Mothers Day has been a hard day for me since Ben and I have been married. It’s hard to go to church and listen to talks and lessons about how great motherhood is, and how even women who aren’t mothers yet can find other ways to mother. And then those silly flowers are forced on you even if you don’t want one. But that’s a whole other rant. Well today was the first time I’ve been to a real Mothers Day service in 4 years, and it was very nice. I had a hard time through some of it, but I got to really thinking about my own Mom and the Spirit really touched me. I have a great friend who really helped me through it, too. So these are some of the thoughts I had.

When I first got back from Iraq, we had a lesson in Relief Society about friendship. The question was asked, Are we sealed to our best friends? The answer that the teacher was looking for was “no,” but I like to answer that with a “yes.” I AM sealed to my best friends, my husband, and my mom and dad. I’m just going to focus on my Mommy a little bit right now.

When I was in the 8th grade I decided that I was never too old to call her “Mommy,” and I still do today. She is such a good friend to me. I can call her when I have any kind of question. I sometimes call her when I’m grocery shopping and can’t find what I’m looking for, to ask her what section I should look in. She said when I joined the Army that was one of the things she missed the most. I love being older and having more in common with my Mom. We both like clothes, and we like to show off our new outfits to each other when get together, and go shopping together! I know that if my mom recommends a book or a movie to me, I will like it. There aren’t very many people that I can say that about. My Mom celebrates with me, cries with me, and advises me. So for all you moms of obnoxious teenagers, there is hope. I’m so grateful that I grew up, and that my Mom is truly my best friend. I love you Mommy🙂

Sorry to give everybody false hope for the weekend…. I can’t explain the whole thing on the internet for everybody to see, but it comes down to the birth mother changing her mind. In most states there are a certain number of days that the birth mother has after signing adoption paperwork to decide she doesn’t want to place her baby, she wants to keep him (or her). In our case, our birth mother couldn’t let go. There’s a lot more involved because of social services and drugs and such, but that’s all I can put online. It was a really rough few days, the worst of my life. But Ben is with family, I have a great support group here in Alaska so we’re both doing a lot better. Thanks to everybody who has helped us through this, and thanks to the best family ever. I feel so loved right now, even through all the pain. 🙂

It’s starting to warm up just a little in Alaska. By warm up, I mean some days it actually gets to be above freezing for a few minutes. I never thought I would think that feels good, but after negative degrees for 4 months straight, this weather is really nice. I’ve been trying to think of a way I can get outside and enjoy the weather. Something easy, that’s more thank just walking. I decided to get a bike. I used to ride to class in college when I lived on campus, and when I was taking classes when Ben and I got married one of our cars broke down so I had to ride from off campus every day. It was something I really enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to getting into it again.

I got a Giant Boulder mountain bike. It will be fun to ride it late when the days last all night. I’ve been looking for bike trails around town and I’m excited about trying some out. Some of my friends have been talking about riding down to Denali in June or July. It would be several days in biking, so it’s time to get in shape!

I actually had a fun day at work today. We had some Warrior Adventure thing, and some of us were “voluntold.” I picked the activity least likely to cause a broken bone, scuba diving. So I got to scuba dive in the gym pool this morning instead of going to the firing range. It was pretty fun. Breathing with compressed air is opposite of breathing regular air…. When you breath normally, exhaling is natural and inhaling takes more work. Breathing compressed air you automatically inhale. The air is almost forced into your lunges. Not uncomfortably, but it is a little weird. And then you have to actively force the air OUT of your lungs. It’s a little weird.

Swimming around in the pool was a little boring, but I’m getting a little exited about doing it again and getting to go diving outside. The people that taught the class today usually charge $600 for the certification class, plus you have to buy a lot of your own gear. They are giving us (that took the class today) the chance to finish the class for $130, and we can borrow their gear like we did today. I just might take them up on that offer. It’s a life long certification, and I’ll be licensed to dive any where in the world, since Alaska is a hard place to dive. I’ll never have an opportunity like this again. So when I take the next class, I’ll make sure I have an underwater camera😉

I have finally joined the ranks of millions of other women who want to preserve their personal photographic history….  I am scrapbooking.  Until recently my mindset was that until I had kids, scrapbooking was pointless.  I used to only take pictures of my cats.  That’s really exciting, a scrapbook full of cats.  Well, I’ve had a few interesting experiences over the past few years, and decided it’s time to document it girly style.  So I went to Jo-anns and spent entirely too much money getting supplies and such, and this is what I have come up with.

One of the pages of us at my military ball. Really boring night, but SO much fun to dress up😉

Alaska winter page, with frozen eyelases!

These are my two favorite, because they were so fun to make.  I’m pretty excited about doing this.  And if I do say so myself, I don’t think these pages are half bad, for a beginner😉

I have the best calling in the world! I’m in Young Womens! I get to work with the Mia Maids, 14 and 15 year old girls. I love my girls! I love their enthusiasm and energy, and I love seeing them make correct choices. I look forward to going to Young Womens twice a week. It is a shining light in my lonely life in Alaska.

One of my favorite parts of Young Womens is Personal Progress. This program for the YW is a set of goals and tasks meant to help the girls develop qualities that will help them become the women the Lord wants them to become. It’s not an easy program to complete, I’ve heard it compared to the Eagle Scout award, but harder. It involves doing six “experiences” for each value (faith, divine nature, individual worth, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, virtue). These experiences could be studying scriptures on a certain topic, or spending a few weeks developing an attribute, then recording your experience in your journal. Also required for each value is a ten hour project, including reading the Book of Mormon as the virtue project.

I had the opportunity to work on Personal Progress when I was a teen and earn my Young Womanhood Recognition Award, but I didn’t take advantage of it. My mom encouraged me to do it, but I usually just rolled my eyes and gave half-hearted attempts. I have a MUCH deeper appreciation now and I am so grateful I have this opportunity to work on it. Working on these goals has been such a blessing these past few lonely months. It has helped me have a better attitude about a job that I wish I wasn’t stuck in. It helps me maintain focus on things that help me through my trials.  I know this program was inspired by the Lord, and I’m so grateful for the effect it has had on my life.

Overview of the changes made to the program

Personal Progress book online

A new website that’s not up all the way yet, hopefully soon

The day after Christmas we had family photos taken. We had a fabulous photographer, Joe Willis out of North Augusta. We bought the rights to this picture, and we’re using it for our pass along cards. Kami Clark is designing our cards, and hopefully we will have those done soon🙂

Today I had a really great testimony-strengthening experience. I went to see the Stake President about the music for the upcoming youth dance, but we only talked about that for a few minutes before our conversation was directed elsewhere. He asked me about my mia maids, and gave me some very good counsel about them. When he asked me if there was anything he could do for me, I revealed that Ben and I are looking for our family, and would he please think of us if he came across a child needing a home. He then gave me some much needed counsel and comfort about trials and the reasons we have them.

I felt so much that the Stake President relied on the Spirit to direct our conversation, and that he said the things the Lord wanted him to say. It reminded me of something that happened when I was a single student in Columbia, SC. I went to the institute building for a Saturday session of General Conference, I believe. This institute building had a limited number of comfortable seats, and I got there early so that I could have one instead of having to sit in a hard chair. I got up just before conference started to visit the ladies room, and when I got back my chair had been taken. I wasn’t really worried about this, maybe a little bit disappointed but not upset or mad at all. It happens, I’m the one who got up and left my seat open to invite someone else to sit down. Unfortunately, the few other people who were there thought I was mad and they chastised me for having a bad attitude. This upset me, because I didn’t have a bad attitude, I didn’t care about the chair. I was feeling really depressed as conference started. It sounds silly now explaining it, but I was fresh out of high school then and my crazy emotions were very real. As the choir was singing the opening hymn, the institute director came up to me and said, “I feel impressed to tell you that you are a very special woman,” in such loving tones. I cannot tell you how that lifted my spirits right there.

I learned several things from that one statement. I learned that my teacher was attuned to the promptings of the Spirit, and heeded them. I learned that my Heavenly Father loves me, that He knows my needs, and He sends me what I need in very real ways. It was such a small incident, and wouldn’t have had a lasting effect on my self-esteem. I’m sure that I wouldn’t even remember the chair incident today if my teacher had not said anything. But it served a higher purpose than just helping me to enjoy that session of general conference. It strengthened my testimony of our priesthood leaders, that they are called of God to do His work. That my Heavenly Father loves me and knows me. I felt that same Spirit today as I talked with the Stake President, and I was able to recognize that what he was telling me came from the Lord. I’m so grateful for people who are able to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and have the courage to follow through. I pray that I can hear the Spirit when He speaks to me.

–Sarah

Well I said I’d give a review of the EA Sports Active for Wii…. So I guess I will. I’ve been using it for a few days now, and I love it! I’ve been doing the 30-day challenge, which has 20 workouts you spread over 30 days. You can choose one of three intensities. I’ve been choosing mostly high, but I’ve thrown in a medium here and there. High will kick your butt. It measures the time you spend exercising more accurately than the wii fit does. It also measures the calories you burn…. Not sure how accurate that can be though. It mixes some sports and games with strength exercises.

Pros:
-It sure beats going to gym when the temp is negative anything. It’s very easy to do at home, and I save a lot of time by not driving to the gym. I don’t have to fight anybody for machines, and nobody stares (I don’t have an issue with that, but some people don’t like going to the gym because they think people look at them. So this solves that problem).
-You have to do the exercises at a certain tempo with the game, and it will hold me down in a lunge much longer than I would if I were doing the exercise on my own. You can’t speed through the exercises, which helps you benefit more from them.
-Choosing different intensity levels makes me more likely to put the game on at the end of a long day.
-You can switch out resistance bands for a harder workout. It doesn’t come with extra bands, but those are pretty cheap and easy to get at any box store.
-The trainers and other figures on it wear Tshirts and pants, not skimpy clothes. That’s a plus for me.
-I feel like I get a good strength workout from it.

Cons:
-The cord between the nunchcuk and remote get in the way, and sometimes the way you have to hold them is awkward. Hand positions are very important because that’s how the game reads what position your body is in, and you can get “stuck” in the game. All these are minor though, and it just takes doing an exercise a time or two to work out the kinks in it.
-Not enough cardio, stretching, or abs. I don’t know about the cardio, but I know that the new version of this game, EA Sports Active More Workouts has improved on the stretches and ab workouts. I want to get the next one when I finish the 30 day challenge.
-It mixes up the exercises a little, but it’s a lot of the same. It almost feels like eating at the DFAC three meals a day for a year…. The food was decent, but it got REALLY old after a while. Hopefully I can find ways to mix it up, maybe switching between this one and another game will help that.

So it’s got some good and bad points. But overall, I like it, and I’ll definitely continue to use it, hopefully every day.

If you want to see a video review, here’s a good one

–Sarah

Sunday school lessons with 14-year-olds is always a joy in one fashion or another. It could bring me back to my middle school teaching days, but in this case the group tends to really impress me. Sure, they like to joke around a goof off here and there, but who doesn’t, including their teacher? So, even with the all the noise, the weird questions and comments, games, and whatever else gets thrown in, every time, they tend to be a nice spiritual discussion that leaves a nice feeling at the end. Of course I give most of the credit to those who are there to listen and learn. What an easy job it is to teach when put in a situation like that. If all my teaching career could be like that, it would be amazing to see what could be learned or accomplished in a short amount of time.

–Ben

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