Monday, October 27, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

We had an enjoyable four days in Las Vegas over fall break.
(October 15th- 19th)

Our kids had never been to Vegas except for the "In N' Out Burger" on the way to California. They didn't know what to expect. Before we hit the Strip we explained a little about the tourism scene of Vegas. We told them that they would likely see inappropriate billboards and a bunch of other stuff they aren't used to seeing in Salt Lake :) . What were they to do in these situations? Look away. "Though there is a lot of evil on the Strip there is also fun things to look at." It was inspiring to watch as they were in the world but not of the world. Each time they saw something inappropriate they looked away and found something cool to look at.

I'm impressed with today's young children. I think kids these days are stronger than we were at their age. They are smarter, kinder, more faithful, more valiant, more aware, and more prepared. It's a blessing to be on the earth at this time and I have no doubt today's children can handle the world and the life that is ahead of them.

Swimming at the hotel

Watching a diver feed sting rays at the Silverton Casino

Circus Circus

Game Works- next door to MGM

We spent hours there. Jason and Chandler could not get enough.

I'm not a good dancer so this took a lot of concentration.


We went to a dinner show called "Tournament of Kings" where you are served dinner to be eaten with your hands as you watch knights joust. Chandler cheered so loud he lost his voice.

We played games afterwards.

M & M Store

Coca Cola Store

Rainforest Cafe at the MGM


Bellagio Fountain

While there we had an awesome afternoon spending time with Angie and Pascal. They took us to the most delicious pizza restaurant ever... Metro Pizza...soooo good.

We also had fun hanging with the Shumways. We ate at the Siverton buffet with Janet and her kids. After Aaron upgraded his satellite television we watched the BYU game which was a sad loss and spent a night playing the card game Eucre which was also a sad loss for me and Jason.

Our kids want to know, "when are we going back to Vegas?!!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where are we headed?

You guys know I don’t post on here very often. I post when something means a lot to me. Well something means a lot to me at this point in my life and I need to speak about it. This will guaranteed be a long post, so move on if you aren’t into long ones!

Suzanne and I see blogging not just as a way for people to get a glimpse into our life, but mostly as a type of “online journal” that someday our kids will be able to look back at. Scrapbooking for the 21st century without having to buy all that acid free bull crap paper and silly scissors. (I apologize to the scrapbookers out there, I’m sure yours are beautiful!) As far as the online journal goes, I really want my kids someday to look back and see how their dad felt about an important topic, and which side of the fence he sat on. Look at this post as if you were listening in to the conversation I would have with my kids if they were a little older and understood these topics, although I am sure they understand a lot right now. If you are offended I am sorry, this is how I feel.

The issue: Politics and Religion—here we go!!!!

I assume that all of you know my wife and I are LDS (Mormon) unless there are random people we don’t even know looking at this blog, which is unlikely but possible. I want to make sure that is known up front so you can see where I am coming from. Some people would say religion and politics are not connected, but the God I believe in says all things are temporal and spiritual and so I believe politics are intensely spiritual by their nature. By the end of this I will tell you who will get my vote for president. I voted for George Bush in the last two elections, and I have been disappointed in how things have gone. He has let me down as a social and fiscal conservative. I think he missed a huge opportunity to accomplish great good for our country and the world, and it is a shame.

I am going to choose to ignore the issue of the environment and whether or not global warming is something caused by man. I do this for the following reason: It is nowhere near the most important issue facing our country right now. Instead I will discuss a few of what I consider to be the more pressing issues at this time.

Let me start by telling you what I believe about this country. Most of my beliefs about it are tied directly to the teachings of my church. This is because I have grown up as a Mormon and have a testimony that the church is correct in its teachings. I believe this country is a direct result of God’s direction and inspiration to the founders of this country. The constitution was directed by Him (D & C 101:77, 80). Because I believe this to be true, I believe the rights allowed us as citizens in that document to be rights given by God. These rights do not come from “constitutional scholars” or politicians. God gave them to us. If you haven’t read the constitution lately, please do it again with your children, teach them about it and what it says.

Unfortunately, many politicians today seem to be moving further and further away from what I believe to be a sacred document. Government is intruding more and more in the lives of us as a people making it more difficult to be free. People who take a risk and succeed in life are punished by paying excessive taxes, and they are told it is just “their fair share” and will make them “feel more patriotic.” (see Joe Biden).

I will use this opportunity to say I have worked my &*% off to get where I am today and I am offended by those statements. I grew up in a family that would be considered by most to be lower middle or upper lower class. I earned a scholarship for college by studying like crazy in high school, I skipped countless activities in school to study instead and now finally have achieved my goal of my desired profession. I chose it. I could have chosen to have fun and perhaps now have a job that provided less for my income. My choice either way. Don’t punish me for it. I know God couldn’t care less (side note: always been a pet peeve when I hear someone say “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less”) what job any of us have or how much money we make. He has so many more important things to worry about, like whether or not we are doing a good job as a spouse, parent, and neighbor. However, I do believe he wants us to be happy in doing whatever job we choose (and I include the job of Mother as the most difficult, important, and noble job in the world) and I do not believe God has ever punished someone for working hard. His own tax plan is fair, although he goes even further by making tithing OPTIONAL, something I am definitely not promoting for government.

Well that briefly covers my attitude about taxes and where I believe God stands. Don’t punish people who work hard, it makes them want to work less.

This seems like a good transition point to the idea that “Jesus was a liberal.” I have heard that before, often from people in my church who believe in liberal ideals. They often cite references to the scriptures about Jesus’ life and how He cared for people. He did help the downtrodden, maimed, weak, possessed, even dead! I agree and believe this to be true, but the question is how did He help them? I don’t recall the reference where Jesus said “government should help the downtrodden.” Please let me know where that one is. It seems to me His teaching was that PEOPLE should help PEOPLE if they choose to do so, and PEOPLE should often help themselves out of their situation. (Remember the man who had to go wash HIMSELF to be healed of leprosy? Why did he have to do any of the work, why didn’t God just heal him on the spot????)

If Jesus was a liberal (and I don’t believe He was), why isn’t He a liberal now? This will be the point in my post where I make liberal Mormons angry, but that is just how I feel. The church provides welfare to people throughout the world and also locally. Mormon “helping hands,” not Mormon “hand outs.” The church works along side people helping them through tragedy, but also teaches people the value of working for themselves and lifting themselves up. If a Bishop gives assistance to a family, they are expected to use that assistance to work in some way for what they receive, overcome their problem and not have it happen again by being smarter and working harder in the future. (We are saved by grace, AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. 2 Nephi 25:23)

The LDS church does not make any statements as to how people in the church should vote politically, except in the cases of moral issues it deems to be important. However, most people would agree that the majority of active Mormons would consider themselves conservative. (I am going to assume an 80% conservative rate, just for the sake of argument, although I would guess it is closer to 90%.) Why are they conservative? Is that just by dumb luck? Why is it such a majority? If there is a right and wrong choice, who is more likely to be correct? If Jesus believes abortion is wrong and men should only marry women would He support people who don’t? Could I stand in front of Christ and say “you have it wrong….they love each other, what’s the big deal about them getting married? It was a bad time in her life and she just couldn’t have dealt with the baby, aborting it was the right thing, and good thing we had legal abortion huh?” Are you kidding me? Believe me I have many things in my life to be embarrassed and ashamed about in front of my Maker but there is no way I will stand in front of Him and say I supported people who took those views. I believe in living prophets, and living prophets have been extremely clear on these two topics….it is wrong and we shouldn’t support it. By extension we shouldn’t support candidates who do. I know, I know, “but I have gay friends” you might say. Well so do I, but that doesn’t make it right. God loves gays, I agree. But if God and His prophet tell me to fight against gay marriage I am willing to do it. Easy as that. If that includes supporting Proposition 8 in California then fine with me. God said to.

The Book of Mormon is a true book, and we can learn lessons from it for our day. I won’t go into the specifics but I refer you to the story about the Freemen and Kingmen…who is who in today’s politics? Why do so many people today want to give more and more power to the government, rather than leaving the power where it should be, with the people? Remember WE THE PEOPLE? Who are the terrorists in the Book of Mormon stories?

This is already way too long, and I could go on forever on these and many other topics, but let me summarize a bit.

God created this planet.

God designed this country and was directly involved in its organization.

I love this country and am willing to fight for what I think is right, including (and not to be dramatic) with my own life if I need to.

Protecting this country from evil is in the best interest of God, His church, and us as his children.

The free market and a democratic republic as organized by the founding fathers are better than socialism.

Politicians are taking away the ideals of this country by cleverly disguising them in the name of “Tolerance” and “Freedom” and “Choice.”

Politicians have way too much power and are intruding more and more on our lives as citizens, over taxing, over spending, and dictating how my money should be spent.

Moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion have been clearly discussed by prophets who speak to God, and they have asked us to fight against these as evils.

If Jesus was a liberal, He isn’t now, and He isn’t real big on the switching back and forth thing, He seems to be a “same now and forever” kind of guy.

Although “progressives” see the “sheep mentality” as bad, Jesus himself described us as His sheep. Perhaps looking to the prophets and the majority of active Mormons for guidance has less of a chance of steering us the wrong direction than going against the grain would. Ask yourselves what is it about Obama that makes him so attractive to the people in Hollywood? If any one group of people go completely against me in everything I believe about God it is them. That is one group of sheep I don’t want to be caught dead with! Also, I think it is a fair question to ask yourself who President Monson will and will not be voting for. He is a man who talks to God and sees the future. I think he votes accordingly, and chooses candidates he feels are the most likely to promote the work of God. Is that Obama?

I don’t want our country taken away from us by liberal ideals.

In two weeks we will have the chance to vote for president of the United States. Was Jesus wrong when he wrote the constitution? Was that just too old school? I want my kids to know that in 2008, when the economy was bad, the terrorists (gadianton robbers) were at our doorstep, and the politicians (kingmen) were promoting their ideals and their power, I DID NOT vote for Barack Obama. He will likely win the election, but I want them to know it wasn’t with my support. So my vote is NOT BARACK OBAMA. Please don’t assume by this I am voting for John McCain…I agree with him on his moral stands and his military/foreign policy, but his economics stink like a big pile of liberal over spending. All of this puts me in a position where I will most likely be voting but not for either of the two “big party” candidates.

May God continue to bless the USA like he has in the past. I hope we are not heading down the wrong side of the Book of Mormon cycle, but I fear we are. Too many people are being pacified and led to believe our founding fathers had it wrong all along.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I didn't know I sang

A few days after my last post was published I watched this video from my good friend Janet's blog. I had to watch it a couple times to get all the words. The song goes along so well with my last post and describes my days remarkably accurately. I smiled. I laughed. Got a little choked up. And it felt good to know that maybe I'm not as abnormal as I thought I was.

From feeling dead in the morning, pushing the snooze button three times, praying for help to not pull out my hair as I get revved up for the day. Captain Crunch for breakfast, plopping Ethan in front of Sesame Street- a small price to pay for my sanity. Dishes, laundry, scrubbing the floor, bathrooms, vacuuming, the thought "I really should hire help" crossing my mind :), errands, paying the bills, e-mailing, blogging, diaper changing, homework, lessons, taking friends home, picking kids up, pizza for dinner... and at the end of the day when Jason asks, "what did you do today?", a common response is "just the usual".

This is Hilary Weeks, an LDS song writer who performs at women conferences across the country. (I got to see her four years ago at a conference in Spokane). I think she wrote this song for me :)


Thanks Janet for the song.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm in my groove

September started the season of school and having a schedule. I will admit, I don't mind having a scheduled life. There is nothing wrong with knowing exactly where I will be at any given hour of any given day. Spontaneity... who needs it?

Alarm goes off every morning at 7:15 a.m.
Kids off to school at 8:20 a.m.

Mondays: Go to the gym for two hours (pilates & weight lifting), leave just in time to pick up Morgan from kindergarten, shower, clean up. Chandler and Ashytn get home from school at 3:30, tackle homework, reading, piano practicing, and football or hockey practice for Chandler. At 8 p.m. I swim at the rec. center with my neighbors and Jason wraps up the night with the kids.

Tuesdays: Get Chandler off to school early for chorus, clean the house, go to the gym for one hour (cycle class), get home and shower just in time for a Relief Society meeting. Kids get home from school and immediately leave to take Ashtyn and her friend Lucy to gymnastics. Homework, piano, dinner, and cross my fingers for a 9 p.m. bedtime.

Wednesdays: Go to the gym for two hours (weight lifting & treadmill running), shower, possible lunch with Mom, Wendy, and Jen. As soon as Chandler and Ashtyn get home from school we are off to Morgan's ballet from 4-5 p.m. and Ashtyn's Jazz dance from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Jared or Kristi help out getting Chandler to football that starts at 6:00 p.m. After getting home the nightly routine begins. The night can not end without "Wednesday Women's Night" which simply means that Ashtyn, Morgan, and I lay in one of the girls beds and we talk...ya know... like about who is in love with who, and who said what about what....

Thursdays: Early morning chorus for Chandler, gym for one hour (cycle class), get caught up around the house and errands. Morgan leaves at 3 p.m. with my neighbor Wendy for gymnastics, Ashtyn stays an hour later at school for "studio kids"-singing and acting. At 4:30 I pick up Ashtyn from school, drive 20 min to pick up Morgan from gymnastics at 5:00 p.m. Get Chandler to piano at 5:30-6:00, scouts from 6:00- 7:00 and Ashtyn to piano at 6:00-6:30 p.m. By the end of the night we have to make sure Chandler and Ashtyn know all their spelling words and math facts for Friday's tests!

Fridays: Chandler goes to school early for student council rep. meeting. Ashtyn and Morgan get off to school on their scooters and Ethan and I leave to the gym for two hours (pilates & treadmill running). The running class I take is at the same time Morgan gets out of kindergarten so my mom has been awesome about picking Morgan up from school!!! Chandler and Ashtyn get home at 1:50 p.m. Morgan has "Up with kids" (music/theatre class) from 3-4 p.m., Ashtyn has "Up with kids" from 4-5 p.m., and Chandler has football from 5-7 p.m. "Let's do something fun after football!"

Saturdays: Chandler has a football game AND a hockey game each Saturday. Saturday evening and night is "chill and do whatever you want at home night" for Jason and the kids. I leave for work at 6:30 p.m.

Sundays: I get home from work at 8:00 a.m., nap until 11:30, go to church at 12:30 p.m., get home at 3:30 p.m., have a family dinner at my parents' or Jason's parents' house. We have to get home early and go to bed because the next day is Monday...the start to another eventful, fun filled week!!!

Who says we're over scheduled???

The schedule is actually working out really well. So far it seems we are all in the groove and life is good. (I try to keep my "flipping out" moments to a minimum.)

My hope is in a few years my kids will pick their ONE TRUE extracurricular LOVE, hopefully not several and hopefully nothing naughty.

I would like to take this opportunity to express feelings of gratitude. I would like to thank my reliable and very dirty minivan for driving 6 1/2 hours a week, my washer and dryer for doing 21 loads of laundry a week, the inventor of ponytail holders that allow me to "do" my hair in 18 seconds, (I splurge by styling my hair twice a week...tops), my almost always content and pleasant two year old side-kick, and the beautiful weather we had in September. Thanks also to Jared, Kristi, and Wendy H for helping in the taxi department and to Jen and my mom who are always willing to give a helping hand to my active family. Thanks to Jason who is a very helpful, hands on father and partner. He assists by doing whatever he is asked to do...that is often a lot of cleaning, laundry folding, and taxi driving.

I have thought about priorities and wanting to make sure I don't forget the IMPORTANT activities of life. These responsibilities should be on my schedule as well.

President Hinckley gave us great advice about prioritizing. He said, “You have to establish in your life some sense of prioritizing things, of giving emphasis to the important things and of laying aside the unimportant things that will lead to nothing. Establish a sense of justice, a sense of what is good and what is not good, what is important and is not important; and that can become a marvelous and wonderful blessing in your lives.”

We have discovered a few techniques for us that have been working pretty well so far...

1. Every morning read scriptures to kids while they eat breakfast. (I LOVE TO MULTITASK).
2. Say a prayer together right before the kids head out the door.
3. Jason reads me the scriptures before we go to bed. ---My time to relax :)
4. I found the best time to go to the temple is on a weekday morning when Jason has the day off.

AND in writing this I have discovered the perfect time for us to have
5. Friday night will be our designated FHE night.
Hey!!! I'm a scheduler. If it's not on my written or mental agenda it doesn't get done.