Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almost December

For Thanksgiving, Jeff and I were pleased to have my parents and grandfather visit for the four day weekend. I am really grateful that my in-laws and parents get along so well. It makes for a lot of fun times for Jill, having both of her grandparents together.

As you can see, Jill was very helpful during the weekend. Many great tasks were accomplished: the gutters were cleaned, Christmas lights were put up, baby clothes were organized, crafts were begun, tasty food was cooked, etc.

One accomplishment that visitors to my home will appreciate is that the second bathroom door latches now! So no longer can Jill or the cats open it merely by pushing. (Although Jill has opened doors twice all by herself. She seems to have just gotten lucky though, because she has not repeated the performances since. However, she had to turn the knob and pull—not push—so we were all pretty impressed when it happened.)

Sorry Dad for cutting your head off in this picture, and thank you very much for everything you did! My mom did many wonderful things too, like make my sink sparkle, but I did not take any pictures of those.

Thank you, Mom and Dad!

And please don't think we make our guests work for their stay! My parents just really enjoy helping. :) And Jill enjoys helping their helping. ;)



Jill really loves the Christmas tree. She removes the ornaments constantly, and she carries the Christmas presents all over the house. She has not tried to open any of them yet; we'll see how long that lasts. The cats have not opened any yet either, nor have they attempted to climb the tree. It probably isn't as interesting to them to climb since it is a fake tree. They only attack the tree if one of us has recently touched it and made it move around.

The first Christmas tree picture affords a good view of my growing belly. I hit the 30 week mark yesterday, so I'm 2/3 complete! I still am exercising (much to my surprise) and feeling great (not to my surprise). The only real difficulty I'm experiencing is sleeping. Oh well. Soon I'll be so exhausted that it won't be hard to fall asleep. ;)

It really does feel like December now. It rained almost the entire day today, but as I just went out to put some trash and recycling in their respective bins/containers, it had turned to snow. I don't think anything will stick, because it is just barely falling, but a few got stuck in my hair nonetheless and made me feel very excited for Christmas.

Speaking of my hair, it was starting to look scraggly (in my opinion), but I am not tired of long hair yet, so I was debating what to do. Last week, I had a whole half foot of hair cut off, but basically no one noticed, so I am contented that my hair is still long (because I think friends would have commented if it looked short) and it is no longer scraggly. Yay for healthy looking hair.

That pretty much brings you up to date on all of our ever-so-exciting activities. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to think of many things for which you are grateful!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Jill

 Our little ray of sunshine!

Our little . . . underwear model?!

While I was downstairs folding laundry, Jill was exploring in her sock/underwear drawer. She is not potty trained yet, but we purchased two packs of undies to be prepared for when that day comes. When she came around the corner, I first wondered where she had found some bandannas. Then I realized she did not have bandannas around her neck but panties! I ran for the camera, and she was nice enough to pose for me.

Jill has recently started saying her name, which I am very pleased about. I don't know how long it will be until she has the last name down, but I feel somehow comforted by the fact that she can tell someone her name. And yes, she is stinkin' cute in pigtails.

If you are viewing this post in your e-mail inbox, the video may show up at the very bottom and if not, then simply click this link to view it in youtube. If you are viewing this post as a facebook note, then you can watch the video by clicking this link.

Jill Says "Jill"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marriage . . . Obsolete?

Have any of you read the USA Today coverage of a recent Pew Survey or any of the articles commenting on that original article?

The study of 2,600+ Americans found that four out of ten of us believe that marriage is obsolete. The article also used recent US Census data to include more interesting information. The most likely people in America to get married are white college graduates, and the median age for those who do marry (all of them, not just the white college graduates) is the highest it has ever been: about 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. And for the first time in more than a century, there are more unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 than married people.

Interesting, yes?

I am now going to talk about what that made me think of and my own personal life experiences, because those are really the only things of which I have in-depth knowledge. So, please do not think I am making blanket statements for anyone other than myself. I am not attempting to comment on the marriage or divorce of anyone else or compare my marriage to any other. Selfishly, this is just all about me. :) Hey! It's my blog. ;)

I am 25, pregnant with my second child, and was married at the age of 20. I am white and a college graduate. (Although I did get married while I was still working on my degree.) I feel very blessed to be in my situation.

I did not live with my spouse before marriage and actually knew him for less than a year before getting married. However, neither he nor I entered into our marriage lightly, for we actually believe that we are not married "until a divorce" or "until death do us part." We believe we will be married forever. FOREVER. That's an unfathomably long time, so we'd better work hard to get along. And we do. (Although it is usually not that hard. Thank goodness!) ;) We both agree that there is no priority in our daily lives more important than each other. Hobbies, interests, activities, habits—all would be sacrificed for the survival of our marriage. (We made sure we shared the same values before we got married, so no worries with sacrifice there.)

 In April, we will have been married for five years, and we have both changed with time, but we have made a commitment to stick together, and we have changed together. In small ways, I become slightly more like him and he becomes slightly more like me, and I am truly excited for the future when we're great-grandparents and we'll, at times, simply sit in rocking chairs, hold hands, and smile.

Nothing could ever entice me to give up the security of unconditional love and the fulfillment of raising children. If you had "good," emotionally healthy parents, imagine how your mom and dad felt about you, and then imagine that you picked someone who feels that exact same way about you, but he's not your parent—he's your spouse! It's wonderful.

Is he perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. But we both try, and that's what matters. I honestly think that love is not the most important aspect of a marriage. It is certainly a necessity on the list, but the most important aspects of a lasting marriage are commitment and unselfishness.

Okay, so that was my tangent about myself. Now on to the part where I talk about what the article made me think.

And, in some ways, I believe that is why marriage is "falling out of favor" with Americans. I believe there is a huge trend for selfishness and convenience in our society. We are taught that "you just have to do what is best for yourself" or "if it's not working, try something new." When was the last time you had a belonging repaired instead of putting it in the trash and buying a new version? Did you use your television until it broke, or did you use it until you decided it was worth it to buy one that was bigger, flatter, sharper?

The beauty of marriage can be that you don't have to do what is best for yourself, because that is what your spouse is doing. And your spouse doesn't have to do what is best for him or herself, because that is what you should be doing.

Americans view so many parts of their lives with the mentalities of replacement-rather-than-repair and selfishness, that I am not surprised that it has slipped into our view of marriage as well. (Again, I am not speaking for 100% of the population.)

So, in a way, I think the lower marriage numbers (and the currently minority (but increasing) view of marriage as obsolete) indicate an acknowledgment of the undesirability of divorce, a recognition that marriage is a serious commitment, and an acceptance of forms of lasting relationships other than marriage (such as cohabitation or single parenting by choice). And mostly, it seems to originate from an admittance of a disinclination toward promising to stay devoted to one person for as long as one lives. We value freedom and flexibility increasingly more than the risk of trusting ourselves and someone else.

So, please, share with me your married, single, or divorced story and your personal theories for why more and more Americans are delaying and/or avoiding marriage.

Here are two more articles that you might find interesting: Can we be married, but independent? and Dating for a decade? And if you don't want to scroll up, here is the original article link again: Nearly 40% say marriage is becoming obsolete.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CEDAW

If you have not heard of it before, CEDAW stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. "The Convention defines discrimination against women as ' . . . any distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.'" —United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

That sounds pretty good. It sounds like something that everyone should be behind. Right? It was created in 1979, and the United States is one of the few countries that still has not ratified it. The last time it came in front of the Senate was 2002, and many people believe it will come up in front of the Senate when the lame-duck session opens this Thursday (tomorrow). Only two-thirds of the Senate need to be pro-CEDAW for it to be ratified into US law.

So, why do I care? Well, while the language of the convention initially sounds great, there may be some very controversial issues lurking behind its nice words.

Here are some clips from some of the articles I have read in trying to figure out the freedoms at stake.

"We can already see the damage that ratifying CEDAW could cause the US simply by looking at the way the UN is treating those countries that have already ratified CEDAW. Among other things, these countries have been pressured by the UN to legalize prostitution, eliminate Mother's Day observances, put more children in day care, and liberalize their abortion laws." —Family Watch International

"A UN panel last week lambasted US human rights policy. . . . The 35 US delegates bore the fury of a periodic review in which UN member states scrutinize a country's human rights record. The process resulted in no fewer than 228 recommendations for US policy, with many urging the country to ratify a host of controversial treaties and declarations. . . . The US delegation pledged that it remained 'strongly committed' to ratifying the CEDAW women's treaty and a disabilities treaty. . . . Heated debate in the United States has swirled around the question of ratifying many of the UN human rights treaties. The CEDAW women's treaty has proven a favorite of liberals who support abortion rights but hasn't reached the Senate floor. Treaty critics warn its ratification would incorporate a radical feminist agenda, a view borne out by dozens of non-binding recommendations from the committee that oversees the treaty. A recent analysis found that the CEDAW committee has pressured at least 80 countries to legalize or liberalize abortion laws, despite the fact that the treaty is silent on abortion." —Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute

"The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the CEDAW treaty that has been used to pressure nations to legalize abortions. While the treaty is meant to promote women's rights, United Nation's agencies have used it to promote abortion. The treaty has been ratified by 186 nations worldwide . . . ." —LifeNews.com

". . . a close look at the content of the treaty shows that the Senate has been wise to resist ratification for 31 years. Though CEDAW contains many worthy declarations, its key provisions are 1970s egalitarian feminism preserved in diplomatic amber. Releasing those aged provisions into 21st-century America would be strange at best and would risk seriously compromising the privacy, well-being, and basic freedoms of Americans. . . . Under CEDAW, even private behavior—such as how couples divide household and child-care chores—is subject to government oversight and modification. The UN monitoring committee routinely censures countries like Denmark, Norway, and Iceland for failing to prevent women from taking primary care of children, a practice it deems 'discriminatory.'" —National Review Online

Do I agree that women should not be discriminated against for being women? Yes. However, I believe that I may disagree with those in favor of CEDAW as to what discrimination could be defined as. I do not believe that being a mother and housewife is discriminatory in any way. I LOVE having those roles. Motherhood is an honor.

And I do not think that ratifying CEDAW in the US would help the plight of women throughout the world. But I do believe that much needs to be done to help women in the United States and the world. I just do not believe the CEDAW is the correct way for it to be done. I am not completely ignorant (but I cannot in any way claim knowledge of everything) of the atrocities that women deal with simply for being women, but I honestly believe that CEDAW will not help prevent those atrocities. And the issue at stake here is US policy, not world policy.

So, that's my opinion, and this is my blog. You are welcome to put your own opinions on your blogs and facebook notes. If you do disagree, I am interested in your opinion, so please place a link in a comment. (And of course, I am interested in the comments of those who agree as well.)

I think this is an issue that is worthy of notice. Please do your own research and thinking and then contact your Senators with your opinion. If you wish to send your Senators an e-mail urging them to vote against ratifying CEDAW, then you can click this link. Technically, even if you are pro-CEDAW, you could use the link to contact your Senators. You would just have to change the automatic text that it creates for you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wild Animals

Oh man. So, we have two domesticated animals—our sweet kitties, Cosmo and Chloe. We have on the occasion had an encounter or two with some wild animals. (Sounds exciting, right?) (haha) There was the turtle that we found twice in our yard or near our house. Jeff ran over it with the lawn mower, thought it was dead, tossed it across the yard, and then it started crawling away. Apparently our mower blade was set pretty high, because it didn't do anything to him. Jeff tried to make peace by offering the turtle Romaine lettuce, but the turtle was not very forgiving. He rejected the lettuce and waddled off. Jeff saw him again later, and the turtle was still holding the grudge, because he gave Jeff "a look."

Then there was the lizard. Oh joy. If you don't remember that post, feel free to click the link and reminisce. Ha. (Wow. I really thought I spelled that word incorrectly, but it didn't get highlighted by spell check, so I guess I just made my HS English teacher proud!)

And tonight, we had the pleasure of adding a new buddy to our list of wild animals.


Jeff and I are in our bedroom. I'm responding to e-mails; Jeff is checking ESPN stuff. I heard a noise coming from the kitchen. I was surprised, because it sounded like someone was squeezing a squeaky toy, so I glance over to the bed to see if Jeff really is in here with me. He was. So I assumed I imagined it. And then I realized we didn't even own any squeaky toys.

Then the cats come running in: Cosmo, growling, and Chloe had something in her mouth. Oh, I thought, she found one of the mice toys. Then I thought about it and remembered that our mice toys didn't have little feet. They just were bodies with tails. Oh my gosh! It was a real mouse. I somewhat exclaimed to Jeff that Chloe had a live mouse! I meant "live" as in "not a toy." I assumed it was dead.

The cats raced back into the kitchen, where we quickly realized that mouse was actually alive, because Chloe kept dropping it out of her mouth and batting it with her paws while it tried to run away.

We hurriedly looked for gloves and came up with my winter ones. Jeff put them on and pried the mouse out of Cosmo's jaws (the mouse had switched tormentors by this time). We checked the mouse all over but could ascertain no damage. He was so cute!! I couldn't believe how cute this little mouse was.

In the end, we let him out into the yard. He'll probably die out there, too, but I hope whatever animal gets him does not play with him (or her) as much as our cats were. If we had a small animal cage, we honestly would have been tempted to keep him. Although, I couldn't help but think of The Secret Garden and the bubonic plague, or whichever disease that was . . .

So yeah. We had a mouse living in our house. Somewhere. I wonder if he just came in today or if he has been hiding really well.

Either way, it is somewhat gratifying to know that our cats are good mousers and predators in general. I am very glad to not have the dead lizard lurking and the mouse hiding somewhere in my home.

What will we discover next?

Please, friends, don't let this discourage you from visiting. We have a very clean home, and I am sure these are relatively common occurrences for older houses. Please still visit us! :) We love visitors! (Just not the wild animal variety . . . )

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet the Kellys!


I have an awesome friend named Holly. She has an awesome husband named Sam. Together, they are the Kellys. Jeff and I met them while we were at BYU, and they were in many ways our "twin" couple. Holly and I majored in almost the same thing at BYU and graduated really close to each other. We then both worked for the same company. Sam and Jeff actually did major in the exact same field and did an internship together. Professional and educational similarities aside, we also tend to think the same things are funny and share the same values.


They are honest, intelligent, and stable. They are caring and funny. Sam loves to do little surprises to show you how much he cares about you, and Holly loves to be silly and sarcastic (definitely possible) and is fiercely loyal to those she loves.


Their hobbies include reading, writing, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland. Note: Not all of those are shared hobbies, but assuredly Sam or Holly likes it.

Sadly, Holly and Sam have not been able to have children of their own. They have been married for about five years now and would really love to increase their family size.

They have waited through trying to conceive. They have waited through going to fertility doctors and learning why it is not happening. They have waited through the adoption approval process. They are now approved and are waiting to be matched. This last waiting period can be sped up if a mother chooses them!

So, if you are a pregnant woman who is looking for a loving home for your future child (or if you know a pregnant woman in this situation), please give the Kellys a chance and consider them.

Click this link to view their adoption profile.

Click this link to read Holly's blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Updates and Spousal Needs

Let's see . . . life is moving forward as it should. Jill passed the 18 month mark, and it really has been amazing to watch her turn from a baby to a toddler. I really love how many more words she can say now, and it melts my heart to hear her say Mommy and Daddy.

I can no longer decide whether she is just a blonde or still a strawberry blonde. Her hair almost seems to fluctuate daily.

She recently has had trouble sleeping. She and I were up last night from 11:30 (she went to bed around 8:00) to 3:00. Sigh. I finally caved and just gave her a bottle. She was asleep within half an hour.

I would really like to potty train her before Daniel Wells makes his appearance. Do you have any tips on how you potty trained your children? How you were potty trained? How your neighbor/sister/coworker potty trained his/her kids? I would love to hear any stories you have to share. The more information the better!
Yup, there I am with my belly. I am now in the last trimester of this pregnancy, and I really find it hard to believe. I am still exercising, but it is starting to feel different than it did a month ago, even a week ago. I can really feel the difference in my joints. I don't remember what the hormone is, but I remember reading in my baby book during my first pregnancy that the ligaments start loosening up and I think that the hormone is affecting my whole body, because my ankles and knees are starting to feel really weird. I am interested to see how long I can keep it up. Right now I'm alternating between jogging/running and Zumba. Perhaps I'll switch to swimming if need be, Oh well, however long I keep it up, I figure it can only help matters. All I am hoping for is no pre-eclampsia, no forceps, and no tearing. I really don't think that is too much to hope for. 

In other pregnancy news, I can also tell I'm near the end, because bending over is that much harder and the heartburn/acid reflux has begun. Oh yay!
My handsome hubby had his birthday last week. Jill took this picture of him on his birthday. Aren't you impressed? I thought she did a great job! Despite the 70 degree weather we enjoyed today, I think the temperature peaked around 43 degrees on his actual birthday. He and his brother Kyle did not let that daunt them though—they still went out to play 18 holes of birthday golf. They were very cold when they finished.

Next week marks his first anniversary with his current company; we feel so blessed that he has this job!




Family news aside, I receive many e-mails from various groups with differing opinions. This was made obvious after election day when I received e-mails the next few days heralding the triumphs and disappointments of the day. It was funny to realize that I was on separate mailing lists for Republicans and Democrats. Well, it's good to hear both sides. I also receive e-mail newsletters about my pregnancy, toddler development, and families. In the different family newsletters, there are often articles about marriage, and the most recent one interested me. It was about avoiding or ending affairs and included this paragraph:

"In His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, Dr. Willard Harley says marriages most susceptible to infidelity are those where a spouse fails to meet their partners' primary needs. Wives' needs are affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial, and family commitment. Husbands' primary needs are sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support, and admiration."

What do you think about what is listed above as the primary needs of wives and husbands? It was interesting for me to read them laid out in such a manner and to consider what I believed my and Jeff's primary needs to be. I think it is really important to acknowledge what your needs and your spouse's needs are, so you can recognize whether you are meeting them and whether yours are being met. Anyway, if you and your spouse ever have the conversation lag anytime soon, you could bring that paragraph up and see how you agree and disagree for yourselves personally. If you have anything to share about it, please do. I am interested in your comments on it.

I'd say I definitely need everything that Dr. Harley said wives need. I am trying to think of something else I might need, but those are so general that they really seem to encompass everything I think of.

And if you're curious what my most recent pregnancy newsletter contained, among other facts it shared that Daniel Wells weighs approximately as much as a head of cauliflower. Last week, he was approximately as long as an English hothouse cucumber. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Natural Wonders

Natural Wonder 1: Fall and Cute Little Girls
It is a beautiful time of year right now. Ohio has been enjoying a long and unusually warm autumn, and I have really enjoyed it! I missed autumn when I lived in Utah. It just felt too short, and I didn't feel like I got as many colors. Granted, the mountain sides were GORGEOUS, but there weren't just trees everywhere you turned. Fall is not quite as much fun as a homeowner, haha, because raking leaves is a lot of work, but it will get done!

We all went to a pumpkin patch, and I think that Jill is the cutest one in the bunch.

Natural Wonder 2: Bee Taming
At said pumpkin patch, there were mums for sale. Massively on sale. I got a really large mum pot for only $5. The kind that at the beginning of the season are more like $25. I'm pretty excited. I need to decide where to plant them. Mums are perennial right? I'll get to enjoy these for more than a month? Either way, $5 is a steal

Anyway.

On the mums that I chose was a bee. If you have ever been around me and bees simultaneously, you will know that we don't mix. I am very afraid of bees. They are just so unpredictable. My husband has long told me that I should not be afraid of bees, and that bees only get feisty when you mess with them. He even had the audacity to claim that he has pet them before. Yeah right. I knew the truth—that bees are nasty, vicious, butt stinging insects that are just dying (literally) to sting you. I am not sure where my misconceptions were born, but I think that living four years in a place where killer bees existed that really are aggressive might have something to do with it.

So, my mum had a bee on it. My husband offered to make it go away, but I was hoping it might leave on its own, because part of me was afraid it might sting him. We watched it a while, and my husband said he thought it looked like a nice bee if I would just take the time to get to know it. I scoffed at the idea. My husband then PET THE BEE! After a few minutes of pep talk, I crouched down close to "get to know" the bee as well and then PET IT ALSO! (The picture is of Jeff's finger, not mine.)

 I am not sure whether my fear is cured, but I definitely took a HUGE step forward that day. It was kind of awe inspiring to be allowed to be so close to something so wild. The bee was very soft. We wonder if the pollen (?) stuck on his leg bothers him. Poor guy.


Natural Wonder 3: Kitten Behavior
Having these two kittens has been very educational. I thought I knew a lot about cats, and I know a fair amount, but cats and kittens are considerably different I have learned. My beloved cat, Mandy, was a kitten a long time ago. Last night when I was sleeping (I went to bed really early the last two nights), Chloe was cuddling with Jeff beside me. All of a sudden, Chloe popped up into the position you see in the photo below. She stayed in this position for a considerable amount of time, long enough for Jeff to get his phone out and take a picture.


After Chloe had been in her "meerkat" position for some time, Jeff heard a loud pop or bang from the other room and wondered what was going on. A bit later, Cosmo sauntered into the room proudly bearing his "kill" in his teeth to show off to Daddy and little sister. He had popped Jill's Halloween balloon. Perhaps Chloe heard him playing with it and was suspicious of the noise? We don't know. She popped up before the sound of the pop though. She got off the bed to inspect the balloon with Cosmo, and apparently they were pretty cute sniffing it as if trying to identify the foreign creature.

Have you witnessed any natural wonders recently or something you consider amazing?