Sunday, March 29, 2009

Of Paying Down Mortgages

So, I found this excerpt below in the Reader's Digest, and I thought I should post it and get the word out. It just goes to show--despite what the world may say, it is always best to follow the prophet's advice--in this case, the advice has always been to buy an affordable house and pay it off as quickly as possible. And guess what? As far as I know, you get the same tax breaks for charities you donate to, so lets pay off our houses folks, and donate that money to charity!

"Pay more on your mortgage. You may have heard that because the interest is tax deductible, a mortgage is a good debt. But even if you're getting a tax break, you're still paying interest—and the longer you've had the mortgage, the smaller the tax break (because you pay less interest each year). As with all debt, paying it off sooner is better. So once you've paid off your credit cards and other high-rate debt, go ahead and add an extra payment each year (or spread it out over 12 months). If you do that over the life of a 30-year fixed loan with a rate of 6 percent, you'll shave roughly 20 percent off the total interest you pay. On a $150,000 mortgage, that means saving about $26,000." ~RD

Of Blizzards and Plants

Well, it is now blizzarding outside. Will spring ever arrive?! Hopefully it will, because we've got a bunch of little plant starts in the study here. We've got a few tomatoes, a couple of eggplants, and a flat each (72) of dill, cilantro, parsley, oregano, chives, and basil. All the herbs are growing except the cilantro. We used peat pots (the expandable kind) so the kids had fun helping fill them with water and watching them expand. These herbs we will hopefully sell for a dollar a piece and put the proceeds towards Arden's mission fund. We'll see how this year goes--if well, maybe we will expand our operation next year! It is a nice little project Arden can help with, and will hopefully teach him a little about business and money management.

Speaking of gardening...Curtis and I have been re-reading the Square Foot Gardening book, and I think we are going to give it another whirl. I like the book because the author, Mel, looks like the Englishman on Mad, Mad World, minus the gap in his front teeth. It makes me smile whenever I see his picture in the book. Anyway, last year we tried one square foot garden, but it was a poorly done experiment, as we didn't quite follow the directions for the soil mix, and on top of that, our sprinklers to the garden were inadvertently left off for a month or two. Curtis will not live that one down for a while, especially since he assured me time and time again, after I kept mentioning that our garden looked dry, that he had for sure set the sprinklers on. Ha! Ha!

We also are hoping to make some significant progress with our landscaping. Mostly, we are limited by our budget! I can't believe how expensive trees and plants are. Bah.

Let spring arrive!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Here is my latest project in kit form. Note the LARGE bottle of wood glue. (You'd be proud of me, Dad! (-;)

Here is my finished product. I love how it turned out! I just need a strip of LED lights to go in the top!

Of Promises from the Prophets

Yikes--I hope I am not sounding too preachy in my blogs! However, I would like to share the following in hopes that it might be of interest to others (especially with General Conference around the corner!). I thought it would be interesting to mark as I went through last session's conference talks, the challenges and corresponding promises that were given by the speakers. This is by no means a comprehensive list (as I may have inadvertently missed a few) and I am only including in my blog the challenges and promises of the 12 apostles and our beloved prophet, President Monson--otherwise the list just gets too long! So, enjoy!

President Monson
Challange--Pray for the opening [to the missionaries] of closed countries.
Promise--Miracle after miracle will occur.

C--Never assume people know how much we love them
C--May we fill our days as much as possible with those things which matter most
C--May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and deed.
P--We will never regret kind words spoken or affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

L. Tom Perry
C--Follow the word of wisdom in D&C 89
P--We will gain the blessings of a healthy body, alert mind, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
C--Be modest in dress, grooming, and appearance.
C--Live within our income, stay out of debt, save for a rainy day, practice and increase habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality
C--Acquire knowledge of God's eternal plan and our role in it, then live righteously and surrender our will to the Lord
P--We will receive the promised blessings (a sufficient store of spiritual fuel--in reference to the 10 virgins story)

Dallin H. Oaks
C--Qualify for the cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ by keeping his commandments to come to Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, partake of the emblems of the sacrament, and make the covenants that qualify us for the precious promise that we will always have His spirit to be with us
P--The Spirit of the Lord can guide our choices so we remain unspotted from the world and on a safe path through mortality.

Joseph B. Worthlin
C--The next time you are tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead.
P--It will extend your life and make the lives of those around you more enjoyable.
C--God wants us to be successful. If we do our part...
P--He will step in.
C--As we look for humor seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation (any trials we may endure are compensated for many times over), and draw near to our Heavenly Father...
P--we can endure hardship and trials.

Jeffrey R. Holland
C--If we search [the scriptures] diligently, pray always, and be believing and filled with faith...
P--the Lord will fight our battles, our children's battles, and the battles of our children's children.

David A. Bednar
C--If we pray sincerely for that which is right and good and in accordance with God's will...
P--we can be blessed, protected, and directed.
C--As we ask in faith...
P--we can receive revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge, and come to know the mysteries and peaceable things that bring joy and eternal life.
C--Periodically offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude.
P--It will enlarge the conduit for personal revelation.
C--Pray for others with all the energy of our souls.
P--this will increase our capacity to hear and heed the voice of the Lord.
C--If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior...
P--our prayers truly will become more meaningful.

Henry B. Eyering
C--[In family night] Find a way to encourage someone to testify of the Savior and his mission.
P--We will feel our hearts being knit together as one.
C--Look for what is best in people's performance and character.
P--The Savior...will surely do that as he judges our performance. We will have a feeling of peace and joy when we speak generously of others in the light of Christ.
C--If we are united in sustaining [President Monson] with all our hearts, with willing obedience to do what God would have us do...
P--we will move together in power to go wherever God would have us go, and become what he wants us to be.

Robert D. Hales
C--As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit...
P--they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter, and in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord

Russell M. Nelson
C--Happiness can come to [married couples] only through their earnest and concentrated effort.
P--The effort will succeed if each partner will minimize personal demands and maximize actions of loving selflessness.
C--When one esteems the welfare of his or her spouse among the highest of priorities...
P--harmony in marriage will result.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Of Weight Gain and Exercise

I learned something interesting from Cherstin (sister-in-law) this month. (She just graduated from the nursing program, so she is now all-knowing and all-wise.) I asked her why people tend to gain weight after they start exercising. It is very discouraging for people trying to lose weight. Anyway, she explained to me that the first week or so after one begins an exercise program, one generally loses a little weight because one's body can't keep up with the increased caloric needs from your exercise. However, your body then decides it needs to store every spare calorie it can get a hold of, to keep up with the increased demand. BUT--if one sticks with the program through the weight gain, the body eventually readjusts itself, and decides, "Hey, it's o.k. I can do this," and you lose weight again. Besides which, your metabolism changes as well.

Anyway, I don't know if I explained that very well, but hopefully it made sense.

Of Happiness Amidst the Vicissitudes of Life

Oh, life is wonderful. I say this even after having had an interesting discussion on the state of affairs in our country with my backyard neighbor. I am reminded of Lehi's family in the wilderness. Nephi viewed their travels as a joyful time, where "they lived after the manner of happiness," whereas Jacob, his younger brother, thought that period of time was pretty miserable. He must have been a youngest child--a little spoiled!

Let me tell you some of the reasons why my life is wonderful.

First of all, I am going to be an Auntie again! YES! My sister-in-law, Kayla, announced that she is expecting a baby in September. It is particularly joyful news, especially considering that it was very unexpected.

Secondly, I have the greatest husband in the world--he is so patient and understanding, wise, and, well, I'd better stop there, as I could go on all night if I get started. Right now he is putting the kids to bed and telling them their nightly "Arden and Maile" story.

Thirdly, I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. Love it. It is so amazing to me, and so perfect in its simplicity. I love knowing that we have a Father in Heaven who is mindful of us, and is still calling the shots in these troubling times. The silver lining to this dark economic cloud is that people all over the country are turning more to Christ. I love how Heavenly Father can turn bad situations to good. Speaking of which, I went to a stake meeting last night on Provident Living, and we talked a lot about how the Lord's welfare plan is supposed to work. It is so wonderful--everyone's needs are taken care of, while avoiding the evils of the dole. If only our government would adopt a similar plan.

Fourth, I got to spend a wonderful half a week with my beautiful mother-in-law and grandmother. I was also so happy to see a lot of Cherstin and her amazing boyfriend, Jordan. (He really is amazing--we all just love him!) They are a delight to be around, and keep us feeling young.

Fifth, I get a double bonus this month--my Mom and sister, Anona, (and maybe Kayla?) are coming down this weekend for an "education day" at the college, which I am very excited about. I have my class choices narrowed down to four per hour. Aarrghhh...the classes always sound so interesting, it is hard to choose!

Sixth, I am actually glad to live in Rexburg. Yes, I am glad to be here, Curtis. The economy is suffering all over the country, yet this is a little safe haven of sorts, amidst the chaos. People and businesses have seemed in general to manage their finances very well here, and so we have not been nearly as affected as the rest of the country....yet...I'm guessing we'll feel the hurt soon enough, but I feel like we can take care of each other here in Rexburg. Our stake president, in our meeting last night, said that we are a "breadbasket" of the church. After meeting the financial needs of the poor in our own area, we are able to send %70 of our stake's fast offering donations on to Salt Lake for distribution to others in need. What a blessing we have had such abundance, and I hope we as a community can live righteously enough to merit the continued blessings of our Savior.

So, those are a few of the many things I am grateful for. Mostly, I am grateful for the wonderful relationships in my life. How blessed I am.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Of Who Wears the Pants

Grrrrr...I am so un-techy. This is embarrassing to me to admit, but I spent an hour yesterday trying to remember how Curtis showed me to get pictures from our Picasa account to my blog...couldn't remember...sigh...I guess I'll wait for Curtis to get back from California! Or call Charity. She has enough techi-ness for the both of us and had her new blog spiffed out in no time!

Anyway, enough of that. I've been thinking recently about a question Dave asked me when I was down in Arizona. He asked which one of us wears the pants in our family--Curtis or myself. After thinking about it briefly, I concluded that neither of us do--we are both fairly equally yoked, as I see it. When I asked Curtis the same question on the phone later that night, he agreed with me. However, when I told my conclusion to Dave, I could tell he didn't believe me. I think most people who think they know us pretty well assume that I am the more domineering of the two of us. I was trying to figure out why people would get that assumption. I am not entirely sure, but here are my thoughts. First of all, Curtis is very non-judgemental. He always gives people the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't like to argue or debate, and back in our early relationship when I would try to debate issues with him, he would basically respond with; "That's nice" or "You're probably right" and change the subject. I, on the other hand, am usually up for a good debate just for the fun of it. Additionally, I do tend to jump to conclusions more quickly then Curtis (although I have been getting better!). I think because I am more vocal in my opinions then Curtis, people think I am "the boss" in our relationship, but I don't think that is a correct assumption. We both have a very deep respect for each other, and I think we do a really good job at gauging whether something is important to the other guy, and responding accordingly. Basically, if something matters more to one of us then the other, the person it matters to tends to get their way. Both of us are pretty easy going though, so it works out well. The one exception to all this is home projects and budgeting, and it makes me laugh! Curtis and I get so frustrated with each other because we both have very differing opinions on how projects and budgets should be done, and we're terrible at communicating our thoughts to each other in a way the other guy can understand. We've figured out the best way solution though, is to each be in charge of a certain aspect. That seems to work out pretty well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Of Nepal, Gay, and a Mad, Mad World

Well, I am home again. Other then the house smelling slightly funny (perhaps due to the 8 or 9 moldy items Curtis left in the fridge) and several of my houseplants dead, everything was pretty much in order. Curtis and our friends, the Williams, had made the kids and I some really cute "welcome home" signs, which were hung around the house to greet us. Good thing I have such an incredibly wonderful husband, or I would probably have not left the warmth of Arizona! It is good to be back with my Sweetheart again, though!

So, I have a bit to catch up on--I need to be more consistant with my writing, but here goes.

Cool news item. My amazing father-in-law, Bob, is off to Nepal again, this time for a medical mission. He is going with Randy Baker(of course), as well as a group of doctors. He is also bringing along 250 school kits that the ladies in the Longmont Relief Society assembled. Kudos to them, and yeah for Bob! You are an inspiration to us all, Bob. We love you! Here is the website if anyone wants to track their progress on the trip. Enjoy!

Since Bob will be gone until the 23rd of March, Gay decided to travel around a bit on her way to bring Grandma Veatch back to Logan. As of right now, the plan is that she and Grandma will be staying with us next week, which we are very excited about! Just as an aside, I have to comment on how blessed I am to have the in-laws I do. All the stereotypical in-law jokes? I just don't relate to them at all!

Speaking of Gay, last week was her birthday. I wrote her a poem, which I hope she doesn't mind if I post on my blog. (I have to brag about her a little!) I think she is the most amazing lady ever.

Ode to Gay

Now my husband is sweet, oh yes it's true,
But Gay? She's as amazing as the sky is blue.

She sews and makes beautiful quilts by the score,
Her cooking's unparalleled, need I say more?

She plays the piano like an angel above,
And her heart is filled with laughter and love.

She likes to go camping and hiking as well,
This mother of mine--she's really quite swell!

She's always exercising, so she's fit as a fiddle--
an inspiration to us who are stuck in the middle!

She's always out helping and serving someone,
and to be around Gay is always such fun!

To her children and grandkids she sends lovely clothes,
And packages and cards--her love really shows!

She's got five lovely children whom she's raised so well,
And her grandkids adore her, it's easy to tell.

Her triple Trio group is delightful to hear--
People come for her singing from far and from near.

The Spirit we feel when we enter her home
Is hard to find anywhere else we may roam.

In short, I'm so grateful and proud to know Gay
And I'd like to wish her a happy birthday.

Although I love Curtis and I'd have no other,
I married my sweetheart 'cuz I love his mother!


As you can see, she is a pretty special lady. One more thing, which I think is neat, is that she is taking Spanish classes at the local college. How cool is that?! I have been so thankful for both of my mothers for their example in their love of learning. I hope I can pass that on to my kids as well.

O.K., changing the subject, Charity and I had a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World movie night while I was visiting her, and I have been dying to post some of my favorite quotes. (For those of my readers who are not familiar with the Christiansen side of the family, this movie could easily be called our family theme movie. In fact, I remember a couple of family reunions where some of the dinner entertainment was to have a Mad Mad World "quote off" competition!)

Alright. Here we go. For your maximum quote-reading enjoyment, I will put in parenthesis the accent you should use.

(Say this first quote in a bossy, naggy sort of voice.)
"English? You're English? You sound like some sort of un-American foreigner."

(British accent) "Have a care...that chap's run absolutely amuk!"
(Same) "No matter what the outcome of this day, I shall never forget that you hit me when I wasn't even looking."

(Say this in a slightly nasal voice) "Now look, we've figured this 17 different ways, and no matter how we figured it, somebody don't like the way we figured it. So now there's only one way to figure it,....and that's 'every man for himself, and every woman for himeself too!'--except for you lady, may you just drop dead!"
(Interjection) "Alright, alright, now we're all agreed on that."

(This is a "desperate father's" voice) "Listen to your mother, Billy Sue, listen to your mother!"

Well, I'd better stop for now. I'll post more if any other particularly funny quotes come to mind. The movie is full of them!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Of Cramming as Much as We Can Into Our Lovely Arizona Days!

What a great week my last week in Arizona has been. (As have all the other weeks!) Here are a few of the highlights.

First of all, Charity and I have been doing the 6 week 100 pushup challenge, and we finally made it to 100 pushups! Yeah! (To be completely honest, we don't do them all in one fell swoop--there are small breaks in between sets.) For some reason, Charity always likes to face mecca when she does the pushups...?!

Wednesday we went to a rodeo parade in honor of rodeo days here. There were a plethora of horses--not really any floats to speak of, but it was fun. (At least for the first hour or so--then it just got a little repetative!) My real parade entertainment was the black lady I sat next to from California. Apparently, this was her first parade, and she was quite fascinated by all the horses. Boy, she really got into those high school marching bands too; dancing, and was great!

Swimming on, but slightly chilly...

Friday we went to the Desert Museum. It was very cool! We got to hunt for minerals and cool rocks, go cave exploring, visit the hummingbird enclosure, the kids got to be archeologists, we got to see otters and a live bird show...

Yesterday we went to a little "Rodeo Roundup" event the homeowners association sponsors here. The kids got to ride horses, visit a petting zoo, go on a little train ride, enjoy the huge bounce toys...very fun. Then, in the evening, we had a fire and the kids enjoyed roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The adults enjoyed Charity's steak, salad, mashed potatoes, and grilled brown sugar coconut pineapple, and a rousing game of Settlers of Catan after the kids were in bed!

Today we are going to take a drive through the Saguaro forest. I am excited about that!

Oh, I am going to miss all of this! Charity and Dave are wonderful hosts, and I have sure appreciated them letting us stay here.