Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Superheroes

I originally posted this entry on August 22, 2007 on my blog, A Stranger Here, when we lived in Sweden. At the time, my children were 7, 6, 4, and 1. I don't actually remember which son I had this conversation with, but I suspect it was most likely Trent. Today I took Trent to the high school for Locker Opening Day. He is a freshman. Time has flown by at warp speeds. 

Superheroes are a hot topic in our house as we have 3 boys. One of my sons and I had the following conversation yesterday.
 Son: “Mom, is MacGyver a superhero?”
Me: “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Son:”Yeah. He saves people and stuff.”
Me: “I think so too. Are you a Superhero?”
Son: thinks a minute before answering “No. I don’t build smoke bombs to save people.”
Me: “Um, okay.”
Son: “Mom! You’re a superhero!”
Me: “Me, why?”
Son: “Because you don’t kill people.”
You heard it folks. I am a superhero because I don’t kill people. I feel like I deserve that label this week.
Now to figure out my superhero name. . .


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Mourning with Those Who Mourn

Late in the afternoon I received a text from a ward member. It was news of the most devastating sort as a young man in his prime had lost his life in a tragic accident. His family, friends of mine, were cast into the deep valley of grief.

Later that evening, I knocked on their door and waited for them to open the door. My friend's husband welcomed me inside with red eyes raw from crying. I wrapped my arms around him and we cried together.

I then entered their home, whether the family was sitting silently and patiently, each waiting to receive a blessing from missionaries and a ward member. Friends sat in the room, offering comfort and silent support as we witnessed the blessings. I sat on the bench, in a holy place, mourning with my friends who were mourning.

After the blessings were given, more friends arrived, to sit and comfort, talk quietly, or to sit in silent acceptance. Words were inadequate and at times, we said nothing. I couldn't shake the feeling that the act of sitting together, often in silence, grieving together was an expression of love. Platitudes were not offered, but rather acceptance of the loss and the pain that accompanied it.

In my current responsibility as Relief Society President, I often have the opportunity to be present in those most intimate moments of loss and grief. Sometimes I have a personal connection that I also feel loss. At other times, my grief is for those who mourn. I am learning that holding space and comfort for those walking in that deep valley of grief is a hard thing to do because you have to be fully present and totally sensitive to their needs. Each situation is unique and cannot be navigated with trite sayings. Often words fail us and we resort to actions of love-washing dishes, bringing food, loving embraces, and tears.

What have your experiences been when helping a grieving family? How have you coped with loss? What does it mean to you to mourn with those who mourn?


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Saturday in Philadelphia, PA

Liberty Bell 

Let Freedom Ring

Independence Hall

All six kids--with varying degrees of happiness

Downtown Philly

A walk of international flags--including the Swedish flag!!

At the Philadelphia Temple Open House

Philadelphia Temple


Monday, August 22, 2016

Mothering Monday: Safety Calls vs. Moral Judgments

Over the past few years news reports in the media have been filled with stories of children being left unattended for a few moments (in reasonably safe situations), a stranger calls the police, and the parents face charges of neglect/abuse. The childhood most us of enjoyed where our parents allowed us freedom and autonomy has been replaced with a brand of obsessive and excessive helicopter parenting. Even parents who don't favor the current flavor of hyper-vigilance are terrified to not maintain the status quo because if they aren't hovering their child, some stranger will make a call that could destroy their family.

It's crazy and infuriating. Why did our society make this shift? When did we stop helping one another and start accusing each other?

A few researchers from the University of California, Irvine wanted to study this phenomenon and discovered that the majority of these cases were based on moral judgments against the parents rather than actual danger faced by the child.

This statement by one of the researchers struck me as very important:

 I guess what I would like people to start thinking about is how this new legal standard of paranoid parenting enshrines a kind of class privilege. Besides the fact that it is irrational, the idea that you must watch your child every single second until they turn 18 is deeply classist. It's not something you can even aim for unless you have a whole lot of money, and probably not a lot of children. For parents who are working, who have more than one child, who need to get something else done during the day — to say nothing of single parents — that model of parenting is absurd. If you think about Debra Harrell's situation, she's raising a child while working a minimum-wage job. Suddenly, we as a society have decided (without any rational basis) that she is negligent for allowing her 9-year-old to play in a public park. This is very, very disturbing to me. It is basically criminalizing poverty and single parenthood.
I think changing this mania has to start with parents themselves. First, we need to start supporting and helping each other instead of judging and convicting one another. Second, we need to start realizing that we all have parenting styles and the majority of them are okay. Third, lets loosen up with our kids and let them have some freedom and autonomy in their lives.

What do you think about this? Have you ever worried about letting your child play alone because you are afraid that someone will call the cops on you?  


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: Philadelphia Temple Open House

I believe that there is life after death and that families can be together forever. To be bound--or sealed--as a family requires a special ceremony performed by the right people with the proper authority in a temple.

My husband and I were sealed in the Vernal, Utah temple eighteen years ago. That day was one of the most special days of my life and having that perspective of eternity has carried us through the good and bad times of our marriage.

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who fulfill certain requirements (living certain standards) can attend the temple after it has been dedicated. Before temples are dedicated, the church opens the doors to these building and allows anyone to take a tour and see the inside.

The temple in Philadelphia was recently completed and hundreds of volunteers spent hours of their time ushering people through this building. My husband and I took our six children to Philadelphia on Saturday to show them the inside of this beautiful and holy building.

I will admit, my two-year old was a terror, throwing off her white booties (that we all wore to keep the carpet and floors clean) and running on chairs. But we took her anyway and no one glared at us or asked us to leave. All my children seemed to appreciate this experience, which they will soon repeat as the temple in Hartford, CT will soon be completed and we will not only tour the temple, but volunteer to help usher people.

There is still time to visit the Philadelphia Temple. You can comment on this post and I will get the information for you. If you are local, I would even be happy to take you on a tour myself.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Scrapbook Saturday: Pic Tap Go

Since I don't take pictures with a point and shoot camera or DSLR, I use my camera phone exclusively; I am always on the hunt for a good photo editing app. The Iphone picture app has a basic decent photo editing feature. Snapseed is a free photo editing app that offers more options with color saturation, brightness, shadows, highlights, etc.

I have heard about the Pic Tap Go app from a lot of scrapbookers, but because it cost $1.99, I was reluctant to get it. The most recent update to the Becky Higgins Project Life app allows you to edit photos in your layouts with the Pic Tap Go app, so I decided to get it. I am really glad I did, because I am BLOWN away by how easy it is to use.

Here are a few examples:

This is an ok photo as it is, but we have shadows on our faces and the color of the temple isn't very true.

In contrast, here is the edited photo. I brightened up the photo quite a bit and played with a few different filters.

Here is another photo I took of my six children. They were all in the shadow and the lighting was hard to get right.

And here is the edited photo. I lightened it and added a cool grungy filter to it.

I don't think editing and filters will turn a bad picture into a good picture, but I do think that editing can enhance a photo. I have a long way to go in improving my photography so I am grateful for this app that gives me some help with lighting.

Here are a few YouTube tutorials you can check out about this app.

Happy Editing!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Favorites: Simone Biles

I have a huge girl crush on the American Olympic athlete, Simone Biles. She is astounding and her athleticism and skill is beyond amazing. She totally crushed it at the Olympics.