Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

We got together with my family and my Grandpa on Memorial Day to visit my Grandma Foster's grave. My kids didn't go to her funeral, so it gave them an opportunity to see where she is buried. She has a beautiful headstone and is next to my Grandpa Foster's parents. My Mom cleaned around the gravestones and made them look really nice.
 My sweet Grandpa next to the love of his life.
 Oh and my parents are FINALLY technologically advancing and got cell phones this past week. It's a shocker to all of us! Now we just might be able to get a hold of them when they aren't home. : )

The little grad

Tucker had his preschool program/graduation on the 24th. It was so cute to see all the kids up there singing and speaking their parts. Tucker had been practicing the songs at home for a couple weeks leading up to it. It was so cute to hear him bust out "You're a Grand Ole Flag" and "Here Comes The Sun" etc. He learned a ton in preschool and we are so excited that he'll be going to kindergarten in the fall. He has an awesome group of friends in our neighborhood that will be in kindergarten with him. The first video below shows off Tucker's amazing dance skills. (He's on the front row and really gets into it after the first verse. I'm sure he gets his moves from his Dad.
As they announced each graduate they had each child tell what they wanted to be when they grew up. Tucker announced that he wanted to be a Safari. Hmm...what is that? Too bad I didn't know they were asking the question so I could help rehearse it with him so that he could've said a dentist, oh I mean a Safari guide. : )
Tucker and his teacher Miss Tonia and his friend Kali and then Tucker and his bud Skyler in the below picture.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

School's out for the summer!

Aubrey had her last day of school on Tuesday. Next year she'll be in pre-k at Sunshine Circle. Aubrey LOVES school and had a fabulous teacher this year. It was Tucker's teacher from last year so we knew she was great. The school is awesome because they allowed me to drop off Aubrey, Tucker and our neighbor girl Kali all at Aubrey's start time. Tucker and Aubrey were in Miss Sherrilynn's class last year so she didn't mind having them for 30 minutes. It saved me from sitting in the parking lot waiting for classes to start. I carpooled with Kali's Mom so I only had to drop off and pick up Aubrey.
 Aubrey's class had a little spring sing for parents where they sang songs and shared what they had learned throughout the year. I'm learning as a parent that each child is definitely different. Tucker caught on a lot quicker than Aubrey did, but he was also 4 already when he started preschool the first year. Aubrey is learning and doing well, and I have to realize that I can't compare them.

Puerto Vallarta

Cody and I were able to go on a "work-cation" last week to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We thought it would be fun to take his office staff on a trip. Cody has an awesome business credit card that accrues points and we were able to stay in a 5 star hotel for free! It's the Starwood Preferred Business Card if anyone is interested. We flew out early Tuesday morning and were able to swim in the ocean and this awesome pool that afternoon!
This a view looking south out our window. We had amazing weather the whole time and had to laugh that it was snowing and raining in Midway the whole week we were gone. : )
We saw gorgeous sunsets each night. We haven't seen a sunset in a long time so it was fun to take it all in.
We took a tour to San Sebastian up in the mountains. Cody's hygienist is pregnant so we thought this would be the best one for us all to go on. We learned about the history and were able to tour a hacienda. We had always thought a hacienda was a house - not so.
Only Spanish born individuals were allowed to own the factories and businesses in Mexico before the late 1800's, and those Spanish born families would enslave the natives to work the mines and refine the ore.  The people mined silver here (and were very, very wealthy from it) and the hacienda was the building where the slaves had to work, etc. So instead of being some cool house or ranch, haciendas were actually factories.  The Spanish families lived in lavish houses away from the haciendas.
There were amazing flowers all over the place though. I would love to have this tree growing in my yard.
This is the place where the slaves actually had to purify the silver.  These pits were filled with about 1-2 feet of mercury and the slaves would have to get in the pits with their bare hands and feet and purify the silver. The slaves would only last about 6 months before their hands and feet would start to fall off, they'd go crazy and then the hacienda owners would shoot them because they couldn't work anymore and were useless.  It was so sad the oppression that the Spanish families subjected the natives to.
We also toured an organic coffee and citrus farm and later a tequila distillery. Cody is sitting by the oven that they use to cook the agave plant.  After the agave is cooked, they pulverize it and stick it in a barrel with some yeast to ferment for a few days.  Then they boil off the alcohol and distill it into tequila.  Very simple process.  It was cool to see.
Cody and I walked down to the Malecon one day and shopped, saw the sites and ate lunch.

We ate dinner down the street from our hotel and Cody had this seafood dish that came out in this lava rock pig (mol cajete). The food was so hot, it literally bubbled for 20 minutes after it had been brought out.
We spent a day lounging at the pool. Cody and Jason participated in the afternoon volleyball game. Poor Cody, he lathered himself up with sunscreen before he played, even waited the 30 minutes to get in the water and he got fried. He was only out for an hour. We don't have much luck in the tanning department. I tan better than Cody and I'm a redhead. I burned as well - now we are experiencing the itchiness and peeling that comes after.
The whole gang went out to dinner at Senor Frogs one night.
Cody and I went on a snorkeling adventure trip one day and saw this giant monstrosity in the marina. That is a helicopter on the back of that boat. Crazy!
We were taken out to 3 islands, Las Marietas, on a sailboat with our tour group. Normally they have over 20 people on a tour, but we lucked out and there were only 8, so it was kind of a VIP tour. We snorkeled and were able to see and hold sea cucumbers, a blow fish, puffer fish and starfish. It was really cool.  We also some some colorful King Angel Fish everywhere. They then took us to an isolated, very secluded beach that was gorgeous!
We also saw a sea turtle, manta ray and a ton of dolphins. This one was swimming by the front of the boat.
This is our boat that we went out on. They used the motor going out to the islands and put the sails up for the trip back.  Sailing back was so relaxing.
We flew home Sunday night. It was such a nice getaway and we are sooo grateful for parents that took care of our kids the whole time. It wouldn't have been possible without them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Conf. Talks (cont.)

Ok, one last one and then we can post pics of Mexico. While reading Elder Nelson's talk, he mentions that some people take the "cafeteria" approach to the commandments. I love that description by the way. He promises that such an approach will undoubtedly lead to unhappiness. Like Elder Nelson said, only when we are committed to obeying all of the commandments will we experience true joy and peace.
Elder Maynes said in his talk that the adversary wants to do everything in his power to destroy the family. We are seeing this so much more today than ever before. While Lisa and I were eating breakfast on Sunday we had CNN on and they showed a statistic that only 55% of marriages last to 15 years, only 35% last to 25 years and only 6% last to 50 years. I'm sure loss of spouse contributes tremendously to the 50 year percentage, but it was still startling to me that 2/3 of marriages fail by 25 years. With all of the problems that result from single parent homes and divorced parents, it's no wonder the adversary is working so hard and focusing so much effort on tearing the family apart. It serves as a good reminder for me that marriage requires continued effort in order to succeed. We can't take it for granted.
Elder Oaks mentioned towards the end of his talk a desire that should be paramount for all men and women - all should desire and seriously work to secure a marriage for eternity. Between his counsel and the smack down laid down by President Monson in the priesthood session, I am glad I am not still single. Also, again, it was another great reminder of the importance of my marriage and that it needs to be given the attention that it deserves.
Elder Anderson gave a great talk as well about our priorities and about how if we maintain correct priorities on eternal principles we can avoid being deceived or blinded by worldy pursuits. I saw this theme through a few of the talks. If our priorities are aligned properly, then our outlook will be better prepared to withstand the buffetings of Satan in this life.
I also noticed in the priesthood session that recurring sections in Doctrine and Covenants that the speakers referenced and invited the aaronic priesthood holders to learn, like section 121 for example. Maybe I paid more attention to that because I am scout master.
As usual, it was a great conference!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Conference Talks (cont.)

I just read the talk by Elder Cook titled "LDS Women Are Incredible!".  I was eager to re-read this since it caused so much stir among the bloggernacle.  I was really bothered by how hatefully critical many were of this talk, and have been of the church in general of the church's treatment of women.  Some of the comments on Times and Seasons were surprisingly critical of Elder Cook, accusing him of being condescending to the women of the church with this talk.  I have since come to a conclusion.  The reason so many of these critics are so angry is not because of oppression by the church leaders, per se, but rather because they don't understand the Lord's ways.  Their views, goals, and aspirations are based off of temporal values.  To them, the most important thing is the praise of being a leader or a respected individual in their field of profession.  Both aim to receive the praise of men and view the worldly pursuits as the most important thing a woman can attain in this life.  But, if they had an eternal perspective and that of the Lord's, they wouldn't get so angry. (Side note, I'm not oblivious that there has been some oppression historically in the church in how women were included in ward councils, but I'm not going to dwell on the past, I want to focus on the state of the church today).  Yes, it is nice getting some worldly praise at times because I am a doctor, or receiving the praise from patients for a job well done.  But, the most important praise I can receive is from God for how I am doing as a husband and father, and from my children for being a great daddy.  I would gladly give up my profession if it ever got in the way of my being a husband and father and I would let Lisa go teach dance or something else to earn the money.  I mean that sincerely.
To God, family is the most important organization, not government, corporations or other organizations. Since family is the most important, the Lord expects us to place equal value on the family.  It's hard for me to articulate well what I feel, but if it were up to me, both Lisa and I would stay home and raise the kids.  I would love if I didn't have to earn an income and we could both be 100% equal partners at home, but the reality we face is that we have to earn money to raise a family.  I don't fully understand why some of these critics desire so badly to be in the work force and away from the home, and to forfeit their parenting privilege to a nanny.  They are being blinded by the worldly desires and aspirations.  I'm not saying that women shouldn't be allowed to work.  I think they should have the right, and in fact, I personally believe that all women should have an education and receive a degree, but not necessarily as a "back up" plan in case her husband dies or she gets divorced.  While those are good reasons, I think that every woman should be educated so that they can be better contributors to society, so that they can be better mothers, better ward leaders, better critical thinkers, so that they can appreciate academic matters and analyze a situation much deeper than if they were uneducated. I know with my bachelors degree, the greatest thing I got out of it was not some marketable trade or piece of paper, but rather the ability to look at a problem or situation, break it down, analyze it, think logically and rationally and make a decision.  These are skills that are very difficult to develop without a college education.  Also, I love how well rounded I became from my college education.  I developed an appreciation for arts, different cultures, the sciences, the humanities, etc.  These are talents and virtues that would be priceless for anybody to possess.  So, to have mothers and wives with this would be a huge benefit to a people, society, nation, etc.  I remember seeing a study that showed the quickest way to lift a nation or people out of poverty was to educate the women.  Imagine how useless or left out Marissa or Lisa would be in our marriages if they couldn't help with the dental practice, do the payroll, engage in thoughtful, critical discussion regarding our job, the church etc.  I guess we have a unique situation in that being a small business owner allows us to include our wives.  But the point remains, that if Lisa and Marissa weren't educated, our kids wouldn't be exposed to their passions and desires for education and intelligence, our family decisions regarding expenses, recreation, religion, etc. would truly be one sided and not what the Lord intended.  But, since we are united in all of this, our kids will grow up having this example which will help them so much.  Also, I am really surprised and annoyed at how many people, even in the church, that have separate checking accounts for the the husband and wife.  I hear often the women who work say that they want their own checking account so that they can keep track of "their" (singular) money and so that they can buy "their" (singular) things.  Imagine if a husband took that approach and said that the money he earned was his own?  Uggg, it really irritates me.  In my opinion, any money that either spouse earns should go into the single family account and go to pay the family expenses first.  If, after paying the family expenses there is money left over, then the couple can decide where to spend the money.  Which, in my mind shouldn't be to "treat" the wife since she earned some money or to treat the husband for some job well done.  The wife, or husband, should always be treated equally with left over money regardless of whether or not they were the one to earn the money.  And, they should make the decision together as to where the money should go.  For us, sometimes that means treats for Lisa, like glitter toes or some new clothes, or treats for me like some hunting gear or a wakeboard.
Now, back to me saying that I wish we could both stay home, I also recognize that some women are better equipped than their spouses to earn money to raise their family.  In that situation, the husband and wife need to sit down and evaluate what is best for them.  BUT!!!!!! This is a very big but, that doesn't mean which partner can make more money (or if they need both to work to afford a certain lifestyle) because that is not important to the Lord.  Coming back to Mexico has reminded me clearly that as Americans our values are very different from the rest of the world when it comes to income.  We have all these things that we think we "need" in order to be happy, when in reality, we need very little in terms of physical possessions to be happy.  Think of the early Mormon pioneers, some of the families in Argentina, Mexico, even Grandma and Grandpa Calderwood.  They are/were able to raise families righteously and happily with a mere fraction of what we enjoy today.  And that is where, in my experience, some of the most hateful and angry criticism stems.  I have seen families, especially women, get super pissed at the counsel from the Brethren that the women should try and avoid working so as to remain in the home.  These same women who chose to work try to justify their purchasing expensive clothing for them and their children, having expensive recreation and vacations, etc.  I will have Lisa chime in and share the story of her mom and the young women in her ward recently when she was young womens president.  I feel that it best illustrates this situation.  Memo- have Susan write it down for us.
Also, with regards to women's position within the church, many of these critics will never be satisfied until the church allows women to hold the priesthood.  I have a few thoughts on this, first of all, anyone who has recently sat in on a ward council will clearly see that women hold an equal voice in the ward council.  They are not silenced by the men, but are treated as equals.  The same should happen in a home.  While the priesthood guides the flow of the conversation, nobodies opinion is better or worse and neither gender has more control.  And, if a husband does not approach his marriage this way, he is in violation of his priesthood authority.  If he ever quiets his wife or oppresses her because he "holds the priesthood" then he doesn't understand how the priesthood works or how God wants a marriage to function. Now, as for women not holding the priesthood, I don't think it's so much about equality, as it is these women (and men) who are critical want the women to have the praise of man, not of God.  There are some things about gender that will NEVER be equal.  No matter how hard we try, men will never be able to give birth or breast feed the children.  Oh, also, from what I can read in the scriptures, it has always been the way of the Lord.  Priesthood has been patriarchal.  But, that doesn't mean priesthood is the ultimate when it comes to decisions made.  That should be made in conjunction with women.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but the best way to summarize this is with Elder Cooks words, "These are very emotional, personal decisions, but there are two principles that we should always keep in mind.  First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children.  Nothing could more significant in our Father in Heaven's plan.  Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home.  We rarely understand or fully appreciate people's circumstances.  Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions."

Conference talks (cont.)

Here is my response to Carson:

 Like you said, to understand why God allows rape, murder, torture, disasters, etc. one needs to have an eternal perspective.  There is no way you could believe in a merciful and loving God if you only viewed this life from a mortal perspective.  I realized on my mission, like you said, God allows suffering to try us, to help us grow (growth is impossible, both physically and spiritually without struggle), to teach us of agency, and to manifest his miraculous hand at times.  When we start to understand that this life is a blip on the radar screen of eternity, we understand that as miserable as some of the conditions and events are in this life, as devastating as some experiences are, they are miniscule compared to the glory and joy we will have for the eternities.  And, by coming to this earth and being subject to the weaknesses of a mortal body, like the lusts and temptations, we can learn to master our urges and become more like God.  So, unfortunately I never saw that lady again who posed that question to me, but I now have an answer I can provide to my kids, friends, or even strangers if I am presented with that situation again.
Oh, and one reason why I read the criticisms found in the bloggernacle is, as I explained to Lisa, it causes me to think of why I believe what I believe.  As I begin to reflect on why they are wrong or mistaken, my mind becomes more aware of the issue and I know that I become more open to inspiration and revelation regarding the certain doctrine.  Then as a result as I am reading my scriptures or listening to conference talks, things jump out at me explaining what might have been eluding me earlier.  It strengthens my testimony to see the "proof", if you will, of why I believed what I believed.  The thing that I am scared of, and the thing that I try to balance is, I don't want to dive too deeply into the anti-mormon critiques because I don't want to lose the spirit in my life and I don't want to fall down that slippery slope and end up bitter and distanced from the gospel I love.  But at the same time, I don't want to be afraid of arguments, claims, history or aspects of the gospel I live.  I guess I'm saying that it's hard to know where that balance should be.  I think it is damaging to hide my head in the sand, ignore their claims, and to blindly follow the leaders of the church.  But, feel that it is even more damaging to be critical of the church leaders and leave the church, even if they are leading us astray (which they are not).  So, I would rather err on the side of caution.

Conference Talks

While we have been on vacation in Mexico, I have been reading the conference edition of the Ensign.  My thoughts have been many as I have read, and I decided to start some discussion through email with Lisa and my brother Carson and Marisa.  Lisa recommended that I put those down on our blog for journal purposes.  So, this will likely bore many of you, and you have my permission to skip this and await our awesome Mexico trip post with all of it's photos.  For this one, feel free to comment if you like, I enjoy discussion.  Some people may be offended, but again, this is mostly for journal purposes so I want it to be how I actually feel, not watered down to avoid offending people.  Here you go!

I wanted to share some thoughts with you three that I've been having, maybe spark some conversation in the process.  As I read the ensign talks, it's funny how much my thoughts turn to the bloggernacle - those members of the church that so openly criticize the leaders and the church today.  While we have been in Mexico, I have been reading the ensign's conference issue. (It's been so nice to read it without interruption and to bask in the sunlight).  Well, I have read 4 articles, and two of them have made me reflect deeply on some of the stuff the bloggernacle negative naysayers have recently discussed.  The talk by Elder Walter F. Gonzalez called "Followers of Christ" brings up an excellent and solid point to combat some of the arguments that the negative Nelly's out there make.  Elder Gonzalez says "Followers of Christ pattern their lives after the Savior to walk in the light.  Two characteristics can help us recognize to what extent we follow Him.  First, followers of Christ are loving people.  Second, followers of Christ make and keep commandments."
That second part is what unfortunately gets ignored by many in today's society.  You often hear the argument, from many Christian "scholars" that all we need to do to be like Christ is to love others and serve the poor and down trodden.  While we all definitely can do better at serving others and exercising charity, we can't forget the covenants that the savior himself entered into.  When many of those in society today say that it doesn't matter what religion we belong to, they are denying the example and teachings of Christ and are focusing solely on one aspect of the Saviors teachings.  Why ignore that Christ himself was baptized?  Why ignore the sacremental covenant that he instituted with his apostles?  It saddens me to read when people write that all we really need to do is love as Jesus loved and serve others.  As Elder Gonzalez says, "Making covenants is an expression of love.  It is a way of saying to Him, "Yes, I will follow Thee because I love Thee.""
The next talk that I am reading also got me thinking about a recent bloggernacle post.  The talk is by Elder Kent F. Richards called "The Atonement Covers All Pain".  The recent post wrote about the fire at the Provo tabernacle.  It made fun of a news clipping that showed how a painting of the savior was burned around the edges but surprisingly His face was spared from the fire.  (Personally, I think it was just a coincidence as many other paintings of Christ burned up completely, but that's not my point).  The post then went on a tirade about how stupid we are to think that God would spare that painting while allowing so many children to burn up in house fires across the world.  Or like when the church rejoiced to hear that all the Missionaries in the Sendai Japan mission were accounted for and safe after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  The blogger criticized the church leadership for their joy by saying, "Does God love the thousands of Japanese who died any less than those missionaries?"  My answer is a resounding "No!", but that doesn't mean he doesn't intervene and save his righteous followers at times.  These critics are missing a critical lesson of life and the gospel.
Elder Richards explains why the Lord allows suffering and pain in this life.  While on my mission, I had an epiphany about this very topic when an investigator asked me, "How can there be a God with so much suffering, death and carnage in the world."  At the time I couldn't come up with a good answer.  But a few days later I understood the explanation to that, and Elder Richards does a great job of explaining it.  Ok, I have to run right now, but I will talk more about this later.  Feel free to respond to everyone and chime in.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Food, bath, Mother's Day, soccer, and Easter - or should I just say Catch Up?

For those of you that haven't ever done Bountiful Baskets, this is some of the yummy goodness you get for $16.50. Not a bad deal, it's fresh, cheap and you pick it up locally.
 Blake now sits up well enough that I can have my 3 boys in the tub together. I love those boys!
 Me and my posse on Mother's Day.
 I finally ordered some labels for my towels and crayon rolls and am loving them. It makes me feel all professional. : )

Tucker is playing spring soccer and doing great! He's improved tons from his first week and has scored goals at his last 2-3 games. The season was supposed to end yesterday, but because of rainy spring weather he has 2 makeup games this week. Go #49!

 Heather, Dan and Ethan came down for Easter weekend and came to a game with us. It was windy and freezing but I know Tucker appreciated the support.
Heather and I took the kids down the street to an Easter Egg hunt. It was great because it was small and the kids received tons of eggs. Cole only really cared about the dinosaur.
 Cute Aubrey on Easter eating her strawberry shortcake. We had Cody's parents and my whole family, including grandparents up for Easter dinner. It was fun to see everyone and celebrate together.
 Ethan and Heather.
 Aubrey and Halle playing dress up and tea party.
 Super Blake.
 Crazy boys - Parker, Tucker and Cole
I think I'm finally caught up now, just in time for Cody and me to fly off to Mexico and make more memories. Cody had his day of free dentistry yesterday at work and Tuesday morning we are taking the staff to Puerto Vallarta for 6 days. We can't wait for some relaxing time in the sun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm being featured on ThriftySeeker today & tomorrow!

Head on over to www.thriftyseeker.com today and see two of my cute towels up for sale on their daily deal! I'll be featured May 2-3rd.