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The holiday season has been upon us for some weeks now. In between Christmas commercials, shopping, and scouring pinterest you should find time to watch this short video put out by the church:

President Uchtdorf also has a few thoughts to share in this month's Liahona.

The greatest gift was given to us years ago in Bethlehem and then again in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus Christ by his example, life, and atonement is the reason. If there had been no Easter, there would be no Christmas. #HeIsTheGift

What gift are you giving Christ this year?

Ps. If you're feeling exceptionally righteous here is a link to the Christmas Devotional. Warning: Sis. Oscarson spills the beans on Santa. If you have small children be sure that they are trying exceptionally hard to not pay attention during her talk.
You're welcome. 


Feeding the Missionaries

We try to have the missionaries over for dinner once a month for a variety of reasons:

It brings the spirit into our home
Let's us get to know them
They feel more comfortable asking us to do things
We feel more comfortable working with them
Hulk gets to interact with them

Our local Elders are awesome (we don't have sisters but I hear a set of Chinese speaking sisters will be assigned to the area in February). They are patient, helpful, and really sweet to Hulk - he loves playing with them.

We always let them pick the dinner time (they're schedule is more important than mine, they have the gospel to spread). My biggest problem with having missionaries over for dinner is deciding what to cook. Really. Lame, I know. So in preparation for this month I called my recently returned sister for her missionary dinner insights. She gave no opinion (but after some prodding suggested veggie burgers). *Please note that I always ask the Elders what they would like to have, or what they've had too much of recently, and they never give an opinion either. Double lame.

So I went to my favorite place in the world: google (physical locations excluded)
I found some pretty hilarious websites including this one, a wikihow on making dinner for Mormon Missionaries. I've always had great respect for wikihow (saved my butt a few times) but to have a page on dinners for Mormon Missionaries is awesome. 
Here's an abbreviated version of the steps:
1. Set up an appointment
2. Start planning your menu
3. Buy all ingredients in advance
4. Turn off the TV and radio
5. Great the missionaries
6. If dinner is not quiet ready, direct the missionaries toward your sitting room
7. Start dinner with a prayer
8. Keep the mood light
9. Have dessert (optional)

I have a few disclaimers: I usually forget to buy ingredients but I've become a pro at substitution. Example: I've been out of baking soda for several days, didn't stop me from making some awesome goodies. Here are some of my favorite substitutions:
Baking soda --> 2x required amount as baking powder and omit any salt
Butter/oil --> apple sauce, banana, pumpkin, or yogurt
Eggs--> apple sauce, banana, pumpkin, or corn starch (if egg is the binding ingredient)
Also, this website is amazing
One day I plan on making pumpkin muffins by substituting every other ingredient for pumpkin.
I also don't cook with wine. Yes, I've heard it cooks out but I'm super righteous. If you want to be as righteous as me I recommend this website.

Smiling and waving despite the blood
ps. That's a spoon in his left hand 
Dinner is almost never ready on time - I have a toddler and no concept of how long it takes me to cook. Bad combo. This last time we had the Elders over was probably the worst, I had to perform emergency medical triage after Hulk decided to slice his finger (#MommyForTheWin). We didn't have a single band-aid in the apartment but curiously enough we had gauze (when did we ever buy gauze?). So after I pinned him down in the bathroom I did my best to clean it (hah!) then wrap gauze around his hand with athletic tape. There was blood everywhere. That had to be cleaned up (two days later I'm still finding blood). I then tried to call my favorite doctor (aka Dad aka Grandpa O) to determine if a visit to the emergency room was in my near future. He was unavailable (umm, when your favorite daughter calls who cares if you're at work. Right?). But my second favorite doctor was (aka Mom aka Vet medicine is basically the same as human medicine but with different names for the drugs). She seemed to think he'd be fine. And he was. End of story. *update, had to super glue the cut today when I changed the bandage as it was bleeding slightly. (the irony of medical school, all that money to learn how to sew skin when superglue works the same) But good news! We have real band-aids now. 
I'm convinced that this was a more traumatic experience for me than it was for him.

Last disclaimer: I never serve dessert to the missionaries. Ever. I figure everyone else is feeding them dessert and car missionaries don't need dessert every night. Sometimes I'll have cookies in the kitchen because I randomly felt like making cookies one week but I don't bring them out. This last time I had apple cake in the fridge. I'm so lame, I know, and I don't even feel bad about it. 


Meet the Mormons

I am super stoked to see this movie:

I hope you are too :)
It is coming out in theaters FRIDAY 10/10/14, for locations go here
*hint, hot date JC? anyone want to babysit for us?*

In the mean time I have become obsessed with this song:
For your free download go here.
*hint, piano music as a Christmas present?*

I love the message of the song (and Archuleta's voice isn't too bad to listen to either). We're all unique and necessary. We all play an important part in the melody that is life and God's plan. Often it may seem that our part is unimportant, or that it clashes with the rest of the orchestra and is therefore unwanted, but that is only because we can't hear the whole symphony - yet.  

Last night I was able to talk to my brother just before he stepped onto the plane for Hong Kong and then a connecting flight Cambodia. I feel blessed that I was able to have an opportunity that is usually only reserved for parents. He is off to wonderful things, for a loving God, to a people that will be blessed.

The gospel is awesome! 


Bikes + Coast

Sunset on the beach
JC and I took Hulk to the coast this past week. It was awesome. We biked just over 120 miles over three days pulling Hulk in a trailer and camping in state parks.

Mommy's little camper
 BTW, it only costs $6 per person per night (and Hulk doesn't count as a person). To car camp it costs $21 per night.  There was a county park that wanted to charge us an initial $18 plus $9 per additional person (including Hulk) - that wasn't going to happen. We have decided to be hiker/biker from now on. Our car camping days are in the past!

The weather was practically perfect: overcast, slight sprinkling, tail wind. It only rained hard a few times and only briefly, we were able to dry out pretty quickly. We did not enjoy the hills too much but the views made up for it. We saw at least a dozen different kinds of birds. One night some raccoons came into our campsite; we had everything packed up but they still searched. The last day the rear derailleur on my bike blew a sprocket. We were within 20 miles of our car at that point. JC biked on ahead while I taught Hulk how to play in the sand. At first Hulk just wanted to play in the parking lot but I was able to convince him getting dirty in the sand was more fun.

Sneaky little devil
JC-ism of the trip: Look, there's a black beetle. I've seen nature and it is dis-gus-ting!

Our only regrets: the trip was so short, the tent flooded, my bike broke.
Otherwise it was a great!  :) 


Thessle and Teelson

Watermelon birthday cake
The past few weeks has been an adventure. Don't be jealous - we're glad to be home, to have a nice bed to sleep in again, and hope to soon have Hulk on a regular sleep schedule.

We started it off by celebrating Hulk's birthday early on Sunday with family and then hit the road early Monday morning to celebrate his actual birthday at Diamond Lake.

Hot springs: the perfect birthday present!
Hulk lived in the baby carrier while JC and I took turns carrying him. He did awesome! We saw several water falls and cold springs the first day before heading to a hot water spring which ended up being Hulk's favorite. The springs were located on the side of a cliff in Toketee. 

The next day we hiked Cowhorn Mountain and biked around Diamond Lake. That night we watched a thunderstorm roll in over the lake. Wednesday morning we attempted to climb Mt. Theilson but after a few hours of cold and rain decided to turn around and played games in our tent instead.
JC pulling Hulk  

Thursday took us to Crater Lake. We spent a around five hours biking around the rim and getting sunburned. We made several stops for pictures and lunch. After we climbed Garfield Peak and then down to the water. Next time we're bringing swim suits! Apparently the climb up from the water is equivalent to climbing 65 flights of stairs... or so the sign said. Favorite quotes of the day, "With hills like these, who needs stair steppers?" "I am going to have the best butt in the State after this." - EO

Friday we climbed Mt. Scott before heading to Medford. Dad and I ran in the Siskiyou Out-and-Back (SOB) race Saturday morning. He completed a 50k while I ran the 15k. Very nice course with scenic views, can't wait to do the 50k next year!  There were a few hikers on the course and they would ask me if SOB stood for Short Of Breath. It does to me! JC left Hulk and I that afternoon to head north. We followed a few days later after going to a Tuesday afternoon Temple session with Boo and the parents. (Fun fact: Hulk will be 300% his current age the next time he sees Boo). Turns out mom's brother, his wife and several of her family members, were in the same session. They were in the area for a family reunion and tried to sneak through town without telling us. Ha!

Nursing break with Mt. Timpanogos in the background
That Friday Hulk and I joined the Campbells as they went to Utah. We made a stop near Preston, Idaho for the Zelda Hinckley family reunion (JC's great grandmother on his paternal side) before heading to SLC. We stayed at JC's paternal grandmother, Grandma Karen. On Monday JC's dad, Hulk, and I climbed Mt. Timpanogos. It took us around nine hours. Hulk did great! He didn't like the cold at the top but loved the flowers and was constantly trying to lean out of the carrier to pick them (or pull my pig tails). 

Gideon and the Hogle Zoo Elephant
Tuesday, Mom showed up with Boo and Gideon so I left the Campbells to spend time with Zac. We went to This is the Place Monument, the Church History Museum, and a live session at the SLC Temple Tuesday before driving down to Provo on Wednesday. His last meal request was In-N-Out (no wonder he was sick his first day in the MTC); he was anxious to leave us (and Hulk was anxious for a nap). We then went to the new Living Planet Aquarium before heading to Velvet and Carl's. Velvet made us a yummy chicken dinner and we were able to spend some time talking. It was fun to see them and their girls. Thursday I chased Gideon around Hogle Zoo while Hulk slept in his stroller and Mom hung out at the Family History Library. That evening we met with my cousin Vanessa and her husband for dinner at Cafe Rio. (Dear Oregon, please open a franchise here too. Ok? Thanks.) Friday we drove straight back to Southern Oregon - without Zac. 

We spent Friday night in Medford and headed north Saturday afternoon, this time with Dad and Frodazer as well. JC took Hulk and I out to dinner on the water front that evening before Dad and I went to Oak Creek for a run. After church Sunday Gma and Gpa Olsen invited us over for dinner. Upon returning home Dad and I made some delicious edamame burgers. I also made pumpkin muffins and zucchini bread which were promptly packaged to send to Es before anyone could eat it. I ran out of eggs during the process and found a neat website for egg substitutes (it being Sunday). Not only can you substitute applesauce for butter and oil, you can substitute it for egg. Couldn't tell a difference! Next on my list: applesauce muffins. Muffins made entirely from applesauce. 

Monday morning Mom and I ran a few errands (apparently Zo needed 10lbs of chocolate while in the MTC - if that's the case, there must be a serious lack of all things delicious there) before heading to the Olsen family reunion at Camp Alpine. We enjoyed some good runs, swimming in the pond, zip-lining, good food, and great people. Thursday afternoon consisted of eight loads of laundry (no joke) and Friday evening was spent with the Spanish Elders. Now it's back to the mundane. But after all that, it's nice to be home :)
Enjoy some more pictures:

Birthday party
Toketee falls
Helping set up camp at Diamond Lake
Mt. Theilson in the background at Diamond Lake
Biking Crater Lake
Garfield Peak 
Mt. Scott, Crater Lake in background
Mt. Scott again
Happy little hiker on Mr. Timpanogos


Pseudo grad-school and gasconade

I took a graduate level class this last term for a variety of reasons: experience, get to know professors, receive a good grade, beef up my resume, etc. I'm pretty stoked it's over. So is JC (I think Hulk would be too if he was old enough to notice a difference). 

The class was Bioinformatics and Genomics - which translates to computer programming applied to biology. There are hundreds of new generation technologies available to assist in genomics (study of the genome) and proteomics (study of proteins). Both studies lead to a better understanding of how organisms work and interact. A major way to determine how things work is by comparing new organisms to ones understood and how closely related they are through evolution. It's really neat. The class only touched the surface. The programming shell we used was bash, which I understand is pretty introductory. For my course project, Comparison of polymorphic gene indels in strains of SAR11, I used a program called Geneious. 
TEM picture of SAR11 when studying phosphorus uptake last year 
Pain. In. The. Butt. After four days of continuously running a command JC's computer finally overheated and died. It gave a good fight. (never fear, his computer is still functional) 

On a related note I'm going to be published! Again! It's awesome. The first article is in The ISME Journal which is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed scientific journal. It is published by Nature and focuses on microbial ecology. It's a big deal. But I wouldn't pay money to read it. If you're really that interested, shoot me an email and I'll send you a copy.
The second has been accepted for publication in Nature Communications. I think it takes up to four weeks to appear in the journal. 
Not sure. 
Currently, I am working on writing a review of biotin uptake in SAR11. 
I'll let you know how that goes ;)


Mother's Day Weekend

We had a good, family-filled weekend, and for all those that have been anxiously tuning in to read about our car drama, good news! The car is fixed.
I hope it stays that way for a few weeks, at least.

Dad had the new part shipped to our apartment (crank sensor?) and when he got into town Friday night crawled underneath our car to replace it. I love having a Dad who is so helpful, supportive, and knows his way around a car. Saturday, Boo and I ran in our first 50k (it was Dad's 10th time running the same race). We both had a good learning experience and are anxious for the next one.
Sunday we had JC's dad and brother over for dinner (his mom is in SLC). Hulk impressed everyone with his cute mannerisms and energy as he made mischief around the apartment.

For the mothers in our lives, JC and I made cards using Hulk's toe prints. We added a picture taken from Easter with Hulk wearing a hat and tail I made for the occasion (because who doesn't love a baby bunny?). 
Getting Hulk to participate is difficult and never fun but we think they turned out pretty cute ;)


I have a testimony, no really...

JC and I had a crazy start to our week. Last weekend we went to the temple. (this is another tragic car story so if you would like to skip ahead, feel free)
Roughly 20mins from the temple the car started vibrating and then the engine died. We coasted to the side of the road and checked all the usually things: oil, coolant, no visible smoke, etc. After receiving no conclusive reason why the car would stop (JC just fixed everything) we tried turning the car on again. It worked, so we drove to a gas station, made a few phone calls and got through to Ken from Ken's Kar Shoppe. The man is amazing, really. Mom and Dad - answer your phone. We wanted his opinion on whether to keep going to the temple or try to get back to town. He replied that we could try either option, just let him know what how it all worked out. Well, we made it to the temple and attended a session. After, our car made it out the parking spot before dying. For real. My awesome Aunt Brenda lent us her car to get back home and Monday JC and I borrowed Ken's trunk, rented a dolly from U-Haul and made the trek north to retrieve our car. Our newest hypothesis is that the crankshaft position sensor is fried.
I also had a take home midterm and a lab report that was due Friday and a course project to work on. JC was swamped with managerial stuff. There are two other managers; one just skipped town to go to Florida for two weeks (I would totally go to Disney World) and the other got a different job in town and is cutting back on her duties. On the bright side, we didn't have to pay rent this month :)

Today was Fast Sunday. Which is awesome! I love hearing testimonies. Unfortunately, hardly anybody knows what a testimony is - or how to give one. I blame my institute professor for corrupting me.
There is an October 2004 talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard titled, 'Pure Testimony.' In the talk Ballard dsays that a testimony should be "a witness or confirmation of eternal truth impressed upon individual hearts and souls through the Holy Ghost, whose primary ministry is to testify of truth, particularly as it relates to the Father and the Son."

I think it's awesome that the lady in our ward has run the Boston Marathon like 923029 times and that she really wanted to be spiritually fed and attend sacrament meeting before the race. But if she feels so strongly about taking 10 minutes to tell that story, she should ask the Bishop if she can give a talk next Sunday and being spiritually and physically fed. Personally, I think she would do a great job. 
Then there's the guy who wants to talk about being married to his wife for 50 years and bring her up to the pulpit and his granddaughter and her four kids so that he can re-propose to his wife in front of the congregation. It's just awkward, for everyone. And I'm pinching my child hoping he'll start screaming so I have an excuse to go into the Mother's Room and turn off the audio.

I realize that everyone is on a different level, spiritually. That is why we come together on Fast Sunday to share our testimonies - so we can learn and grow from each other. Testimonies may grow through experiences, which is why so many members feel they need to share the experience, but the experience is not the testimony. Ballard states, "to bear testimony is 'to bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost; to make a solemn declaration of truth based on personal knowledge or belief.'" A testimony should be based on the simple truths in the gospel.

I would like to bear my testimony, I know we have a Father in Heavenly who knows and loves each one of us personally. He listens and answers our prayers. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ who is our savior, redeemer, advocate, and friend. I know that by reading and actively studying the Book of Mormon we can draw closer to God. Sometimes my life becomes a little crazy and I feel that things are outside of my control (like my car that refuses to work). But I know that my Heavenly Father is there, beside me, directing me and lifting me up when I fall down. 


Easter +

It had been my goal to start putting up a weekly update. 
But we're busy people: school, work, baby, etc. You understand.

The tube at the park
On the swing with Scott

JC's sister came down last weekend for their mom's birthday. It was great to see her. Apparently someone stole their mom's poppies from her front yard (who does that?) so we bought her new flowers for her birthday. JC's sister bought her an HP touch screen laptop. You can tell who the favorite child is, right? 
At least I am still the favorite in-law.

 Class is keeping me busy. I have 102943983 hours of reading every night, a course project that I'm not sure how to interpret the data (the colorful charts my program outputted look pretty), and weekly labs. The first midterm is this next Friday. The students I tutor also have midterms this week and want extra hours with me to prepare. Hello, go study and read the book. (No really, they want to learn but they have no study skills)

Hulk is always super excited when I get home. He'll be playing with JC when I come in and as soon as he sees me he smiles big and bee-lines it to me. It I don't pick him up the Hulk-monster comes out.

JC has been receiving tons of calls about apartments. While talking to someone in Kentucky, he said that JC was the most helpful manager he'd talked to. That's my man :)

Easter morning we listened to conference talks from Elder Cook (2010) and Elder Holland (2009) while I made cookies for my class (and then forgot them on the kitchen counter). I have an awesome and crazy class. It consists of two 7 yo boys. I don't know what I'd do if I had more. One is turning eight next month and mentions every class period how he's getting an iPhone 5 for his birthday (um, dad - my birthday is coming up, we should talk). Other topics that were brought up: spanking bums, Heaven is on the Sun, Jesus will die again when he reaches 750 years, Judaism vs Christianity, and Penny the dog,  just to name a few.
The topic I prepared was on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - somehow we always manage to get sidetracked. It's mostly one boy spewing randomness. When it's inappropriate to the lesson (ie bum spanking) I tell him that's not something we're going to talk about. If it's incorrect doctrine (Jesus dying, again) I try to correct him. Teaching 7 yo's about death and how after we're resurrected we wont die again is hard.

I'm grateful for the sacrifice Christ made for me. Every moment I have a chance to be better and look forward with hope.

Why I celebrate Easter: here.


State of Jefferson and Women's Conference

We headed south for the weekend to visit family.
While there JC and my dad worked on our infamous car, I went on a 24 mile run with Hulk, Zac, Dad, and Gideon and then mom and I went to Women's Conference.
It was a good trip.

JC above with Dad working from bellow

To get to the backside of the engine they had to remove some shielding, exhaust manifold, and detach part of the exhaust pipe. All for a freeze plug. Lesson learned: always have a good 50/50 mix of coolant in your radiator.
It took them 4.5 hours. Part way through it started raining so they rigged a plastic canopy to stay dry.

On Saturday, we went for long run around Lithia Loop. Zac and I took turns pushing Hulk in the stroller while Dad pushed Gideon. It was good run with a lot of elevation gain. I was feeling really excited and prepared for the 50K I am going to run in May - not any more. There is a lot more training that I need to do and not a lot of time.

Women's Conference was very uplifting. The most popular quote is from Pres. Henry B. Eyring, "You are more alike, as daughters of God, than you are different." 
I felt that the conference emphasized recognizing we are all children of God and that we are all struggling along the same path. Instead of judging others and recognizing how others differ from ourselves, we should uplift and help each other in our common goal: to return to our Heavenly Father. The importance of temples was also mentioned several times.
I can't wait for General Conference this weekend! It's my favorite time of the year. I always feel spiritually buoyed and enjoy spending the next six months studying their written talks.

Hulk's new favorite toy is his walker. He cries when it gets stuck in a position and he can't use it. While I was in class today, JC had him walking around our living room for an hour.

Graduated to pushing the stroller


Phase 1: Complete

JC took his last final of undergraduate school on Thursday.
(He already has his BA, this was for post-bacc)


Next phase of life is here: 
personal statements, letters of recommend, MCATs, graduate level class, GREs, applications, and interviews all while squeezing in a first birthday and biking the coast.
It's going to be a long summer. 

We're anxious to leave C-ville.
I've been having dreams lately that none of the medical schools that JC applies to accept him. That would be tragic. We do have back up plans (if that does happen, but it wont). If he's not accepted anywhere: we'll move to California or Texas then wait a year so he can reapply to the schools there as in-state and increase his likelihood of being accepted.
Of course, this plan is only after moving to Africa to learn from Spirit Healers or going to medical school in the Caribbean.
I'm all for raising Hulk in the Savannah.
He could learn to wrestle crocks and outrun cheetahs.

On a more serious note, being in graduate school while JC is in medical school is going to be strenuous. We have a knack for taking something hard and making it grossly difficult. Date for two years? Check. Long distance marriage? Check. I think that those past experiences we've had are also stepping blocks to help us in the future. We understand how important it is to communicate with each other. We recognize that we are not great at communicating and it is something we are sincerely working on. There are two marriage quotes that I really like:

"Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home."
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well being of one's companion." - Pres. Hinckley

Both these quotes suggest taking time to serve your companion. It isn't enough to say, "I love you." You need to show it. As Elder Holland said in a BYU devotional, "real love is shown in the how." He goes on to say that most problems in marriage start in selfishness and true love blooms when we care more about the other person than about ourselves.
After our med/grad school combo - JC and I will be the most selfless couple ever.


Weekend update

We have a few Japanese traditions that JC picked up while on his mission in Japan. One of those traditions is called White Day. On Valentine's Day, the girl does something for the guy. On White Day (March 14th) the guy does something for the girl. Usually of equal value and involving the color white. This year, JC made me a fun note using different types of candy. Hulk had fun tearing it apart.

The parents came into town Friday night. I love it when they come and visit! Long runs with my dad and brothers, playing games as a family - it doesn't get much better. Their reason for coming up this weekend (as opposed to Spring Break) was they were anxious to see how much Hulk had grown in the three weeks since they'd seen him last. 
If I'd known having a kid would give my family incentive to come visit, I would have had one sooner.  
Just kidding, not really.

On Saturday, Zac, Dad, and I went running in The Maze. A couple of months ago I went running there by myself and got lost. Fortunately, I had my phone with me and was able to phone a friend. I had started my run a little too late in the day and without a map (not that it would have helped, the trials weren't marked). While on the phone with my dad, he went over safety rules for staying over night in the woods. He was also able to lead me back to civilization; I'm glad I didn't need to test my shelter building skills that night. Since that experience we've tried to hit The Maze when he comes into town to help me learn it. I'd still run with a phone.

Our car is still having issues. So Dad was kind enough to jack our car up and find where the radiator leak is coming from. Apparently it's from the backside of the engine block freeze plug. Yeah, I didn't even know engines had plugs. We're thinking we might be able to re-seal the plug if we bang on it, but we can't get to it because it's on the backside of the engine.
Just another opportunity to be creative.

ps. My baby is no longer a baby. Sad day :(
It also looks like he inherited my enormous tooth gap.
We'll be taking donations for Hulk's Orthodontist Fund now.

For Spiritual Enlightenment - click here 


My Grievances: To The World

This week started out awful. I swear, Mommy cut milk time in half.
Not cool.
She also wouldn't hold me all day like I wanted. Kept setting me on the carpet (you wouldn't believe what I find on that thing) with some toy in front of me. Hah. Like that parlor trick is going to work after the ten bazillionth time. Doesn't she know that holding your baby all day will help development? Not to mention she has no idea how to do laundry properly; my clothes are becoming smaller with every wash.

Daddy isn't very nice either. He gets to use spoons and eat interesting looking food. Do I? 
Of course not. 
The other day, I was trying to call up my friend from the pre-mortal life (he was born to a much nicer family - they have a dog that likes to have its tail pulled) and Daddy had the audacity to pull the phone out of my mouth mid-sentence!
Mommy also wont let me play with her iPod after I performed my patented quality control checks on it. It's not my fault it wasn't up to code.

Grandpa brought over The Red Hat of Shame. It may be covered in cute little monkey firefighters but this doesn't fool me. Every time Mommy puts it on me I resist out of principle. It messes up my hair and is uncouth. I'm putting in a request for this. I hear people give gifts on birthdays. Just an idea.
For the past several weeks I've been conducting research to see how often my parents will change my clothes. Despite my best efforts they refuse to change me every hour. Recently, I've resorted to spitting up but with no real change in their behavior I'll have to test another hypothesis.


Mommy for the win

Hulk developed a cold shortly after my last post. He was coughing, low fever, stopped eating solids, and the gross bodily excretions. But nothing to be worried about (at least not after a few texts with my favorite doctor). As we moved through the weekend he started to become more clingy and stopped sleeping through the night. By midweek JC and I were worn out and Hulk's temp and spiked to 103. Again, not a big deal, but after having a cold for so long it made us suspicious* that he had an ear infection. *later confirmed over text by my favorite doctor
So we took him to the doctor's. He gave us a prescription and suggested we give him some children's motrin for the pain. Within 5 min this was my previously grumpy baby: 

Drugged up Hulk
Isn't modern medicine amazing? Did I mention he also has FOUR teeth coming in all at once? No wonder he's such a grouch. Now I just need to get him some orajel. 

I'm part of this breastfeeding support group on facebook. They're really into the holistic nature of breastmilk and being all natural. Which is great. Kid has a diaper rash: breastmilk. Kid is teething: amber necklace. And then they suggested putting breastmilk in babies' ears to help with infections. 
The microbiologist in me cringed. 
Please don't put milk in your child's ear. Ever. The warmth may help sooth the pain. 
But so will a nice, warm rice sock. The sock is less risky. Promise.

The day after starting Hulk on antibiotics I left him (napping) on our bed surrounded by a barrier of pillows. Five minutes later I hear a loud *thump* followed by screaming. This hasn't been his first excursion with gravity, probably not his last, but certainly his worst. It left him with a bloody nose and a bruised upper gum.
*Fun fact: Blood coming out of the nose and ear are Hollywood's way of suggesting brain damage but do not occur in real life. Real brain damage would manifest itself as dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, mood swings... all difficult to diagnose in a child but highly unlikely to occur from a short fall off the bed. *information made possible by my favorite doctor 

I think I win the Worst Mommy Ever award. Eh, at least he wont remember any of this.


Helmets vs wrenches

One of our Christmas presents this year was a bike trailer. We're both into producing less green house gases and a healthier way to travel (but really, we don't want to spend the gas money). It helps that we live in a small, biker friendly town. We recently received a helmet to protect Hulk's developing cranium. He hates it. The monster comes out every time we put try to put it on him. 

Hulk and Frodazer
The weather has been perking up this week (as opposed to the +18 inches of snow two weeks ago). Saturday night I asked JC if he wanted to walk to church the next day. He replied, "why don't we bike?" So we did. It was warm and prefect weather on the way there. By the time church was over it had started sprinkling. Someone kindly asked if we needed a ride since it was raining. We smiled and said no thank you.

Last year we had some car problems. On the way to WinCo the engine overheated and I had a small panic attack. Fortunately we keep a gallon of water in the car (just in case). Ken came over the next day to diagnose the problem - nothing happened. He told us we could try replacing the radiator cap and we gave him a pumpkin muffin as thanks.

We brought the tool box out during this process and learned that Hulk has an affinity for wrenches. Given that they're shiny, make noise when hit against an object, easily fit in his hand, and something I don't want him to play with - it's understandable.

JC and Hulk
Future engineer?


6 months and counting

Our baby turned 6 months a few weeks ago and we took lots of pictures to commemorate. He's changed a lot in his short time here. Some of his favorites are: waking up at midnight, playing with things that make noise (plastic bags are the best), staring out the sliding glass door, knocking all the books off the shelf, having Daddy read those books to him, going to work with me, and trying to grab the food off of our plates.

JC and I have decided that six months is the best age. They (sort of) sleep through the night, can entertain themselves, mobile (but not enough to get into things), are pros at nursing, and still like to interact with their parents.


My Talk

Gpa requested my talk: here you go (with pictures)

Missionary Work

            Hello, my name is EO. My husband, JC, and I moved into the ward just over a month ago. We’re friendly, so if you want to get to know us come talk to us. We don’t bite. Except for Hulk, he’ll draw blood if you let him.
            Almost 200 years ago a young boy went into the woods to ask God, in humble prayer, for knowledge. He prayed with the full intent and purpose to act upon what he received. In response to his prayer, that boy of 14 years received what is known today as the first vision. And I quote, “I saw two Personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!” 
            The church we so joyfully participate in today is a direct response to that vision. That boy was the prophet Joseph Smith. He later faced many difficulties throughout his life – even in giving that prayer he was enveloped by darkness before he was delivered. Despite everything he faced, Joseph Smith gave his life to the enhancement of this, God’s church. He declared, “after all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.”
            We learn, from the plan of salvation that we are all spirit sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father who sent us here to learn and become like him. He gave us agency to choose good from evil. Like in Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life, when we find things of value in this life we often desire to share it with others.
            The gospel has been preached even from the beginning from Adam to his posterity. In the October 2012 General Conference President Monson said, “Missionary work is an identifying feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Always has it been; ever shall it be.” Christ’s last words to his apostles before He ascended into Heaven can be found in Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
            Today we carry that sacred obligation as Disciples of Christ. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “We are all set apart, not by the laying on of hands; we have not had a special calling; we have not been singled out to do missionary labor, but as members of the Church, having pledged ourselves to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ we become missionaries. That is part of the responsibility of every member of the Church.”
            When we partake of the sacrament we are renewing sacred covenants and witnessing that we are “willing to take upon [us] the name of [Jesus Christ] and always remember him and keep his commandment which he has given [us]; that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” This covenant we make with God is a promise, a promise from God, that as we always remember him we may have his Spirit to be with us. How neat is that? Knowing we have the Lord with us, always, as we strive to do our best. We show our remembrance in keeping his commandments in how we interact with others.
            Matthew 22:37 states that the first and great commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” When we decide to follow the Lord, all other decisions in life are made more clear and we can find joy. I know for me, and I suspect many of you, when I am excited about something I want to share it. When it comes to my immediate family, I openly desire for them to be active, worthy members so we may be an eternal family. I love them and I know the gospel will bring them joy. But why should it end there?
            There is a story that my Grandmother told me some years ago that I have been given permission to share with you today. When she was younger and all her children were still at home she went cross-country skiing on an old forest road with a friend while their husbands tended the children. Their discussion turned serious and the friend confided in my grandmother that she did not believe that there is anything after this life. My grandmother responded, well then how can you be happy? Well I’m not replied her friend.
            Here was a perfect opportunity to share the gospel. However my grandmother did not take it. That friend later divorced her husband and moved away. This has troubled my grandmother and she knows that in the next life this friend will find her and say, Why did you not tell me? How many people do we have, like this friend, in our lives? I don’t know what stopped my grandmother from sharing the gospel that day but I know the biggest road block for me is fear.
            In the October 2013 General Conference Elder Ballard addresses this issue by enticing us to demonstrate our faith and be positive. I quote, “It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand. While the outcome is a result of the exercise of one’s agency, sharing the gospel is our responsibility.” Quoting President Kimball in that same talk Ballard said, “Perhaps the greatest reason for missionary work is to give the world its chance to hear and accept the gospel.” Not everyone will join the church; they have been given agency to choose for themselves. However, it is our responsibility to provide them opportunities and to share the gospel.
            If we feel like we do not have a good enough knowledge of the gospel to share it we can take courage in the fact that many of the best missionaries are recent converts.  There is no way every one of them could have as complete an understanding of the gospel as someone who has lived the gospel for their entire life.  Brigham Young, the second prophet of the church in this dispensation investigated the church for two years before he joined. He said of his conversion,
“If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like the smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, 'I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,' the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.... My own judgment, natural endowments, and education bowed to this simple, but mighty testimony.”
We need to remember that the Spirit is the converter. We are the vessel from which the Spirit can touch the heart of the investigator.
            When we think of missionaries, often an image of young men and women smartly dressed going from door to door, meeting people in the streets, or like in my grandparents' time standing on a soap box on a street corner may come to mind. This is called tracting. Tracting is a very ineffective way for missionaries to find investigators. It is our duty to become engaged in sharing the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Get to know the missionaries! Invite them into your homes, get to know them and pray for them by name – you need to be able to trust them to teach your friends. My sister is currently serving in Virginia. She says that it is frustrating having to talk members into coming to discussions – we should be volunteering! Elder Ballard says that sharing the gospel is a privilege. “There is no greater joy in life than being anxiously engaged in the service of the Lord.”
            It is not only important for us to know and trust the missionaries; we need to show God that He can trust us with those people He has prepared to hear the gospel. We do that by being faithful to our covenants, prayer, fasting, reading the scriptures. Personally, I find spiritual uplifting in my daily scripture study. My dad enjoys running and will download General Conference Talks and Devotionals to his iPod to listen to while on long runs. JC and I also try to attend the temple every month. We are so blessed to have a temple so close to us. There we can be reminded of our covenants and draw closer to God. Strive to be in tune with the Lord. The spirit is always talking to us; we’re just not always listening.
            Our greatest converts will be our children and what greater way to teach them about the gospel and missionary work than by being missionaries ourselves. While on his mission, JC had a companion whose family on every FHE night they did door approaches. The family lessons would also come from Preach My Gospel. I think that is the coolest thing and this is something JC and I plan on doing with Hulk. It’s never too early to start. I want Hulk to know this church is true and be so filled with the joy that knowledge brings he can’t wait to tell everyone else.
            My family owes a lot to a member missionary. My mom is a convert to the church. Someone asked her younger sister to Primary. That one invitation introduced my mom, her brother and sister, and my grandma to the gospel. My mom and aunt went on to serve missions in South America, and along with my uncle were married and sealed in the temple. And now their children are serving missions and starting their own families; all from an invitation to Primary. Sometimes we will not see that kind of success. Sometimes our role is simply to plant the seeds that in time will bloom. Joseph Fielding Smith said, “[our] responsibility … is to be living witnesses of the truth and divinity of the work.”
            When Joseph Smith went into the grove of trees, he was unsure what would happen and he certainly didn’t expect to be called upon to restore the true church. He simply expected to be told which church to join. Similarly, when we share the gospel, we don’t know what is going to happen. We do know that it is a responsibility that has been given us and despite the outcome it provides opportunities for others to know the truth and to know joy.

And then I bore my testimony. The end.