Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Parenting Items I Could Not Live Without

There are a handful of items that make life as a parent easier. A few of these items I wasn’t sure I how would often I would use them, but now I cannot live without them.

BabyBum Diaper Cream Brush

I use this daily. Especially with two girls in diapers. I bought it about a year ago. It has held up very well, it applies cream to red little bottoms evenly and softly. The best part is I do not have to juggle a squirming child with butt paste all over my hands while trying to finish the diaper change. I recommend I big tub of boudreaux butt paste to go with it, cheap and economical off amazon.

Dr. Smith’s Diaper Ointment Rash Spray

Staying on the same subject, this is the only paste I keep in the diaper bag. It is amazing. It is not as good as the cream but it really does a good job when we are out and about. It is so easy to use, it applies evenly, and tames rashes well till I can slather thick paste on at home.

Diaper Pail

We have the Diaper Genie Complete Diaper Pail, it works really well and is inexpensive. We also have the basic Diaper Genie, but I would not recommend it. The Complete Diaper Genie has a pedal that opens a little mechanism that you throw the diaper in and when you release the pedal the diaper falls to the bottom of the pail. The Basic Diaper Genie is not so nice, you just have to shove the diaper thought a door, which is not pleasant. I buy Walmart brand refills they are the cheapest I have found.

iRobot Roomba Vacuum

Imagine a floor cleaning fairy that sweeps/vacuums your floor while you sleep. It is a little pricy, but if ours broke beyond repair I would happily drop 350 for a new one immediately. We have a pretty old model, but they are very easy to service at home, and iRobot still provides parts for their older models. Definitely get one with a timer. We have ours rigged to clean our main living area (kitchen, and family room) every day at two in the morning. All the crumbs created by two toddlers magically disappear overnight. My floor gets vacuumed/swept nearly every night without fail. I love it. I say nearly because occasionally if we forget to pick up the floor the Roomba will beach itself or choke on a toy and the floor will go uncleaned, but that doesn’t happen too often. I would definitely think about getting one if you are tired of crumbs, and do not enjoy sweeping or vacuuming.

Summer Infant Gate

We permanently have gates up. Currently there is one before the entryway, one at the doorway of the formal dining room, and one upstairs in the hallway between Rose’s bedroom and the stairs. The Summer infant ones we have self close, they are very sturdy, tall, and come with different extensions. The house we are renting right now has an “open floor plan” and I cannot gate the kitchen which sucks, but we manage.

Safety 1st Magnet Cabinet Locks

Speaking of how we manage the kitchen I definitely could not live without these cabinet locks. RJ recently just installed another set on the TV cabinet because the girls were pinching each others fingers. Almost every low cabinet in our house has them. They are slightly time consuming to install but are so worth it. There is nothing visible on the front of the cabinets, and hardly any damage is left when they are removed (we have installed them rental properties before, and the tiny holes on the side of the cabinets was never noticed). They can be opened by any strong magnet. Luckily Rose’s magnet alphabet is not strong enough to operate the mechanism. They come with a little key that I attached a ribbon to, so they can hang from cabinet knobs higher up. There is also a little switch on the inside to keep them permanently unlocked so it’s like they aren't even there. They are very functional, durable, and even though Rose understands how to operate them she cannot open the cabinets unless she has a key. They are the best cabinet childproofing solution out there.

LifeProof Nuud Iphone Case

My LifeProof phone case is the best. It can get drooled on, chewed on, or dropped in the tub, all day and I don’t have to worry about my phone getting damaged. LifeProof cases can take a pretty good hit. I chose LifeProof Nuud over any other waterproof case because it’s inexpensive, the screen is naked, and they have good customer service. LifeProof has a pretty good warranty, they have replaced at least two of my cases. On a couple the charge port door broke, and another the lens over the camera popped out during cleaning, both cases were replaced for free. Over all they are really good cases. I recommend them for any parent.   

Backpack Diaper Bag

After using two or three different diaper bags I finally decided to get a official backpack diaper bag. I got it right after Heather was born, and I love it. It has a million pockets, comes with a changing pad, and easily fits everything I need for two children in diapers. It’s much easier to juggle kids and a backpack that it is to juggle kids and a over the shoulder bag.

Ring Sling/Baby Carrier

Rose in the ring sling she was about 4 months
old at the time. 
I used my ring sling almost everyday when my daughters were under 6 months. 6 months to about 12 months I have use it multiple times a week. It’s very easy to use, and can be secured very quickly. in my opinion ring slings feel much more supportive than wraps. I never felt like they were going to slip out while in the ring sling. Little ones do outgrow ring slings. If your baby is bigger you will need to graduate to a carrier sooner than I did. Around 12 months they try to wriggle free of the sling a little more, and can throw their weight around a little too easily. I own an Onya Carrier, I like it, but there are better carriers out there. I have a few friends who own a LilleBaby Carrier, and I am totally jealous. They are the best of both worlds. I got an Onya because they felt more durable than other carriers, had nice thick supportive padding, and was easy to operate. When I get another carrier I will get a Lillebaby. (I bought my ring sling off Etsy, but that shop doesn't make them anymore. There are plenty of good ones out there though.)

This is their bowl. Heather doesn't love to sit in the highchair
all the time. The ezpz works great on every surface. 

These are the best plates and bowls ever! They stick to the table so they are not easily removed. They can’t be knocked over or thrown easily. If my little ones are super determined they can lift the plate, but they are a little heavy, and awkward, so my girls get bored pretty quickly. All of their products are dishwasher safe. Ezpz definitely keeps the mess down.

And wine don't forget the wine...

I hope these products aid in your child wrangling as much as they have aided mine! I am always on the lookout for things that make parenting just a bit easier. Thanks for reading.     

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lies you need to tell to get into The Mormon Temple

To be allowed to go into The Mormon Temple, there are a bunch of hoops you need to jump through; or pretend to jump through them and lie your ass off. After you have jumped through all the hoops you will be issued a temple recommend. They are about the size of a credit card, have a picture of a temple on them, your membership number, and a barcode. Recommends are scanned at the door of the temple to ensure you are “worthy” and allowed to go inside.

When you are ready to go to the temple first your bishop, then stake president will give you a temple recommend interview (yes you have to do it twice). He will ask you a bunch of questions, and you either need to be doing all those things, or lie about them (which is pretty common).  

The interview will go something like this;

The bishop, or stake president (regional leader) will invite you into his office, alone. He will say a prayer, or ask you to. My stake president in particular would then give you a spiel about how he is called of god and he was god’s representative. He claimed “The Spirit” would give him the discernment to know if you were being honest or not. He would point to a photo of Jesus behind his desk and say you should regard the interview as if you were talking to “the savior”. I’m not sure if this is just a scare tactic or if he actually thought he could tell if you were lying or not. When I got my temple recommend I lied my ass off, and had even had sex with RJ earlier that day!

Then the questions will start...  

He will ask you, a few questions regarding your faith, like if you believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy ghost. He will ask you if sustain The Prophet, and local church authorities. This was one of the easier questions for me. At the time I did believe in god, so I didn’t need to lie about it.  

It doesn’t take them long to get right into the dirty stuff and ask you if you follow, “The Law of Chastity.” I always had to lie on this one. Following the law of chastity includes, no sex before marriage, no “heavy petting” before marriage (third base), no dating or kissing before you turn 16, no masturbation, no pornography, basically anything sexual is bad, and I had done them all. Most bishops are pretty oblivious when it comes to anything sexual. I had one bishop in particular who didn’t know what oral sex was. It was not had to lie about sex to him.

The next question is, and I quote, “Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?” This is a question that I think would prevent a lot of members from getting a recommend if it were answered honestly, but it’s not.

The Mormon Church has a lot of rules and obligations, this next question is a huge understatement. “Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?” Every calling (position) in The Mormon Church is “voluntary”(saying no is frowned on because every calling is “from god”) and requires A LOT of time. Sunday services are three hours long, and some callings require as much time as a full time job. The rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel are endless. I remember feeling very stifled as a teen. Mormons spend so much time with other mormons they cannot comprehend how non-mormons make friends, or even function without the church. Trust me when I say living without the mormon religion is much easier than living with it.

Another picture of the D.C. Temple. Temples are beautiful, too bad the
church doesn't tell you where the rest of their money goes. If they can afford
hundreds of temples what else can they afford? Beautiful photo by RJ. 
Before you are even baptized, you are expected to pay tithing to the church, you MUST pay tithing to get to the temple. A “full tithe” is 10% of your income. There is a pretty big grey area about what is a full tithe. Some people think it should be paid on your gross income, others say net income. I used to forget to pay sometimes or just didn’t want to. The Mormon Church is a business, they use their money to build giant malls, and apartments. They also refuse to make their financial records public or even available to it’s members. I had a really hard time giving my money to a place where I had no idea where it was being spent. To this day I do my best to not send my money it’s direction. I avoid Mormon business at all costs.

The next question is “Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?” The word of wisdom is what the church calls their health guidelines. No alcohol, tobacco, coffee, or tea. Lots of people lie their way through this one. Just remember to leave your Starbucks in the car.

If you have been through the temple before, and need to renew your recommend (something done every 2 years). You are asked if you have kept the promises you made in the temple and if you are wearing your garments (mormon underwear) during the day and night. I prefer sleeping naked… garments can be stifling.

The next question always felt very guilt inducing, “Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?” I remember as a teen wondering if there were things I had done that praying and asking for forgiveness personally hadn’t been enough for. Now I know there is not a invisible man in the sky who needs to forgive me for my actions.

The last question is, “Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?” I’m pretty sure everyone who has made it that far has no problem lying through one last question.

You do not have to be a very good liar to get a temple recommend. I for one, was definitely never “worthy” to get one. At times in my life maybe I thought I was but as mormon standards go I definitely was not.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to sharing all about what goes on inside the temple.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Why I Write My Blog

I had a few people tell me they were offended, confused, or needed to distance themselves from me because of my last blog post. I wanted to clear the air about why I am choosing the topics I’m writing about on my blog. Here we go…

First I want to say, my life does not revolve around The Mormon Church. Which is assumption a lot of people keep making, even people I have never meet (insert eye roll here). This blog is a teeny tiny fraction of my life, yes, there are quite a few posts about the church. That doesn’t mean my life revolves around the church, for nearly 20 years of my life it was the only thing I knew. Finding out that something I had been taught my whole life is actually a lie, was really hard. It took me a long time to figure out I genuinely never wanted to be a mormon again.

Rose had a mouth full of popcorn in this pic. 
I have not been a member of The Mormon Church for over 3 years and my choice to never go back still heavily impacts my life. The missionaries have been sent to our home a few times, which is really annoying. I have been subscribed to the church magazines twice (both times they went straight into the recycling bin). Luckily unsubscribing is pretty easy. Until mormons can accept that the people who leave their religion are not going to hell, I will not be able to “just leave the church alone”. Especially because it won’t just leave me alone. The church was a big part of my life, it is going to take a long time to get over that. In the meantime writing about it helps.

Writing posts like my last one help me clear my mind. Getting it out on paper helps me understand what actually happened, what I felt, and helps me work through my emotions so I can move on. I am happy to share my thoughts and opinions because I want to help other people who might be going through the same thing. For every person who has come to me and said, I don’t like what you’re saying, I have had twice as many people tell me they feel the same way, or that they couldn’t have said it better. I am fully aware some people hate what I say. I am doing what makes me happy. I want to get people thinking, if I can get people thinking I consider it a success.

RJ reading Grandmother Fish to Rose. She loves that book.
I write about whatever I feel like. I write about things I care about, I write about things that make me happy, or mad, or sad. I write about my past, and how I see my future. I write about food, I write about anything and everything I want to. I am fully aware that my opinion offends people. I’m pretty sure their opinion would offend me. I am open to hearing people’s thoughts, just be prepared for me to acknowledge, ignore and move on. I’m not going to stop writing about what I want, just because someone got offended, and I’m not going to argue.

Someone one who I was really good friends with when I was younger texted me after my last blog post. This person (who I will not name out of privacy) said, and I quote, “You claim that you are just teaching your children to be good people and that is enough. That’s all there is. But how can you honestly claim to be a good person when you publicly ridicule and degrade an entire religion for their beliefs? If you did that to any other religion you would be called out so quick and yet here you are, and not only is no one calling you out, you are being applauded for “speaking out” about the “lies” behind the church.”

Heather has the bluest eyes, they are amazing. 
When someone tells me I’m not a good person I can handle that, but to drag my children into the conversation too makes it hurt a lot. I am a good parent, to hint that i’m not raising my children right is pretty awful. Not to mention I haven’t seen this person in nearly four years. FOUR YEARS! That is a very long time. I understand that said person was offended by my blog, and that is ok. But I am the same person I was all those years ago, I am just not a mormon anymore. That doesn’t make me a bad person! I’m tired of Mormons being rude to people who choose not to be a mormon and say why they aren't.

The reason mormonism is actively bashed, is because of all the lies. When people actually research church history it’s impossible to deny its flaws. Other religions were founded so long ago that their flaws were buried by time, you cannot google many other religions and find as many issues with their doctrine, and history as mormonism.

This person ended their text with, “I sincerely wish you all the happiness in the world.” People are always incredibly rude but then think what they said is ok because they told you they hope you’re happy, and they love you. That does not make it ok.

What I really do not understand is my post clearly has affected a few people's faith. I have been unfriended on FaceBook, and unfollowed on Instagram. Why would my unsophisticated banter about The Mormon Church affect someone's faith, especially people who claim it means so much to them. Maybe their faith is not as strong as they thought it was, maybe their faith is misplaced.

The Emperor has no clothes!

I will be writing more about The Mormon Temple which seemed to be a pretty sore spot. If you are offended by me talking about my feelings and what I experienced in the temple, just DON’T READ. There is no one compelling you to read my blog. If you don't want to hear it, don't read. I’m not the first person in the world to say these things, and I will not be the last.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mormon Temple - and why it's not special

The Mormon Church teaches that there are three different levels of heaven. In order to get into the very highest level you must go through The Mormon Temple. This includes something called “getting your endowments out” (where you will get mormon underwear/garments) and learning the secret handshake to get into heaven. You also have to be married and sealed for time and all eternity to your husband or wife.

Growing up in the church there was a lot of hype surrounding the temple. You’re not supposed to talk about what goes on in there. They say it’s “sacred” but that's really just a fancy word for secret. As a kid the temple was a big mystery. It was hush hush and no one talked about what happened inside, but every Sunday “temple attendance” was mentioned at least once, usually more. Growing up around this made me insanely curious about what went on in the temple. When I finally got to go I was pretty disappointed. There was nothing except for a boring movie, few handshakes, and sayings though a curtain, all while dressed in silly clothes. I thought it would feel special, but it just felt odd. I didn’t understand why it needed to be so secretive, why it was so important to my “salvation”, or why people were told to go frequently.

The experiences I had in Mormon Temples were not religious or from God.

I’m sure people will say things like, “Oh, you weren’t worthy enough.” or, “It’s not supposed to be a faith changing experience.” This is my opinion if you don’t like it, don’t read.

DC Temple, photo taken by RJ. 
The “feelings” you get in the temple are not the “spirit”. All the things I felt in the temple I had felt before, many times. Mormon temples have the four pillars of luxury. Light, space, silence, and comfort. Any place with those qualities will give you a feeling of awe, wonder, and peace. RJ’s most memorable place that gave him these sensations was a huge aircraft hanger. It was so big that 6 football fields could easily fit inside. Ginormous places don’t need comfort because they are so vast, the light, space, and silence alone make you feel small, and give you the same sensations.

The temple is a good place to think, and a good place for your inner dialogue (“the spirit” or “holy ghost” as some religious people refer to it) to come up with ideas, and answers to questions you may have been thinking about (but so are art galleries and aircraft hangers). When I was younger I could never tell the difference between the thoughts in my head and “the spirit”, once I realized they were only my thoughts, things got so much clearer. Temples are designed to create the type of environment that helps you think and gives you feelings of comfort and peace.

In middle school I sang in chorus, we went on a field trip to an amazing art gallery. We all walked around for a while, enjoyed the building and the art. The building had amazing acoustics and we, were allowed to sing inside. We all stood with our backs to the walls and sang. It was amazing, it sounded, and felt incredible. I have never felt the same as I did on that day. I thought it was “the spirit” but we weren’t in a religious place or, singing a religious song. Why did I feel something what I thought felt exactly like “the spirit” in a situation that wasn’t religious at all? It was the strongest I had ever felt those feelings.

When I did get to go through the temple and felt similar feelings but not as intense, I was very confused. Was I missing something? I had a really hard time understanding why I “felt the spirit” strongest in a situation that was not church related at all. I wanted to feel that again, I thought I was doing something wrong. Why could I not feel those amazing feelings in the temple, that I had felt somewhere else? It took me a very very long time to realize those feelings were not “the spirit”. Those feelings are psychologically proven to happen in certain situations, and places. It’s not because I was “filled with the spirit”.

A big part of why I couldn’t feel the same awe and wonder in the temple compared to the art gallery is because of what goes on inside. The weird clothes, handshakes, rituals, and strange teachings make it a very different experience, and not in a good way.

Watch out for my next blog post about what happened to me in the mormon temple and my experiences there. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 12, 2016

We Don't Need Religion - We have Science

Being Atheists, my husband RJ and I think a lot about how to explain the world to our children. We want to teach them science, critical thinking, and teach them why we do not need religion.

RJ took this cute pic of Rose reading "Grandmother Fish".
Before science, people needed answers to questions like, why does the sun rise and set everyday? And where does it go at night? How was the earth created? How did we get here? What happens when we die?

When the bible was written, people didn’t know the earth was a sphere. They didn’t know what caused rainbows. They didn’t know that the earth revolved around the sun. They didn’t know what gravity was or, a million other things that science explains today. There are still things science cannot explain but that does not mean we need to resort to a invisible man in the sky to answer questions science can’t yet. I do not know what will happen when I die, science hasn’t figured that one out yet but it doesn’t matter. Religious people worry about what is going to happen after they are dead, more than they worry about living their life. I am so happy living my life knowing there is not a God and I very well might just be worm food when I die. I do what makes me happy, and I never worry about being judged by some church leader or man in the sky. I don’t want to raise my children worrying about being judged for doing something that makes them happy.

We have been looking for good ways to teach Rose subjects that are not taught in school very well, like evolution, and how the universe and planets were created. RJ found a couple books for Rose’s age group.

The first one we got is called, “Older than The Stars". It is a very simple take on The Big Bang theory, and the way the earth was formed. Rose loves it, and she really understands it.  

The other book we bought it is called, “Grandmother Fish”. It is about evolution. It is amazingly  well written, and Rose understands how we evolved into humans. It is Rose’s favorite book, every night since we bought it she chooses it for her bedtime story. Evolution was something RJ and I thought was very important for her to understand because I was not taught it in school. It makes so much more sense than a god creating two people out of nothing and populating the world.  

Heather and Rose at the fossil dig. Rose ran to fast to get
good pictures today. Heather was in awe. 

Today we went to the Tellus Science Museum. Rose and Heather had a absolute blast! The museum had a mineral gallery, a science in motion exhibit with old vehicles and space vehicles. They had a moon rock which was really cool. There was also a fossil gallery, and an exhibit called my big backyard, which was very interactive. Rose had a really good time learning and running around. Rose’s and Heather’s favorite thing at Tellus was the Fossil Dig. I love watching Rose get excited about science. We bought a membership and plan on going as much as possible!

Thanks for reading! I’m on a mission to post more often so keep a look out for more from me.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What You Should Say to a Mother With Small Children

Sometimes, when I’m out with the girls alone in public, there is a fellow mom who says just the right thing to make me feel better when Rose is throwing a tantrum, or Heather is tired and fussy. Please try not to be one of the people who say something rude that I mentioned in my last post. Be one of these people, say one of these things.

  1. “You’re so lucky.” A few weeks ago I came across a Scary Mommy post about a mother with three boys at target, on a particularly difficult afternoon. Another woman walked passed her, smiled and said, “You’re so lucky.” The woman didn’t stop walking, she just kept going. She made the mother’s day. We mothers are lucky.

  1. “They’re so cute.” This comment goes extra far if the children are screaming. What mom doesn’t like being told the children she made from a couple of tiny cells is cute (especially if they are crying to the point of having a splotchy face, like my my girls inherited from me).

  1. Say “Hello” to the screaming toddler. Most toddlers will stop screaming if a stranger says hello. When someone says hello to Rose while we are grocery shopping she usually forgets why she was mad and will calm down at least for a little while. I wish more people would say hello, most of them just stare.

  1. Compliment her. Any compliment will go a very long way. Everyone loves compliments. Someone telling you they love your messy up-do is awesome.

  1. “You’re doing a great job, mom.” This was the most helpful thing anyone ever said to me. Heather was one maybe two months old. Rose, Heather, and I went to Chick Fil A for lunch. We ordered our food, found a table, and I set Rose free in the playplace and sat down. Seconds after I started eating my salad, Rose got overwhelmed by the number of big kids playing and lost it. She didn’t want to listen, she didn’t want to sit and eat, she didn’t want to play. I decided we were going to leave. As I wrestled to put Rose’s shoes on with little Heather in the sling, a mom at a neighboring table said, “You’re doing a great job mom.” It was exactly what I needed to hear. I was doing a good job. Somehow I managed to pack up our food, and drag Rose out to the car. I remember crying in the car because being a mom is hard. That mom’s comment made things just a little bit better.

If you can do something to make a mom’s day better please do it, even if it’s a short comment in passing. Being a mom is hard. Everyone needs to be told they are doing a good job, even if they feel like they are failing.   

Thanks for reading!