Don’t lick that!

Okay. Post #3!

This one is going to be about motherhood, while I finish formulating my thoughts on the post I want to write about baptism (so you have that to look forward to in the next week or so! Yay?).

Now I’ve only been a mother for almost 4 years and while it has it’s moments that just melt my heart it is also filled with an infinite number of moments that make me question my sanity and my decision making abilities, because clearly I didn’t learn my lesson from the first one and had to go and have a second one.

What have I learned about being a mother in my whopping 4 years? First and foremost is this: everyone has an opinion. It doesn’t even have to be someone that has kids themselves, they still have an opinion about how you should be raising your kids and how you are quite possibly screwing it up by not doing (or possibly doing) something. In the beginning – I mean like in the very beginning, when I was still pregnant with my son Wyatt – it used to bother me. Now those early months might have had some hormone induced mood swings, but I’ve come to realize something I think is very important. While everyone can have their opinions – and they will, no matter what you choose to do/not do – at the end of the day it’s not up to them. It’s up to you as the parent to make the hard choices; breast fed or bottle fed, cloth diapered or disposables, let them cry it out or pick them up. They can give you their opinion and site all the research in the world, but no one is going to know better than the parent what is best for the kid and honestly so long as the kid isn’t being abused/neglected it’s not really anyone else’s business how you’ve chosen to raise your kid.

Another thing I’ve learned: more with my daughter Kenzie than with Wyatt is that those hormones are out of control. With Kenzie I did try to breast feed. I had lots of opinions about it and I figured I’d give it a go. In the hospital I didn’t have any problems. I nursed and she fed and it was all well and good. When I got home though that first night I was up until 4am trying to get her to go to sleep, but all she wanted to do was nurse. So at 4am I had to wake up my husband so that he could go to the store to buy formula because I was in tears over the entire situation. I was balling like a baby (I know because Kenzie was pretty upset about the not being fed thing since she wasn’t latching correctly no matter what I did) and this was something I hadn’t even really wanted to do – I had agreed because it had mattered to my husband and I agreed to give it a shot for him. Yet there I was crying and completely and totally distraught over something that I hadn’t even been invested in. That however, I have found does end; the hormones even out and life does return to normal at some point: except you have a baby so nothing is ever the same, but hey at least you have control over your emotions!

This leads me into the third thing: it takes a village. Now I thought this was the stupidest saying ever before I had kids. I’ve known plenty of single parents and still do and I honestly don’t know how they do it. I don’t know where we’d be without the great friends we have who are willing to babysit for us, who are willing to lend a helping hand or even simply lend an ear. None of our family lives particularly close so they can’t help as much as they would like to and it makes it hard on everyone. We have been so blessed, so lucky to have the friends that we do. It allows us to be people outside of parents. It allows us to be a husband and a wife without also being a mom and a dad. I feel like this is monumental. For the first several months after we had Wyatt (this was before I had joined the church) it was exhausting. I went to work and then came home and was a mom. While Wyatt was actually a really good baby he still had his moments especially in the beginning where he wasn’t sleeping the greatest and it was hard. I think it was also the rockiest time in the relationship with my husband because we were both tired, we were both stressed and neither one of us was really getting attention from the other because all of our time and energy was going into Wyatt. We had no time to be a couple anymore, we were simply parents and that was it. Once I joined the church and made friends everything changed. Suddenly we could go somewhere and take Wyatt with us, we could have adult interactions with someone else and best of all they offered to watch Wyatt meaning we got to be away from him and be together as a couple. For those who have to do it alone my prayers go out to you and I just have to say you’re amazing because it is hard.

So that all sounds super daunting right? It all sounds hard and not so rewarding, but it is. There are days where I’m so exhausted emotionally and physically from my kids, but then Wyatt will curl up with me in the recliner and fall asleep and it is just the most beautiful and gratifying feeling that it does make it all worth it.

Now to the title of this blog. Below I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve said as a parent that I never thought I would actually need to say to anyone ever and I’m sure most parents can relate to most if not all of them.

Don’t lick ____ – this is like a motto I swear. Some of the things I’ve had to tell my kids not to lick are: doors, windows, floors, tables, chairs, couch cushions, me, their sibling, some other adult, some other kid, TVs, and possibly a few other things that aren’t coming to mind. This is seriously one of the craziest things ever: whoever thought you’d have to tell anyone not to lick the floor of a store? Not me! I mean what exactly possesses kids to explore the world through taste?

Don’t stick your finger in ____ – again another motto. This one isn’t as used as the first, but it does get said pretty often be it them trying to stick their fingers in outlets, down the drain in the tub, in the top of a soda can, or even in the mouth of their sibling or a dog or cat.

Why are your pants off? – This one is said to my daughter multiple times a day every day. I’m not sure why, but she refuses to actually keep her pants on for longer than five minutes. My son on the other hand hates to be naked and will wrap a blanket around him if we don’t clothe him within minutes of him being undressed.

Why are you playing with ____ – A lot of my world revolves around Don’ts and Whys. This one has a bit of an ick factor though because things that I have to tell my kids to not play with include: their poop (my daughter likes to not only strip, but take her diaper off and play with the contents of it), trash, their food, my food, dirty clothes – mine, theirs, their sibling’s.

So be prepared for a roller coast ride of adventures and emotions! I have never done anything that has ever been more completely and utterly exhausting and yet worth every single second of turmoil.

Stayed tuned for my next post that I’m planning to be about my baptism!

What do you mean church is 3 hours long?!

Here we go again! Post 2! What a streak, am I right?

For this post I wanted to touch on some of the things that stood out to me when I joined the church.

First, because I mean this really can’t be overlooked: for a normal Sunday church is three hours long. Now this can seem pretty daunting to those not familiar with the church or who have just started attending. Let me tell you it took me some getting used to early on since Wyatt wasn’t quite old enough to go to nursery yet. What do we do for those three hours? Well that first hour is our sacrament meeting. During which church callings are proposed and or announced that they’re over, we sing some hymns and there is usually someone talking usually a member not necessarily the bishop. In all honesty I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard my bishop give a talk during sacrament. Then of course probably the most important part is the passing of the sacrament. This is where we renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father.

The second hour is the Sunday School Lesson part. For those just joining the church – or for those investigating – the lesson is Gospel Principles. The missionaries are a big part of this and it goes over a lot of the big pieces of our faith: agency, the fall of Adam and Eve, the Holy Ghost, the Atonement, Baptism. There’s 47 chapters in the Gospel Principles book so I’m not going to list them all, but you get the idea. This is where you can learn about the church, ask questions and find answers (hopefully). Once a member has been with the church for awhile and they feel comfortable enough they can spend the second hour elsewhere like the Gospel Doctrine class. Now I think I’ve been to about three Gospel Doctrine classes so I can’t really say a whole lot about them, but they’re taught by a member and to me it’s always felt like a good place to learn even more about the gospel and the things we believe in, to learn about others’ experiences and come closer together in our faith.

The third hour – at least for the women – is Relief Society. As far as these lessons go they’re all still faith based, but go into topics like marriage and family and living our lives righteously. I find these to be some of the more powerful lessons I go to because I always find it so helpful to get the perspectives of the other mothers/wives that are going through the same things I am and how they continue to strive to keep Christ first in the home (something I tend to fall behind with).

So while it is three hours and there are many a Sunday that my kids make it feel even longer it is at times too short as well. Sundays are powerful, they allow me to focus so much more closely on my Heavenly Father, to be able to pray, to thank him and to draw ever nearer.

 

Next up: you mean you want my kid(s) to sit through three hours of church? I can’t even get them to sit for thirty minutes at home! Alright so this might be picking on the length of our service a bit but really I had this thought pretty early on. When I joined Wyatt was seven-eight months old at the time. It seemed like an impossible task that was being placed before me because for those of you who know my son you know that even as an infant he was always active. However! That being said what I’ve found to be one of the most amazing things about going to church is that it is almost not as bad as anyone thinks it’s going to be. Now there are a lot of families at church and we all have kids who are varying ages, but for those who have older kids well they went through the exact same thing at one point. Meaning that for the most part everyone understands the struggle of having an infant in a sacrament meeting/Sunday school lesson/Relief Society. Everyone understands that at such a young age they’re not going to sit perfectly quiet and attentive. So while at the start I spent a lot of my sacrament meetings out in the hall listening through the speaker while Wyatt crawled/ran around to his heart’s content, I’ve spent more than my fair share of sacraments sitting in the chapel with everyone else despite Wyatt quite frequently shouting random words at the top of his lungs or having mini meltdowns at random points because he just can’t have something that he thinks is paramount to have at that moment.

For the Sunday School lesson/Relief Society it’s actually a lot easier. It’s a smaller set of people and it’s in a room that Wyatt (and now Kenzie) could just crawl/walk around/explore while the lesson was going on. One of the amazing things about a church that is so family oriented? No one minded him (and now her) coming up to them to take a look at their books/phone/tablet. There were even quite a few members who were always willing to help entertain him as well and every single one of them made me feel at home instead of like a distraction or burden.

Of course then at eighteen months the most miraculous thing happens: they get to go to nursery! They get to spend the latter two hours of church playing with toys, eating a snack (with a short lesson while they eat) and then more toys! I got to go to classes and he got to spend time playing with the other kids; though let’s face it my kid mostly plays next to other kids not with them.

 

Alright something not related to the amount of time we spend at church on a Sunday: visiting teaching/home teaching. What the heck is this? You mean people want to come over to my house? First and foremost: this is amazing! I love my visiting teachers and home teacher. Okay so what are they. Visiting teachers are sisters who come over once a month to share a message and visit and to see if you need help with anything (I almost never do, but hey one day I might!). More often than not they offer to babysit for me and my husband once a month or so because they know that we don’t have any family in town and so we almost never go anywhere without our kids (this is quite exhausting as most parents know and can undoubtably sympathize). That’s it! Amazing right? They’re just two sisters who come over to help keep you connected to the church, to help you with things you might need that could have nothing at all to do with faith or the church. The love and friendship I feel from these visits truly lifts my spirits every single month.

Alright home teachers. Well they’re pretty much visiting teachers but they’re brothers from the church. They too come over once a month to check in, visit and share a message. They too offer to help with anything that we might need help with. The one thing that they can do that the visiting teachers can’t is give blessings. This is so huge for me. Knowing that if my kids (or even me) are sick or injured I have someone I can reach out to to receive a blessing. 

Both give me a sense of community, of belonging and a connection.

 

Now I could go on for quite some time about things that jumped out at me when I first joined the church, but I think it’s getting to that point where this post is getting kind of lengthy. So I’ll leave you with a few of my thoughts without going into detail on them (and maybe – hopefully – I’ll have separate posts that go into greater detail on them):

Wait you mean there’s another book I need to read in addition to the Bible? (as if I wasn’t far enough behind in all of this reading and knowing things). Granted I still haven’t read either the Bible or the Book of Mormon all the way through and in all honesty I’ve read a great deal more of the Book of Mormon than I have of the actual Bible. Not sure what that says about me, but there it is.

So you’re telling me that missionaries go on missions for two years? You’re also telling me that most of them are younger than me? And they’re going to teach me things? Missionaries are awesome and amazing. The three I learned from (who shall remain nameless in this post) were the absolute best (and maybe a little crazy at times, but that was half the fun). They made learning about the gospel a blast. They made it easy to ask them questions, to talk to them about my doubts and the things I didn’t understand. And while missionaries might not have all the answers to all your questions (while they are amazing, they’re not all knowing, but no one is) they are almost always happy to help read through scriptures and talk through them to better understand them. I think one of the best parts of having missionaries is that they are so full of faith, they have such strong testimonies of the gospel that it is always exciting to learn from them, to get to know them and then inevitably it is sad when they have to move on or go home.

 

Alright I’ll stop here! I’m sure there were plenty of other things that stood out to me, but I think I’ll fit those things into other posts where I can spend more time talking about those topics. I hope you enjoyed reading through some of my thoughts!

And so it begins

Alright,

This is my first post, so we’ll see how this goes.

First off let me start with a bit of background on myself. While the chances are that most of you who are reading this know me, at least enough to have gotten ahold of this link you might not know much more than the basics. My name is Kayla LeAnn Barnett (formally Schultz), I’ll be twenty-seven in exactly one month, I’ve been married to my husband (Brandon) for three years now and we have two amazing kids: Wyatt who will be four on Sept 25 and Kenzie (McKenzie) who just turned one Feb 23. I’ve lived in Missouri for the past five years now and before that I lived the whole of my life in Illinois. I went to college at Illinois State University where I got a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I currently work at Cerner (Healthcare IT company) as a Software Engineer. So basically I write computer code and the company I work for makes software for the Healthcare industry. I am an avid reader of mostly science fiction and fantasy and because I couldn’t embrace enough of the stereotypical nerd/geek I also play video games (xBox and PC).

Still wondering about the “mormon” in the title of this blog? I’m getting to it. Just keep with me a little longer.

Back in 2012 I flew out to Arizona (because hey I had just graduated college, what else did I really have to do with my now very abundant time?) to visit a close friend who lives pretty much out in the middle of nowhere there. I stayed for about a week and while I was there we attended her church. She was (and is) a member of the LDS church; see mormon. Now I didn’t think much about the sacrament meeting at the time and if I’m being honest I can’t even really remember much about it: except that we sat towards the back and it felt like dozens of people came by to say hi and to see how my friend and her family were doing.

Fast forward two years to 2014 and I’ve now had my son and I’m pretty happy with my life. Who wouldn’t be? I had a boyfriend, a beautiful and amazing son and a job that supported the three of us that for the most part I enjoyed doing every day. Yet I felt like something was missing. I felt like there had to be more. I felt like there needed to be more for him, my son. As most people do when they feel like they’re lacking something essential in their life I turned to religion (as an alternative to drugs, alcohol and other dangerous and bad habits that people, hoping (like most I assume) that religion could give me the peace I was searching for, could provide me with that sense of fullness. This of course brought on the all important question of: which religion? This was then closely followed by: which church? I mean these are questions that define people, they’re big and they’re personal and they’re important.

When you grow up without religion – with just this vague Christian background where you know terms like ‘Jesus’ and ‘God’ and ‘Christ’ and ‘The Cross’ but have no real context for which to actually understand their value, their worth, their true meaning – you’re not going to have a great sense of what to answer for these questions. It can be pretty daunting, pretty overwhelming. People have gone to war over religion, over their beliefs and the non-belief of others so clearly it is a big deal and choosing wrong is a very legitimate fear; at least it was for me.

Growing up we didn’t pray at the dinner table. We didn’t read from the bible. We didn’t even go to church (I think I had been to two or three church services as a kid). We didn’t really talk about faith or God or any of the rest of it. There was this vague concept in my head that God existed and he had made everything and he had the power to do miraculous things. Knowing what I did of God as a kid I was actually quite angry at him for a really long time because of the lot in life that I had been given. I was angry that my parents had gotten divorced. I was angry that my father let me to be with his new family. I was angry about a lot of things that weren’t my fault and I couldn’t be angry at my father because he wasn’t there to be angry with and I couldn’t be angry with my mother because she had gotten the crappy end of the deal just like me. So that left me with this God that I had in my head. I could be angry at him because he was everywhere and if he was so all powerful then he could’ve prevented these things from happening to me, he could’ve saved me this pain and anger and hardship that I had gone through. It took me a long time to realize that this just isn’t how God or religion even work, but in the head of a teenager it seemed perfectly logical.

Now when you take all of this into account you might be wondering: how the heck did she even end up going to church and how did she make the choice of LDS? A couple of things led to the decision I made to attend to church Easter Sunday 2014. The main thing being that I had my son. My perfect, beautiful and absolutely amazing son. I had been given this tiny human in my life and I was expected to raise this tiny human, to take care of him, to bring him up right so that he didn’t turn out to be a complete and total jerk in a world that quite frankly is filled with jerks. How was I going to do that though? How was I going to raise him right? How was I going to teach him and give him all the things that he would need in his life? I had no idea (most days I still have no idea, but that I feel is part of being a mom – at least I hope other moms feel just as lost as me some of the time). I had this notion in my head that if I could find faith, if I could find religion and give that to my son then he might have something I never did: he might be able to have this thing that was bigger than him, this thing that was bigger than me and bigger than all of us to believe in and that it could then see him through on his darkest days and he would be stronger and better for it.

So my son was my motivation to go to church, but how did I finally settle on LDS? Remember that friend I mentioned several paragraphs ago? The one in the middle of nowhere Arizona? Remember how she was a mormon? Remember how she took me to church with her family? Well that’s what ultimately led to my choice in churches. I remembered how all of those people had stopped to ask them how they were, I remembered that kindness, that sense of community, that sense of family and I thought: that’s what I want. I wanted a place where I wasn’t just going to be told that I’ve sinned (let’s face it we all sin and I have done a large amount of it in my past, I didn’t need a church to tell me that) and that I needed someway to repent for those sins. I wanted more: I wanted to belong, I wanted to connect, I wanted to not feel so alone in this journey to find faith.

Now let me tell you about that first day (and then I promise I’ll hit publish and you’ll very soon be at the end of this post that is now much longer than I actually thought it would be). That first day I showed up – I was twenty-three at the time and my son was about seven or eight months old – and it was just me and my son. I knew absolutely no one and I had no clue what exactly to expect. I walked in a few minutes before service was due to start (because back then I could actually make it somewhere on time instead of being late for most everything as I am these days) and it was pretty full. I wasn’t sure if I should find somewhere to sit by myself or if I should sit near other people. Almost as soon as I walked into the chapel though one of the members approached me. She wanted to know if I was new or if I was visiting. When I told her I was new she offered for me to sit with her. She didn’t even have to think about it. From that first day I didn’t even have to worry about sticking out, about not fitting in, about not belonging because from that first day someone was right there reaching out and helping me.

And the rest as they say is history. I was introduced to the Elder missionaries and I started the journey to becoming a member of the church. The intent of this blog is for me to write about things that I’ve learned along the way. Things that I believe in, things that matter to me. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be doing weekly or monthly posts or simply posting when I have something to talk about, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

As promised: this is the end of this post, if you made it all the way through thank you! I hope you liked what you read and will read more when I post more!