Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Life As a Mormon: A Living Prophet and General Conference

I've slacked on writing My Life As a Mormon posts, but I've decided I would like to try to write one every Sunday. I honestly don't know how many people are reading my blog and how far it is being reached. I don't know if people who don't know me personally read this or not, I don't know if Mormons or atheists or Catholics or whoever read this. But I do know that I share a lot of information on here - I share hopes, dreams, fears, thoughts, opinions, experiences, memories, photos - I share my life on this blog.  I've found that because I am honest and because I am real, people feel comfortable coming to me when they have questions. And that is very important to me. That is one of my main goals in writing this blog: For people to see me for who I am - someone who is imperfect in so many ways, someone who makes mistakes, someone  you can relate to and laugh with and cry with and maybe even call a friend (whether we've met or not).

A huge part of my life stems from my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and if I didn't share that part of what makes me who I am, then I wouldn't be writing honestly. Plus, there a lot of different ideas about what Mormons believe and I'd rather people with questions find answers from Mormons than from other sources. So I want to renew my efforts in sharing this portion of my life with you, and I will start it up again by discussing our belief in a living prophet who leads our church.

Every 6 months our prophet, his 2 counselors, the 12 apostles, and other general authorities gather together at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City to give instruction to our church and also, to the world. They share revelations, guidance, counsel, life experiences, scripture, and so much more. This is called General Conference.

In one week I will gather my family around our little computer screen and we will watch General Conference together. There will be 2 two-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Their words are not merely nice, feel-good sentiments or suggestions. They are, quite literally, straight from God.

Simply put, God speaks to these men, and these men speak to us. They are the Lord's mouthpiece.

(Because I am still being honest with you: After I typed those words, I asked myself if I really believed them. Do I really believe that God communicates with these men? Enough to proclaim it on my public blog for all to read? And my answer was Yes. I do believe that. Just to doubly emphasize...)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency has commented on the vital importance of modern-day prophets:

“Because Heavenly Father loves His children, He has not left them to walk through this mortal life without direction and guidance... That is why He pleads so earnestly with us through His prophets. Just as we want what is best for our loved ones, Heavenly Father wants what is best for us. ... Our fate and the fate of our world hinge on our hearing and heeding the revealed word of God to His children.” (source)

What does this mean for me personally? Well, it means I will not only listen to my prophet's voice, but I will heed his counsel. I will seek out his word and trust it as the word of God. Because God knows me, my needs, and my concerns, I also know that if I prayerfully watch conference with a question in my heart, I will find an answer. One of the speakers will address my concern and I will receive yet another confirmation that the Lord has heard my prayers and has an answer for me. Elder Jeffry R. Holland testifies of this in the video below:

Growing up, the president and prophet of our church was Gordon B. Hinckley. I loved that man. My father, who is not a Mormon, also liked to hear from him. I remember one time I was visiting my dad over General Conference weekend. He told me, "Tell me when that Hinckley man speaks. I like listening to him." This was a testimony to me of the power of president Hinckley, and the good that everyone could recognize in him, even if they didn't believe he was a prophet.

Then, when Hinckley died, I was challenged by my seminary teacher to pray and ask God for a confirmation that the new prophet, Thomas S. Monson, was truly called of God to lead our church. I did so with an open heart, a strong desire to know, and faith that I would receive an answer. And, as a 15-year-old girl, the Lord did confirm to me that Monson was a prophet of God and that I would do well to follow his counsel. I have never forgotten that and often reflect on it when I hear him speak.

If you want to know more about our prophets and apostles, if you want to hear what kinds of things they are telling the world, what kinds of things God is telling the world - then please, watch a session or two of General Conference on October 6 & 7, beginning at 10am mountain daylight time. Or feel free to contact me.

More resources:
Prophets and Apostles
Why do we need prophets?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flying with an infant

*I have a few posts I've been working on since Axton and I returned from our travels back in July. I am only just now finishing this one, and have more to come.


Traveling with an infant is hard. Traveling with an infant... by yourself? It's nearly impossible. Buuuuut we did it.

We flew on three different airlines, had three different destinations, and had a lay-over with each one - which meant getting on and off an airplane 6 times total.

We left our house on July 11th at 5am. I had Axton in a front carrier, his diaper bag strapped over my shoulders, my duffel bag wheeling behind me, and his carseat delicately placed ontop of my bag. As we walked away from Adam, I felt like I was balancing a stack of books on my head - one wrong move and it would all come crashing down. But still I risked a glance back at Adam, and it was then that I realized how crazy this whole idea was. It felt like a movie scene - the camera zooming in on me, my eyes growing wide and a look of panic crossing my face. What the heck was I thinking? And I turned my head back, and kept walking.

I carefully rolled and dragged everything along with me to the check-in lines, but still my bag managed to tip to the side. And we all know it's impossibly difficult to get a too-heavy wheely bag right-side up after it's already in the wrong direction, taking your hand and wrist along with it. But I sacrificed the comfort of my wrist and somehow got it on its wheels again (with no help from the man behind me, clearly seeing me struggle). I was just breathing a sigh of relief as I stood at the end of the line when I heard a voice behind me. It was still pretty early for me, so it was one of those times where you don't recognize English. (Does that ever happen to you? Or is it just me?) I seriously thought he was speaking another language, so I ignored him. Three times I ignored him, and about 5 seconds after the third time it finally registered in my brain that he was not, in fact, speaking Indian, and that he was, in fact, speaking to me. In plain English.

"Your shoe is untied."

My shoe is untied? That's what you wanted to tell me? So helpful. Especially after he just saw me struggling so much.

"Oh," I said sticking my leg way out in front of me so I could actually see it over Axton (it was like I was pregnant all over again!). Well indeed it was untied. But there was NO WAY I was going to bend down and tie it, what with the balance of the entire universe resting on my suitcase, my child, my diaper bag, and his carseat.

"Thanks." I said, and shrugged.

When we finally were able to check in my bag and his carseat, things got a bit easier. All I had to deal with now was my child and his diapers. Easy enough right? Even security wasn't that bad, (since my shoe was already untied, and everything) and they let me keep him in his carrier while I went through the metal detector.

I even sent my mom this picture and the text: "I'm so lucky! He is so easygoing!"

And while I am lucky and he is easygoing, the hard parts weren't even close to being over yet.

Because then he got hungry and needed a diaper change and I got hungry and needed to go to the bathroom.

Well, so, we found a nice quiet area and I whipped out my boob apron and we did our thing, as (in)conspicuous as ever, of course. And that in itself really is an accomplishment, especially now that Axton's arms flail all over the place and he has to eat out of both sides and I have to balance his too-long body on my too-short lap while I go through FOUR layers of clothing to get his food available to him. Ho-hum, old news.

Then we go to the bathroom to change him, and that's when we find the nice side room with a locking-door and a chair for nursing mothers. Well....that would have been nice. But I remember to look for this in future airport bathrooms. Now I've got to get him out of his carrier, which means hoisting him over my shoulder so I can pull it off his chunky little thighs, holding one leg at a time so he doesn't fall down my back. I change his diaper and place him back over my back and get him re-settled into his carrier - it's all so tedious and time-consuming for such silly little things - and now it's my turn to go to the bathroom.

I feel bad that the poor kid's got to just sit there, his legs draped over mine so they aren't in the line of fire, while I use the toilet. But what else was I supposed to do? I wouldn't trust a single soul to hold my child while I do this, and I am not putting him anywhere near the floor - so attached to me he must be while I pee. I have to fumble one-handed with my belt a bit (A LOT) as it sits directly underneath his 15 pound body, but we make it work.

After everyone (him and I, that is, but it sure felt like a whole lot more than just two people I was taking care of, especially with how much I was sweating!) was both fed and drained, it was time to board the plane. And since I was traveling with a child, I was able to board among the first. Which meant that the majority of the plane walked past Axton and I, saw that they were lucky enough to be on a flight with an infant, and gave me "the look." You know, the one that says they are clearly not going to enjoy their flight now and it's all my fault?

And why must they give the woman with the baby a window seat? Everyone knows we're going to have to get up and down and up and down so why do they insist on shoving me in the corner? I hate it when everyone is juuuust getting settled in and turning on their ipods and leaning their seats back and maybe even closing their eyes already, and then here I come, a fake smile underneath my wrinkled nose: " you mind? We have to go to the bathroom."

And we really did have to go to the bathroom because, although I had just breastfed my baby in public prior to boarding the plane, I simply could not do it sitting this close to two other (male) strangers. Our elbows were touching, for goodness' sake! I wasn't about to bring out the goods, even if my apron was "covering" things.

I did try. I even got as far as reaching into the diaper bag, pulling out the apron, and setting it on my lap. And then I let it sit there for a few minutes. And I thought a lot of thoughts in those minutes - that, really, it's not a big deal and frankly I should be able to do this wherever and whenever I please and no one should really be all that uncomfortable about it. And then my nose scrunched up again and I shook my head and stuffed the apron back in the bag. I couldn't take him to the bathroom to feed him since we were required to be in our seats at that time. Instead I brought out a bottle of milk and gave that to Axton.

Since I had given Axton a bottle instead of feeding him from myself, I was feeling pretty.....tight......near the end of the flight.

Oh, who am I kidding? "Tight" is a huge understatement. My chest was literally rock-hard and nearing explosion. The soreness was getting to the point that even my armpits were hurting and I could hardly raise my arms above my head. So we made the nice gentlemen get out of their seats ("Sorry, so sorry....thank you...sorry..thanks.....sorry.................thanks") so we could go to the bathroom this time. After releasing the pressure (hallelujah!) I figured I might as well change Axton's diaper while we were here. I turned around and realized....this was going to be difficult. How - and where - was going to balance him? I ended up putting him on the top of the toilet cover (ew, I know. But at least I had a diaper changer cover pad thingamabober - doodad to go underneath him). Things got a little hairy and scary during some turbulence and he very nearly slipped right off that toilet but I caught him just in time (gosh, mother-of-the-year award, right here, huh?). Of course the "Fasten Seatbelts" sign came on in the middle of everything and I started panicking, worrying that a flight attendant would be banging down the door any second now and my son wasn't diapered and I wasn't even fully clothed yet and just what would I do then?
But no flight attendant knocked and we quickly pulled ourselves together, made the two nice gentlemen get up once again ("Sorry, thanks. Sorry. Every. Time.), and then we buckled up.

And all this was just flight number one.

We barely made our connecting flight, and then did it all over again. Then I had a week break while visiting my mom in Idaho before having to do it again, this time heading to Minnesota. And finally, after one week with my dad, we were on the trip home.

Axton really did do amazing on all the flights. He didn't cry at all (thanks to his pacifier that he loves) and I received several compliments on his happy attitude, as well as a few "How old is he? Eight months? .....Oh my! He's only eight weeks? Well, I was a bit off!"

Only one lady made me really mad.

It was my last airport, checking in my last bags to go home. She asked to see proof of age for Axton, so I handed her his birth certificate. She was tapping away on the keyboard and then all of a sudden she started laughing.

Wondering what could be so funny about my son's birth certificate, I gave her a furrowed-eyebrows look.

"He's only 10 weeks old?"



"....." I still didn't see what was funny about that.

"Oh my gosh! He was NINE POUNDS ELEVEN OUNCES?" She said this, my friends, while still laughing.
LAFF. ING. She was laughing at me, at my baby, at his size. Laughing so much, in fact, that it grabbed the attention of the attendant one computer over - who happened to be a guy.

"What so funny?"

"This baby was NINE POUNDS!"

Again, all I could do was stare at her with my head cocked to the side, my brows knitted in disbelief, and the only word coming out of my mouth: Yep.

The guy said, "Is that big?"

Which, of course, made the woman laugh even harder. "Oh yeah that's big!"

"Does that make you just shudder at the thought of it?" the man said. I definitely wanted to punch him then. What did he know? How could he even make a comment like that?

"Psh, yeah!" Laugh, laugh, giggle, giggle.

I did not find any of this funny. "Yep." Again with the yep. "He was a big boy. Vaginal, too." Real proud of that one. I snatched his birth certificate back as quick as I could and walked away.

And then I cursed her with a million thirty-pound babies that all had colic and acid reflex.

Anywho. Bottom line for traveling with babies:

  • Look in the airport bathrooms for nursing rooms - some of them have one and some of them don't. 
  • Use a front carrier so you can have your hands free (LIFESAVER!)
  • Double check with your airline about how they handle Infant Plane Tickets. They all do it differently - some you have to call in with the baby's information after purchasing your ticket, some you can add online, some don't need anything, but most need a birth certificate.
  • People, for the most part, are pretty understanding. The majority of them are parents themselves and have gone through exactly what you're going through. They won't hate you as much as you think they will if your child screams the whole flight. Only just a little. And even if they do, so what? They will move on and forget about pretty quick.
  • Look in the airplane bathrooms for a diaper changer table (so you don't have to change your kid on the toilet seat). Some of them have one, and some of them don't. 
  • Use a bottle, pacifier, or, if you're brave, a breast, to give baby something to suck on while the plane is going up and coming down - this will help their ears with the altitude changes.
  • Carseats and strollers are free to check in! Also, with some airlines, you are allowed one additional carry-on item besides the bag used for baby (such as the diaper bag). And liquids used to feed the baby (breastmilk, formula) or also allowed on flight. 
  • One friend suggested having earplugs to hand out to the people sitting next to you. I didn't do this but I bet it might help make friends faster!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Using Cloth Diapers

When I was trying to decide if I wanted to try cloth diapers with Axton, I came across a lot of different blogs and styles and do's and don'ts and frankly I found it all very overwhelming and confusing. I literally read for hours and hours on the oh-so-exciting topic of what to wrap around my son's butt and how to get the best deal on them and how to wash them and yadda yadda yadda. But! I am here to tell you that cloth diapers are not as bad as you might think. Here's my own two cents, just to add to the already abundant wealth of information on the web.

I am going to try to simplify things by posting pictures and not using any abbreviations like AIO or CPF or PUL. And I even had to google "cloth diaper abbreviations" to even know those ones.

A review on Gdiapers, to begin with:

They sucked. Let me tell you why.

For one thing, they are expensive.

For another, I had a big baby who never fit into the newborn size. There goes 60 bucks down the toilet instantly (not really cuz I was able to sell them on Ebay, but I still lost some money on them).

The next size up, size Small, were still too small for my 9.5 pound infant. Both the disposable and the cloth inserts leaked every time I used them, no matter what business he did in there. Leak, leak, leak.
So I gave up on Gdiapers pretty quick.

So then I ordered AlvaBaby and SunBaby diapers. Both are companies in China and are super cheap. I was a little hesitant to order from them, but everything came when they said it would and looked great. However, instead of being too small for our 2 week old babe, these diapers were too big. So we used disposable diapers on Axton until he was about 8 weeks. After that, he fit into them fine. This is how we use them:

Oops! Someone has a dirty diaper!

First adjust the snaps on the outside of the diaper to fit your baby:

Lay out your diaper:

Then take your cloth insert: 

and either lay it on top:

Or stuff it inside: 
(I lay the cloth on top so I can reuse the outer shell, but I have to change the insert more often)

Then snap it up and put it on your adorable little babe:

Warning: They do give the tushie extra padding, so be prepared to dress baby in bigger onesies!

We rinse the dirty insert (and the outer shell, too, if necessary) out in our tub (you may think that's gross, but we never use our bath. Plus, he is solely breastfed so there aren't any solids in there! Once he does start solids, I will use a spray and spray it in the toilet). Then we throw them into a bucket that is filled with water and Bac Out. I wash them every 2-3 days with a small amount of laundry detergent.

We only use cloth when we are at home - when we are out and about we use disposables. We also use a disposable diaper for nighttime. That's it! Totally simple. It may be completely "wrong" but it works for us.

And for you non-mommies out there: This was probably a bit boring, and you're most likely rolling your eyes at my now-boring Mommy blog but here are some more super cute photos of Axton, hopefully that will make up for it?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was number 1 on my anniversary wish-list this year.
Followed closely by Cheesecake Factory (yum). 

Friday, September 7, 2012

3 years

The past year of marriage has been a bit different from the previous two. This year, I was pregnant. This year, I gave birth. This year...we became parents.

Pregnancy did things to me that, frankly, weren't pretty. Some things were just downright ugly. And the weeks following delivery? They were far, far worse.

But Adam held my hand through it all, every step of the way. Not only that, but I don't think he missed one. single. day. of telling me how beautiful I am. He thought my round, pregnant body was sexy. Held me while I cried over nothing. Made me laugh when that was the last thing I felt like doing. Cheered me on in my very weakest moment - and assured me that, yes, I really did have the strength to push Axton out in the those last unsure hours of labor. Swung my legs over the side of the bed when I could no longer do it myself (both before and after delivery). Simply put, he loved me. All of me. Outside, inside, good, bad, ugly, sad. It did not matter. Nothing changed in our relationship - except for, it did. It strengthened.

Everything we experience together - and there have been a lot of new experiences this past year - just brings us closer and makes us that much happier that we chose each other. And that we continue to choose each other. We choose us. Always and forever.

Adam, you're my favorite.

1 year.
2 years.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Doing is becoming

Now that Axton, Adam, and I are all getting pretty well settled into a routine that is normal and healthy and, for the most part, happy, I'm determined that not only can I be more than a wife and mom, but I need to be. It's your typical "I can't completely lose my identity to motherhood" syndrome. 

So I asked myself what other identities would I like to have? What kind of person do I want to be? What kinds of things do I want to spend my time doing? 

I decided on 3 things I wanted to be:

A photographer
A writer
A runner

And because in order to be these things, I must do these things, This is how I am working on photographing, writing, and running:
  • Someone asked me to take their quite-active boys' photos when I was very pregnant (and there wasn't much of a time during my pregnancy that I wasn't very pregnant). At first my answer was yes....and then I pictured myself getting low to the ground, trying to bend my awkward belly into just the right position to get the perfect shot or running behind those wild boys, waddling like a penguin and gasping for air....and I had to turn right back around and tell her no, I think I will take a maternity leave. And actually, that was quite a fun thought to me, that I could say that. Anywho, the point of this story is to tell you that, after quite a long maternity leave,     I am back in the photography business! We had to get rid of my old website we worked so hard on, but I am in the process of shifting things to a blog. Check it out here, become a follower, leave a comment! Better yet, book a session!
  • I am working on a personal essay on my journey through pregnancy and early motherhood to submit to a contest. If there was a particular post or thought that I've shared on this blog that you really enjoyed, I would totally appreciate you mentioning it and I will include it in the essay. That would mean loads to me! And maybe I will even share it on here, if I happen to be pleased with the final product.
  • I will be running in the Baltimore 5k on October 13th. It may not seem like much to you experienced runners out there, but it's quite the task for this four-month-postpartum body of mine. I needed a goal and a deadline, and this race provided both. Adam and Axton may be joining me, but that's up to Adam. I have decided that running is for me. I even stopped bringing my dog with me because he slowed me down too much and I just needed something that I did solely for me. So now I leave the dog at home and I fly. Well, you know, I feel like I do, anyway... you know, one of these syndromes: