Do What Matters Most

april-2013-general-conference-1124653-mobileI finally got to listen to all of the October 2015 General Conference, since I was in Japan when it happened. One of the talks that really stood out to me was Elder David A. Bednar’s “Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name.” In it he talks about how the church is a gerontocracy, a church run by old men, and how this is a wonderful thing. This was a new word for me, and I love the ideas it presents.

One day, while visiting with Elder Hales, Elder Bednar asked, “What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?”

Elder Hales answered, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”

Elder Bednar goes on to say, “The limitations that are the natural consequence of advancing age can in fact become remarkable sources of spiritual learning and insight… Physical restrictions can expand vision. Limited stamina can clarify priorities. Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.”

I have seen this in my own life, even though I am still very young compared to the men who run this church. I first experienced this in college, when I was taking 17 credit hours, participating in a play, and working three jobs. Half way through the semester I realized that I couldn’t do it anymore; I quit the play and withdrew from Calculus 2, bringing my credit hours down to 13. School and work, those were the important things in my life at that time.IMG_5649

The lesson I learned from this semester stuck with me, and I try very hard to not overwhelm myself with too much to do. Being a mother, however, there is always too much to do, and I have been trying to weed out the things in my life that are not as important to me. For example, I am not a crafty mom. I would love to be; I have friends who make the cutest things with their kids. The craftiest I get is searching the internet for coloring pages. My kids love helping to pick these out, and occasionally I join in to color with them.

Even within my hobbies I have to scale it back. My garden next year will consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. I might even buy the cucumbers and zucchini as plants instead of using the seeds I already have to make things that much easier. I’ve been simplifying my cooking as well. Thankfully some of the most delicious meals are, also, the simplest to make. I.e. pot roast.

I’m back in school again, taking one class at a time. As much as I want to finish quickly, I can’t without neglecting the most important thing in my life: my family. I believe they will be the most important thing for the rest of my life and into eternity.

Elder Bednar continues, “These men have had a sustained season of tutoring by the Lord, whom they represent, serve, and love… These ordinary men have undergone a most extraordinary developmental process that has sharpened their vision, informed their insight, engendered love for people from all nations and circumstances, and affirmed the reality of the Restoration.”

I’m sure some of this tutoring has to do with being an apostle, but another part of it must be this life, which we view as being a time to learn the good from the evil. I know I’m just at the beginning of this difficult tutoring, but I am pleased with the results so far, and I can’t wait to see what I get to learn next.

Postcrossing 2014

Last year I join Postcrossing, which is an online community of people all around the world that send postcards to each other. We reach out to each other through snail mail, and you can kind of get a sense of how things are going in the rest of the world, without having to get super depressed from the news. For instance, cards to and from Ukraine take forever, while cards to Germany only take a week. You learn things like how to pronounce Belarus (bĕl′ə-ro͞os′), and that Taiwan is part of the Republic of China, but Hong Kong is not. And then you get to learn about people. Most of them speak more languages than I ever will, even if I ever manage to learn Spanish. There are so many people that speak English very well, and then a few who fake it so they can keep doing Postcrossing.

Last year, I got a lot of cards that I love, and I’ve been wanting to show them off on my blog.

Taiwan TrainThis is my favorite card for 2014. I love the
red train with the pink cherry blossoms.

russiaAnd this card from Russia comes in at a
close second. It was my favorite of the
year until I got the one from Taiwan.

legos

Coolest card goes to this card from Legoland
in Germany. It’s called “Miniland,” and
is a tiny little city made out of legos.

building

This is the Romanesque St. Nicholas Rotunda
in Cieszyn, Poland. This is one of the most
popular cards I have received. I think it would
be so much fun to visit it one day.

Martin Luther churchI really enjoy getting postcards of churches.
Especially from Europe, where they are
ancient. The first card is the church where
Doctor Martin Luther posted his thesis, which
I find totally fascinating. The second card is a
Taize church or sorts. Taize is in France, and
is a community where Christian’s congregate
to pray and sing together.

Palm Trees and SnowThis card is just fun for me. I enjoy seeing
the people, but really what I’m fascinated
by is the palm trees with snow covered mountains
in the background. Marrakech is in Morocco.

ChristmasAnd, in the spirit of snow, I received this card
from the Ukraine just in time for Christmas.
It was perfect to add to my wall of Christmas cards.

fall leavesI love the colors of this card from Taiwan.

pearsAnd, this card reminds me of my
grandmother for some reason.

The last three cards are all from China. I think they’re pretty great.

Chinese flowersI love the simplicity of this card. The Chinese
translates into, “Can’t forget the happiness
in the mountain while sitting alone.”

Chinese Food mapMap cards are awesome. This one is a Chinese
food map. I can’t even tell what most of the
foods are, but it looks fun.

Chinese rainbow lg

And, finally, this card is about the size of two postcards stuck together. It was such a treat to receive such a large card. I find the view fascinating as well.

Hope you enjoyed my postcards as much as I did. Postcrossing is a great way to connect with the world. Sometimes you find someone on a different continent that you connect with instantly. From there you can be pen pals, or just enjoy having met someone like you through mail.

Wonders – The New Piano Guys CD

Wonders

The new CD. Also, be amazed that we still own a working Walkman. It’s ten years old.

First thing’s first. If you live in Utah, buy this from The Piano Guys website in the morning, using the cheapest shipping, and you will receive it the next day. At least that’s what happened for me. I was totally surprised, and so glad that I decided to do that instead of driving through two cities to the closest Barnes and Noble. Plus, I got the free “Thank You” album for buying before the 12th. It’s a bunch of songs from the individual artists before they became The Piano Guys.

Now on to the review. This is an all around great album. The songs go great together, and it’s relaxing and fun to listen to. I had quite a time picking my favorite song. At first I was thinking Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends. Then I heard Because of You and became quite torn as to which I liked better. And then Pictures at an Exhibition came on, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it long enough to listen to the other two so I can describe them to you. Hold on. I think I can drag myself away for a bit. Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends is a classic TPG song. It’s on par with Michael Meets Mozart, which is the reason I fell in love with these guys in the first place. Because of You is lighthearted and fun to dance to. It sounds like a combination of all the songs they’ve ever done, while still definitely being its own song.

Now back to Pictures at an Exhibition. It starts off with a quiet intro, that emphasizes the off beat, and immediately breaks into the beautiful Mussorgsky themes. It slowly builds into a full texture of epic celloness emanating from everywhere. Then augments the themes with grandeur, and finishes off with one last, beautiful statement of the main theme. I’m sure my classical training has something to do with why I picked this as my favorite. Mussorgsky is a Romantic composer (roughly the 1800s), which is my favorite musical era. The Romantic Era was the pinnacle moment for the piano, as it had finally evolved into the instrument we know today. This song represents my life at the moment, simple, but sometimes intense and a bit stressful, and through it all, I still love living it.

The other song that brought a smile to my face was Summer Jam. This is obviously composed mainly by Jon Schmidt. It is percussive and contains many of his favorite embellishments, and it is written in his typical rondo-like form. It was so wonderful to hear the style that I grew up learning to play and listened to all the time in this song. I have been wondering if he would ever write anymore the way he used to.

The one song that was just kind of sad was the Vivaldi/Let It Go combination. I didn’t feel like the two really meshed together well. Despite that, my girls still have fun singing with it whenever it comes on, and I enjoy pointing out to them the Vivaldi parts, where “you can tell because the cello is going nuts.” I really enjoyed studying Vivaldi at school. He was a fantastic composer for string instruments, but I don’t connect him with Frozen when I watch or listen to it.

Purple Potatoes

The girls and I harvested the potatoes from our garden just a few days ago. This year, I planted red, Yukon gold, and purple potatoes. Like the purple carrots, purple potatoes also contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, making them extra healthy and pretty.

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The only reason I bothered to gather them was so I could cook the most delicious stew ever. Seriously, this is the best stew I have ever eaten. I leaned the recipe from my mom. When I got married, my husband help improve it with his phenomenal tastebuds. Then with my constant search for nutritional knowledge, this has become a truly fantastic, super nutritious meal that goes wonderfully with buttered toast. (Did I talk it up enough? I’m only being slightly facetious.)

The recipe goes something like this.

1 lb. stew beef
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb. baby carrots or large carrots, chopped
5-6 potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
2 – 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
Water
2 C. chicken stock

Brown stew meat in a soup pot. Salt and pepper. Add onion, carrots, potatoes, and tomato sauce to pot. Fill both cans with water and add to pot, 30 oz. total. Add chicken stock. Cook over medium heat until boiling, about 30 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3-4 hours or until potatoes are falling apart. Stir occasionally.

A Year of Dates

For Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband a year of planned out dates. I got the idea from What’s Up Fagans? I planned two dates per month, with a few bonus dates thrown in for fun. These are geared towards being pregnant and then having a little one to tote around as well. I discovered that planning dates, especially this many all at once takes a lot of effort, so I thought I’d share them, and maybe they’ll help you find something to do or inspire you in some way to go date your spouse.

February

Visit the chocolate exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History.
– This was a fun one and it is open until June, so you can still go. They have chocolate tastings on Wednesday and Saturday, but they sell out very fast, so you have to buy those tickets early. For us out of countyers, that’s a little difficult.

Organize photos on computer together.
– We didn’t get to this one in February, because we were invited along for a lot of other dates. I think it might be our date for this week. Basically, when the kids go to bed, we’ll snuggle together and reminisce over the millions of digital photos we have, and try to sort them so we can actually do things with them.

March

Go to the Festival of Colors.
– I have been dying to go to this for years, but my husband is so wary of taking the kids that I planned this one for just the two of us.

Pick out a new puzzle and put it together.
– I love putting puzzles together, and it’s always fun to have a companion helping out.

April

Go see Peter Pan at the Hale Center Theater.
– We both love theater, and I’ve wanted to see Peter Pan on stage since I found out it was a stage play, not just a movie, as a kid. Strangely, I found out it was a book last. Completely backward chronology.

Pick out a 3D puzzle and put it together.
– This one is geared more towards my husband. Sometime in the first year of our relationship (tons of stuff happened in that first year, so it all gets blurred together), we went to a hobby store, which we both love, and he mentioned wanting to put one of these together with me.

Bonus Date: Captain America
– I already know I want to see it, so I stuck it in there at the last minute.

May

Visit the Red Butte Gardens.
– I seriously debated putting this one in, because I’ll be massively pregnant when this happens, but I’ve been wanting to go, and the gardens should be pretty by then.

Game Night: Little Big Planet, Ticket to Ride, and Phase 10.
– Those are just some of our favorite games to play together. I’m, also, open to new games, which I’m sure we have somewhere.

June

Bowling at Fat Cats.
– This is a date that we both enjoy, and that I would feel comfortable taking a newborn on, especially if its not on a typical date night.

Make paper airplanes.
– I fully intend on making the most epic paper airplanes we possibly can. I will probably have a Pinterest board for this one.

Bonus Date: How to Train Your Dragon 2
– The first was awesome. Hopefully the second will be, too.

July

Bookstore Scavenger Hunt
– Some of our best dates have been in bookstores (R.I.P. Borders), but we have seriously different taste in books, so this will be a way to do something together before we go our separate ways, and then meet back up together for some hot chocolate.

Watch the sunset.
– Around here, it’s very easy to find a high perch on a mountain to watch the sunset, and see the city lights come on.

August

Make a movie about an invisible man.
– I think this one is just going to be super dorky, but I really hope we have fun with it.

Enjoy a dessert bar at home.
– Yum.

Bonus Date: See the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Scera Shell Outdoor Theater.
– This is a favorite show of ours, so I’m really excited to see it live.

September

Chalk the Block.
-We’ve been to this before, but this time we’ll leave the kids at home. It’ll be way less stressful. We enjoy the farmers market that’s attached to it as well.

Build a campfire in the backyard and enjoy marshmallows and hotdogs.
– Fun. Relaxing. No stress of having to find a baby sitter. I can’t wait for this one.

October

Go to a corn maze.
– Can you believe that we have never been to a corn maze as a date? I don’t know how that’s happened for so many years, but I’m making it right this year. For the baby, I’m thinking baby wearing and nice warm clothes.

Fondue Night
– This will be a fun at home date. We were given some great fondue pots when we got married, and we get them out every now and then. Plus, it’s fun to see what mixes well with chocolate.

November

Go to a comedy theater. Desert Star or Off Broadway.
– Neither of us have been, and they sound like a lot of fun. Now that I think about it, this doesn’t sound baby friendly, but I’m not going to write it off until I see how things are going at that point. If need be, I’ll switch it up for something else.

Paint a Bob Ross painting.
– This is a super fun one to do. Basically, you get a Bob Ross DVD, pick a painting, and paint along with him. It doesn’t matter what kind of paper or paint you use, so long as you have fun and finish your painting when he does.

Bonus Date: Recreate our first date, getting ice cream at the Union.
– We met at the University of Utah. On the second day that we got to spend time together, he bought me ice cream in the middle of a blizzard at the Union. We became facebook friends, and started “chatting” like crazy that night.

December

Visit an art museum.
– There are so many all over the place, and many of them are free.

Relax with a movie and popcorn at home.
– I saved this one specifically for the holidays. It’s a stressful, busy time of the year, and I want to make sure we get a break from all of that.

January

Go to Tucanos Brazilian Grill.
– If you’ve never been, it’s worth it. Never ending meat, and a salad bar that beats just about any other salad bar out there. Grilled pineapple. Fried bananas. Sushi (for those of you that like sushi). Death by Chocolate Cake.

Build a computer together.
– “Like with all new parts?” “Yes, with all new parts.” I think a trip to the Fry’s in Vegas is in order for this one. This date is 1) his birthday present, 2) a celebration of working so hard to become financially stable, and 3) a chance to let him show me all the nerdy stuff that he is always dying to show me.

Canoing the Snake River

IMG_7004The Stonehocker family cabin is right next to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. We can see the river out our windows, and it is breath taking. The water stays a cold 52°F year round.  We love wading in the river and catching minnows, and every couple of years we venture down to Mack’s Inn in a canoe. The trip takes 2 1/2 – 3 hours, and is extremely peaceful, relaxing and beautiful.

This year, Michael, Lizzy and I took a canoe down, and my sister, Erin, and her boyfriend, Kevin, floated in a little yellow raft. We started off getting stuck in the usual shallow spots, and pushing ourselves out with our oars, one of the benefits of a canoe over a raft. Lizzy had a great time rowing with her mini oar, splashing the water, and snacking on Frooties.IMG_20130701_145559

About a third of the way down, we spotted moose in the water. I was completely terrified, but Kevin and Erin slowly drifted past, and after a while we did too. The moose stared us down throughout the whole encounter. Turns out they just wanted to cross the river to get to the other side.

About ten minutes later, we spotted another moose, drinking from the river, and we slowly floated on passed it. Soon after that, a bunch of people in canoes rowed passed and asked if we saw the moose. We confirmed that we had, and asked if they’d seen the two moose before that. Apparently we were the only ones that saw them.IMG_20130701_154039

Being in a canoe, we went considerably faster than Kevin and Erin. So every now and then, when the river had a mini island in it, we’d take the side less traveled, and then head back up the main part of the river. On one of these random excursions, we came across a huge field of wild chives. We rowed right up to the shore, and picked some chives right from our canoe. They smelled fantastic, and I wanted to climb out and pick the whole field, but I settled with just a handful.

IMG_20130701_155624At the end of trip, when we pulled into Mack’s Inn, Lizzy and I waded in the water while Michael took care of all the canoe stuff. Lizzy loved the water, and went in up to her neck! I was amazed that she was brave enough, and that the water actually felt decent enough to make that tolerable. Then, Michael, Lizzy and I sat on a dock with our feet in the water, while we waited for Kevin and Erin to come in.

Thistles

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While driving today, I passed a thistle field in bloom. It was a spectacular purple that I’m not used to seeing in my desert state without help from a gardener. When I realized the beautiful potential this plant has, I started imagining it in a completely desert environment, no human development around to make it a weed. How amazing would it be to just happen upon a huge field of this beautiful purple flower? Of course, as soon as you realized the death beneath the flower, you’d be disappointed that you couldn’t go through the field, but it’d be pretty just to look at all the same.

It’s a shame this weed is so noxious. The stem and leaves are prickly, so much so that my oldest only had to encounter it once to know to stay away. It can spread so easily that we have found some in our grass 50 feet away from our weed field. Digging it out of the ground is not enough to get rid of it, even before it goes to seed, as the roots run very deep.

Despite all of this, I didn’t bother digging any up this year, and I’ll probably pay the consequences next year, but it’s been incredibly fascinating to watch them grow. Our largest thistle is taller than me, and dominates the half of the garden that I’m not using this year. It looks ominous, and I can’t wait for the snow to kill it, so I can attempt to dig it up.

My Hypoglycemia

I want to write about my current health problems. This is absolutely amazing to me in a less than pleasant way. Keep in mind that I have not been diagnosed by a doctor with any of this. There is only one doctor in this world that I trust completely, and he’s a chiropractor/nutritionist.

To start off, I have hypoglycemia. It was genetically passed down to me from my mom. My brother has it as well. Hypoglycemia has to do mainly with blood sugar levels. It can be a precursor to diabetes if left unchecked, and there are a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms that go along with it as well, including depression, and a vast array of mental disorders. Our nutritionist has given us a diet that we use to regulate our blood sugar, so that we don’t have the typical highs and lows that make us act totally nuts.

My hypoglycemia did not kick in until pregnancy, during which, I did not think anything was wrong other than severe morning sickness. Post partum, my hypoglycemia manifested itself in the form of post partum depression, which is the absolute worst thing I could ever wish upon any new mother.

Basically, I believed that everyone, including my new baby, hated me and was out to prove my inferiority. I was miserable and hated life. I lived like this for eight months. Then I told our nutritionist what was going on. He said that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients to my brain, so it couldn’t function properly. He gave me the hypoglycemia diet, and I followed it for one month. It was the best month of my life. The diet was designed to allow for a steady stream of carbohydrates to the brain. It, also, regulates hormonal imbalances, which is why I got pregnant that same month.

With my severe morning sickness, this diet was impossible to live by while pregnant. I tried to keep some of the principles I had learned, but by the end of the pregnancy, I wasn’t doing much of anything that this diet called for.

Post partum the second time, I thought I had escaped post partum depression. I got to feel the joy of having a newborn baby. It was wonderful, but I felt like I had been robbed of that the first time, and then the depression returned, but I knew what was happening this time, so instead of being incredibly sad, I got very angry. And in my angry state, I did not see the point of using the hypoglycemia diet. I started using sugar to drown out the pain of the depression, which lead to a yeast infection.

Now here is the part that I find truly amazing. I have a wonderful book called Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch. My mom has this book as well in an earlier edition. It discusses many of the disorders in this world and how to naturally heal them, without traditional medicine.

In the Candidiasis (yeast infection) section it says: “Candidiasis may be related to hypoglycemia.”

With the return of my period, came the return of some really nasty premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In my book in the Premenstrual Syndrome sections it says: “PMS has also been linked to food allergies, changes in carbohydrate metabolism, hypoglycemia, and malabsorption.”

I recently had a bout of insomnia. The Insomnia section says: “Insomnia can also result from a wide variety of physical causes, including arthritis, asthma, breathing problems, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, indigestion, kidney or heart disease, muscle aches, Parkinson’s disease, or physical pain.”

Two days ago my wrist started hurting so badly that I cannot put any kind of weight on it. We thought it might be carpal tunnel, but upon looking up what carpal tunnel is, it is not. So, I went to the fibromyalgia section, and was blown away. This section described all the aches and pains I’ve been feeling since high school down to exactly where they are. This section also says: “Other possible causes that have been proposed include infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis, or with the fungus Candida albicans [yes, that’s the fungus that causes yeast infections]; chronic mercury poisoning from amalgam dental fillings; anemia; parasites; hypoglycemia; and hypothyroidism.”

In conclusion, I have realized that hypoglycemia is entwined in every aspect of my life: physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I have solved the mystery of why my body aches day after day after day. Better yet, I know how to heal these ailments naturally.

BYU Light Suits

Today at the Shelf Reliance Convention, I met an electrical engineering student who was there to take the FE exam.  (Or was it PE?)  Anyway, he was from BYU, and told me about a light suit project they had just done for the ballroom dance team.  I was fascinated.  I love Tron, and have plans to be Quorra this Halloween, so I asked him how they did it.  Well, apparently, you can just buy the light wire right off of Amazon.  Awesome!  I told him that we’d been considering LED lights, and he said that was the next thing they were going to do.  They have a YouTube video about the project that I thought was really interesting.

My New Blog

It may take some time for me to get the hang of this, but here is my new blog!

Some things to look forward to: Cloth Diapers!  101 Goals in 1001 Days!  New Recipes using Thrive foods!  Cooking Videos!

I’m super excited.  I hope you can bear with me as I will be messing around with the website quite a bit until I get it set up the way I want it, but I must write, otherwise the four years of journalism I had in high school will be a waste.

-k.stuff