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!