How General Conference Helped Secure My Decision for the Election

In recent years I have been grappling with political issues and my place in political parties. I grew up leaning Republican, I’ve trifled with the Libertarian Party, I find myself now most assuredly an Independent (however there were a couple months there where I was registered as a Democrat so I could vote in the Primary.)

I’ve been very vocal about being in the Never-Trump camp since the very beginning of his candidacy. In 2016 I voted 3rd Party because picking between the lesser of the two evils is still picking evil.

As this election has approached I have struggled with what to do as none of the options are ideal. One day while wrestling with questions and concerns, trying to figure out the right choice, a voice came to my mind that said, “Your decision of who to vote for in this election will not determine your eternal destiny or reward, however, the rhetoric and attitudes you develop and align with could lead you and others off the path.”

Ultimately between the first debate and General Conference my decision to vote for Vice President Biden has been secured. I do not presume to speak for the church, these are my personal insights based on our doctrine and the words of our leaders. I respect that others have reached different conclusions despite accessing the same information. I love you and I respect our differences and I request the same respect.

I have seen several members of the church question how members could vote for a Democrat. Through posts, memes, and comments they call us stupid, spread misinformation or over simplifications of our concerns about President Trump, accuse us of being overly influenced by the media, and some have even gone so far as to say that members who vote for Democrats should not hold temple recommends. I first want to remind you of an official church statement regarding politics and then I would like to address how General Conference solidified my vote for Joe Biden and my severance with the Republican Party.

From the First Presidency 6 Oct 2020: “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”

CHARITY

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “Among other ways to develop the power to love others is the simple method described in a long-ago musical. When we are trying to understand and relate to people of a different culture, we should try getting to know them. In countless circumstances, strangers’ suspicion or even hostility give way to friendship or even love when personal contacts produce understanding and mutual respect.

An even greater help in learning to love our adversaries and our enemies is to seek to understand the power of love”

For several years now I have been on a journey of getting to know people of different backgrounds, listening to their stories, and striving to see them as Christ sees them. As I have journeyed deeper into the power of Christ’s love for me and ALL our brothers and sisters, that journey has taken me straight out of the Republican party. Truly out of parties in general, but furthest from the Republican Party’s rhetoric.

President Henry B Eyring- Sisters In Zion “It is not by accident that the Relief Society, the first Church organization specifically for Heavenly Father’s daughters, has as its motto ‘Charity Never Faileth.’ Charity is the pure love of Christ.”

I have seen my concerns about President Trump misrepresented and simplified down to him “just not being nice.” That is most definitely a concern, but it’s much deeper than that. His attitudes, the way he interacts with people, his rhetoric, and the rhetoric adopted by the Republican Party at large is devoid of charity. It is instead filled with anger, dehumanization, mockery, and trivialization of individual’s and groups’ deep heartaches and concerns.

Sister Sharon Eubank By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with GodJacob 2:17 reads, “Think of your [brothers and sisters] like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.” Let’s replace the word substance with mercy—be free with your mercy that they may be rich like unto you.

We often think of substance in terms of food or money, but perhaps what we all need more of in our ministering is mercy.”

I will come back to being free with substance and the poor later, but will focus on thinking of others like unto yourselves and free with your mercy. Too frequently I am seeing Pres. Trump and his supporters defining individuals by their “otherness,” the dems, the libtards, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, the welfare queens, etc. The rhetoric is dehumanizing rather than seeing them “like unto yourselves” and too rarely is mercy applied. This dehumanizing rhetoric also incites violence.

“President Donald Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from acts of violence in communities across America, dismissing critics who point to his rhetoric as a potential source of inspiration or comfort for anyone acting on even long-held beliefs of bigotry and hate.

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.” ABC New 2018

Elder Quentin L. Cook- Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity “With our all-inclusive doctrine, we can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites. We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity”

One of my greatest concerns about President Obama was that I felt that he was very divisive. But to be frank, President Trump has taken that to a whole new level of division. It would take hours to point out every divisive comment so I will limit to the one that was most concerning to me personally. On Oct. 23, 2019 President Trump tweeted “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

I am not on a respirator, though I’m not sure why it would matter if I was. My friends and family in the Democratic party do a whole lot more than nothing. And I am not human scum. This type of tweet and rhetoric is by no means an isolated event. It promotes division rather than seeking unity and it is completely lacking in charity.

Elder Dale G. Renlund- Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God: “To be Christlike, a person loves mercy. People who love mercy are not judgmental; they manifest compassion for others, especially for those who are less fortunate; they are gracious, kind, and honorable. These individuals treat everyone with love and understanding, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and tribal, clan, or national differences. These are superseded by Christlike love.”

This leads me to my next major concern with Pres. Trump…

RACISM

President Russell M. Nelson- Let God Prevail: “Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female.'”

In case there was any confusion- this is how one denounces racism/ white supremacy. Directly, without deflecting to other issues, and without having to be asked repeatedly.

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “One reason the recent protests in the United States were shocking to so many was that the hostilities and illegalities felt among different ethnicities in other nations should not be felt in the United States. This country should be better in eliminating racism not only against Black Americans, who were most visible in the recent protests, but also against Latinos, Asians, and other groups. This nation’s history of racism is not a happy one, and we must do better.”

President Trump refuses to recognize the issues of systemic racism within our country and condemns those who bring up issues of racism in our country going so far as to ban racial sensitivity trainings.

On the other hand, President Nelson extended this challenge to us as Latter-day Saints: “I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”

While President Trump has come back and said that he denounces racism and white supremacy after his repeated miscommunications (such as after calling the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville very fine people and failing to condemn white supremacy then instructing them to stand-by during the debate) he is perpetuating and emboldening attitudes and actions of racism.

“Federal law enforcement authorities have privately told ABC News they worry that – although Trump has offered public denunciations of violence – his statements have been inconsistent and Trump’s style could inspire violence-prone individuals to take action against minorities or others they perceive to be against the president’s agenda.”

This style caused this horrific situation recently in Provo, Utah. Tamu Smith, an amazing sister who I have had the privilege to hear and follow as one of the Sistas in Zion shared this experience Sept. 8, 2020 (trigger warning- Racial Epithet):

“I had to go get a few items from the beauty supply today. As I was crossing the parking lot I saw a gray or white truck (to be honest I actually don’t know what color the truck was. I do know it was light.) It had a huge American flag and a blue lives matter flag on it. As the truck passed someone yelled “We’re taking our country back Nigger!” I didn’t give them the satisfaction of a response. I didn’t change my pace. I didn’t look toward the truck. I can’t tell you if the person was light white or dark white. I just knew they were racist white.”

Is this how we make America great again?????

This is also not an isolated incident. In June President Trump retweeted a video of some of his supporters yelling “White Power” at protestors. Meanwhile I have seen Latter-day Saint Trump supporters posting memes with racist tones such as joking that the rioters stole everything but the work boots, or suggesting that we take down statues of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Is that how we lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice?

As President Oaks stated this is not limited to racism and prejudice against blacks. In March of 2015 President Trump tweeted “I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S.” In June 2015 he said, “I love the Mexican people, but Mexico is not our friend. They’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on jobs and trade. FIGHT!” In May 2019 at a rally in “Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump spoke about the border patrol agents working to stop migrants from crossing the border illegally. When he asked the crowd, “How do you stop these people?” one rally attendee shouted, “Shoot them.” At first laughing, Trump responded, ‘That’s only in the [Florida] panhandle, can you get away with that statement.'” He didn’t denounce it, he laughed. And it didn’t stay in the panhandle. In Aug 2019 a man opened fire targeting Hispanics in a Walmart. This man posted a manifesto justifying his attack due to Hispanic Invasion and their resulting Democratic votes.

He employs racist rhetoric, calls on people to fight, then laughs about shooting, are we then surprised when someone follows through with it.

Constitution

One of the frequent defenses I see given for why people support President Trump is their support of the Constitution. I am by no means a Constitutional expert. My husband is the history buff in the family and studies our founding fathers and our founding documents for fun (yes I married a nerd and yes that’s part of the reason I married him!) He recently wrote up his own response to these issues if you want to read more.

I will however bring up the issues that were addressed in General Conference.

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “At one extreme, some seem to have forgotten that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is the authorized way to raise public awareness and to focus on injustices in the content or administration of the laws. And there have been injustices. In public actions and in our personal attitudes, we have had racism and related grievances. In a persuasive personal essay, the Reverend Theresa A. Dear of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has reminded us that “racism thrives on hatred, oppression, collusion, passivity, indifference and silence.”11 As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism.”

The treatment that the protestors have received from President Trump and his supporters seems to forget this right. This spectrum goes from just wishing they would stop protesting, mocking their protest, trivializing their concerns, up to firing tear gas at those who were peacefully assembled, and killing protestors.

President Oaks continues: “At the other extreme, a minority of participants and supporters of these protests and the illegal acts that followed them seem to have forgotten that the protests protected by the Constitution are peaceful protests. Protesters have no right to destroy, deface, or steal property or to undermine the government’s legitimate police powers. The Constitution and laws contain no invitation to revolution or anarchy. All of us—police, protesters, supporters, and spectators—should understand the limits of our rights and the importance of our duties to stay within the boundaries of existing law. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”

Vice President Biden has repeatedly denounced the violence that is occurring. So while this minority is failing to listen to him, the flames of violence are being fanned by President Trump himself as he calls for more violence via his tweets about shooting looters and taking over with strength.

Vice President Biden said these words that follow suit with President Oaks remarks:

“The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by any one, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same. It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent, any loss of life is a tragedy. Today there is another family grieving in America, and Jill and I offer our deepest condolences.

We must not become a country at war with ourselves. A country that accepts the killing of fellow Americans who do not agree with you. A country that vows vengeance toward one another. But that is the America that President Trump wants us to be, the America he believes we are.

As a country, we must condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash. It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight.”

President Oaks went on to say, “It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections.”

This is perhaps the issue I find most frightening right now. President Trump has repeatedly refused to promise a peaceful transition of power. I am aware that there have been leftist groups that have threatened violence, I denounce them, and as pointed out above, Vice President Biden denounces this behavior. The main difference between the two sides is that one has fringe groups threatening and the other has THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. In the debate he was asked “Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest? And will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?”

This was his response:

“I’m urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. And I am urging my people.”

He wouldn’t say it. He wouldn’t urge his supporters to stay calm, he urged them to do the opposite.

Additionally he tweeted on Sept. 3rd asking people to volunteer to be poll watchers with an image that reads “Fight for Trump” and the website to sign up is called “armyfortrump.com”

And here are two specific instances that show the effects of President Trump’s rhetoric:

  1. A self proclaimed Militia group in Michigan made a plot to kidnap the Governor and then place her on “trial” for treason.
  2. A close friend of mine, a single mom, recently went to drop her ballot off. She had nothing on her car or her person designating her political affiliation (truth be told, we’ve been friends for 25 years and I couldn’t tell you her political affiliation.) As she crossed the street towards the ballot box, a man in a large truck honked then yelled at her, “If you’re voting for Biden you better just go get back in your car. Don’t waste your time!” Then he revved his truck and let it lurch forward a few inches as if intending to hit her, while he laughed loudly.

You may argue that they don’t speak for President Trump, but it would appear that President Trump speaks for them.

I would like to point out that Vice President Biden, when asked the same question about telling his supporters to remain calm immediately responded, “Yes.” Then continued with “And if it’s me, in fact, fine. If it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome. And I’ll be a president, not just for the Democrats. I’ll be a president for Democrats and Republicans.”

As President Trump’s rhetoric is consistently divisive, Vice President Biden seeks to unite the country and work across the aisle. Which brings me to my next point…

Loyalty and Priorities

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies, referring to the fate of the Nephites, “By the end of another century, millions had died in internecine warfare, and their once harmonious nation had been reduced to warring tribes.”

Both sides are very guilty of tribalism. I fear that if we can’t get work through the tribalism it won’t matter who is elected, we will just tear ourselves apart, which is why I find it extra disturbing when I see Latter-day Saints prioritizing party and politics over the Prophet.

Prophetic CounselRhetoric from President Trump and his supporters
We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive.Frequent Islamophobic messages and memes including calling for mosques in America to be shut down.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long expressed its position that immigration reform should strengthen families and keep them together,” the Church said. “The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families.”Continuing to separate families. Memes shared trivializing the concerns of those presenting themselves at the border or that they deserve to be separated. Or just turning a blind eye.
It is therefore with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of more than 70 million people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, or religious persecution.
We encourage Church members and friends to respond appropriately and legally, to help create welcoming communities by volunteering their time, talents and friendship to individuals and families who are integrating into our societies.
President Trump’s (pre-Covid) significantly limited the number of refugees allowed in. His supporters regularly post anti-refugee material.
Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.When this wording in the handbook was updated many people were up in arms about it (pun intended). I saw individuals call the church stupid for this and said that they would continue to carry despite the prohibition.
We ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public.Individuals have suggested that this is living in fear instead of faith and evidence. There have been protests about wearing masks. Members have stated that the church should stay out of politics and that this statement damaged their testimony.

Elder D. Todd Chrisofferson- Sustainable Societies: “I think it safe to say that when people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the “arm of flesh,” disaster lurks. Trusting in the arm of flesh is to ignore the divine Author of human rights and human dignity and to give highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world (while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard).”

President Trump is well documented in expecting loyalty to HIMSELF. Mitt Romney has been a great example of putting his morals and loyalty to God above his loyalty to the party and to President Trump. Others who have attempted this have been fired and even now there are groups attempting to recall Brother Romney. Some claim he flip flops, but rather he just is not “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” He has a higher loyalty and he’s sticking to it.

President Trump has shown time and again to give priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world. The recent finding regarding his income tax evasion is an example of this. His defense is that he has paid millions of dollars in taxes, but Vice President Pence admitted in the Vice Presidential debate that those were payroll and other taxes. Those are different than personal income tax. He lied and manipulated the system to pay as little as taxes as possible. As I have been reminded several times by leaders and teachers at church, “Anything with the intent to deceive is a lie.” His other defense was “I don’t want to pay tax. Before I came here, I was a private developer, I was a private business people. Like every other private person, unless they’re stupid.” Thus mocking those who follow a different standard.

President Trump’s pattern of mockery leads me to my next concern:

Morality

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “In a democratic government we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.”

President Trump’s conduct in the debate was completely unacceptable. While Biden did interrupt a few dozen times (primarily to correct false information or to get a word in) President Trump interrupted 128 times despite frequent reminders of the rules he agreed to follow.

One of the interruptions that sent chills down my spine was President Trump saying, “Did you use the word smart? … Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word….Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

This is the behavior of a bully. It’s immoral, there is nothing Christlike about it, and it is part of a pattern of mockery and name calling that President Trump has engaged in from the beginning.

Recently an article came out with sources claiming that President Trump mocks religious supporters behind closed doors. Most of the sources were anonymous which brings credibility to question. However Michael Cohen reported that President Trump, “frequently made fun of Romney’s faith in private—and was especially vicious when he learned about the religious undergarments worn by many Latter-day Saints.”

I saw many question Cohen’s credibility in response to this article as Cohen has fallen out of favor with the President, however my question is then- if there was hard evidence that President Trump was mocking our sacred garments of the Holy Priesthood would that bother you? Even if it wasn’t enough to completely remove your support, would you hold him accountable for it and expect him to stop? If the answer yes it would bother you but you don’t believe it actually happened- what about all of the times that he has mocked individuals and groups that ARE verifiable? Does it only matter if he’s mocking you?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies: “A society, for example, in which individual consent is the only constraint on sexual activity is a society in decay. Adultery, promiscuity, out-of-wedlock births, and elective abortions are but some of the bitter fruits that grow out of the ongoing sexual revolution.”

Abortion is a large issue, I know that this is a major issue that holds people back from feeling like they can vote for a Democratic candidate. This issue requires its own post but suffice it to say that it is complex and deep. But here’s the thing, I can advocate for the rights of the unborn and for legislation and programs that are proven to reduce abortions. What I don’t know how to fight is the culture of promiscuity perpetuated by electing a leader who is unabashedly promiscuous.

President Trump has had numerous affairs. He paid off a porn star. He makes inappropriate comments about his own daughter, “‘Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father . . .’” He made reference to the size of his genitals during a primary debate. He’s bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. He boasted about his behavior while owning the Miss USA pageant:

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed, and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.””

Contrast President Trump’s words and actions with these words from President Henry B. Eyring- Sisters in Zion “You sisters, your daughters, your granddaughters, and the women you have nurtured will be at the heart of creating that society of people who will join in glorious association with the Savior. You will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people who will dwell in peace in the New Jerusalem.”

President Trump’s words and actions are promoting a culture of misogyny. In addition to the number of times he has spoken cruelly and derisively towards women, I have witnessed more men being more open in their sexism. I am not naïve that this has always existed, but since President Trump has been in office, they are more forward and direct about it. Here is an example of a comment directed towards a female journalist:

“You are a stupid (expletive) closing dining rooms hurts people that have to eat out do you know how many people died from natural causes or accidents last year 2,736,000 so people die so shut the hell up we need to go back to the old days when women kept their mouths shut and stayed in the kitchen women with big mouths are ruining this country.”

Is that what is meant by making America great again? Going back to the ‘good old day’ when women’s voices didn’t count? That’s not an America I am interested in.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies: “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”

The societies in these two examples [City of Enoch and 4th Nephi] were sustained by the blessings of heaven growing out of their exemplary devotion to the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”6 They were obedient to God in their personal lives, and they looked after one another’s physical and spiritual welfare. In the words of the Doctrine and Covenants, these were societies with “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.”

Bishop W. Chrisopher Waddell- There Was Bread: “It would be inconsistent with a compassionate Savior to ignore the reality that many are struggling and ask them to begin building a reserve of food and money for the future. However, that does not mean that we should permanently ignore principles of preparation—only that these principles should be applied “in wisdom and order” so that in the future we might say, as did Joseph in Egypt, “There was bread.”

President Trump instructed his representatives to stop negotiating a second stimulus bill until after the election despite the current struggles that individuals and families are facing. He and his supporters frequently speak very derisively of the poor. I frequently see memes calling the poor lazy or otherwise undeserving of our help.

I understand and support the church’s focus on self reliance. I have concerns with aspects of how government welfare is run. I respect concerns about Socialism and individuals losing the incentive to work. But I have never seen a statement from modern leaders or in scripture that says only help those that you think really deserve the help. Instead there are repeated commands to help the poor. And if a few receive it that don’t deserve it, or if a few become lazy- is that somehow worse or more sinful than violence, mockery, racism, sexual assault and harassment, and misogyny that is running rampant in President Trump’s actions and rhetoric.

Ultimately I keep coming back to the official statement from the church:

“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”

I know a lot of people are voting for President Trump despite their concerns with his behavior because they feel that the Republican platforms align more closely with the church than some of the Democratic platforms. I’ve heard people say that they aren’t voting for the PERSON but for the PLATFORM. But that’s not what the letter says. It doesn’t say to seek the party or the platform that aligns with church standards. It says the CANDIDATE who best embodies the principles of the Gospel. While neither of them are perfect, in all the ways I have analyzed here and in so many others, Vice President Biden embodies the principles of the gospel in his charitable treatment of others, his desire to lead out in abandoning past attitudes of racism, his moral conduct, and his desire to unite our country in peace.

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Oct. 2020

October 12-18 “Ye Are Children of the Covenant”

Scriptures: Young Readers Faithful People Followed Jesus; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 46

Song: Family History pg. 94

Materials: Family Tree flashcards, time capsule items

Combining two corresponding topics from this week- Turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and fathers to the children, and Christ asking to see the records.

Last year I made two sets of family history flash cards using pictures going back to my kid’s great great grandparents. These come in handy for a lot of lessons so if you haven’t made some I definitely encourage you to do it. I made them using publisher, but word or paint would probably work as well. We like to play a matching game with them.

Create a time capsule with information about your family. Have the kids create pictures of the family and what they like to do. Older kids could write a little about the family and their interests, their testimony, what it’s like living during the pandemic and presidential election, etc.

If you want to get fancy here’s a cool idea. When I was in young women’s for an activity one of the leaders brought in #10 cans for us to fill with a questionnaire and anything else we wanted to bring. They then took the cans and sealed them up for us to open 10 years later. I found mine again right before we moved, it ended up being just shy of 20 years. It was less cringy than I thought it would be to open it and go through everything. But I have no idea where you actually go to get #10 cans sealed, so I’ll probably just use an empty container.

Oct. 19-25 “There Could Not be a Happier People”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 47-48; My First Scripture Stories The Three Nephites

Song: I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pg. 77

Materials:

Game Day! Play hide and seek to talk about 3 Nephi 27:30-31 “none of them were lost.” Play the Straight and Narrow path game to discuss the principles taught in 4th Nephi that righteousness leads to happiness and unity and wickedness leads to sadness and contention. Use the name of the church puzzle to help the kids learn the full name of the church.

Oct 26- Nov 1 “I Would That I could Persuade All to Repent”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 49; Young Readers Mormon Writes on the Golden Plates; My First Scripture Stories Mormon; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Mormon; My Book of Mormon Friends Mormon

Song: Seek the Lord Early pg 108

Materials:

Make a timeline for the events and opportunities that Mormon had at a young age. Make similar timelines for yourself. Have the kids make a timeline up to now and then have them put future goals as well such as baptism, priesthood, mission, college/ career training, future family, etc. Crepe paper could make an excellent timeline, then use the pictures in the printable to match with ages or hopeful age ranges.

I tried to make the printable pretty generic but there’s a few things that are specific to our family as far as college (Go Cougars!) and careers. I’m a former teacher, my husband is a computer programmer, my son wants to be a farmer, and my 4 year old daughter wants to be a doctor. You can search for pictures specific to your family!

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening For Little Ones Sept 2020

Quick update- despite having taught for an online school for two years, doing virtual school with my first grader is kinda kicking my butt.  I might be (definitely am) going pretty crazy.  Please send Dr. Pepper and ice cream, that’s about the only thing standing between me and day drinking right now.  So definitely need to keep up with Home Church to keep me away from happy hour…..joking……mostly…..

Aug 31- Sept 6 Glad Tiding of Great Joy

Children’s Scriptures- Book of Mormon for Young Readers Samuel Teaches about Jesus; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 40; My First Scripture Stories Samuel the Lamanite; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Samuel the Lamanite

Materials- Samuel the Lamanite Script

Song- Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus pg 36

Acting out Samuel the Lamanite on the wall getting things thrown at him but missing has always been a favorite activity.  And don’t get me wrong, you should definitely get some soft balls, nurf products, etc. to use for this activity.  But…I also created a picture script for the kids to give a summary of what Samuel said on the wall before they started trying to kill him.

It’s interesting what sticks out to you when you’re trying to take something down to a kid level.  I had never really thought about the verses in Helaman 15 that talk about hiding up treasure and what they actually meant much less how they applied to today.  I didn’t have time (see above about virtual schooling) to dive into institute manuals etc. to see if anyone has explained this so if you have the time and want to do that, please point me in the direction of what you find.  But, based on what I could glean from it and how it might apply to today I likened it to paying tithing and living on a budget.  If you think I’m crazy- you’re probably right- you could totally just skip them or come up with your own interpretation.

 

Sept 7-13 Lift up Your Head and Be of Good Cheer

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 41My First Scripture Stories Jesus is Born

Materials: Christmas Decorations, treats, etc.

Song: Your favorite Christmas Carols

Think Christmas but Palm Trees.  Go as crazy or as simple as you want with decorations just mix some of your Christmas traditions with Tropical Ancient America.  Tell or read the story about the night without darkness.  There’s actually a beautiful children’s book that I love called A Night Without Darkness: A Nephite Christmas Story.  Make sure to create a new star!

 

Sept 14-20 Arise and Come Forth Unto Me

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 42-43Book of Mormon for Young Readers Jesus Visits the AmericasMy First Scripture Stories Jesus is Crucified, Jesus Visits the Promised Land; Girls Who Choose God Girls and Boys Blessed by Jesus

Materials: Easter stuff you might want to incorporate

Song: I Know that My Savior Loves Me

I gave links to some beautiful videos that depict the Savior coming to America back in April for Easter.  I would suggest watching those again.  Maybe include a few Easter traditions as well!

Before you get started turn off the lights and talk about the big storm that happened and ask the kids how it feels to be in the dark during a storm.  Then watch one or both f the video and ask them what it would be like to sit on Jesus lap and what they might say to him.

Sept 21-27 I Am the Law and the Light

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers  Jesus Visits the Nephites

Materials: Treasures on Earth and Heaven Printable, treasures in Heaven objects

Song: If With All Your Hearts pg 15

Have the kids help decorate boxes to be treasure chests.  Put the picture of the Earth from the printable on one and the picture of the Sun to represent the Celestial Kingdom on the other.  Cut up the pictures and gather other objects to hide around the room.  Have the kids pick them up and then sort them together between the two boxes.

Have the kids do another activity (like watching a church related video or color etc.) for a few minutes while one parent goes and hides the treasure boxes.   While hiding them take out all of the papers from the treasures on Earth box and dispose of them- make sure the kids don’t see you!  Create a treasure map and have them go find their two treasure chests, open them up and see that the treasures in Heaven are still there but the treasures on Earth disappeared.  Emphasize that while the Earthly things aren’t necessarily bad, we just have to remember we can’t take them with us and focus more of our time and energy on the things that we can.

Ideas for items for the Treasures in Heaven box:

I made pictures for some that might be hard to get a tangible item, but if you have one to substitute I think tangible items would be a better example if possible.

  • Love
  • Family
  • Knowledge
  • Talents
  • Strong and healthy bodies
  • Service
  • Scriptures
  • Prophet
  • Ordinances (you could do a piece of bread/sacrament cup)
  • Missionary work

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Aug. 2020

Sorry I missed July, we were in the middle of moving into our new house!  I’m going to try really hard to keep up the next couple of months, but if you see my last post, we made the very difficult decision to do online school for first quarter so….. I’ll probably have tons of time and not be crazy at all….Please send prayers, chocolate, and some Dr. Pepper.

July 27- Aug 2 The Great Plan of Happiness

Materials: Bury Swords, Showing and Strengthening Faith, Baptismal Covenants, 10 Commandments, People of Zeniff Preparations, Natural Man-Saint Printable, Straight and Narrow Path Printables, Manner of Happiness Printable, Fruits of the Spirit, Righteous ammo

One of the suggestions for this week is to go over the law of chastity.  This discussion needs to happen repeatedly, I’ve already posted a lesson plan for it in the past so you can go over that again and use the videos they suggest in the manual.

Here’s another fun activity for this week:

Print out some or all of the old printables I linked above, cut out the pictures and spread them around the room.  Set a timer and have the kids pick up as many as they can in the time given (you could repeat the activity with a few different times set on the timer).  Then talk about Alma 42:4.  We have been given a certain amount of time in this life and we’re supposed to use it to improve ourselves and serve Heavenly Father.  Talk about the pictures and how each of them helps us be better and serve.

 

Aug 3-9 Stand Fast in the Faith of Christ

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 31- 33; Book of Mormon for Young Readers Captain Moroni’s Flag; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon- Captain Moroni; My First Scripture Stories- Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty; My Book of Mormon Friends- Captain Moroni; Girls Who Choose God- The Maidservant Spy

Materials: fabric, paint/ markers

Make your own Title of Liberty using pieces of fabric (if you sew you probably have a closet full of random fabric like my mom, but you could also cut up an old worn out sheet, pillow cases, old towels, etc) or large pieces of paper.  Pull out fabric paint or permanent markers.  This is great for varied ages because everyone can draw or write on their own level.  For little ones the pictures can be super simple like a heart for love, stick figures for a family, the Sun to remind us of Jesus, a rectangle with squiggles for the scriptures, etc.

 

Aug 10-16 Preserved by His Marvelous Power

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 34-36; Book of Mormon for Young Readers The Stripling Warriors; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon- Helaman; My First Scripture Stories- The Army of Helaman; My Book of Mormon Friends- A Lamanite Mother; Girls Who Choose God- Mothers of the Stripling Warriors

Materials: Pin the Shield to the Stripling Warrior

Use the shields from the printable to talk about different attributes of the Stripling Warriors.  Then post the picture of the Stripling Warriors on the wall and play pin the shield (like pin the tail on the donkey).

 

Aug 17-23 Rock of Our Redeemer

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 37; My First Scripture Stories- Nephi and Lehi

Materials: Rock, sand, house materials (legos, cardboard, etc.)

Build two little houses.  Put one on some sand (or sugar) and one on a rock (or brick) in a large plastic container.  Then read Helaman 5:12 and create some of the storm conditions it talks about and see which house is able to stand.  (You might need to use tape or something to ensure that the house on the rock doesn’t move.)

 

Aug 24-30 Remember the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 38-39

Materials:Prophet Counsel Printable

Show the kids a picture of President Nelson, explain that he is the Prophet.  Prophets warn us and tell us what Heavenly Father wants us to know.  Use the printable to go over his counsel from last General Conference. Maybe tape the pictures around a picture of Pres. Nelson.

Note: I did leave out fasting which was a major point he made, but because fasting is generally not recommended for young children I did not include it (my kids would LOVE an excuse to not eat meals).

Mask and social distancing– General Conference April 2020 Opening Message “…as part of our efforts to be good global citizens and do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Church Newsroom Follow public health agency recommendations for using a face mask. Maintain at least six feet (two meters) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

First Vision- Opening Message This year, we commemorate the 200th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the history of the world—namely, the appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith.

Hear Him– Now as we contemplate this significant time in the history of the world and the Lord’s charge to gather scattered Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, issue the following proclamation.

(The video of him reading the Proclamation is embedded in the talk, I would suggest watching that with the kids).

Silos- Opening Message The Lord has told us that “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”1 Of course, we can store our own reserves of food, water, and savings. But equally crucial is our need to fill our personal spiritual storehouses with faith, truth, and testimony.

Church Name- Opening the Heavens for Help As we commemorate the event that was launched in 1820, it is important to remember that while we revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, this is not the church of Joseph Smith, nor is it the church of Mormon. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. He decreed exactly what His Church should be called: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”2

I have spoken previously about a needed course correction in the way we refer to the name of the Church.

Picture of Christ- Hear Him However, messages from our Heavenly Father are strikingly different. He communicates simply, quietly, and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.  As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.

Temple- Hear Him We can also hear Him in the temple. When these temporary COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, please schedule regular time to worship and serve in the temple. Every minute of that time will bless you and your family in ways nothing else can.

Family History- Hear Him While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.

Dove- Hear Him We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now.

First Presidency- Hear Him And, finally, we hear Him as we heed the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. Ordained Apostles of Jesus Christ always testify of Him. They point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences.

Home- Go Forward in Faith make your homes true sanctuaries of faith, where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell.

Gavel- Go Forward in Faith In every country, this Church teaches its members to honor, obey, and sustain the law.5 We teach the importance of the family, of being good parents and exemplary citizens.

Blessing- Go Forward in Faith (Read the whole blessing) Dear brothers and sisters, I express my love for you. During this time of tension and uncertainty, and invoking the authority vested in me, I would like to confer upon you an apostolic blessing.

I bless you with peace and increasing faith in the Lord.7

I bless you with a desire to repent and become a little more like Him each day.8

I bless you to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness.

Should there be illness among you or your loved ones, I leave a blessing of healing, consistent with the will of the Lord.

Heart- Go Forward in Faith I so bless you, adding once more my expression of love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Photo credit

For the Record, I Don’t Want to Do This

My son was supposed to start First grade today.  July 22nd.  It felt a little early to me so I really didn’t mind when they pushed it back to Aug. 5.

And then in person got pushed back to Aug. 17 so the district decided to have everyone start online on Aug. 5 with two options- start online and start in person as soon as they can open or go fully online with the option to change back to in person on a quarter by quarter basis.

Initially my plan was to for sure send him to school in person ASAP- we’re all going crazy here.  I’ll put on a mask on him, but please, take my kid for several hours a day.  We’re new here, and I’m eager for him to start making friends.  I have never ever had a desire to homeschool.  I even taught for an online school, and never had a desire to have my kids do school that way.  I’ve sacrificed and grieved a lot of plans during this pandemic, and I’m certainly ready to get back to normal!!

But as the day to make the selection came closer and we looked at the numbers for Arizona, I became less sure.  I joked a few times that I was going back and forth on my decision multiple times an hour- that really wasn’t much of an exaggeration.

I had a huge mental pros and cons list going on that I was constantly discussing with God:

He needs the socialization and I need my sanity.

But is social distancing actually feasible?  Will he keep a mask on?  What will the discipline be like for messing with your mask?

But it’s gonna fine.  Kids are very unlikely to have complications.

But complications aren’t out of the question for kids. How will his surgery earlier this year to remove his adenoids and tonsils play in the odds of complications- maybe it makes it better, maybe it makes it worse?  What about the baby?  What about me with my asthma?  I am considered medically obese at this point- another risk factor.

But my kid and I butt heads bad when I try to teach him things.

But…but….but

So many unanswered questions for our family and for the teachers.  I’m a former teacher and I wouldn’t want to be doing what teachers are being asked to do- would it be hypocritical of me to ask them to do it?

I’m a stay at home mom so I don’t need my kids out of the house so that I can work so should I take one for the team?  But just because I don’t work outside the home doesn’t mean that I don’t have projects for the home and for myself that I want to work on.

And where does this end?

And then we watched the numbers get worse, and looked into the hospital capacity so close to full, and the crisis triage plan that would be enacted if we go beyond capacity, and them ordering refrigerated trucks because the morgues are reaching capacity.  And my heart sank.

I became less certain that we would be able to open up on Aug. 17th without pushing into that beyond capacity triage zone.  Will they just continuously string us along 2 weeks at a time until hospital capacity is stable enough to handle what will certainly be an influx of new patients related to the schools reopening.

If they do open on the 17th and we have a spike will they just close down again?  Hopefully they are better equipped for that than they were in March, but here’s the thing for our family:

Last year my son started Kindergarten at a charter school that just wasn’t a good fit for him, our family situation, or my educational philosophy.  So I did something I never I thought I would do, and I switched him to a different school at the beginning of October.  I was newly pregnant and in the morning sickness zone.  It was around this time that we also started to realize he was dealing with more than just allergies with a constant cough, sleeping problems, and frequent ear infections.  Also my husband got a new job which increased his commute substantially so he wasn’t home as much.

January hit and we all just took turns getting sick with this and that over and over and over again.  In the first 6 weeks of the year we had been to the doctor 5 times.  We scheduled his adenoid and tonsil surgery for the day before spring break started to minimize time out of school but with how often he was getting sick we had already gotten the nasty gram from the district about missing too many days and I wondered if we should have scheduled it earlier since he was missing days anyway.

I went in to the school a few days before his surgery to give them documentation and discuss the plan for coming back to school in case he would need to miss beyond spring break and the accommodations he would need when he returned.  Arizona had just discovered community spread, we had gotten a few emails about figuring out childcare just in case in the very unlikely event that they maybe had to consider closing the schools.  While talking to the principal about the options after spring break I made a little quip about “if” they even opened up after spring break.  She said she was sure they were reopening- no worries on that.

That was Wednesday, Friday morning he had his surgery, and by Friday afternoon they announced that schools would be closed for two weeks.  I was kind of grateful at first because now we didn’t need to worry about what to do if he needed more time to heal.  But we all know what that two weeks turned into.

So here’s the thing.  I planned my pregnancy around the school year because I knew I would need the break allotted by having my older kids out of the house at least a few hours a day.  So for them to suddenly not have school was rough.  I was still hopeful for our plans when they pushed back to the beginning of April but quickly started losing hope.

If they pushed back any more, would it really be worth going back?  Would I want him to go back when I was about to have a baby?  Etc. Etc. Etc.

On top of that we were planning to move right after the school year ended.  As we watched things unfold and realized school was unlikely to start we made the difficult decision to move in with family almost 2 months earlier than originally planned.  But not wanting to over stay our welcome anywhere, we decided to split that time between our families.

So after changing schools mid year, then having surgery, then not going back to school, having a pregnant and barely functional mother, we moved, moved again, had a baby, and moved again.

This poor kid has had ZERO consistency in his life for about a year now.  And it breaks my heart.  So then to risk putting him into school and pulling him back out sounded cruel and potentially even more traumatizing than what I’m sure he’s already feeling.

The night before we had to submit our decision my husband and I sat down to talk about it.  I thought we’d have this long debate or something, but we just quietly looked at each other and realized we both knew that we needed to do online for the first quarter.  We needed to pull ourselves out of this devil’s arithmetic.

I sighed and said, “Ok, I know it’s what we need to do but can I just complain for a minute.”

I don’t want to do this.

I feel like I’m taking one for the team of society and it doesn’t feel fair.

I’m scared for my mental health which is miraculously holding on by string- but that string is getting pulled tight.

I’m sad that with no school and no primary that there’s not opportunities to make friends in our new neighborhood.

I’m hurt that this wasn’t handled correctly or swiftly by leadership and by the community so that we’re here in this position.

I’m mad that years of neglect of the education system has created an impossible scenario.

I’m confused why they didn’t start figuring this out in March.

It feels like, “I volunteer as tribute!”

And for the record, I don’t want to do this.

 

Now I by no means want to suggest that this is what everyone should do.  Your family situations are your own and chances are your kindergartner didn’t changes schools, have surgery, move three times, ANNNND get a new sibling.  But you had your own craziness to deal with.  And you might look at the same data and interpret it differently.  And your mental health might not be holding on by a thread- your thread might have already broken been tied back together, broken again, been taped sloppily back together just to fall apart again.

I can’t tell you what’s best for you, and what’s best might be different even from kid to kid in the same family.  I can only tell you the questions we considered and how we came to this very complicated decisions.

When discussing this topic recently a friend said that we should assume competence, I agreed and suggested that we also need to assume complexity.

No one’s decision is as simple as we might want to make it.

When someone decides to send their kid to school don’t simplify their struggle down to them not caring about teachers or not caring about the spread of Covid.

Likewise I don’t appreciate the assumption or insinuation that my choice to keep my kid at home is living my life in fear.  It’s not that simple.

I would definitely appreciate if we could band together and do our part to contain this.

Good luck everyone!  Long distance hugs and prayers and large tubs of ice cream all around as we all figure out what we’re gonna do.  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- June 2020

Happy June! Sorry this is late but…. I had a baby last month!  She sleeps really well at night- but not so much during the day.  Which obviously if she’s going to have a hard time sleeping I would rather it be during the day, but it makes it hard to get much done.IMG_20200510_170702

 

June 1-7 Have Ye Experienced this Mighty Change in Your Hearts?

Children’s Scriptures: sorry I got nothing

Song: Family History pg 94

Materials: Pictures of Ancestors

Get together pictures of Ancestors.  I made flash cards with names and pictures going back to our great grand-parents (great great for the kids).  Have the kids pick out pictures and talk about that ancestor and share stories of faith, courage, etc.  If you feel up to making them into flash cards, I made two copies so we can play an ancestor matching game.

 

June 8-14 Jesus Christ will Come to Redeem His People

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My First Scripture Stories– Zeezrom

Song: I will Follow God’s Plan for Me pg. 164

Materials:Plan of Salvation Printable

Review the Plan of Salvation.  I paste my kids’ faces on the blank “gingerbread” man to be their physical bodies

 

June 15-21 Enter Into the Rest of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My Book of Mormon Friends- Alma and Amulek; My First Scripture Stories– Alma and Amulek in Prison

Song: Faith pg 96

Materials: Showing and Strengthening Faith

Tell the story of Alma and Amulek in prison.  Emphasize that they were strengthened to break out because of their faith.  Make a prison out of couch cushions or boxes, etc.  Use the printable above to discuss ways we show and strengthen our faith.  Have the kids pick out some of the pictures then when they are “strong enough” let them break out of their prison.

 

June 22-28 I will Make an Instrument of Thee

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 23-25; Book of Mormon for Young Readers Ammon’s Good Example, Abish Shared the Gospel; Girls Who Choose God– A Lamanite Queen of Great Faith, Abish the Daring Missionary; My Book of Mormon Friends– Ammon, Abish; My First Scripture Stories– Ammon and King Lamoni, King Lamoni’s Father, Lamoni’s Father’s Conversion; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon– Ammon, Abish

Song: I Want to Be a Missionary Now pg 168

Materials: Ammon Sequencing Abish Sequencing

Read/watch/tell the stories of Ammon and Abish.  Then cut out the sequencing pages and have the kids put the stories together and tell them in their own words.

 

This is not so much for the kids, but the woman who plays Abish in the new Book of Mormon videos made a video about the thoughts and insights she gained as she prepared for the role.  I have always loved Abish, but after watching this, I love her even more!

 

June 29-July 5 They Never Did Fall Away

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 26, Girls Who Choose God– Mothers of the Stripling Warriors; My Book of Mormon Friends– A Lamanite Mother; My First Scripture Stories– The People of Ammon

Song: I’m Trying to be Like Jesus pg. 78

Materials: Bury Swords

Read/watch/tell the story of the People of Ammon burying their swords.  Using the bury swords printable discuss ways that we might hurt other people.  Talk about ways to stop doing those things, model and talk through good behaviors.  Then go outside, dig a hole, and bury the swords.  I left one page with blank swords so you can add more that you think about, or adults and older kids can think of their own things to bury.

I included a sword specifically for racism besides exclusion and mocking (which certainly go hand and hand with racism.)  This is a difficult topic to discuss with young kids, and typically I try to just focus on positives, but I feel like that just isn’t enough.  We need to be having deeper talks.  I found three books read on Youtube that work well for younger kids:

Something Happened in Our Town

The Day You Begin

We’re Different, We’re the Same (best for toddlers)

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- May 2020

I am SOOOOOO pregnant right now.  For the record, I do not recommend homeschooling while pregnant during a pandemic and then selling your house on top of that.  But here we are!!!!  Baby is coming super soon, really tired, and to be frank, very grumpy.  So, this month’s ideas are going to be much simpler than others, but I figured I needed a plan or else it won’t happen so I’m getting something together and sharing it.

All the good birthing thoughts, prayers, and vibes would be much appreciated!

 

May 4-10 A Light that Can Never Be Darkened

 

Use the 10 Commandments printable to go over and teach these concepts.  You could cut out big heart shaped tablets to glue them on so we can keep the commandments in our hearts.

I used a picture of fighting for “thou shalt not kill” because on a kid level they need to understand more that we don’t use our bodies to hurt other people.

To explain “thou shalt not commit adultery” go back and review the concepts from the law of chastity lesson– we don’t keep secrets; if someone touches you in a private place tell them to stop, get away, and tell an adult right away; grown ups who are married may share their private places only with each other.

 

May 11-17 We Have Entered into a Covenant with Him

 

Sing a few of the baptism songs from the Children’s Songbook.  Use the Baptismal Covenants printable to discuss the covenants we make when we are baptized and how they can start preparing now.

 

May 18-24 They Were Called the People of God

 

Probably just going to watch the video on Living Scriptures.  Could be fun to pull out some makeshift costumes and act it out after watching the video or reading the story.

 

May 25-31 They Were Steadfast and Immovable

Use the activity page at the end of the Come Follow Me for Primary lesson for this week- but cut out and discard the distractors.  For young kids, well, they’ll just be distracting, especially for toddlers and preschoolers it’s better to just focus on the right things to do.  Have them pick a few that they want to include and color and paste them on a paper.  Have them practice talking about them in their own words and make plans for them to share at a family testimony meeting for the upcoming Fast Sunday.

 

This activity is a good example of something that works really well for multiple age groups.  For your emerging talkers, they could just identify the pictures.  For your toddlers they can give one liners.  Preschool and early elementary could explain a little in their own words.  Upper elementary could differentiate what does and does not belong in a testimony and then write theirs out a little more.  Teenagers could write out their own.

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- April 2020

Soooo…..how’s quarantine going???  Anyone else going crazy yet?  Anyone else have cute Easter outfits hanging in closets that will only be seen on Social Media?

I’m gonna come right out and say it- I’m not digging this whole quarantine thing.  I’m respecting it, I understand the need, but I am a pretty social person.  Also I’m pregnant and I specifically planned this pregnancy around the school year so I could have a break from my older kids.  So…..Covid-19, you are kinda the worst.

I’m going to try and give a few ideas for activities each week now that we have a lot more time to fill.

 

March 30- April 12 Easter: He Shall Rise with Healing in His Wings

Children’s Scriptures: New Testament Stories Chap 44 (begins the last week of Christ’s mortal life)- 54; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 42-47; New Testament Stories for Young Readers Jesus Taught about the Sacrament, Jesus Gave Us the Sacrament, The Easter Story; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers: Jesus Visits the Nephites; My First Scripture Stories: The Last Supper, The Atonement, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, Jesus is Crucifies, Jesus Visits the Promised Land, The Three Nephites; My Book of Mormon Friends: A Young Girl in Bountiful; Girls Who Choose God: Girls and Boys Blessed by Jesus

Song: Easter Hosanna pg 68

Materials: Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (start putting in a grocery order early in case things are out of stock so you can try again-One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar), selected movies, glove, Gospel Art Book

-Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it

-Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows

-Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection.  Explain that your hand is like your spirit, wiggle it and talk about the pre-earth life.  Show a picture of Christ’s birth and explain that when you are born you receive a body, put the glove on your hand- the glove is like your body.  Show that they can now wiggle and move together.  Show a picture of Christ when he was grown and explain that our bodies grow with us.  Show Christ in the garden, explain that sometimes our bodies feel pain and that we can use our bodies to pray.  Show Christ on the cross and explain that he died for us.  Take the glove off and put it in a tomb (under a bowl or something), explain that when we die our body stays here on earth and can’t move anymore but our spirit goes to Heaven and waits.  Show Christ resurrected, explain that after 3 days Christ was resurrected and because of that, someday (a long time from now) everyone will also be resurrected, put the glove back on.

-Book of Mormon connection- watch videos depicting Christ’s visit to the people in America:

  • Testaments Of One Fold and One Shepherd (this is over an hour long so kids might have a hard time sitting through it, you might just want to show some highlights)
  • Living Scriptures Savior in America- if you have the subscription watch the whole thing there, but there are also some clips available on Youtube
  • Mark Mabry Photography slideshows:
    8 minutes all still images from his Another Testament Shoot- very thorough representation of 3rd Nephi
    7 minutes images and video from his Reflections (New Testament) and Another Testament shoots set to my FAVORITE song pretty much ever

 

April 13-19 Filled with Love Towards God and All Men

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers: King Benjamin Teaches his People; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (first half); My First Scripture Stories: King Benjamin; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon: King Benjamin,

Song: When We’re Helping We’re Happy pg. 198

Materials: tent or fort making supplies, service project supplies, Natural Man-Saint Printable

-Set up a tent in your living room and watch videos about King Benjamin- Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers, Book of Mormon Stories, Book of Mormon Videos

– Discuss some ways you can serve people while still social distancing.  There’s a lot of projects that can be done from home based on age and skill level

  • older kids (and if you know how to sew- which is not me) could help with making masks or hospital gowns
  • draw pictures or make cards to mail to people
  • draw pictures and/or write inspirational sayings on the sidewalk in your neighborhood

-Use this printable to discuss the natural man vs. a saint

 

April 20-26 A Mighty Change

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (second half)

Song: I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus pg 78

Materials: Steps of Repentance, Grinch book or video, candy or other treats

  • Use the Grinch to help children understand repentance and a change of heart.  Read the book or watch the movie (the old classic one is available on YouTube).  Then use the Grinch steps of repentance printable to talk about the steps of repentance and having a change of heart.
  • Give a parent a bag of candy or plate of treats, don’t share them around yet.  Have the kids take turns asking for treats.  Explain that in life some people have more than others, and people with less sometimes need to ask for help.  What should we do when they ask? Find a way to help.  Discuss different ways your family can help- donate fast offerings, donate old toys or clothes that you aren’t using, etc.  If possible make a donation or pick something out to donate. (Some places are not accepting donations in kind right now, but you can still do some spring cleaning and hide it until things open back up, or select a group to make a monetary donation to.)

 

April 27- May 3 In the Strength of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 13

Song: Latter-day Prophets pg 134

Materials: looking devices, toilet paper rolls, tape, picture of Jesus, People of Zeniff Preparations printable

  • Gather whatever devices you can- glasses, binoculars, telescope, microscope, magnifying glass, anything that helps you see things you couldn’t otherwise see.  Make binoculars out of empty toilet paper rolls.  Use the devices you can find to look at different items.  Explain that these help us see things on Earth and in Space that we couldn’t see without them.  A seer is able to see spiritual things that Heavenly Father needs us to know.  Use the binoculars you made.  When the kids put them on put a picture of Jesus in front of them.  A seer uses his gifts to help us come closer to Jesus Christ and do what He wants us to do.
  • Use the People of Zeniff Preparations printable to discuss what they had and did in their battle with the Lamanites and what tools we have today to be safe in our battles.

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar)

selected movies

glove

Gospel Art Book

tent or fort making supplies

service project supplies

Natural Man-Saint Printable

Steps of Repentance

Grinch book or video

candy or other treats

looking devices

toilet paper rolls

tape

picture of Jesus

People of Zeniff Preparations printable

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- March 2020

Can we take a minute to talk about after church on Sunday.  I’m gonna be straight up, sometimes I feel like church is too short.  Like couldn’t you keep my kids an extra hour AND I teach them at home!!!  Maybe I’ll feel differently when baby #3 comes in May.  But especially now that we are back to 9:00 church, sometimes the rest of the day goes VERY slowly.

Sabbath activities are certainly a very personal decision, we’ve got some general guidelines but for the most part it is up to individual families to decide.  So I want to hear what’s working (or not working) for your family.

Here’s some stuff we do:

-VeggieTales, Owlegories (several episodes are free on Prime), and the Living Scriptures resources on YouTube (anyone have the Living Scriptures subscription, I keep thinking about it- worth it or no??)

-Crafts

-Board games, including this one I made to go with a past FHE Lesson

-When I wasn’t pregnant- walks or kites at the park

-Baking

-Visiting family (but then we sometimes end up with similar down time at their houses)

 

Stuff I always think we should do but rarely happens:

-Coloring pages

-Activities in the Friend

 

Help me come up with more ideas!  For our family we’ve decided to avoid non church related movies and shows and video games on Sundays.  Sometimes if I’m desperate for quiet I give in and let them use the PBS kids app.

 

On to FHE ideas for March!  And we’re back with Children’s scripture resources now that we are getting out of 2 Nephi (which I love and I’m sad there aren’t better children’s resources- one day I might just write one, but that day is not today!)

March 2-8 This is the Way

Children’s Scriptures- Friend Jr Feasting on the Scriptures

Materials: Straight and Narrow Path Game Straight and Narrow Path Printables, path like a balance beam or made out of tape or chalk

Song: Choose the Right Way pg. 160

Explain to the kids that Nephi tells us that to get back to Heavenly Father there is a straight and narrow path.  Use your hands to show straight and demonstrate narrow.  Being baptized is the beginning of the path and then we have to follow it the rest of our lives.  Sometimes we might wobble and fall off but then we can jump right back on!  Use the game or the printables or both to talk through ways we stay on the path and things that might get us off track.

For the game use a die or number spinner and character pieces from another game in your house.  When they land on a space with a picture discuss the picture and let them go ahead an extra space.  At certain points they have the option to go off the path into a red square with a picture of something that takes them off the path- if they choose that (and maybe mom and dad could demonstrate) they go back two spaces.  Bonus- you can add this to your collection of activities to pull out for a future Sunday afternoon, just laminate it or keep it in a page protector!

With the full page printables, create a straight and narrow path either using a balance beam or making a path kind of hop scotch style out of tape or chalk.  Put the distractor pictures to the sides of the path.  Have the kids use the pictures as stepping stones.  Again you would probably want to either laminate or use page protectors.

Pro tip- depending on the program you are using to open the PDF and your individual printer, you should be able to find a way to print 2 or 4 per page if you don’t want to have them so big- especially if you are using a balance beam.  But, each program and printer is different with the settings so I can’t really give a tutorial.

 

March 9-15 Be Reconciled Unto God through the Atonement of Christ

Children’s Scripture Resources: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 10, My First Scripture Stories Jacob and Sherem

Materials: picture of a kid in a swim suit

Song: Two Little Eyes pg. 268

 

Soap box moment:

In Jacob chapter 2, Jacob speaks very boldly about the law of chastity.  He starts by saying that it grieves him to have to speak about this in front of their wives and children but that it needs to be said.  I feel the same way, but based on a recent situation I became aware of as well all of the research and articles and statistics about child molestation, sexual abuse of children, child trafficking, and pornography exposure happening younger and younger this is something we HAVE to talk about again and again and again and it’s never too early to start.

I’m adapting this from a lesson I published back in August when we discussed Corinthians and the analogy of our bodies being temples.  Jacob doesn’t use the same analogy, but it’s a good analogy if you just want to repeat that.

Start by telling your kids that the prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon taught us about how to use our own bodies appropriately and respecting other people’s bodies.

Explain the difference between secrets, surprises, and sacred or private things.

Secrets can hurt people, we don’t keep secrets. If someone tells you something or does something to you and tells you not to tell mom or dad tell that person that we don’t keep secrets and make sure to tell mom or dad or another grown up what happened.

Surprises are when we don’t tell someone something right away because it will be more fun if we wait. This is like when we buy someone a present, we don’t tell them what it is until they open it.

Sacred, Special, and Private are things that we only share with a few special people. Our bodies are temples and someone has to have permission to touch your body and you need permission to touch someone else’s body.  If someone wants to give you a hug or a high five and you don’t want to you can say no thank you, if they don’t listen then you can move away from them.  If someone doesn’t want you to hug them or give them a high five then you need to listen to them.  If someone uses their body to hurt you, tell them no, get away, and tell a grown up.  We never use our bodies to hurt other people.  Sing the song “Two Little Eyes” now, or again, and emphasize the line “Many more things make me.”  We have parts of our body that are private. Use correct names (so much research on this being super important- NO NICKNAMES!!!) and explain that private places are where a swim suit covers and show them a picture of a kid in a swimsuit. We keep our private places covered, we don’t joke about them, we don’t show them to people, we don’t look at them on other people, and no one has permission to touch them unless mom or dad is helping you in the bathroom or a bath, or if a doctor needs to check and make sure everything is healthy. If anyone tries to touch you in a private place you yell at them, “No, don’t touch my_____,” you run away, and you tell a grown up right away. If anyone tries to show you their private places or a picture of someone with their privates showing, do the same thing- Yell no, run away, tell a grown up right away.  If you are watching a show or using a tablet or phone and a picture of someone without clothes comes on the screen you close your eyes (your two little eyes that blink blink blink- the song tied in again!); turn off, put down, or get away from the screen; and tell a grown up right away.

(Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids you may explain that when you are an adult and married then you may also share your private places with your spouse, it is important that kids hear about sexuality in a positive and healthy way.)

 

March 16-22 The Lord Labors with Us

Children’s scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 10

Materials: mission tags and pictures, missionary coloring pages

Song: I Hope They Call Me On a Mission pg. 169

Tell the children that the Prophet Jacob shared a story about the history of the whole earth, from before he was born, to when Christ was on the earth, to our time, and even after that.  In our time he said that people would be called to work with the Lord to share the gospel.  Those people are missionaries.

If you or your husband or both of you served a mission pull out your old mission tags, some pictures and any other fun mission paraphernalia (if you served somewhere foreign make sure to have some foods from your mission available!) Talk about what it was like to be a missionary and share some stories.

If neither of you served, talk about someone you know who is serving, invite someone over who served, or even see if the missionaries in your area are available to come over.

Talk about what you can do now to prepare to be a missionary- even if you don’t serve far away we can all share the gospel all the time.  Things kids can do now- read the scriptures, go to church, listen to their parents, invite friends to come to church or activities, etc.

Color some missionary themed coloring pages and send them to a missionary you know or even just the missionaries in your ward.

 

March 23-29 He Works in Me to Do His Will

Children’s Scripture Resources: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 11, Book Of Mormon Stories for Young Readers Enos Prayed, My First Scriptures Stories- Enos

Song: I Pray In Faith pg 14

Materials: Picture of Enos praying, Prayer Printable, extra pictures or drawing supplies

Show the kids a picture of Enos praying and summarize the story or use the Young Readers version linked above.  Use the Printable and/or find pictures or draw pictures* specific to your kids and family to put together a little “cheat sheet” to help them remember what to include in their prayer.  Talk about the steps of prayer (you could sing the second verse of the song a few times).

  1. Dear Heavenly Father
  2. I’m thankful for
  3. Please bless, or I ask thee
  4. In the name…..

Then have the kids practice saying prayers using the little “cheat sheets” they created.

 

*This is a good example of how to differentiate a lesson if you have kids in different age groups.  The older kids could be drawing their own or helping a slightly younger sibling find pictures in a magazine to cut out.  Older kids could also get into more abstract concepts that aren’t easy to find a picture for, and specific questions.

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Straight and Narrow Path Game

Straight and Narrow Path Printables

path like a balance beam or made out of tape or chalk

picture of a kid in a swim suit

mission tags and pictures

missionary coloring pages

Picture of Enos praying

Prayer Printable

extra pictures or drawing supplies

 

 

Image by liggrafie from Pixabay

Trying Again After Trauma: My decision to have another baby

I frequently see women asking in online forums how other women who have faced traumatic pregnancies and births have decided whether or not to try again.

I was that woman after I had my second child.

Growing up, I legit wanted 8 kids.  When I didn’t get married and start popping them out at 20 I pedaled back to 6.  When my singleness continued a few more years and then I married a student we decided to wait a little longer and figured we’d go for 4 and then see.

But then there I was at 29 with 2 kids and really really unsure if I could handle another pregnancy.

I won’t go into all of the details here, but if you’re interested in knowing the whole backstory to my pregnancies and births here’s my birth stories post.

Here’s the highlights reel:

Pregnancy #1:

  1. I struggle with anxiety, it gets worse while pregnant especially considering that my mother, on top of multiple miscarriages, lost a baby at 38 weeks.  So I don’t feel better once I get to the “safe zone.”
  2. Overall the pregnancy was pretty normal, nothing too crazy.  Started experiencing symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) at 36 weeks- I wasn’t expecting to be comfortable, but it was pretty bad.
  3. I went 10 days past due, and had an excessively long labor and ended up with a level 3 tear that was really awful to heal from.

Pregnancy #2

  1. We moved away from a good group of friends 3 days after I found out I was pregnant, I struggled with finding a group of friends in the new area.
  2. My thyroid was being mismanaged which resulted in excessive fatigue and depression.
  3. SPD (or as I have come to refer to it- Hell Crotch) started at 10 weeks.  Literally I went straight from morning sickness one day to extreme pelvic pain the next.  Being in constant pain certainly didn’t help the depression.  I spent hours crying multiple days a week.
  4. My doctor was the worst. I told him I was in pain, he shrugged it off- “yeah, you’re pregnant.”  I finally opened up about the depression, which was really hard for me to do.  He responded, “I don’t treat pregnant women for depression, go for a walk.”  I CAN’T WALK!!!!  I’M IN CONSTANT PAIN!!!!!
  5. My doctor also told me he would induce me early because he didn’t want me to have another big baby and risk tearing again.  I was ok with this because I super hated being pregnant and wanted to be done the moment it was safe for her to be out.  And then he decided not to with no explanation.
  6. Due date rolled around- I was DONE, I couldn’t take it anymore.  The pain was unbearable, and other joints beside my pelvis had started to kill as well.  I was not ok mentally.  I was not suicidal by any means, but I would have gladly accepted a tranquilizer and then have them wake me up when it was over.  I went in on a Monday begging for an induction.  He said no.  Here’s how the exchange went:
    Dr: Maybe we could do Wednesday, wait no, Friday
    Me: Or Wednesday
    Dr.:  What’s 2 more days?
    Me: That’s not 2 days, that 5 days (in my head- “clearly you’ve never been in constant pain if you think it’s ok to put someone through it for extra days- I’m not going to be ok if I’m in pain another 5 minutes!”)
    Dr.: We’ll do Friday but I can see about sweeping your membranes today to try and get things moving.
  7. He swept my membranes with my consent, but he did not warn me of the risk of contamination especially considering I was Beta Strep positive.  He did however tell me that I would bleed a little but definitely shouldn’t go to the hospital until I knew I was in labor because triage gets mad when doctors strip membranes and women show up and have to be sent home, and if I did go in I most certainly shouldn’t tell them that he stripped my membranes.  Yes, I consented, but this was certainly not INFORMED consent.
  8. I bled a little and passed a lot of mucus the next day as expected.  I also started to feel a little gross but didn’t think anything of it because I was overdue and hadn’t felt particularly great in 9 months.  So I was obedient and didn’t go in until I knew I was really in labor.  The thing is that because I was passing blood and mucus I had no idea that I was also leaking fluid all day.  Long story short my uterus had basically turned into a petri dish for Beta Strep.  When I arrived at the hospital I was running a fever, my baby was in distress, I had a very traumatic unplanned natural delivery (still waiting on that epidural!), I didn’t even get to see my baby right away so I didn’t get the rush of endorphins immediately following the pain of delivery, and my baby had contracted Beta Strep so she spent the next 10 days in the NICU on IV antibiotics.

In the months that followed I developed symptoms of post traumatic stress- along with post partum depression.  I would have dreams where my OB was the “bad guy.”  I would have waking nightmares reliving the delivery.  And to make everything worse, my pelvic pain did not resolve.  The thought of ever being pregnant again had me shaking and crying.

About a year and a half later I learned more about Beta Strep.  I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it could be FATAL for the baby.  That brought back all of the trauma and then some.  Around this same time my pelvic pain had improved through physical therapy, but I would still have flare ups each month with my cycle and if I pushed myself too much physically.

I began to really resent that platitude, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”  Because in my experience I was finding that that which didn’t kill me just gave me post traumatic stress.

How on earth could I risk putting myself through more constant pain that might result in permanent damage to my body?  Would it be wise to put myself through another potentially huge bout of depression?  Was that fair to my family?  And how could I make sure that I didn’t pass Beta Strep to another baby?

I’m a planner by nature.  I like to know exactly what I’m doing.  I am not Elsa, I do not long to go into the unknown.  When people asked if I was going to have another kid it was actually really painful because I didn’t know, and it’s hard for me to say, “I don’t know.”  So here’s the first thing I had to learn:

Get Comfortable with the Unknown

There was one other big point in my life where I had to accept moving forward into the unknown, maybe that helped prepare me.  When I was about to come home from my 18 month Latter-day Saint Mission I didn’t know what (more like who) was waiting for me.  I had taken off from my teaching program which followed a very specific set of classes each semester.  While I was returning in January, I couldn’t restart the program until the summer.  I was getting home 2 weeks into the semester but could still enroll in fluffy fun classes if I wanted to (think water aerobics and history of the hymns!).  I hadn’t heard from my boyfriend in a while, so I had no idea what I should be expecting there.  I got permission to start looking through courses on my Preparation Day and kept trying to put together a schedule but nothing was coming together and it was super bugging me.  Finally one day while I was reading in my scriptures, I wasn’t even thinking about my situation and what I was reading was not related at all, out the blue a very clear voice came into my head, “Be flexible.”  I responded, “I don’t do flexible.”  And the voice reiterated, “You need to be flexible.”

I decided not to take classes and figured I could get a job as a substitute teacher because that’s pretty darn flexible.  And as things unfolded, that’s exactly what I needed for that semester.

That all played out over the course of a few months, however, the baby question hung in the air for a couple years.  I didn’t get clear answers when I prayed about it.  Ultimately I had to accept that I didn’t know and had to be comfortable with the unknown.  Keeping options open, but not making plans.

Accepting Agency

Ready for another mission story?  This one is from before the mission instead of the end.  I almost didn’t serve my mission because I almost got engaged.  It was a crazy and very confusing time.  I believe strongly in seeking personal revelation, and I had received a very straight forward answer that I needed to submit my application to serve.  But then life happened and another door opened and I wasn’t sure what to do.  I prayed a lot, I read scriptures a lot, I pondered, I made pros and cons lists, I went to the temple, I did all of the things so that I could get an answer from the Lord.  And here’s the answer I finally got, “These are both good choices.  Make one.”

Lord, I am willing to do EXACTLY what you tell me to do, why won’t you TELL me!!!!

I got to the point where I wished that if I was supposed to go I would get a clear sign and if I was supposed to stay then maybe I would just like break my leg or something just enough that I wouldn’t be able to report to the Missionary Training Center.

One day I was telling a friend my thought process and she gave me some of the wisest words I have ever heard:

“Yes, but what you’re asking Him to do is take away your agency.”

Sometimes the Lord does have very specific instructions for us and we need to use our agency to decide to follow (like when he told me to submit my mission papers, and later when he told me to be flexible).  But I feel like, at least for me, he frequently leads me to a place where I have to make a choice.  God has to make a lot of really difficult decisions between GOOD things all the time.  If we’re going to become like Him, then we are going to have to learn how to do the same.  Ultimately, they were both really good choices, neither would lead me down a bad path they were just different paths, and the Lord wanted me to take ownership over my decision.

When I started actually seeking an answer about whether or not to have another baby, here’s what I got:  “Wanting to take care of yourself and the family you already have is a righteous desire.  You will also be blessed if you have another baby.”

He wasn’t going to tell me what to do, he wanted me to own this decision too.  Thanks.

The Tipping Point

A few months after my little girl turned two, Santa brought her a big girl bed.  Apparently the sleigh didn’t have room for a whole bed so Santa just dropped off some boxes from Ikea and let us disassemble the crib and put together the bed ourselves.  Santa’s real nice like that sometimes.

As we took down the crib I lost it.

My husband tried to comfort me and said, “I know it’s hard when they grow up.”

The thing is, I wasn’t crying about her growing up.  I was crying because there wasn’t another baby to put in the crib.

A lot of my childhood dreams were obviously naive and they’ve changed or I’ve moved on from them.  Others I’ve just had to let go of and that’s ok.  I love my life and in so many ways it has turned out how I NEEDED it even if it wasn’t what I thought I WANTED.  I have no desire to have 8 or even 6 kids anymore.  But never in any reworking of my dreams and plans could I have fathomed only having 2 kids and suddenly I was facing that reality and it hurt at the core of my identity.

In the days that followed I realized I had hit a point where my sadness about being done outweighed my fears of trying again.

I realized I really did want to try again, but I was still really scared, however I was finally ready to face those fears and do something about it.

Take Time to Take Care of YOU

I was rather overweight after my daughter was born- it’s been a lifelong struggle really, but it had gotten really bad.

When she was coming up on a year old I finally found the right doctor to take care of my thyroid disorder.  Amazing how having enough thyroid allowed a lot of weight to melt away (and improved my anxiety and depression dramatically!).

But, I hit another plateau and was doing a lot of yo-yoing.  While SPD is not necessarily based on weight, (it’s more of a hormonal issue- you can be very overweight and not have issues with it, and you can be very fit and still have issues with it) being overweight definitely doesn’t help anything.  And since I was still having regular pain flare ups, getting pregnant on top of that didn’t sound like a good idea.  I knew I needed to lose a substantial amount of weight as well as strengthen my core and maintain it before I would feel comfortable getting pregnant.

I started looking into programs and stumbled upon Noom.  I could write a whole blog post advertising Noom.  It was an AMAZING experience and exactly what I needed.  While it uses calorie tracking it focuses in on sustainability and getting to the root of why you eat the way you do.  It improved my health in ALL aspects of life- physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual.

I lost a lot of weight, but more importantly I built a lot of muscle and was actually sustaining the weight loss.  About a month in to the program my pain flare ups went away.  I had hoped to get back to my wedding weight.  I didn’t quite get there, I got back to pre-first pregnancy weight but was also much healthier at that weight than I had been before my first pregnancy or even 10 pounds lower than that at my wedding weight.

Find the Right Doctor and Make a Plan

I knew I needed to find a doctor I could trust but wasn’t sure how.  My really awful doctor, that you know- could have killed us- he was very highly rated online.  One day a friend of mine opened up about her struggles with depression during her recent pregnancy and how her doctor had helped her so much.  I disclosed that I was considering trying again but needed to find a good doctor and she encouraged me to go talk to her doctor.  I set up a well woman visit to establish care, but was expecting to have to go back in to discuss potential pregnancy related questions.  But the doctor was awesome and talked to me about my questions during the well woman visit.

I gave her the (even more) brief history of trauma I had experienced and amazingly she listened.

When I asked her about depression in pregnancy she responded, “I absolutely treat pregnant women for depression, there are several pregnancy safe meds, but I might encourage you start with counseling.”  Ummmm……besides the pregnancy safe meds, why on earth didn’t my other doctor ever refer counseling???  Certainly can’t argue counseling being dangerous for the baby at all, but you know what IS dangerous making people suffer through depression unassisted and making them feel like their concerns are invalid.

When I talked to her about my issues with SPD she told me that she had a chiropractor that she highly recommended and would absolutely refer me to an Obstetric Physical Therapist if needed.

Based on my prior physical and mental trauma she recommended a c-section.  I told her I had considered that or an induction at 39 weeks because the thought of going into labor naturally was too scary for me because of the risk of passing on Beta Strep again.  And you know what she did, she listened, she agreed we could keep both options open, she didn’t try to push her plan.

She had a few more recommendations of things to do before I started trying again and she talked me through some of the precautions she would take during my pregnancy.

These doctors, they do exist, unfortunately sometimes you have to sift through some crummy ones to find them.  If you don’t like your doctor- fire them!  Find someone who listens and cares.

Keep Taking Care of Yourself!

You are as important as the baby.  I think that’s part of my trauma from my last doctor.  It felt like MY health and MY needs didn’t matter at all.  Of course there are precautions and sacrifices that are required due to pregnancy, but there is so much help available.

Since getting pregnant my SPD has come back.  I got to 14 weeks instead of 10 this time.  Overall it has not been nearly as bad.  I also started seeing the chiropractor she recommended who specializes in pregnancy, and HOLY COW!!  It has been amazing and so helpful.  I also respect my limits and take it easy.  The pain isn’t gone, unfortunately because it is more of a hormonal issue they can’t really solve it, but it’s so much more manageable.

My mood has been so much better, I think mostly due to my thyroid being managed so much better but also not being in debilitating pain all the time goes a long way.  I haven’t needed to be medicated or seek counseling at this point, but knowing that it’s an option if it comes up is probably another key to preventing anxiety.

My husband has been amazing and so supportive through all of this.  Before we started trying again we had several discussions about what would be necessary as far as home maintenance and the kids and he’s been right on board.  I told him if the pain started again that he was either going to have to do most all of the cleaning or we’d have to hire someone.  Being on the same page and having a supportive partner is a really important key.

 

If there are first time or soon to be moms out there reading this- I hope you can learn from this and avoid some trauma.

To those that are in that deciding place- hugs!  I hope this helps you work through some of your trauma and questions.  And if your decision turns out to be no, good for you!  I was talking with a friend about this a few months back and when I told her about how I realized my sadness was greater than my fear she told me about how she actually had the opposite experience.  She had thought about trying again and realized her fear and reasons to be done outweighed her sadness and pain of being done.  It’s so personal, there’s no right or wrong decision.  Like I said before, taking care of yourself and your current family IS a righteous desire.  If you’re on the fence, don’t be afraid to hang out on the fence for a while.