring large masses of Thanksgiving poultry, I haven't been looking forward to the preparation. I bought my bird on Friday, and following the "one day in the fridge for every five pounds" thawing method, I was scheduled to roast the thing today. I actually had this moment earlier where I thought, "Meh. I don't need to roast that stupid turkey!" But then I remembered that it cost about $15, and I'm a tight wad, so I couldn't just throw away fifteen bucks! But then I was like, "Britt? Would you pay $15 for the opportunity to sit on the couch for two hours and hold your baby and not cook?" and then I was like, "Heck yes, I would!" So turkey loss? Totally justified.

But I roasted the darn thing anyway, because THE WORLD NEEDS ME, and I had a few thoughts about it.

Thought #1: Turkey carcasses are freaky.

Thought #2: Fishing giblets out of turkey carcasses is freaky.

Thought #3: The turkey neck was more curvy that I expected, making me worry that I accidentally purchased and roasted a swan.

Thought #4: My entire kitchen is saturated in contaminated turkey fluids.

Thought #5: I don't like meat that still looks like the creature it came from.

But I survived, and the turkey was mostly awesome. I might even do it again someday.

Like, in a year. Or ten. Or when the world is hanging by a thread, and my turkey-roasting skills, alone, have the ability to save it.

Until then, I will be airing the smoke out of my kitchen.

(It helps to have a clean oven, I guess).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Evolution of a Collage

Last year I hung a photo collage in our family room. On my old blog, I did a Brittish Home Tour and took a picture of the collage. Earlier this year, I swapped out all of the photos. Then I went and had a new kid, so today I swapped out the photos again, and I was like, "I should totally take pictures before and after the swap so I can have a photographic progression of the photo collage!"

So I did.

And trust me, it was a lot cooler in my head.

But since I went through the effort, here is how the collage has changed in the past year and a half:

{April 2011}
Family Room Tour

{April 2012}
November 2012

{November 2012}
November 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mothering and the Book of Mormon: What Motherhood Means to Me

Each time Heavenly Father entrusts me with another child, I feel an overwhelming desire to live up to the responsibility that I've been given. Approaching the birth of Zoe, my third baby, I felt a pressing need to step it up as a mother. President Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking specifically to mothers, said:

You have given birth and nurtured children. You have entered into a partnership with our Father in Heaven to give mortal experience to His sons and daughters. They are His children and they are your children, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible... You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old... and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out. 

President Hinckley's words ring true in my heart. I want to do the best I can for the special spirits that He has placed in my care.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are taught that, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection." (D&C 130:18) Sister Julie B. Beck expounded on this scripture and taught that "the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here" are included in those principles of intelligence.

For me, raising children is not a casual duty. Though I am consistently imperfect at it, I take motherhood and parenting very seriously - it is the most important thing I have ever done. I don't have all of the right answers, but I am always learning and growing. In fact, I can't think of anything that has the potential to bring me closer to the Savior than fulfilling my role as a mother. Since the knowledge I gain through this experience will be with me eternally, I want to soak in as much as I can.

When I reached my 30th week of pregnancy, I took some time to write out some goals and dreams that I have as a mother. Some of my goals are character-based - habits, attributes, and behaviors that I want to have. Others are priority-based - things I want to invest more time and effort into. I also took some time to think about some of the challenges that my family was facing and how they would affect us as we brought a new baby into our lives. I had a lot of concerns, and I felt like I really needed an anchor. As I prayed about my goals and my worries, I felt prompted to turn to the Book of Mormon. At the time, I had been trying really hard to read the New Testament, and I felt like I couldn't stop my study and change courses, but the prompting kept coming back to me. I ended up marking my spot in the New Testament and setting it aside to read the Book of Mormon. As I did so, I decided to look specifically for lessons that pertain to motherhood. Nephi taught that we should liken the scriptures unto us for our profit and learning (1 Nephi 19:23). I thought this would be a good way to "liken" the scriptures and apply them in a way that I needed.

As I studied the Book of Mormon, I wrote a few blog posts about some of the things I learned (mostly for selfish purposes, because I know I will need to look back and re-learn these things over and over again). I'll be posting them throughout the next several weeks with plenty of Zoe, funny stories, and whining in between.

Monday, November 12, 2012

On Characters

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my opinion of books. I have a really hard time reviewing books because there are so many random variables that determine whether I like one.

For instance, if I expect to dislike a book, and the book ends up being better than I anticipate, I tend to give it more praise. If I have high expectations for a book, and it ends up not being as good as I hoped, I tend to be more critical.

Likewise, my taste for a book is affected by what I read before it. I can not read The Poisonwood Bible and follow it up with Clockwork Angel.

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a book before the membrane of the last one has closed behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you."
-Diane Setterfield

However; I think a book can still be enjoyable even if the author has tacky, redundant diction. A good plot is usually a redeeming feature. But there are times when I crave beautifully crafted passages and skilled word use. I want to read a paragraph and soak it in, re-live it, remember it. I am always thrilled when an author is able to take something I have felt or experienced and put it into the words that I never could. Recently I read a book by Ann Packer in which she described the way a shirt smells while it's being ironed, and she nailed it in such a way that I couldn't wait to experience it again, myself. That is a true gift - to be able to make your readers want to iron!

The characters, though, are what ultimately make or break a book for me. By the end of a book, I want to feel confident in my understanding of them. I want to know their hearts. I feel like, more often than not, characters in books are inconsistent and "all over the place," and I never really come to know who they are. This is the case (for me) with Ender Wiggin - I was never able to connect with Ender or to come to understand him.

It helps if I come to "appreciate" a character. Good characterization, to me, means that I care what happens to the characters, whether they are likable or not.

I recently borrowed a book from a friend called Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg. The book is about a woman whose best friend is fighting terminal breast cancer. I don't mean to be irreverent toward cancer in any way, but because of the type of characters that were in the book, I didn't care that one of them was dying. In fact, the longer she lived, the more frustrated I became with the book because I was ready to move on. I didn't like the characters, nor did I "appreciate" them, so I didn't shed any tears on their behalf.

Yes, I am made of stone.

(Also, please note that Talk Before Sleep is NOT a grandma-friendly book, and I'm actually kind of shocked that my friend lent it to me knowing what a prude I am).

Some of my favorite characters are from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

First, Jean Valjean - he is the ultimate awesome character. He was convicted for stealing bread to feed his sister's children.



Blurred lines between right and wrong inflicted upon him through the suffering of others!

Gasp! It's wonderful!

Jean Valjean was to serve five years in prison but ended up serving nineteen after four attempted escapes. Prison hardened his heart and roughened him so that, upon his release, he took advantage of Bishop Myriel's kindness by stealing some silver. Bishop Myriel forgave Jean Valjean and told him, "...there will be more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred good men."


Then later, Bishop Myriel told Jean Valjean, "Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man."

So Jean Valjean spent the rest of his days redeeming himself for the wrongs he had committed. Deep down, he really was an honest man. The problem was, he never stopped running from the law, which made him... dun, dun, dun... dishonest.

Which brings me to another amazing character, Inspector Javert.

This is where the word "appreciate" becomes significant because you have to hate Javert - he makes life difficult, and he won't cut anyone a break. But you also have to "appreciate" him because he is so consistent, and he never wavers. The thing about Javert is that he is so caught up in the letter of the law, that he can't look beyond  past offenses. Anytime you start to think that Javert will change, he shocks you by continuing to be Javert.

That is what I love about him.

Javert is so true to himself that he would rather die than refuse to hold up the law.

(By the way... SPOILER ALERT!)

(But seriously, you can't go through life without knowing the story of Les Mis).

I won't, however, spoil The Book Thief for you.

But I will tell you about Rosa Hubermann because she is a solid, quality character.

Rosa is a tough old bat. She takes in Leisl Meminger as a foster child, and for a while you think Leisl is going to be the next Cosette, but...

Rosa has more to her - things I can't tell you because I promised not to ruin the book.

But I "appreciate" her and her foul German tongue (otherwise known as "the art of saumensching").

Aside: here is an illustration of Leisl that my friend Apryl drew in my book while she was riding in a car (forgive my terrible scanning job):


The best character in The Book Thief, though, is Death. Oh! The things I could tell you about Death.

But I won't...

"You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away."

Finding characters that I love so much is a rare joy. There are a lot of Enders out there, but only a few Rosa Hubermanns. 

Are there any characters you've fallen in love with?

"I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn't exist."
-Berkeley Breathed

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Goo Gone Wrong

After having the baby, Thursday and Friday were my first "mostly normal" days. Scotty went to work, Nicky went to school, I went grocery shopping... all of that. While I was at the store on Thursday, I bought some Borax and glue, thinking it would be a good activity for the kids to make homemade goo/flubber/gak on Friday.

So Friday came, and I decided to be Super Mom and make the goo while assembling a lasagna for dinner, like, way before dinner time.

I gave my kids a little pep talk wherein I outlined the Rules of Goo:

Rule #1: The goo can not leave the kitchen!

Rule #2: Don't get goo all over the place!

It turns out, I wasn't specific enough with Rule #2 because Daisy decided it would be so super funny to put the goo in her hair whilst I stirred pasta sauce.

 Hair Goo

It happened RIGHT at that crucial moment where the noodles had 8 seconds left to boil, and the sauce was starting to POP all over the stove, and I needed to produce a colander and a lid simultaneously.

I couldn't tend to Daisy right away, so I grumbled and whined for a second, then turned my back on her and finished cooking. 

While I was cooking, Daisy fetched a fit because she wanted the goo out of her hair "RIGHT NOW!" She ended up throwing herself on the kitchen floor and falling asleep.

And because Nicky can't just sit back peacefully and watch a disastrous situation unfold, he strung goo all over the backs of the bar stools and down his shirt. Not to mention the splats all over the microwave, counter, and floor.

(Seriously?!? What is so hard to comprehend about Rule #2?)

Two hours later, Daisy woke up like this...

Hair Goo

Hair Goo

All I can say is GOO?!? NEVER AGAIN!!!

(And thank heaven for Google because I wouldn't have thought to rinse Daisy's hair in vinegar, and she likely would have ended up with a shaved head. That was one nasty mess!)