Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Last Shall Be First

Or maybe I should say: "[Our] Last Shall [Have His] First (birthday)" or "The Last Shall Be [One]".

Because Spencer's turning one year old.

I cannot believe it. I almost DO not believe it, but then I sometimes see this little boy in my house crawling around, babbling, and dumping olive oil all over the kitchen floor and I think, "Wait. Do newborns do this? Who is this child?" and, after some internal deliberation, I am forced to believe.

I guess it all makes sense when you actually total up all the minutes he's spent doing things. I mean, he spent:
314,521 minutes sleeping

and about that long hanging out in his carseat
115,306 minutes spending quality time with siblings

3,238 minutes disregarding clearly defined rules such as no fingers in the VCR
and no draining out all the drinking water
5,645 minutes having his cheeks squished, kissed, patted or wiped
40 minutes being mistaken for a doll
216,357 minutes figuring things out
like a mirror
or a glove
and 156,284 minutes shocking his mom with the blueness of his eyes and sweetness of his features

So I guess when you add that all up, and account for (a lot of) overlap you have a total of 525,600 minutes, which is. . . one year. And numbers don't lie. Or so I hear.

There is nothing I could say about this past year that wouldn't sound completely cliche. My heart can hardly hold the love I have for this boy or the joy I feel when I see the happiness he brings to his siblings.

I love how he drops what he's doing at the first sound of laughter so he can stare, smile and then squeal at the laugher. I love how he has just started to give hugs spontaneously. I love, love love the sound of his "da da da", the "d" sound of which I am completely unable to reproduce myself, and the way he sways back and forth at the knees and twists at the waist when he dances.

On his birthday we brought him along as we attended a Christmas party in the mission home, partly because it was his birthday and he deserved a party and partly because he is still nursing and I couldn't leave him with the other kids at their grandparent's house. This picture was taken by the mission president and shows Spencer's handsomeness rather well:
The next day we had a party at the grandparents' house where Greg's sister coached Spence in the blowing out of the candle.
So basically this is all pretty much just to say that after a year we've decided: We'll keep him.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love My Neighbor? Check!

We're pretty isolated out here. Of course this is largely by choice, because I'm bad at making friends and very bad at making friends that don't speak my language or understand my culture. (Because I don't really try. Awful, I know.)

A couple of months ago we got word that a new American family was moving into our branch. The family itself wasn't actually new, but the fact of their being in Poland was. Happy news for sure, but even happier was finding out that they were moving closer to us than to Kraków!

I was super excited. Imagine having Americans close enough that we could actually visit each other!! I tried not to get too excited because, really, what if we totally hated each other? No, I didn't actually think that except, only sort of.

See, he's a volleyball player. He came here to play for the team in Rzeszów, one hour away from Mielec. And he played on the US team in the 2008 Olympics and won the gold. Awesome, huh? Super awesome. Except. . .

Greg and I are the least athletic people I know. I mean, Greg walks Nordically and I occasionally spend 7 minutes doing leg lifts and push-ups, but as far as sports? Um, no. We're much more the not-playing-watching-following-or-thinking-about-sports type. So I felt a little worried.

What if they came over and only ever wanted to talk about exercise and physical coordination? What if they only liked to play games that involved a ball? What if they only ever ate volleyball-performance-enhancing foods which I knew nothing about how to cook!?! THIS COULD BE AWFUL!!!

We hadn't met them even once when we invited them to our house for a Halloween party. He had a game that day so we watched it live on TV and then they came over. There was pizza. There were no games involving sports. There was just us (and hardly any decorations).

They were very, very nice. They ate pizza. She brought cookies. They talked about things like what it's like living in Poland, the church, motherhood. Regular things. And, when we asked, they told us a little about their life traveling for Ryan's volleyball career. And I understood and enjoyed every word (none of the technical how-to-play-volleyball talk I had feared) . And I also have no idea if you call it a career or what.

As a matter of fact, we had such a nice time talking that we didn't even do most of the non-sporty Halloween games we had planned for the kids. It was great. Their darling son, Max made my night when, after they had been here for maybe 15 minutes and we were eating pizza, he proclaimed, "This is the BEST HALLOWEEN PARTY EVER!!!" Yes, I realize that this is a four year-old (that probably can't even remember any other Halloweens) and that we had not yet actually started the party, but he was still my new best friend.

Then we had Thanksgiving together. Again, very nice. Our Aaron and their Max were robots. They were the kind of robots that tear apart playrooms, but then put them back together. Robot Max again had the quote of the night when he had finished his mint chocolate pie (another recipe from Chocolate Never Faileth!) and his dad asked, "Hey Max! What are you doing!?!" To which Max replied, "I'm just licking my plate." Sounds like a good Thanksgiving activity to me, even if his dad insisted he wasn't a dog. :)

Up next: a Feliz Navidad party at their place. Awesome. I'm so grateful these guys ended up here. It is so great to have people to spend the holidays with (not "the holidays" as in the holiday season but "the holidays" as in literally each holiday. :) and to get to know in general. We are loving it.
P.S. I exaggerated some of this post, but just the part about my fears, not the part about the gold medal. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Pornography (Again)

Another one of those posts that are for my personal record more than to share with the world at large.
A couple of months ago, at a random time on a random day I felt I should talk to Ev and Dave about pornography. We've talked about it before of course, but it seemed a good time to talk about it again.

I love having talks like this with my kids. These are the times when I can put into words some of the things that are not easily understood just by seeing an example. My kids know how we feel about pornography, nudity and immodesty (a subject I've gone into great detail about before here) and we obviously avoid it in all types of media, but for them to fully understand the why of it, we have to discuss.

I explained a little about avoiding pornography and how we should make decisions before we meet temptations so that we don't have to make an on-the-spot choice. If we already know that we're not going to look it'll be easier when a situation arises (and the spirit can help us keep resolutions we've already made).

While we talked I compared pornography to alcohol; the seeming harmlessness of it, it's addictive nature, the curiosity young people sometimes feel about it. We talked about how alcohol is bad for our bodies and can be physically dangerous in many ways, besides the possibility of losing a job or even breaking up a family. I compared this to how looking at pornography is bad for our spirits and repels the Holy Ghost (which we need in our lives).

I explained how Satan wants to do everything he can to keep people from following God's commandments and having happy families.

We had been talking for maybe 10 minutes or so; pretty long for this type of conversation, I felt. The kids threw things in now and again, mostly about alcohol and how their friends talk about it sometimes. Overall I felt like they were understanding what I wanted them to know. Then I said something and the reaction I got from David made me realize that, while he had heard what I was saying, he maybe didn't fully get it until that point.

I almost didn't want to say it because it made it sound like they might make such a choice, or that I was even throwing it out there as an option, but I said it anyway. "If I had to choose between you trying alcohol or looking at pornography I would rather you have alcohol," I said. David looked confused. He asked me to repeat. I did, and this time he was shocked.

Finally I found a way to really get the point across about how serious I think it is. I'm so glad he is so clear on how "taboo" alcohol is so he could really get the point about how important it is to avoid pornography. I hope that will stay with him.

I was very happy just a week or two later to hear President Packer's conference talk which, I felt, had a strong emphasis on pornography and how Satan uses it to damage, destroy and even prevent the building of families. I was so grateful to have a prophet's testimony borne so soon after I had shared my own on this important topic, the purpose of the commandment, blessings of keeping it and the miracle of the way back if it has been broken.

As a mother I really love helping the kids understand why they're supposed to do and not do certain things. I love that the gospel makes this so much easier. There's not a lot of "because God said so". Even when the world tries to make us think things are perfectly harmless, or even good which God says are not, it is easy to see past the world's view and through "eyes of faith" when the blessings that come from keeping commandments are so apparent.