31 May 2010

Low: Although Eric managed to get enough sleep on Saturday night, Sam and I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. I think I’ve seen every other hour every night for the past few nights. I spent most of the day yesterday trying to convince Sam to take a nap, and then most of the evening trying to convince him *not* to nap so that he would sleep well. Apparently neither tactic worked so we saw midnight, 2am, and 4am before going out to the couch at 6am and waking up at 8am. I’m starting to think I’d be much happier with 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep than I am with 8 hours of interrupted sleep.

High: Eric brought Sam into our bed when he first woke up and let him sleep with us for a couple hours. As glad as I am to have Sam sleeping in his own bed, I’ve missed having our whole family snuggling together at night. Also I’ve almost got my new website put together which will be great to have finished 🙂

Brittny – 24 May 2010

Low: Uhm, it’s the 24th of May and it’s snowing outside. Yeah, that was the view from out our study window this morning. Ew gross yuck. I keep wanting to box up all of our coats and snow gear as a start to preparing for our move… guess I’ll have to wait a little longer for that still. (Yes mom, I’m sure it is beautiful in California right now and we should move there. :P)

High: Sam is doing better at sleeping through the night, hurrah! Also, we ran the roomba last night so our front room is all vacuumed. Of course, when we run the roomba we move our furniture to be off the carpet so that we can get all the things that Sam has hidden under the coffee table, rocking chair etc as well. So usually when I wake up the morning after running the roomba I have to bring Sam out (while he’s still sleepy and cranky and hungry) and put him down for a minute while I take down the coffee table from the couch. But this morning the coffee table was already down when I got up! I was a little bit confused but very grateful that I didn’t have to make Sam mad and we could go straight to feeding him. I found out later this morning that Eric had woken up in the middle of the night needing a drink of water. While he was out in the kitchen he noticed that the roomba was done and thought of me trying to get the coffee table down while holding Sam and took it down for us. It may seem like a really small thing, but the fact that he thought of us in the middle of the night when he was half asleep really touched me. Best. husband. ever. Thank you Eric! I love you!

Marriage/Parenting Advice

There is a young woman in my home stake who asked me for some help with her personal progress. Specifically she wanted help with the project in Divine Nature #2 –

As a young woman you are blessed with divine feminine qualities. Increase your understanding of and appreciation for womanhood. Read Proverbs 31:10–31 and two talks on womanhood from a conference issue of the Church magazines. Review what “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (see page 101) says about being a wife and a mother. Then ask your mother or another mother you admire what she thinks are important attributes for being a mother. List the attributes in your journal. Then choose one of those attributes and strive to develop it. After two weeks report your success to a parent or leader.

So I’ve been pondering for a few weeks about attributes of a good mother. As I thought about it, you can’t be a good mother without being a good wife first, so I’ve somewhat expanded my advice to be things that are both attributes of a good wife and good mother, and some of these things might not fit as “attributes” but more as “things you ought to do”, but I’ll try to get them to fit into attribute categories if I can.

Anyways, I thought before I sent this on to this young woman that I should post the things here and see if I could get some good feedback on other items I should add or modify before sending it on. After all, one of my best parenting secrets so far has been to ask for help when I need it! I’ve gotten so much good advice from Facebook friends and blog commenters that I’m sure has influenced what I’m posting here, and I’m hoping I might even get a few more good ideas for myself 🙂

So, without further ado –

  • Put the Lord first – Some people will say that your marriage goes before all else, and this is true for everything except the Lord. As you draw closer to the Lord you will grow closer to your husband and children. Heavenly Father knows better than we do how we should be parenting our children. Find a man who is willing to do the same. Look for a man who is willing to be faithful to the Lord above all else and you know that he will also be faithful to you.

    I believe this is one of the reasons the church requires all young men to serve missions. It shows their dedication to the Lord and they gain such an incredible amount of experience that helps them in their marriages. They learn to deal with companions, even if they annoy them. They learn how to work hard (and trust me, marriage is hard work!).  They learn how to seek the guidance of the Spirit and follow it. Most importantly, I believe they are blessed in ways you can’t see in their marriages for their faithfulness.  Be willing to make this kind of sacrifice to the Lord, and expect the same in any man who wants to marry you.

  • Obedient – Your children will pick up on things you don’t even realize. Even at one year old I’m FLOORED by the things that Sam picks up on and mimics. If you want your kids to be obedient to you the best thing to show them is how you are obedient to the leaders you say you sustain. If you hear them give you counsel, just do it! Even if it doesn’t make sense to you have faith that the Lord wouldn’t be giving it to us if it wasn’t for our benefit. If you are willing to obey church leaders you will find the blessings of obedience in abundance in your life, and usually you will best understand why they give the counsel they do when you live it. It is such a strong example to your children and it will ALWAYS bless your life.
  • Constructive – Never criticize your spouse or children in mean ways.  Even if it is in joking, don’t call people names or belittle them. This is something I’ve had to work on.  I am sarcastic by nature, but whenever you say something in sarcasm, generally you mean some part of it, and people know that and it hurts.However, this isn’t to say that you need to always be sunshine and rainbows towards others.  One of the things that I learned in institute was the meaning of the word “betimes”.  It means often and immediately.  So when you read in D&C 121:43 – “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; ” it means that we need to correct people quickly, immediately, and clearly.  You don’t do someone any favors by allowing them to continue doing things that hurt others. But it also points out that afterwards you need to show increased love.  Be sure that whenever you point out someone’s shortcomings you do it in the spirit of love because you want to help them, not because you want to tear them down.

    Also, if you have criticisms of someone tell it to them and not to someone else.  Gossiping doesn’t help anyone.  The person at fault doesn’t know your feelings so they can’t do anything about it and it just makes you feel worse.  However, if you’re going to give praise to someone I believe you should do it where others can hear.  It will build their self-confidence and make them want to be even better. Praise publicly, criticize confidentially

  • Prayerful – Pray to the Lord for your family. In April General Conference just before I married Eric I came into conference with the question of what I needed to do to be a good wife. I listened intently to the speakers for things that I should be doing as a wife and didn’t really come up with anything. Then in the very last talk by President Hinckley he gave this advice – “May there be peace and harmony in your homes. Husbands, love and treasure your wives. They are your most precious possessions. Wives, encourage and pray for your husbands. They need all the help they can get. Parents, treat your children with great kindness. They are the coming generation who will bring honor to your name.” (full text here). It was the most powerful advice I’ve heard. Pray for your husband in everything he does. Whether it’s big things or small things. The Lord is so mindful of our families and children and want the best for them. Pray for guidance with your children. You will need it every single step of the way. Children are such an incredible adventure and most of the time there’s no way you could know what you ought to be doing without the guidance of the Lord. Remember that He loves them more than you do (although as a mother, it’s hard to fathom how that’s even possible) and He is willing and wanting to help you guide them through this life. You absolutely cannot raise your children without His guidance, so seek it out constantly.
  • Consistent – If you say you’ll do it – do it. This was something I was shown is in the scriptures as the way the Lord deals with us (and what better example could we have as parents than our Heavenly Father?). In the book of Mosiah we read about the story of Alma and Abinadi. When Abinadi comes to the people he tells them – if you don’t repent now you will be put into bondage. No one listens to him and he is finally burned at the stake. However, after Abinadi is burned Alma realizes that the words Abinadi spoke were true and is converted. He then goes about preaching the gospel and baptizing and converting others. They get a whole bunch of people together that are now followers of the gospel and they leave. And what happens to them? They’re put in bondage, just like Abinadi said they would be. (see Mosiah 11 – 18, 23-24 for full account)When you read this at first it doesn’t seem fair. I mean, these are the good guys! They’ve repented and got baptized, why are they now put in bondage?!? It’s because they didn’t obey the commandments when they were told to and now they have to suffer the consequences. This is very important to realize when raising kids as well. If you give them instructions and affix a punishment with their failure to comply, if they fail to comply then you need to follow through with that punishment. This is HARD to do. You may have said that they would be grounded for a week, but then they’re really good during that week and there’s a big party that they want to go to that weekend – you need to stand firm. If your kids don’t expect that you will follow through on what you say then they can’t trust you. The other thing to realize with this is to be careful with what you say. Don’t dole out punishments in anger that you don’t really want to follow through on.
  • Peacemaking – Contention can destroy your home. Don’t raise your voice or say unkind things. Don’t fight in front of your kids. Show a united front with your husband, even if you have to wait to answer a child’s question until you have discussed the solution and come to an agreement on a course of action.
  • Treat kids according to their needs – Every child comes in their own way and you can’t expect each of them to have the same needs. When I was in high school I was shy and a bit of a homebody. I was MORE than happy to stay at home on Friday nights with my family and play games and just be with them. So my mom had to encourage me to do the things that were hard for me and encourage me to go out to football games and to parties. On the other hand, my sister Taylor is a self-proclaimed (and rightly so) party in a box. She is outgoing and fun and naturally wanted to be out with friends all the time. My mom had to limit her amount of going out so that she would have time at home with the family. This can apply to everyone, each person you meet will have different needs so be sure to treat them according to those needs.
  • Assume best intentions – Before you get married make sure your spouse isn’t someone that would say mean things or do mean things towards you. So, if you are hurt by something he does or says assume that he doesn’t intend to hurt you and approach him that way. Don’t attack him for missteps he might take, but approach him with kindness and explain why his actions hurt you so that you can work together to fix the problems. I’ve found this to be a good way to approach most situations. Generally, people aren’t going out of their way to do mean things towards you. So if they do something that hurts you approach it calmly and peacefully – attacking the other person only makes things worse.
  • Read scriptures and pray daily – All of the answers that you will need as a parent, spouse and person are in the scriptures and available as we have the Holy Ghost with us. Be sure you are always in a position to feel His promptings and obey them.
  • Bear testimony often – Find ways to teach your children through everything you do. Make sure they see you supporting church leaders, paying your tithing, saying your prayers, going to church, reading the scriptures, attending the temple etc. It will be a vital part of their own testimony. Teach them the principles of the gospel as you come across any situation that presents itself.
  • Humble – Realize that you don’t know everything. There are so many people around us who want to help you be successful. Listen to their guidance and try to act on it.
  • Remember and keep covenants – Don’t settle for less than a temple marriage, it’s not worth it. Children have a right to be born into a family that has been sealed together forever. The covenants that you will make in the temple will strengthen you against all the evils in the world and help you become the best you can be. I can’t imagine trying to be a mother without the protection and guidance I have received through my temple covenants.  Marriage and parenthood is hard enough even with these blessings, you deserve nothing less than marriage in the temple to a young man who is worthy to take you there.
  • Forgiving – Be willing to apologize and forgive quickly, especially with your kids. If you realize you are in the wrong don’t just try to hide it, apologize and let them know it. You will gain their respect and trust as you show them how to apologize and forgive.
  • Patient – Motherhood requires immense patience. Your kids will undo all of your housekeeping the moment you do it. Everything you will want to do will take twice as long just by taking your kids along. You will even need patience just to keep from decking the lady at church who states that she “can’t understand parents who can’t get their kids to sleep through the night, just put them to bed and let them sleep!” when your own 14-month old *still* won’t sleep through the night… or anything like unto through the night (not that this happened to me… last week… at church :P).

Brittny – 15 May 2010

Low – This is my fourth attempt at writing this post now…

Also, just feeling inadequate to do all the things I ought to be keeping up with – work, cooking, laundry, mothering, blogging, sleeping, dishes, vacuuming, freelance projects, my calling, temple attendance, scripture reading, praying, exercising, grocery shopping, budgeting, dating (but only Eric of course), service, family home evening… not enough hours in the day!

High – I found a decent blogging client for my droid! Granted it’s super annoying to write a full post with my thumbs… but I can! Now I can blog from bed, woot!

Also, I got some super cute pictures of Sam while we were playing outside today – we’ll see if I can add them to this post…

Well after much trial and tribulation I’ve decided to settle for a link to the photo gallery. Maybe next time…

Samuel

Cute pictures of Sam 🙂

Paying Tithing Online

Is the glass 10% empty or 90% full? Whose glass is it anyway?

If you’re like me then you have no doubt run into problems with remembering to pay your tithing when money comes in. It’s not that I don’t like paying tithing, or that I’m being grudging about it, I’m just not used to having to write checks. Tithing is pretty much the only check I write so I don’t carry around a checkbook. Plus, since Eric and I have been married at least one of us has had a variable paycheck so each month if we *do* remember the checkbook we still have to figure out how much we owe.  If we’ve left paystubs at home or forgotten when we paid last sometimes the math is too complex to figure out in sacrament meeting, and then another week goes by with our tithing unpaid.  Not good.

So, I decided to do some research and find out if there’s a way for me to pay my tithing online. I figure everything else gets paid online, why not tithing? It would make the difference between our tithing getting paid immediately when we receive income or when the stars aligned so that we knew how much we owed and had a pen, checkbook and tithing slip in sacrament meeting. The Church is fairly technically savvy so this didn’t seem like too much of a stretch that I would be the only person looking for this.

Lo, and behold! There is a way to pay your tithing electronically! If your bank supports a bill pay option you can set up your bill pay to send tithing payments to the church. I found this article that gave really good instructions. The links in the article were outdated but I was able to find the form that he mentions here and the electronic donations page here (although the form is really all you need).  I recommend reading through his whole article for the complete instructions.  He even gives good tips to get all the paperwork electronically if you are paper averse (like Eric and I are :P). Also, if you’re interested there is some interesting discussion on the subject on the LDS Tech forums (apparently elsewhere in the world tithing is *only* accepted electronically).

There are a couple important things to note about paying your tithing online

  1. Your tithing will not show up on your end of the year report in your ward when you go in for tithing settlement, but you will receive a year end report from the church of what you have donated.
  2. Your fast offerings will not go into your ward’s fast offering account but instead into the general church fast offering fund. If you want it to go into your ward’s specific fast offering account you’ll need to still write a physical check.
  3. Similarly you cannot contribute to the ward’s mission fund or to a specific missionary’s fund via online bill pay – you’ll have to do that manually as well. However, you can make donations to the general missionary fund.

The one thing you won’t find in the article is how to set up bill pay with your individual bank.  You’ll need to log in to your bank’s website and determine if they support this functionality and find documentation on how to use it.

  • If you bank with USAA – we do and we LOVE them – they support free bill pay if you have a checking account. You can find their instructions on how to set up bill pay here.
  • If you bank with Deseret First Credit Union (which my family does, which is the only reason I’m including it here 😛 ), they also support bill pay for free *if* you use it at least once a month. I didn’t realize there was that caveat when I first signed up for it, and since I didn’t have any bills that I needed to pay online… I got charged $3ish each month that I had it. But if you’re using it to at least pay tithing, that shouldn’t be an issue. You can find instructions for Deseret First here.
  • If anyone finds instructions for setting up bill pay with other financial institutions please feel free to leave a link to them in the comments!

I hope someone else finds this information as useful as I did! Hopefully it will be even easier than it is now in the future, but the overall process wasn’t too bad, and I’m so excited to not worry anymore about whether we’re current in paying our tithing.

HUGE thanks to Russell Sperry for his very helpful article. All of my research started from there and I’m so grateful for him sharing his knowledge.

Also, another big thanks to Amber Fife for allowing me to use her picture at the top of this post. She posted it on Facebook and I thought it was an inspired picture. Contact her if you are interested in a larger format or prints!