Friday, January 30, 2009

Fairy Tale Ordeal

Anyone who's talked to me about little girls finds out pretty quick I'm a little anti-princess. That's a little odd when you consider I was raised on Disney classics and can sing almost word-for-word every song from Snow White to Pocahontas. One of the books I read recently had a discussion between two female characters - one who wanted to be married and have babies at 18 and the other who was OK to not get married until she was 30 and hadn't even thought about children. It made me stop and look at our little Katie Bug and wonder about all the messages she will hear throughout her life telling her what her life should be about. This is where my beef with fairy tales comes in. How do I teach her to believe in true love and happily ever after, but keep her grounded in gospel principles, a little reality, and help her to be strong. Let me explain. So many little girls that I see love all of the Disney princess paraphernalia. But if you look at each story; Sleeping Beauty and Ariel were both just 16 when they met prince charming. How did they win their prince over? Good looks and a pretty voice. Cinderella fell in love after one dance. Jasmine did get to experience a little more problem solving with Aladdin. Belle actually had a relationship develop. Mulan is my favorite because she saves China. I think each one of these have really good qualities in them, but so often what these fairy tales are sold as now is cheap love. You just have to meet the person of your dreams and happiness magically appears. What matters is that you have a pretty princess dress and that your future mate happens to be a prince with some serious financial hook-ups. Yet, on the reverse side of what the world now offers, we have Destiny's Child teaching girls how to be "Independent Women." From that perspective relationships should always be 50/50, but truth be told you don't need a man anyway because you can take care of yourself. I don't stand with either of these schools of thought, but somewhere in the middle. My little girl will be constantly navigating herself through this world that would love to pull her down one extreme road or the other. I can't make her into someone she's not and she will have to make many decisions that will shape her life and personality, but I do know there are certain things I want her to know.

1. The purpose of this life isn't to get everything we want or to become the toughest thing out there. The purpose of this life is to be tested. Will you choose to believe in God? In truth? In a Savior? Will you choose to put others before yourself? If you can make the right choices there, everything else will fall into place.

2. You will have to be strong to survive in this world, but that doesn't mean you have to do it alone. We have the families, friends, and neighbors we do because we need each other, we need human contact to learn, grow, love, and feel loved. All of the dresses, castles (aka clothes, cars, dates, gadgets, toys, and trips) will mean nothing in the long run if you never learn how to truly love other people more than these things.

3. Happily Ever After never just happens. It is a choice by two people to live selflessly. Marriage becomes hard the minute one or both become selfish. It is so beautiful, fun, fulfilling, and peaceful when you choose to put the other person first.

4. When you find someone you want to marry, I hope you truly love him more than the idea of him. I mean that you want to be with him more than you want a white dress, more than you want pictures to show friends, more than you just want someone to be there. I hope it's because you truly have found a best friend who you'd never want to live without and who can hold your hair out of your face when you're puking your guts out when you are pregnant.

5. I hope you never spend weeks, months, or years convincing yourself that you have to be something you're not for love, or making excuses for someones bad behavior and believing if you love him enough you will change him (pornography, gambling, drinking, manipulative behavior, laziness - the man you want will be strong enough to put you over these things).

6. Never believe you or anyone else has an expiration date. Don't feel you have to rush into anything because you're worried it will never happen if you don't do it now. Deciding who you want to be with needs to be based on love, not fear of being alone forever.

7. Here's my favorite lesson from Mulan. There will be times you feel like you don't fit in anywhere - especially the norm. Go with your heart and do what you feel good about, not what society dictates. You may end up saving China, simply because you were there and not afraid to do something when everyone says you can't.

8. Look for ways to build others up, not compete with them. This life is not a princess competition. If you spend more time helping other girls feel important, beautiful, and loved and less time comparing yourself to them (which always ends up being your weakest point to their strongest so it's not very realistic anyway) you will feel confident, at peace, and happy. The minute you start to compete you lose because there will always be someone else to beat. Life is not a beauty pageant!

9. Take care of your body, health, and physical appearance, but don't let it become the core of your existence. You want to be loved for your soul, not your hair or make-up or dress size. Again, it's good to be healthy, clean, and to look nice, but you don't want to feel like your eyes, nose, lips, hips, teeth, or anything else is just flawed. God gave you a beautiful body uniquely fitted to you. Your soul will radiate beauty if you seek to be a beautiful person instead of placing your entire worth on your body.

10. Understand that sometimes someone may appear to be prince charming and he may instead break your heart over and over. You must know that you are worth loving, worthy of someone who would rather die than hurt you, and to not give up that dream on those darkest of nights when you feel so alone and heartbroken. Let your heart breaker go and love yourself enough to find a true love.

I had many more thoughts about this as I walked Pele this morning in the beautiful frost-covered Spokane streets. But it's late now and I don't know if anyone has finished this because I think it's a little scattered. I will have to continually evaluate throughout our little girl's life if Jeremy and I are doing our best to teach our girl about marriage and families through our words and deeds because I know everything out there in the world will sure confuse things at times. Not that we're perfect, but your own family so often affects your view of those things. I'm sure I'll have more to say on this subject down the road.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts inspired by smog

Yeah for vacation! We're in southern Utah right now staying with my family and we'll be up to see Jeremy's family Wednesday. Since I haven't seen my little sister in over a year and we'll get to meet her son for the first time today, I'm pretty excited. It's also a lot of fun to spend time with my older sister and see how much her two kids have grown. My niece, Kaylee (almost 4 years old), is such a talker! And little James (9 months old) isn't so little anymore. He's eating whatever we can feed him and sure loves to smile.

We don't have any pictures yet from this week to put up, but I had some thoughts as we were flying into Salt Lake. Oh, before I forget, Katie Bug did GREAT with the flight. She didn't cry at all. We fed her as we were taking off, then tried a binkie for the landing. She kept pulling the binkie out then trying to shove it back in her mouth sideways or backwards. I tried to help her, but she liked it more the other way. I'm just happy that she did so well. Southwest even gave her a pair of wings and a certificate for her first flight. Go team!

I love Salt Lake, but I am not a fan of the air. As we were flying in it looked like we were leaving the sun to head into soup. When we were first coming into the valley you could look down and see a very distinct line between the clean air and the pollution (if anyone's not seen this it's polluted air trapped below clean air due to the mountains surrounding the valley of Salt Lake). The closer we got to the smog, the more that line blurred, then before you knew it you weren't sure if you were in it or not. Once we landed and got out, it looked like the air was clear where you were standing, but it looked hazy in the distance. This made me think about temptation, choices, and just the world in general. If you stay out of it or above it completely, you can see the black and white so clearly. But the lower you go, or the closer you get to bad things, the more gray you see, the more blurred the line becomes until you're not quite sure if you're in it or not. Then when you are in it, it still looks like you're OK, but things far off seem to be what's not right. The only way out of it is to rise above. That takes effort. You have to drive out of Salt Lake to get away from that terrible air. But if you never leave it you get used to it, begin to think it's normal, then you don't even notice when you're breathing in the pollution all the time.

Then we were sitting in church on Sunday and the theme was simplifying life. It's hard to hear the voice of the Lord if we're always super busy with our lives, even if it's busy with good things. They talked about how when you're stressed out from being busy, it's impossible to feel peace and very difficult to reach out to others in kindness, let alone feel our own worth. I sat there thinking about what I'd seen as we were flying into Salt Lake and realized how I pack my days and weeks so full that I am stressed out and loose my patience so easily. It's like I could see myself letting the bigger priorities slip by (enjoying my family and loving my neighbor) for lesser concerns. Life is full of so many choices, and I think some of the most important ones are the little day to day ones - the ones that say how we really spend our time and energy. It's hard to remember that and I know I need to take the time to rise above the smog in my life to really see what life is about, or I end up discouraged and frustrated a lot of the time.

All in all life is good and we'll be posting more pictures by next week of our fun time visiting family. Till next time then.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting Started!!

Greetings from the snowy billows of Spokane. Actually, it's turned into a frozen swamp now. We received from 51-60 inches of snow since December 18th and last weekend it warmed up to the mid 30's, quickly flooding everything in town. We're pretty happy about living on the second floor. No one in our apartment has been flooded out, but getting around our complex is pretty wet. One of the carports collapsed and a lot of the storm drains were pulled off by the melting snow. One of the local high school's roof collapsed, and they've had everyone from the national guard to local prisoners out with shovels. So it's a little crazy, but I absolutely love it! Not that we want peoples' rooves to collapse, but this is a real winter! At least before everything started to melt, this is such a beautiful place for snow! Every morning I'd get out and walk with Pele (after putting on a ton of winter clothes), and just admire the absolute beauty of the harsh weather. It was so crisp and cold, every pine needle was covered in snow, everything so white, the sun (when it actually shown) made everything sparkle, and the world felt so still and magical. I think hard weather is good for people because it helps to remind you you can survive hard things, and hard things still have amazing beauty to them. Plus, Pele thought she'd died and gone to heaven. I should get her a team and we could get around on a dog sled instead of a car. Speaking of cars, I never thought I'd be so grateful for a new car (well, we got it in August). But having the Subaru and a 4 wheel drive truck has made driving in this mess such a breeze. I don't think I've gotten cabin fever from this because we still get out and around. Though it does help to have a grocery store right across the street.

Jeremy, Katie Lou, and I had a great Christmas and New Years. We had friends over for Christmas Eve dinner and ate with other friends Christmas Day. I really enjoyed having such a peaceful Christmas Eve and morning. Jeremy and I talked several times about how to keep Christ the focus of each Christmas for our family and I hope we can continue to find good traditions for our family. New Years Eve was my last day of work at my first RN job. Shriners is such an amazing hospital and I loved it there. I thought about it that morning before I went in - I love being a nurse, taking care of patients, knowing the drugs, using IVs, and talking with the rest of the staff, but I don't know how to describe how good and right the decision to quit feels. I feel very at peace with that choice. There will always be more patients, more work, more hospitals, but this time with our family is so precious. If we had to make it work, I know we could, but my going to work was more of a choice than a necessity, and I'm glad I was able to experience it enough to make the right decision for me.

Jeremy has been studying his guts out. He's preparing for his final general board exam, USMLE Step 3 that he'll be taking Thursday and Friday, 8 hours each day. I'm so proud of him for working as hard as he has, but I tell you what, it'll be nice to have that done. Listening to him study makes me think that anyone who can keep that much information straight in their head (or just pronounciate any of it correctly) has to have more determination and organization in their head than anyone. He'll do a great job, he always does. We'll be excited to take a vacation to visit family when it's done.

I'm a little nervous to leave Pele for this trip, hoping that staying in a kennel won't give her PTSD since it took her about a month to come out of her shell after the shelter. I'm also nervous about the flight. Well, not really nervous, but this will be our first time flying with a little baby and I keep picturing a mom I saw at the airport one time who had a screaming baby she kept trying to comfort with nothing working and everyone looking around like PLEASE don't let me sit next to her. I think I had sympathy for mothers before, but actually being one puts things in such a whole new perspective.

This job is just not an easy one, and it seems like there's a never ending stream of things to make you feel inadequate or unimportant. Then I remember everything I thought about and felt as I was making the decision to work or stay home and I know that mom's are not just important, we made promises with the Lord before we came here that we would love, protect, teach, watch-over, and play with His children, however they come into our lives.

Those promises we made will strengthen us and bind the Lord to help us as we do our best. That doesn't mean that we'll know how to do everything (no matter what any of the mommy magazines say), it just means nothing is impossible and we can be happy with who we are as individuals, instead of basing our worth on accomplishments, looks, or whatever else the world says matters more than our souls.

I can see how this is going to become a way for me to gather my thoughts as I spill my guts every week. Hopefully someone is enjoying reading this. Just a few more notes about what's going on: I'm trying to make stockings for our family. I meant to have them done for Christmas, but I never seem to anticipate the correct amount of time needed to accomplish these types of projects. I'm impressed with my domesticatedness because I never thought I had it in me. I still have a LOT to do on the stockings, but I can't put away Christmas stuff till I'm done with them. Last year we threw our tree out after Easter, so I'm hoping to beat that record this year.

I think that's enough rambling. Till next time...