It was a good week for my news feed

Categories: Health, Learn Something

I learned several interesting things this week as I skimmed through the headlines in my news feed and elsewhere.

With regards to gratitude:
Facebook analyzed what English speakers in the US were most likely to be thankful for by state. The results were kind of interesting. People are actually thankful for YouTube? People need to get a life. Arizona being thankful for rain isn’t that surprising.

Researchers have done studies and determined that we are more grateful when we feel the person doing the service was acting out of their own free will rather than having been forced in some way or another to do the service. Makes sense to me. Nobody wants to feel like a project. But everyone loves getting cookies out of the blue.

With regards to dinosaurs:
Paleontologists are rather annoyed with Hollywood for ignoring the last 30 years of dinosaur research in the making of the new Jurassic Park movie. The movie dinosaurs are too big and don’t have any feathers. I find it rather funny but I’m going to side with the paleontologists on this one. Real dinosaurs are much more fascinating and reality is often much scarier than fiction.

With regards to health:
Being fat is responsible for a large percentage of new cancer cases, especially in North America. Interestingly, they expect the trend to only increase as economic prosperity spreads. People get rich. They get fat. They get cancer. Given my family history of cancer I’m willing to do whatever it takes to reduce my odds. Maintaining a healthy weight is definitely one of the things I can control.

Count your many blessings

Categories: Happy Things

Today’s the day a lot of people use to publicly express what they are grateful for. And that’s what I’d planned on doing today too. Because I do have a lot to be grateful for. Oh so many things.

But now that I’m full of good food and have spent the day with my family, it feels like any public list of my blessings would seem insincere. So I feel a bit stumped for just what to write tonight.

Last year we did an activity with the Young Women that was kind of like Scattergories. A random letter was chosen and they were given one minute to list as many blessings as they could that started with that letter. We did 10 or 12 rounds and at the end some of the young women had listed 150-200 blessings, all in under 12 minutes. I really hadn’t expected numbers that big. They taught me that counting your blessings isn’t hard.

So I’m going to count my blessings. And I’m going to express gratitude to the people who need to hear it. And I’m going to enjoy my cheese cake.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The 100 Most Influential People in Your Life

Categories: Life, Musings

At the end of every year magazines, news organizations, websites, all come out with their top 10 lists of events, people, songs, etc. Someone put together a list of who they consider to be the 100 most influential people of the last millennium. I think it’s a pretty good list. I might rearrange the order a bit if it were me, but it’s a start.

In college I took my history of civilization courses at BYU through the Special Collections at the library. As part of the final the second semester we had to write an essay about the most influential person in each century since the invention of the printing press. That final (that particular essay was only part of it) took me the entire allotted 3 hours, a blue book and a half, and I couldn’t straighten my arm or open my fingers when I finished because I’d been writing straight for the entire 3 hours. Gutenberg was definitely part of that essay.

My life is still being influenced, however I’m sure I could come up with the 100 most influential people in my own life already.

The list would of course include my parents, and those who helped them get together. And their parents, even though I did not know either of my grandmas well, the lives they lived have played a part in who I am today. I would not be who I am without my siblings who made growing up the adventure that it was. Brett is certainly one of the most influential people in my life, with an influence that grows daily. And our children, the one sleeping in her crib right now, the ones I never got the chance to meet in this life, and the ones I’ll meet in the future.

My list would include the teachers I had who encouraged me to be a teacher myself. The ones who helped me discover my interests in different subjects, who pushed me to be better. It would include the ones who gave me examples of the kind of teacher I wanted to be. It would include the professors who stretched my mind and showed me there was more possible then I’d yet imagined. And the students I’ve had. The ones who opened my heart wide and crawled right in, the ones who challenged me, the ones who excited me with their enthusiasm.

My list would include the church leaders and teachers who helped me understand the gospel as well as those who helped me understand the type of leader and teacher I wanted to be when I grew up. It would include the teachers and leaders I’ve served with as an adult. Especially the three who helped Brett and I get together and the one who helped us as our doula when Iddo was born.

And friends. Oh the friends I’ve had. A lot of them I’m no longer in contact with because no matter how strongly you promised to write when one or the other moved, it never lasted. But that doesn’t change their influence. I wonder if our children will have that problem since social media has made it easy to stay in contact with/stalk just about everyone you meet. Some came into my life and filled a need at the time and we’ve since moved on. Others are still actively influencing my life.

The list would also include a few who wouldn’t immediately come to mind because their influence didn’t exactly come about in a positive way. Like the girl in 7th-grade who decided she hated me and tried to get everyone else to hate me and by the end of the year had no friends. She taught me that I should be myself and those who mattered would see the truth. Which is why about 7 years ago when another girl decided she hated me and tried to get everyone else to hate me, I mainly just laughed.

There are so many people in my life who have had an influence, large and small, who probably do not know the difference they made in my life. It makes me hope that the influence I’m having on those around me is a positive one even if I wouldn’t make their list of the top 100 people.

Favorite Things – The Thanksgiving meal edition

Categories: Food

We pulled the turkey out of the freezer today so it can spend the next two days thawing in the fridge to get ready for Thursday. I also pulled out 2 pounds of ground beef so they can thaw and we can mix up the hamburgers tonight that we’re grilling tomorrow (because this whole week is about putting as many leftovers in the fridge as possible). When people ask us what our plans are for Thanksgiving I tell them we’re planning to eat a lot of food.

There are three large kitchen items that I love because they make all that food prep so much easier.

First – I love our slow cooker. It’s just the 3 of us so we just buy a turkey breast and it’s more than enough. Thursday morning the first thing we’ll do is put it in the slow cooker and turn the thing on. Then we sit back and enjoy the parade.

Second – I love our Bosch mixer. Ours is old (the one linked is new), but that just shows they knew how to make them back then and that it’s a dependable company. We’ll mix up the dough for the rolls in the Bosch and then get those baking (because the oven is free). Yummy, fresh, warm rolls. Several will not make it to the dinner table.

Third – I love our pressure cooker. I know they can be used for a lot of things but we use it to cook beans in around 15 minutes and to cook mashed potatoes in under half an hour. No peeling. No dicing. No boiling forever. We scrub the potatoes, throw them whole into the pressure cooker. And when it’s all done we drain out the water and mix them up right in the pressure cooker, adding milk, butter, and sour cream (we like adding mayonaise too but Iddo is allergic to it). Our 8 pound turkey breast will be matched with about 8 pounds of mashed potatoes.

Enjoy your dinners! I know we’ll be enjoying ours. :D

Familly is work. But it’s good work.

Categories: Family, Happy Things

Last month I wrote a piece for the website A Practical Wedding titled “This Magic Moment” about some of the magic moments that have happened in our family. I’m actually really proud of how it turned out.

As the days of our family continue forward we continue adding moments to the clock. Tonight we added the moment when we asked Iddo if she was done with dinner. She burped and then raised her hands and said “All done!” And we died laughing. It’s those moments that keep us going.

Because there are other moments that just make you want to stop, throw your hands in the air, and scream. Or cry. It gets hard. Your roof gets damaged. The neighborhood cats kill another bird in your backyard. You discover a leak under your kitchen faucet. Or you’re just plain tired.

Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Which is wrong. Love what you do and you’ll feel it’s worth it. Love what you do and you’ll keep pushing through the bad parts. Love what you do and you’ll make it work. But it’s going to be work.

Marriage is work. Family is work. But they are work I love doing. They are work that is so worth doing. They are work that fulfill me and make me feel whole. They are work filled with moments of pure laughter, moments of pure magic, and moments of pure love. And that’s the best kind of work there is.

Born with the Light of Christ

Categories: Gospel

This morning over waffles Brett and I were wondering why it is exactly that it seems universal for toddlers to fling themselves on the ground when they throw a fit. Just what does that accomplish? As long as Iddo isn’t flinging herself on the tile floor (which she’s done a time or two and watching her head hit makes me sick so we stop that quick if we haven’t been able to prevent it in the first place), we tend to let her fling and she can come find us when she’s done.

Children are born with more than just a universal way to throw a tantrum though. They are born with a moral compass. A study done on babies as young as 3-months-old indicates they already know to reward good, helpful people and bad, unhelpful people are not nice. They have a conscience. They understand the basics of morality.

In other words, we are born with the Light of Christ. We are born with the ability to judge between right and wrong, an ability that is honed and developed as we grow, but which is there in embryo from the start. “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil;” (see Moroni 7:16-18).

Iddo is already learning how to use that light, or spirit, to help her in this life. I’ve watched her be real excited to see people who are nice to her and I’ve watched her give the side-eye to people who, while they aren’t mean, don’t take her wants and desires seriously (like picking her up when she has in no way indicated she wants to be). Her side-eye is definitely different from her expression when she’s just not familiar with a person yet. And I didn’t have to teach her that. I’ve reinforced it, but she already came knowing good from evil.

Children are definitely not a blank slate. No tabula rasa here. No born evil and needing to beat it out of them. Children are born good. And they are born knowing the basics of what else is good in this life too.

Boringly healthy

Categories: Health

A few weeks ago they thought they heard some heart palpitations, an irregular irregularity, at my doctor’s office so they referred me to a heart center. I thought they were hearing things. But decided I’d get it checked for their peace of mind.

The heart center called after getting the referral and we set up the appointment. When I told the person on the phone the situation surrounding the supposed palpitations she agreed with me that pretty much everything is irregular for me right now and it was probably nothing.

I had the appointment yesterday afternoon. The only other person in the waiting room even close to my age was a health assistant there taking care of a very old person.

They did an electrocardiogram and you have never seen anything more regular in your life. Every single heart beat is exactly like the one before.

They listened to my lungs and told me I have great lungs. They listened to my heart and told me it sounded beautiful. They found out I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t use caffeine, and I don’t add salt to my food and told me I’m boringly healthy. The only thing they could say is my blood pressure is just a little low.

Given my past history of going to the doctor it was kind of nice to go to one and be told I am perfectly normal.