My Dad once told me a story about an analogy that he had heard. It’s been years ago and I've used it many times.

One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all."
What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

What are your big rocks in life? Do you remember to put your big rocks in first? I don't. But every time I hear this it reminds me and sometimes I think we all need this kind of reminder.

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It's not often that my blog takes a heavy tone, but at lease one time a year I think I'm entitled, so bear with me or skip over this entry if you'd like but this is part of me, and if that's why you visit, then I hope you can take the bad with the good.
So, I usually try to blog about my daughter on the anniversary of her death but this year I just felt I couldn't do it and manage to keep a positive feeling about it. So I'm a few days late. I've told this story many times, for anyone new here... first, nice to meet you. My daughter's story isn't a fun filled story but it does have a good ending.

On December 16th, 2004, I went into labor at 21 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy. My memory is hazy of the details of the event because it was so many hours of different medications and things trying to stop the contractions.

All of those things, while important, leads to the fact that by the next day my doctor came in and informed me that I would need to give birth to my daughter. I went through labor and I gave birth to a beautiful, albeit tiny, baby girl who we had named Athena Mari. She was beautiful in every way. All her fingers and toes, itsy bitsy but yet there.  Everything was perfect. Except the fact that she had been stillborn.

The emotions and my life from that moment on through the next couple of weeks are gone. I don't really remember much and some of the things I do remember, I wish I didn't.

Leaving the hospital was the hardest. This was supposed to be joyous. I was supposed to be carrying out my little girl in a bundle of pink blankets. Instead I was being wheeled out in a wheelchair with nothing in my arms but my bag.

Only a week or so after I remember being in the shower and wondering why my breasts hurt so bad (remember this was my first pregnancy). I called my doctor only to find out that it was because my milk had come in. Only I had no baby to nurse. What insult to injury.

Shortly after that I was called to the bereavement office, to pick up my bereavement box. Two boxes that held my daughters pictures and anything that had touched her. Her dress (which was tiny in itself but it swallowed her tiny body), a measuring tape with her length marked on it, the tiny little medical bracelet she had worn only briefly. I sat in my car and I cried with these boxes.

So where is my happy ending? I have a beautiful son who, only through losing my daughter gave us the insight into my medical condition that would make carrying any child difficult. Through medicine and a wonderful doctor and hospital I was able to carry my son, almost full term. And I truly feel that her death helped to lead me to a bigger understanding of life and faith.

Here we sit, 9 years later with a son who is about to turn 8 and does the death of my daughter still affect me? Absolutely. Sometimes in the most random moments but mostly this time of the year. But I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have my son. I'm grateful that I know, one day when we all return to live with our Heavenly Father that we can be reunited as a family - with Athena included! And that, that one truth, know that she is in such a good place and waiting for her family to reunite with her, is what really allows me to be okay and to live my life without constant sadness.

Happy belated birthday Athena. I haven't met you but I hope you know how much you've already been a huge inspiration in our lives and how much I love you.

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So a little while back I had the opportunity to jump in on the Meaningful Beauty VoxBox by Influenster. If you've never heard of either of those things, check them out. It's a great way to try out new products and to share your honest opinion about them. And I think you all know from some of my past reviews, I'm honest - good, bad or ugly - I'm telling you the truth. I don't trust an "honest opinion" when all the opinions are positive because there's just no way that people always love the things they receive. To me, seeing nothing but positive reviews says 2 things, either that the person is afraid to be negative because they are afraid they won't receive anymore free goodies (sure I get it) or that they just don't publish not-so-great product reviews.

But moving on, the whole honest opinion thing is a whole different blog topic for another day because this one is about Meaningful Beauty's Creme de Serum. Meaningful Beauty is Cindy Crawford's skincare line of products. Seriously, anyone looking like she does.. I'm buying the products, at least to try once! How could I not want to have her skin? So luckily for me, Influenster hooked me up with a free bottle of Creme de Serum, which is... wait, why I am I trying to explain this... let me quote you what the Meaningful Beauty website says...
This crème de la crème treatment takes a triple approach to combating the signs of aging with three powerful anti-aging ingredients: superantioxidant melon complex, anti-aging peptides and hyaluronic acid. Combining the power of a serum with the rich, moisturizing effects of a crème, this super-boost is designed to help protect, increase hydration and prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Ok! So there ya go! What does all of that mean? Heck.. I don't know.. I guess it's going to keep me from looking old! Or at least that's what I'm hoping for! All I know is that there are a few things that I aboslutely love about this product and one thing that I don't love.

The texture of it. It goes on smooth, it feels smooth on my skin - like a primer does - and it wears for quite a while if you don't put any other makeup on.

The hydration. I'm not sure what in this product does it, but my skin is actually really hydrated lately. I can tell because usually during the winter I am fighting rough, dry spots on my skin all the time with my daily moisturizer and right now.. nothing, not one rough, dry patch at all. This alone sells me on this product.

That the anti-aging stuff in it is working. I don't really know if I see less lines or not. I mean I've got some wrinkles and lines starting around my eyes and all but I guess I just don't pay that close attention to know if it's either decreasing them or preventing them.

The price. Straight up. I went to the Meaningful Beauty website and to Amazon.  You're talking roughly $40 for a bottle (and if you order from the website, you pay shipping and handling). I am totally low maintenance when it comes to my makeup and skincare (translation: cheap) so this was all but a deal breaker for me. I just can't fathom the idea of paying that much for 1oz of anything! Of course, that doesn't stop me from putting it on my wishlist and letting others know how much I want it. Hey, I got no shame!

Buy it here!,default,pg.html

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Dear Santa,
If I could take  moment out of your busy schedule to just refer you to the following wishlist, I could make this year a lot easier on you. I'm not expecting everything on the list, I mean who's going to be wearing sandals in the winter time, but seriously everything else is open season.

By the way, I was really good this year. I mean, sure I had mistakes. I missed a lot of events that I really wanted to go to and that I knew I was needed at but I had valid reasons for 99.9% of them.

More important that that is I've learned to hold my tongue very well this year. I know of 4 times in particular that I bit my tongue for the greater good. Although honestly, I don't see what the difference would have been if I would have said my peace anyway - at least it would have made me feel better. But alas, I'm learning some self control.

Speaking of self control, I've been very good financially. Which is my weak spot. My impulse buys have been almost nil and when I did indulge it was something practical - which is totally out of the norm so I'm feeling very accomplished.

And while we are talking about accomplishments, let me just say that I totally rocked at work this year. I mean first, those 4 times I bit my tongue.. all of them were at work. Way to be professional, right? Oh and I stopped bucking the system and didn't wear my flip flops to work at all this year! Not to mention that our health insurance premiums went up and our coverage went down (again, 9 years in a row), we lost our benefit of comp-time, so now any over time I put in is purely because I love my job so much that I want to work for free and here I am.. being humble about it (not really but I can try).

So Santa, I think you can see that I should totally go on your "Nice List" this year.. especially considering some of my years past, I at least deserve a Most Improved curve added on to my score, right?

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It's always this time of year, during the hustle and bustle of the holidays and life in general that I always take pause and wish that life would just slow down.

The year itself has just flown by. I feel like it was only a few weeks ago I shuffled my son into his first day of 2nd grade and here I am now, trying to figure out ways to keep him occupied (and off his tablet) during Christmas break.

And now, when things are supposed to be magical and beautiful and fun, I feel more like a tornado touching down, trying to keep up with the blur of life spinning around me. Every year I say I'll do something to make things more easy, but then something else comes up... keeping me from doing that something and then not only did I not do that something to make it easier but then I have 2 more things piled on top of that.

I remember old Christmas movies, people just browsing around the stores. Now we don't have time for that, we have to get in and get out, order online and ship direct because who has time to just mosey about browsing for that perfect gift.

I used to throw on some Christmas music and spend hours decorating my tree. Enjoying it. Now, it's like a race. Get it up and get it decorated so I can move on to the next project.

Life is short and boy does it go by fast.

When I was a kid it seemed like every day lasted a lifetime! Summer vacation seemed to never end (until it ended) and laying in the grass watching the clouds go by seemed like a perfectly sensible way to spend at least an hour.

Now when I find a free hour I try to cram it full again, with everything but clouds and laying around.

I don't ever want to look back on my life and regret not doing things because I couldn't find time. But how do you minimize the things that take up the most time in your life? It's not like I can just up and quit my job. My calling at church is pretty time consuming but I really enjoy it. My hobbies.. wait, what hobbies? Hah those went out the window years ago.

It's days like today that I want to wake up, call in sick, and just slow down. Remembering to smell the hot chocolate.

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Oh hi. So as you can see, I've gone and changed my hair color again. Most people who know me, know that my hair changes in some sort of fashion every 6-8 weeks. Usually in color. Rarely in cut.

But basically since the spring I've had my color the same. I've gone a little blonder here and there or added a little red here or there. But this time.. I was ready for a change.

Now the picture really doesn't do it justice. There's some red (a  lot in fact) that you can't see in the picture. I was inspired by this pin on pinterest (of course!) and knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Anyone else making a big change for the holidays?

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Personally, I say Merry Christmas. I realize not everyone celebrates Christmas but I'm not sure why anyone would find me saying "Merry Christmas" offensive. If someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah I say thank you and move on. It was a nice sentiment that they expressed regardless if I'm Christian or Jewish or whatever.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever else you celebrate this time of year, I hope it's a good one!

Christmas tree up and decorated. Check.
Front porch decorations done. Check.
Elf on the Shelf made his return appearance. Check.
Outside lights and decorations all up and ready...... yeah not so much.

I'm one of those people who would have my Christmas tree up and all the decorations done by the evening of Thanksgiving (if I weren't always in a food coma until 7pm that night). So the fact that our house isn't twinkling with lights each night or that my ribbons aren't fluttering from my wreaths on the windows is just kind of irking me. It's December 3rd! We are three days in people! We should be fully decked out in holiday cheer!

Luckily for me though, one of our neighbors kid's is an engineer and has their whole house set up so that the lights all flash to the beat of the music that plays on their custom radio station. Seriously, it's awesome. If you are ever around my way, turn to 87.9, pull up into the empty lot across the street from their house and make yourself comfy! Some nights they come out and sell coffee and hot chocolate, with all the money raise to go to a local shelter (I believe, I'll find out again which for sure). So every night when we drive in from running errands or something I watch their lights synchronize with the sounds of the Trans Siberian Orchestra or their big Santa lip sync along to some catchy country holiday song.

I have awesome neighbors.

And because I have some awesome neighbors, I want to plan to bake some cookies for a few families and drop them off just to let them know we appreciate living in the neighborhood with them and hope their doing well. I guess this is my Christmas guilt of not really being a very social person with my neighbors all that much that I need to make up for it during Christmas time. Whatever it is.. I'm thinking it's the holiday spirit.

Another thing we usually do is bake cookies to take to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Greenville Health System. That's the hospital that my son was born in and he stayed in the NICU for 14 days. The doctor's and nurses there work really hard day in and day out and we just like to show them that we appreciate them.

So many things to do... so little time before Christmas. Everyone complains that Christmas music starts too early or that the decorations are selling before Halloween. Frankly, I'm ready to start Christmas in August!

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I rolled out of bed this morning about 7:30. Took the dog out and watched her sniff around the grass for about 10 minutes before decided that she finally had to "do her business". I drank a cup of hot chocolate that I made with whole-milk, I save the fatty deliciousness for special days. I've spent the last hour or so hopping from website to website while my son sits in front of me watching YouTube videos about MindCraft.

This is my idea of Black Friday.

Why would I get up at the crack of dawn in freezing cold weather, leave my nice warm house and surround myself with not only people I don't know but some people who are seriously lacking in the manners department?

I get it. The deals. But I guess I just don't value the monetary savings as much as others. Especially, when you can find some of the same deals, or close to it, online after the crazy chaos of Black Friday. I'd much rather pay $10 more to sit on my couch in my pajamas and click the "Add To Cart" button with my hot chocolate in hand rather than be scratched and mauled in the crowds at WalMart or Toys R Us.

I remember quite a few years ago I went out shopping on Black Friday with my Mom and my Aunt. These two women are notorious for doing whatever it takes to get a deal. This was the year of the singing Elmo. It was pitch black, I remember standing out front waiting for the doors to open and then all of a sudden it was happening... the swarm of people were overtaking me, I remember looking for my mom. I was panicked. I didn't even know where I was inside of the store, the wave of people had just carried me.
The next thing I know it's over. The fluorescent lights shone down on me, I was standing almost alone - only the company of dented boxes around - and it was quiet. So quiet. I looked down and I had blood on my right arm. Was it mine? Was it someone else's? Then the stinging came. It was mine. I see my mom and my aunt with a look of glory on their face and Elmo in hand (or wait, was it the Furby year?)

That's all I remember... the next 6 hours of shopping wiped out any other memories of the day. The only thing I can say, is that memory right there is exactly why I don't go out on Black Friday.

So for all of you out there scoring 50 inch TV's for $10. I'm so happy for you. But I've been traumatized and I am still haunted.......  oh the memories......

Have a great Black Friday regardless of what you're doing!

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The week of Thanksgiving and all through my house,
The hacking and coughing scared away any silent mouse....

I've been sick the last little while. Maybe a week now. It feels like a month. But I have the solution of all solutions when it comes to not feeling well. I'm just ignoring it. It's not bad enough that I'm bed ridden so I decided to just forget I was sick - then it will all be okay. Right?

I mean, my son pretends he's someone else when he doesn't feel like being himself that day (he's been Randy from Monster University lately, but he sometimes falls back to Bugs Bunny or Kick Buttowski). So just pretending the funk ain't there should work for me!

This post really has nothing to do with me being sick though. It really is meant to be about Thanksgiving. How we focus on this one day of Thanks. Of course there is the history behind it and I love that as well. But man, did the pilgrims have as much chaos around them during their thanksgiving feast?

Did they scour Pinterest for hours on end coming up with a perfect place setting scheme for the dinner table? No.

Did they worry on end about making travel plans and not offending anyone if we didn't show up to their invitation to turkey-day dinner?

Did they worry about how fast they could get their Christmas decorations up so they could enjoy them longer or take advantage of the time off from work they had?

They were just thankful - for what they had - not what was going on, or how it looked, or how they wanted it to look or how people perceived it or how they wanted people to perceive it.

Just thankful.

Wouldn't that be nice?

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Get this printable at: My Computer is My Canvas
"doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." - Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Last month was General Conference and it usually takes me a few weeks after to really process everything. I love watching the talks but it isn't until I really get my hands on the Conference Ensign that I can really make sense of my own notes and thoughts that I've jotted down.

This quote is one of quite a few gems that were thrown out at us at Conference. I love that. Hearing these things, maybe even just a small sentence that makes you think that it was said just for you.

This was just for me... and you... and I love it.

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my little Harry Potter
Here it is November 4th. Happy belated Halloween ya'll!

Gosh, it's been a while since I've really posted anything consistently and while it's been great for my other gazillion projects, I've really missed writing. I'm not sure if I find the process of writing therapeutic or maybe it's just the whole concept of dumping my brain out into words that I can rearrange and make sense of that I like. Either way, I can tell when I don't get fingers to keyboard as much as I used to.. other than for job related stuff and we won't even get into that.

So Halloween has come and gone and I'm perfectly fine with that. I no longer find the act of dressing up to be all that entertaining. I feel like I dress in a costume everyday when I go to work - hey, business casual can be brutal - and I'm very low maintenance, so the idea of having to put so much effort into something I'm only going to wear a few hours just seems pointless.

Our house has entirely too much candy floating around. That may  be contributing to our mood swings around the house. I think we're all hitting sugar lows or maybe it's just the cooling weather. So, I packed up a big bag of it and gave it to the Missionaries. The Elders were more than grateful and I'm sure they need the sugar rush on some days to get through the day. Win-win in my book.

So fall has fallen, the leaves are changing. In fact, this weekend will be peak leave changing time in the Upstate of SC and for the NC mountains. This is my favorite time of year. Until spring comes around, then I say that's my favorite time of year. And summer.. and winter... but whatever, it's fall and right now it's my favorite. I pulled out my boots for the first time yesterday and loved every minute in them.

I'm so glad fall is here.

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How do you finish up a trilogy of awesomeness? You can't... and no matter how this book ended I probably wouldn't have liked it, but I have to say, this last book in the series left me a little hallow in comparison to the first two.
I feel like some of the story parts were forced, the tension between Tris and Four was entirely too pushed this time. But I guess it worked in the end.

I'm not happy with the ending - but yet in another aspect, it's almost a perfect ending in a way. I could think of a million other ways for this book to end but the ending that it has, has a meaning to it. It hits and it hits hard.. so I'm not sure if it were different if it would be the same.

As soon as I finished I wanted to throw my Nook across the room. When I mentioned this to a friend she said "I'm worried!" and I told her she should be but to read it anyway...
That's my recommendation.. read it anyway, regardless if you like the ending or not, because it finishes the story.. the story of Tris, the story of Four, the story of the Factions.

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The Twelve
The Twelve by Justin Cronin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I liked this book better than the first book! Not that I didn't like the first one, but this one seemed to move a little faster, felt a little more adventurous. I didn't feel like I was reading some of the same things over and over.

The Twelve is a great follow up to The Passage. I'm a stickler for not giving out spoilers because frankly, our taste in books are as varied as our taste in clothes, so who am I to sway someone from reading it or vice versa only because of my thoughts.

Read the book... after reading The Passage of course.. I don't think you'll be disappointed. In fact, I am eagerly awaiting the 3rd book in the series (from what I understand is to be a trilogy). I just hope that the 3rd book doesn't disappoint as it seems to be the trend in trilogy's lately.

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I have a friend, her name is Lori. She hates pictures of herself typically, so I'm pretty sure she would kill me if I posted any that I had - otherwise I'd have her picture plastered up here.

We aren't as close as we once used to be - and by saying that - basically I mean we don't work side by side and we don't hang out like we used to... but she will FOREVER be a best friend to me. And I hope she knows that I'm always here for her as well.

She was there for me when I lost my daughter. She was there for me when Nikkos was born premature. She was there for me when I couldn't give Nikkos his first suppository medicine at  only a few weeks old. Now THAT my friends is how true friends are proved.

Lori has a wonderful family which include 2 beautiful boys of her own. I met her first son when he was just a toddler and I held her second son after he was born.

Lori is one of those people who you instantly love. She's full of wit and snark and southern charm. She'd give you the shirt off of her back if you needed it all the while making sure her kids made their baseball and football practices and while getting to work on time. Ok... maybe not on time.. hah!

When Lori was first diagnosed with breast cancer, it took everyone by surprise. She went through so much and she did it with a smile. Yes, it was hard and she cried and I'm sure I didn't see her at her lowest moments. But when she got through it, she would come out smiling and making jokes.

When she was diagnosed again after being in remission for quite a while, it was like being socked in the face. It's not fair. Not that someone like her, with so much going on in her life, to have to go through this again. But she faced it again. And she won.

And she's going through it again. In some ways I find her trials of cancer to be both a huge faith builder and a faith tester. I ask God, how He could let her have to face this again. But then again, it's through Him and those miraculous doctors that she's here with us to fight again.

So, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to do something... any thing I could to show my support. Just like when I lost my daughter, Lori was there, showing her support with me for the March of Dimes. I know adding pink to my hair is so micro cosmically small and may not have any huge effect toward the fight against Breast Cancer. But I do know this. Every time I see that little pink in my hair, I think of Lori.

Lori, I love you. You are the most incredible person I know. You fight such a huge fight and you do it with such little complaint or anger. As my husband would say, you just pull up your boot straps and get to work. I admire you. I admire your family. I hope you know what an inspiration to me and so many others you are. I am so honored and proud to call you my friend.

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Some times I just run into things that kick my dumb-o-meter in full gear. Here's this weeks....

Laundry Tycoon: Seriously, why on earth would I want to play this game on my phone when I can do it in real life... every. single. day.

Government shutdown. I posted a comment on Facebook about my thoughts on the government shutdown and it kicked up a firestorm of conversation. I obviously love having friends of varying ideas and beliefs.

I don't get all political very often anymore because I've come to the conclusion that people who have certain beliefs aren't going to change those over one argument with one person on the internet. So, I typically keep my politics to myself and I speak through my vote.

My only gripe is when people feel that my view is not acceptable. Because everyone has their opinion, none of them are "wrong", they just may not be what you like to hear.

But I'm okay with all that, I just say my peace and keep out of the argument and laugh.

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Aw yeah! Got my Colgate SlimSoft VoxBox from Influenster last week and heads up... it's awesome.

My box arrived with a Colgate SlimSoft toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash. I'm all about the oral hygiene so to say I was excited, was slightly an understatement.

Let me get this out of the way... I received this box of goodies from Influenster for free. What I write about it are my opinion and, as most people know, my opinion isn't influenced by the fact that I got it for free.

I'm really particular about my toothbrushes, see I have a problem where part of my gum has receded from my tooth in the back, which makes it really sensitive for brushing. Also, my mouth is really small (contrary to popular belief) so getting some toothbrushes into the back of my mouth to hit all my teeth can sometimes prove challenging.

But I unwrapped my SlimSoft toothbrush and instantly saw the difference. Slim for sure. Much slimmer than my regular toothbrush. The bristles are really soft and they are different than normal bristles, they are slightly angled. Not sure how that helps but hey.. cool.

I'm not going to like. I brushed my teeth one time with this toothbrush and immediately threw my old one away. This is hands down the softest, lightest and nicest brushing toothbrushes ever. EVER. It's light, like seriously light in your hand. It's flexible so you can't really apply a ton of pressure to your teeth (which is how I got the receding gum issue to begin with!) and holy cow did it just fit everywhere in my mouth! I didn't have open and close and slide my jaw all around to get around to my back teeth!

I'm loving it. I'm sold. I'm so sold I told my hubby I'd pick him up one. I even told my Mom about it, I mean she's where I got the whole teeth kick thing anyway...

So if you get a chance to pick one up, I'm totally two thumbs up about it!

Catch ya on the flip...

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Need I Say More?

9.30.2013 |

Come listen to living prophets

General Conference is coming up this weekend. If you've EVER wanted to learn anything about the LDS (Mormon) church, then this is the weekend to listen to a session. There's multiple, so don't feel like you need to listen to them all - it can be a bit much - but every one of them is it's own experience.

I can say there hasn't been a General Conference that hasn't touched me personally, addressed something in life I needed help with or gave me invaluable advice that later I needed.

You can watch online or on TV. I hope you'll join me!

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picture from Light Arfa Memories
I spent an amazing time in Columbia for the Time Out for Women event this past Friday and Saturday. One of the Sisters in my ward took some amazing pictures, and I'm so grateful.

We got to hear from some seriously inspirational speakers, like  Barbara Thompson, who is absolutely hysterical and so practical. Brad Wilcox spoke to us via skype on Friday evening (boy did the presenters run into travel issues)... but even still, through our digital connection you could just feel his wonderful testimony.
We heard from D.Kelly Ogden who gave such a wonderful perspective on suffering in life. Emily Watts is so witty and fun! Emily Freeman was not only beautiful but so well spoken.

We were given a little video gift of Sherry Dew and I absolutely love her. Maybe it's her sarcasm or humor that just hits me but I loved her talk. Hands down, my favorite this year was Mariama Kallon, her talk on gratefulness is still resounding in me. For a woman to come from so little and to be grateful for so much is so admirable. It makes me want to change, to be more grateful everyday.

Of course sprinkled throughout these talks we had music from the Emmy nominated violinist Jenny Oaks (not to mention her father is a member of the quorum of the twelve) and then an awesome vocal group Jericho Road, their song "For the Love of a Woman" reminds me so much of my husband that I had to buy a CD to have with me - which then I proceeded to listen to over and over on my way home Saturday night.

picture from Light Arfa Memories
(I'm on the far right in white, black & pink)

This was such a fun event to be with my friends and family at. My mom went with me and we met up with the other Sisters from our ward. I kind of stole my mom away from her ward this weekend - but that's okay, she's going to have to get used to my ward family soon anyway with her moving up and all. But I digress

I couldn't have had a better weekend. It was fun, it was uplifting and it was a great time to spend with the ones you care about.

I highly suggest anyone, even if you're not LDS, to hit one of these up, it's an amazing time.

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This post is so completely off the cuff. I was going to put together a "High Five For Friday" post but I think this is more important.

So, I'm preparing to give a lesson this Sunday to the Young Women's group about "How do the things I say affect me and those around me?" and I all of a sudden a flood of memories and thoughts hit me.

All during my teen years and even into my 20's, the thing that got me in the most trouble was my mouth. I distinctly remember saying some things to a math teacher that I'm so ashamed of that even today, after apologizing for it, I still feel so remorseful. I remember arguments and friendships ruined over something as simple as things that were said. Rumors in school that absolutely devastated people, but were just that... words that someone had spoken (most weren't even true).


But words that can hurt don't always just come out of our mouths. They come out on the internet.
Almost 10 years ago I posted something on an online journal of mine that was mean and hurtful towards someone out of anger. I never mentioned them by name (that I remember) but that person found it and it hurt them tremendously. I remember feeling horrible afterwards and realizing that if I couldn't say it to their face, I wasn't going to post about it. Even if I thought it was a private post with only a limited audience.
I'm still trying to figure out a way to apologize for this to them.

I'm still learning.

But I've learned something since then for sure.. words can hurt or they can uplift. I have my times where my emotions get the best of me, but I've really strives to change since back then, to be a person who, if I can't say anything nice, I'll try not to say anything at all. Does it always work. No. But I'm trying.

So I just wanted to share Proverbs 31:26, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness"

This, is how I'm trying to live.

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Ya'll, I've got some bad habits. I'm not a crack addict or smoke or anything but I have some habits that really are stupid. So I've spent the last two weeks working on breaking them.

What? Yeah that's right, they say it takes 21 days to form a habit but I can say this much, it takes a lot longer to break them. I'm only 18 days in and I'm still struggling! So here's what I've been working on breaking.

Reading Gossip RSS Feeds
Perez, RadarOnline, PopEater, TMZ, I'm all over them! I subscribe to their RSS feeds and usually spend my entire lunch break diving into the lives of celebrities.. the good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly ugly. But seriously, who cares? Not this girl! Not anymore at least. This has been one of my easiest to break. Now, I check the news really fast and spend my lunch hour doing more productive things like reading my latest Nook book or my daily scripture reads. Much more good for my mind and soul.

Eating Junk Food/Late Night Eating
Ok, not doing so great on this but I'm getting better little by little. I love junk. Cookies. Candy. Chocolate. Cake. Whatever. If it's processed food and not healthy, I'm usually a huge fan. So I've all but totally cut these out. If I can go a little longer on this I think I'm going to try a sugar fast. We'll see.

One that's coming a little easier is late night eating. I still like some popcorn here or there while watching our TV shows or a movie but I refuse to snack after 8pm. Granted, most nights we aren't even getting home and grabbing dinner until 8 (see below about over scheduling) but hey, it's dinner.. not a snack!

Over Scheduling
I've taken on some bigger roles lately and added to that my son's karate and football schedule and there's not a lot of wiggling room. So instead of just booking everything that comes my way, I've learned to say "No, I'm sorry I've got something else booked". And honestly, a lot of the times I don't feel too bad about it. My life is still way booked and way stressful but hey, I'm working on it!

Negative Thinking
I do this a lot. I find the negative in things (and people) way more quickly than I do the positive. I'm not just going around looking for negative but it does seem to just creep in. So out with the negative and in with the positive! I'm making an effort to recognize when I'm turning negative thoughts around in my head and instead I spin the positive.

No Texting & Driving
Ok. This one is for real. I caught myself answering quick texts while driving. I know it's bad. So I'm putting my money where my mouth is (because I tell everyone not to do it) and I'm not doing it. I'm not answering your texts when I'm driving anymore so don't get mad thinking I'm ignoring you, I'm just cruising!

Watching Reality TV
SIKE! I'm not giving up my reality TV, we all gotta have a vice!

Ok.. so that's my vices that are getting the boot. How bout ya'll?

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Oh snap! It's football season! The little D5 Rebels started practice 2 weeks ago. Last Saturday the Byrnes Rebels took to the field for an awesome opening game against Apopka, FL (um, yeah we won). And tonight it starts the season for the Gamecocks! The only thing we're waiting on is the Panthers to take the field and then it'll be FULL ON FOOTBALL!

I love me some football season! Not just because I like football in general but my husband is a football fanatic (to the millionth degree) and the whole south just oozes football. I've never seen a region more caught up in football!

Plus, how can you not love a game that has rivalries that run so deep even families are split because of them.
I mean, I'm still chalking that up to why I don't get invites to certain family functions. I mean for real, why else wouldn't they want me there. Heh.

Plus, who can't pass up snarky remarks, status updates, tweets and memes? Um, this girl.

I love a good jab about my gamecocks. I love to jab back.

Carry on all you non football fans, it'll all be over with in about 5 months.
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A couple of Saturdays ago I had the honor and privilege of joining in on the youth temple trip with the Spartanburg 1st & 2nd (that's us) wards. This was my first time going with the youth and since I didn't go as a youth I really didn't know what to expect other than the fact that the they would be doing baptisms for the dead.

If you are wondering why us Mormon folk do baptisms for the dead, check it out here, they do a far better explanation than I do (and frankly I'm too lazy right now)

So we all met up at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning in our Sunday's best. We all packed into various cars and started the drive down to the Columbia, SC temple. Now I'm not going to mention any names here, but there's one Brother who was driving who I now hold in a whole new respect. He speeds more than I do!! I loved it. We made super time (and no speeding tickets! See, God was looking out for us!) and when we arrived we all gathered around outside for a small lesson from Brother Speeds-A-Lot and then off we went inside!

I basically spent the entire time intercepting girls as they got done with baptisms and making sure they had everything. I took the laundry baskets of wet towels and such to be washed and dried. I didn't really get to watch too many baptisms, which stinks because I'd never really seen them before, but hey.. not like I'm not going back!

After we were all done... and yes, it was SUPER fast! I was like "wow, we drove all this way for like 30 minutes of baptisms, an hour of girls getting redressed/hair/makeup in the bathroom and now we're done?" Yup. So off to Chick-Fil-A we went.

This by far was my favorite moment. I got to see the girls an guys interacting together and generally just having a feel-good, happy time. And isn't that really how the temple makes us feel? I don't know about you, but it does me.

I'm not sure if the youth really had any feelings on the important work they were doing, but I can say it left an impression on me. I'm so glad I got to be a part of that trip and I'm excited for the next one!

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And this is the reason I haven't been out on blogland lately.

Not only has school started back but my kiddo is doing karate 2 times a week and his little league football is 2 times a week. Which means Mommy and Daddy are slightly insane right now.

But I have to take a moment and say that I absolutely adore his 2nd grade teacher, Ms. B. She, in the first day, far surpassed my expectations and I can't wait to see how awesome this school year is.

Carry on Internet.

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Oh look! I have a blog thing. Sitting here. With no one posting to it. My bad!

So while I'm freaking out at work and trying to make life fit together properly let me tell you about what  you will have in store shortly...

A post about my first Youth Temple Trip

A post about Karate

A post about my son's first day back to school (next Monday)

A post about peaches I'm going to can

A post containing some random YouTube video

But until then can I just say... WHEW!

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Remember way back when two weeks ago, when I posted abouthaving a meeting with my Bishop and I left ya’ll hanging about what it was? No? Ok, click that link and read up on it. Don’t worry I’ll wait.

<insert elevator music here>

Ok. So now that we are all on the same page I guess I should go ahead and fill you all in, because now it’s official and I can.

I got released from my Relief Society Committee and Assistant Music Director in Nursery callings and was called as the Young Women’s 2nd Counselor! I'm a  little sad because I've grown to really enjoy them. But seriously, it took me a while to grow into my Nursery calling.

Young Women General Presidency
What exactly is a 2nd Counselor in the Young Women’s presidency? Well, heck, I don’t know! I had to look it up too because remember, I didn’t grow up in the LDS church (well to be honest I didn’t grow up in any church), so I never went through the Young Women’s program. The Young Women’s (YW) program is for girls from 12-17 in the church to help them strengthen their testimonies and to help grow spiritually.  I sometimes wonder what my teen years would be like had I been able to be involved in a group like this during those crazy years. But anyhoo…

The YW classes are divided by ages. The Beehives are 12-13 year olds. The Mia Maids are 14-15 and the Laurels are 18-17 year olds. As the 2nd Counselor I’ll be working with the Beehives.  Seeing as we have a really small Young Women’s group (I believe there are maybe 8 girls total) I’m not sure how many girls are beehives but I know of one young lady who I’m excited to get to know better.

So, I’ve known about this calling for what, two weeks now? It’s been two weeks that I’ve been secretly terrified. But as soon as I stood up in sacrament I can honestly say my fear had never been greater. I am so excited to work with these girls but I’m sure they are sad to see their presidency leaving, they had gotten to know those women and were comfortable with them.

Then just like that all my middle school fears hit me and I started asking, “Will they like me?”, “Will they want to get to know me?”, “Will they think I’m just some crazy lady with tattoos?”

And those fears and questions stuck with me through Sunday school. All through the lesson I tried to concentrate on the lesson but I kept wondering what those young women were thinking right now. And finally, we went during the 3rd block to the Young Women’s room and we got to introduce ourselves.

When my turn came to introduce myself, I decided to share with them an experience I had. The Wednesday before my meeting with the Bishop, I was with two other Sisters from my ward and we were talking about our callings and callings that we think we’d really enjoy and I had shared with them that I thought it would be really cool to be involved with the young women. At that point in time I had NO IDEA that I was going to be receiving this calling. Either I had been given the want to be involved because Heavenly Father knew I was going to be involved or else I had just been given a little revelation. Either way, how cool that was. I’m not sure if they appreciated my little story or not but it sure made me feel better.
A few minutes later the new presidency was ushered out by the Bishopric to let the young women continue their classes and we went to a small classroom to be set apart. Being set apart is basically receiving a blessing. My dad was able to be one of the priesthood holders to perform the setting apart along with my Bishop and the Bishop’s 2nd Counselor. I love when my dad can be involved. I wish my husband could, but that’s a story for a whole different day.

But to the point here, there is a quote from our church’s leader, President Monson and he said “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies”. Another strange coincidence, in last month’s Ensign (a church magazine), there was an article titled “Whom the Lord Calls He Qualifies” which I read (which may be why it was so fresh in my mind) which really hit home and reminded me that the Lord knows us each personally and He chooses us for our callings, through inspiration to our church leaders. And after being set apart, this thought about that quote was in my head and instantly, I felt better.

Yes, I was still scared and nervous but not because of feeling overwhelmed but only because this is something new. I knew it would be okay.

I’m so excited. I know this is going to be a time consuming calling and I know that in some fashion or form I will have a part in helping young women grow spiritually, so I take this calling very seriously. I’m making a commitment to myself and to these beautiful young women that I will be there for them in any way possible that I can. I hope I will be able to provide what they need.

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Ya'll, seriously the most awesome thing just happened. My kiddo lost his first tooth! I know that all kids have teeth and they all lose them but seriously, my son is 7 and is pretty much the last of all of his friends everyone to have lost his first tooth.

Back in kindergarten he swore he had a loose tooth because 2 other friends of his had loose teeth. While their teeth were popping out, his stayed put. In first grade all the kids class pictures were lopsided with missing teeth and no matter how much I told him he had such an awesome smile, he really wanted to be snaggle-toothed.

Two months ago he had a dental appointment and they could see that his tooth was popping up right behind is baby tooth and they said not to worry, that the tooth would just pop right out. A few weeks later I could see the tooth coming up behind the baby tooth and the baby tooth was rock solid. I really got worried, I could just hear my money draining from our savings to go toward the extensive dental bills we were going to have in the future. The dentist kept telling me to not worry yet, that it was looking fine. Well, fine in my book means your baby tooth falls out before the permanent tooth comes in.

But hey what do I know, right?

A month or so ago when he said his tooth was wiggly, I grinned and said "sure it is..." while in my head I was thinking, "this kid ain't never loosing his teeth" but then.. it wiggled. Just a tad, but it was a legit wiggle.

I made a dentist appointment last week because his tooth wasn't loose and the permanent tooth was really coming in and again I freaked. We walked in and the dentist said, "Wow this is really loose!". Wait. What? When did that happen? Sure enough it was pretty loose.
The dentist once again reassured me (bless his heart, I'm sure he dreads my name) that everything was fine.

Yesterday, that tooth was super loose. And this morning, it was hanging-by-a-thread-gross-me-out-loose. When I left for the gym before dinner I kept telling my son he should just let his daddy pull his tooth out and be done with it and posted about it on Instagram:

He was having none of that.
For real am I the only one grossed out by a tooth hanging by a string?

I get home from the gym and hop in the shower. The tooth was the last thing on my mind. I get out of the shower and look at my phone only to see...

It's gone. Apparently, while I was in the shower he just up and pulled it out himself.
So it's official, he lost his first tooth. Of course the tooth fairy gave me the inside tip that she was leaving the following note that she found on a really cool website.

Ah. Another milestone hit. Another memory in life made. Another moment that makes me realize my son is growing up entirely too fast. Nothing like a tooth to make you reflect on life.

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Stress sucks. I mean we have study after study that talks about how stress is a major factor sickness and disease. But seriously, when a doctor tells you to reduce your stress do you just look at them and laugh like I do?

Seriously, like I choose to just stress out all the time?

So let’s see doc. How should I go about this?  Should I just quit my job, because that right now is a huge stress factor for me. But in doing that, it would mean we would be financially unstable which in turn could just possibly.. oh, I don’t know, maybe STRESS ME OUT?

Oh wait, maybe I should just hole my kid up in a closet and never let him participate in anything because having to work a schedule for 3 people in hopes of fitting everything in each day is stressful?

I know we all have stressors and it’s more about how we handle the stress. I work out (not like I should) which they say is a huge stress reliever but I've still got wicked TMJ to prove otherwise.

And if I ate half the chocolate that it would take to destress me, I'd then have to go to the gym 100 times over just so I didn't feel horrible about myself, thus causing... you guessed it.. more stress!

I don't know about ya'll but this stress thing is for the birds.
I just don’t get it.

So I'm thinking I'm just going to go find my comfy spot in the bed, close the door, pretend the world doesn't exist and read books until my mind is able to deal with all the real world stuff going on.

Where's my chocolate?

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