The Talk

July 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm (Uncategorized)

This is the dream!!

I wasn’t going to write any more about the talk I gave at church on Sunday, but then a friend suggested that I put it on my blog so that I have it. I don’t have copies of any of my other talks, so I thought it would be an interesting exercise. I’m warning you ahead of time, because it’s long, and you  don’t need to feel obligated to read it. It’s mostly for me.

The Talk 2011

When we were living in Salt Lake City, my husband and I had both gone about 4 years without speaking in church. We got called to speak one Sunday, and a few weeks later we found out we were moving to Texas. We have been in this ward a little over 4 years now, and my husband spoke for the first time a few weeks ago. Today it’s my turn. If this somehow turns out to be my good-bye talk, I just want you all to know that we have loved our time in Texas, and in the Sonterra ward!

When brother Heywood called me this week and asked me to speak, he told me the topic was, “What manner of Men or Women Ought Ye to Be?” Then he gave me a reference talk from April’s General Conference. The talk he assigned me is Become as a Little Child, by Sister Jean Stevens. I read the talk, and I had to ask myself if brother Heywood had ever seen my children? Does he really want me talking to all of you about how to become like little children when my experience is with 5 wonderful, but not necessarily reverent kids? There is actually a talk from April conference entitled What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be, but apparently Sister Stevens had a lot to teach me! My husband, who’s all about keeping it real, informed me that I clearly had some things to learn, and that maybe I should humble myself a little bit. Humility isn’t something that you’ll find a lot of at the Roberts’ home. If you want proof of that, just come around when we’re playing Trivial Pursuit.

If I was going to answer the question of What Manner of Woman Ought I to Be, I don’t know if the first thing that would come to my mind would be to act like a little child. It’s probably because I spend all of my time with my own little children. Maybe I’ve stopped appreciating kids for what they really are.

When I think of how I want to be, what manner of woman I want to be, it’s most often in terms of how I want to improve. I’m doing what I always wanted to do. I’m raising a family. Now, I want to do it better. I want to be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and a better friend. I want to be kinder and more patient. I want to have a cleaner house, and I want my kids to have their hair brushed all the time.

I have five children ranging in ages from 7 down to 2 months. There are 4 boys and 1 girl. If I were to ask them how they wanted to improve themselves, I’m pretty sure that I would be met with some blank stares. Two of those blank stares would be because the particular children don’t actually speak, but the other 3 would probably be wondering what I was going on about. Improve what? My kids like themselves, and I don’t think they spend a lot of time worrying about how to be better. They don’t stress about the dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, or the current state of the bathroom. When we were talking about my oldest’s upcoming baptism, we asked him why he wanted to be baptized. His 5 year old brother answered for him, “It’s because he wants to play in that pool!” Clearly no one is stressing about talking with the bishop!

One of the things that I really love about my kids is that they never second guess themselves. They’re still young enough that they don’t question anyone’s motives. They take things at face value. I have a horrible habit of over-analyzing. I always think there’s a deeper meaning behind everything. I’m forever asking my husband what he thinks a certain phrase really meant. I’m not going to speak for my husband and say that it drives him crazy, but if you asked him about our upcoming family reunion, and the conversations that I’ve had with my mother-in-law, I’m pretty sure I know what he’d say.

In her talk, Sister Stevens says, “Our Father in Heaven, in His great wisdom and love, sends His spirit sons and daughters to this earth as children. They come to families as precious gifts with a divine nature and destiny.”

I think this divine nature and destiny are closest to the surface with little children. They’re not embarrassed by their feelings. They’re nothing but feelings. When I tell my kids they’re wonderful, they don’t question that or roll their eyes at me. They usually just tell me that they already know that. What happens to that knowledge as we grow older? Why do we find it so hard to accept the truth of who we are? Why are we so quick to question it?

In Matthew 18 we read, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven… Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).

I had always understood that to mean that we need to get back to the mentality of a little child; that little children are immature and unknowing. That it’s the lack of knowledge or experience that makes it easier for children to be humble. You know how you know everything about kids before you have them.

Now that I get to watch my own children, I can see that the opposite is true. While children don’t necessarily have a lot of experience or maturity, they do have an innate knowledge. They don’t question, because they already know. They know that their Heavenly Father loves them unconditionally. They know that they’re supposed to be happy because that’s what makes sense.

Sister Stevens asks, “What is it we should learn from children? What qualities do they possess and what examples do they demonstrate that can help us in our own spiritual development?”

Then comes her answer: “These precious children of God come to us with believing hearts. They are full of faith and receptive to feelings of the Spirit. They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive.”

Just look at how quickly children can make friends with each other. They see someone new at the playground and they go over and ask their name and how old they are. That’s it. That’s the requirement for being a friend. After that, it’s just playing. There’s no wondering, hmm… do they really want to be friends with me?

I can’t speak for anyone but me, but I’ll contrast that with how I am when I meet new people. It goes something like this, they look like nice people, maybe we have kids around the same age, maybe we should invite them over for dinner, but what if someone else has already invited them over for dinner. What if they say no. What if my kids are acting up or heaven forbid someone asks my husband how you make plastic. What if they aren’t really interested in how you make plastic. What if they think I’m shallow because I like to read entertainment magazines when I’m in line at the grocery store. All of this will go through my mind in the time between when a new name gets read into the ward, and when we raise our hands to welcome the person. And so what do I do, probably nothing at all because, I worried myself out of it.

It doesn’t occur to little children that they can’t do something. I think the unquestioning part of children isn’t necessarily that children don’t ask questions. If you’ve ever been around a two year old, you know what I’m talking about. I think it’s that they don’t question themselves, and they don’t question their Heavenly Father. They don’t doubt. They know that if they’ve been promised something by their Heavenly Father, He’ll come through. They know that if they pray, their prayer will be answered.

Something happens to us as we get older and more and more involved in the world. We lose that innocence that children have, and we start to question. We can question people and their motives, we can question ourselves and our abilities, and we can question the Lord. Am I the only one who’s received an answer to a prayer and thought, no, I don’t think that’s right? I don’t think Heavenly Father really understood what I was asking Him.

In Mosiah 3:19, King Benjamin tells us to become like a child – submissive, meek, humble, patient, and full of love. This can be a problem if you’re not trusting, but if you’re like a child and you know that your Heavenly Father wants nothing but the best for you, then it makes more sense. I think as we get older we don’t always believe that we deserve of all the blessings that we’ve been promised. We don’t fully comprehend the Atonement and so we don’t always see how it works for us. Sure, we can see how it works for someone else, but for us personally, maybe we struggle.

Sister Stevens says children provide “examples of some of the childlike qualities we need to develop or rediscover in ourselves in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They are bright spirits who are untarnished by the world—teachable and full of faith.”

Stevens continues by saying, “There is not a more perfect place to behold our little ones than in our families. Home is a place where we can all learn and grow together. It is here in our families, in an atmosphere of love, where we see and appreciate in a more personal way the divine attributes of His spirit children. It is here in our families where our hearts can be softened and in humility we desire to change, to become more childlike. It is a process by which we can become more Christ-like.”

So now maybe instead of worrying all the time about the state of my kids’ hair, or the condition of our bathroom, I’ll worry a little more about the state of me. I won’t question if someone wants to be my friend, I’ll just be a friend and let the rest work itself out.

I have a testimony of many things, but one of the things I know for certain is that Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us. He knows us by name, and He loves us. We all deserve to be loved by Him. He really does want us to be happy… Man is that he might have joy. I certainly have days where I want to pull my hair out, but more often than not, I just have to look at the blessings in my life, look at how things have worked out when I didn’t think they could to know that God has always had a plan for me. That even when I’ve been the one to deviate from the plan, Heavenly Father has found a way to guide me back, because He knows what will truly bring me joy.

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Doug’s 40th

July 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm (Doug Stuff, Family, Food)

Doug and his siblings (Mike, Susan, Amy & Bryan)

Doug always likes to celebrate his birthday in a big way. One year we did turkey drumsticks, last year we did the gigantic pizza, but this year required something extraordinary. This year Doug was turning 40. The only glitch in my party plans was that Charles’ arrival was supposed to be around the 10th of May, and Doug’s birthday is the 13th.

Me on the ladder

In order to work around this scheduling conflict, I decided to start planning way in advance. I booked our local rec center in January, and I ordered the invitations in February (of course, I neglected to put the time on them!). I was planning a surprise party, and whenever Doug would ask me about what we were going to do for his birthday, I told him we would just have to wait to see how I was feeling after the baby. Having a baby is pretty much the perfect cover for a surprise party!

The baby chillin' while we were working!

The theme for the party was an all out geek celebration. It all started with a door mat that I found at Kohl’s for $5. After that, there was no turning back. I had geek glasses and Nerds for party favors. I even had an awesome playlist (think, She Blinded Me With Science). Unfortunately you couldn’t hear the music above the crowd! I had beakers and wind up robots. My sister made molecules out of Styrofoam balls and bamboo skewers. I think my crowning achievement had to be the Periodic Table of Cookies. My sister and I baked 100 cookies the day before and laid them out to form the Periodic Table of Elements.

Dixie and Christina with the helium tanks

The best part was that people came from far and wide. Greg flew in from Utah, and Doug’s siblings came from Washington, Minnesota, Florida and Dallas. Plus Doug’s parents came. My dad and sister were here too. We even had friends drive in from Ft. Hood. I think the whole thing was a huge success, but I’m a little biased!

The Periodic Table of Cookies

I was a little worried that Doug was on to my plan. When He asked me again what we were doing for his birthday, I told him that my family was going to watch the kids so that we could go out to dinner. I wanted to get to the rec center at about 7:15, and we had finished dinner at about 6:45. On our way home Doug suggested taking the long way, so I was sure he knew what was up. Then his dad called to wish him a happy birthday, and so he pulled over to talk to him for a few minutes. The timing was perfect when we got to the party. I asked him to pull over, and he thought it was because there was a friend in the parking lot. He didn’t find it strange at all that there were lots of friends in the parking lot! That’s when he finally asked if it was a surprise party.


When he walked in the real surprise came. Everywhere he looked he would see someone else who had traveled a long way just to celebrate his birthday. When he first walked in, Tommy came running up to him with the biggest hug ever!  The party was a great success, and Doug got to have some great family time.

Doug and Afton

I have to give a huge shout out to my sister Jessica who watched my kids, and to Christina and Dixie who hung out with me all day decorating the rec center. Those things always take longer than you think. My dad was also a huge help. He pretty much ran all of the last-minute errands, like going to Costco for the drinks and veggies. It was a crazy day, and there was no way that I would have been able to do it by myself!

Doug and Bryan with the kids

Another awesome thing: with all the family and friends, clean up was a snap. Am I the only one who gets depressed that something that takes hours to set up can be torn down in 30 minutes?!

Taking the balloons home at the end of the night.


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Distracted by Picasa

July 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been using Picasa to help me decide what I need to blog about. I figure if I’ve taken some pictures, then it should probably be recorded! I was going to write about Afton’s 2nd birthday, but while I was looking for cute pictures of her, I got distracted by these:

I don’t even know what we were doing that day. Suffice it to say, the boys were interested in kitchen science! I can’t even remember if we actually made something (this is the problem with not blogging consistently!) .

Is anyone else watching this season of Master Chef? Is it only me, or do these people not really seem like “home cooks?”

I’m actually procrastinating the writing of a talk right now. Anyone have any ideas about What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?

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And Then There Were 5

July 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm (Uncategorized)

May 3 was a big day at our house. It was the day we welcomed Charles Patrick to our family. As baby deliveries go, this one was par for the course. I showed up at the hospital at 7:00am, got some pitocin, got myself a magical epidural, and the baby was born around 10:00am. Because all my Texas babies have been born quickly, there was one exciting moment where the nurse called the doctor’s office and he had to literally run across the street. That was the exact moment when Doug decided he should take a bathroom break! I love it when the doctors and nurses yell at my husband for his ridiculous timing! Nothing like holding a baby in to accommodate someone’s bladder! (Was that too much information?!)

The birth itself went very smoothly, so it doesn’t require a lot of commentary, besides, I don’t want to make you all jealous with my awesome birth experience. I’ll just say, no pain does not mean no gain!

Baby Charles was pretty much perfect. He was a week early and weighed in at a very healthy 8lb. 40z. He was very alert from the beginning. He had a full head of black hair, and all of his fingers and toes were accounted for.

We stayed at the hospital for just one night, because even though they have cable tv, I still prefer my own bed. Also, I was at a new hospital that doesn’t deliver a lot of babies, which means that they don’t fully staff their nurser. What does that mean for me? I had to keep the baby in the room all night. Well, I can do that at home, and no one’s waking me up every few hours to check my temperature! The one nice thing about no nursery is that they didn’t take the baby anywhere after he was born. They did the first bath in the room. So, normally where the baby is gone for a couple of hours, he was with us the entire time.

This really was a wonderful experience for our family. Obviously I’m not writing everything here. Suffice it to say, we are very happy.

I leave you with a witty Dougism. I had an appointment with my doctor on May 2nd, and that’s where he told me that I could deliver the baby on the 3rd. I was so excited because I was done being pregnant. I called Doug from the parking lot and told him. His response? “That’s not really a good day for me. Can we make it Wednesday instead?”

p.s. A special thanks to my dad who watched the other 4 kids while we were at the hospital.


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9 Years

July 6, 2011 at 7:41 am (Dougisms, Family, Makes me Smile, Marriage)

So young and carefree!

I’m going to take a quick break from my never-ending re-cap today. It’s my anniversary, so I thought I’d do a little sharing about my fabulous married life! I have to tone it down a little bit, because I don’t want all of my many readers (hi mom!) to be jealous. If you know Doug at all, you know I’m married to the most romantic man … ever! (There really should be a sarcasm font!)

Look what 9 years does!

Last night Doug asked me if we should buy gifts for today. I told him I want him to just apply this year’s gift to the big celebration next year! The gift for 9 years is supposed to be pottery, and I’m all good on knick-knacks, so I’m waiting for the gift to be European Vacation without the children! We won’t out for dinner on Friday because we knew it would be impossible to get a sitter tonight because of Girls’ Camp and EFY. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to just cook a fancy dinner at home. Sadly though, I forgot to go to the grocery store before Doug left for work, and now I’m going to do my meal shopping with all 5 kids … slightly not romantic!

Sometimes I just need to look at this so I can smile through the madness!

So, you’re probably wondering how we do it, and how we make it look so easy? There are a lot of trade secrets that I’m keeping to myself until I publish the how-to book, but until then, just know that it helps to be married to a comedian! With 5 kids all under the age of 8, I need to laugh as much as possible! It also helps to be married to someone who is super smart. When I’m having those sleep deprived days where I can’t remember the names of my children, it’s good to remember that Doug wouldn’t marry someone stupid! Last but not least, you need to manage expectations. I think that’s a fancy way of saying don’t set the bar too high, but it helps to not expect flowers every day, then when they do come, I’m pleasantly surprised! This philosophy also works with my children!

So, happy anniversary do us! I hope I didn’t ruin it all for the rest of you!!

p.s. Should this have been a serious post … maybe next year? In case you’re worried, we’re all still very much in love!!


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Official Worst Week of 2010

July 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm (Dougisms, Family, Grrr!, Mom Stuff)

I probably came closest to restarting the blog during the last week of 2010. That was the week that refused to go right for us. That was the week that caused us to visit the hospital three times in three days. Two trips to the ER and one trip for surgery. Let me tell you how much you don’t want to spend your New Year’s Eve: in the ER with your 18 month old. The nurse cannot give you enough popsicles to make it okay!

Let’s start at the very beginning:

It was a mildly chilly evening, December 29, 2010. Our kids should have all been in bed asleep. I was mourning the loss of my little sister who had left that afternoon to go back to BYU. Normally we would go in ad yell at our kids for being up too late, but we were being a little lazy. Then, a scream shot through the house, the likes of which we had never heard from one of our kids.

When Samuel came running out of his room, Doug already had his shoes on because he knew he was on his way to the hospital. Samuel came over to me with an arm that wasn’t hanging normally. I hate these moments, but I was totally unprepared for what was to come.

One of the problems with living so close to excellent hospitals is having to choose which ER to frequent. Because of the awesome experience we had when Doug hurt his back, we went to Methodist. The doctor on duty told Doug the arm was broken, they set it in a soft cast and told us to call the pediatric surgeon in the morning. He thought it might need surgery, but you never know, because “kids are resilient.” I don’t know why he fed us that load of nonsense, but it would have been much better if he had just said that Samuel was going to need surgery. It would have saved us a lot of heartache the next day.

Doug brought Samuel home at about 10:30 that night, with a prescription in his hand. Here is a helpful hint: when the hospital gives you a prescription for a painkiller, fill it. Just in case. Because if you have to go to the pharmacy in the middle of the night, it’s going to seem like the longest half an hour … ever!

Samuel seemed okay when he first got home. The most upset he got was when he told me how they had to cut off his brand new Mario shirt to get the cast on (thankfully though, Aunt Ingrid and Grandpa both sent us very generous amounts of Mario gear to replace what got lost). Once he went to bed though, it was non stop pain for Samuel… and maybe a little for me. Because they didn’t set the arm at the hospital, every time Samuel moved, his broken bone was shifting. I made Doug go to the pharmacy at midnight to fill the prescription. The medication helped, but there was still a lot of crying. I stayed with Samuel in the guest room, and I have to say, it was one of the longest nights that I can remember.

The next morning I called the surgeon first thing, and they told us to come in at 4:30. The doctor’s office called back at noon and told us not to let Samuel eat anything, just in case he needed surgery. Samuel spent the day in bed with a DS that we save for special occasions! The other kids had to stay away, which was sad for all of them.

Doug came home from work early, and we dropped the kids off at Dixie’s, for what I thought would be a couple of hours. Here is something else I’ve learned, if the doctor’s office calls and tells you not to eat, it’s because they’re doing surgery. It would have been very helpful if they had just told us that so that we could have prepared Samuel and our other kids, not to mention Dixie! When we first saw the doctor he said that Samuel needed surgery. When we asked him when we should do it, he said we were doing it right now!

The surgery went well, and he felt so much better as soon as everything was set properly. The doctor stuck two pins above his elbow and re-wrapped the arm. Amazingly to me, Samuel only needed the cast for 3 weeks. It was the additional months of therapy + the crazy brace that he had to wear for an hour every day that got on my nerves!

So, you would think that would be enough of a week, right? On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve I headed to Costco to buy some stuff to make a nice New Year’s Eve dinner. We were keeping it low key and staying home. While I was driving home Doug called and asked if I remembered when Samuel smacked his head on the fireplace and needed stitches. That’s never a way to start a phone conversation! Then Doug said that it happened again.

Of course, Doug wanted to leave me in suspense about which kid had fallen. I assumed it was William, because I figured since he was the one fighting with Samuel when he broke his arm, that he had something coming! I was wrong. It was Afton jumping on the fireplace!

When I took a look at the cut, I told Doug that I thought she needed stitches. He said he thought a band-aid was fine, but it was right above her eye, and I thought better safe than sorry. Doug was a little worried about all the trips to the hospital, and was thinking we were going to get some kind of reputation! I decided to take Afton over to a friend’s house to get a medical opinion. I know, it was nice of me to ruin their New Year’s Eve too! The Dunns said we should go get stitches, and so off we went.

I called Doug (maybe to tell him that I was right about the whole stitches situation) and he told me to go to urgent care. I thought this was a job for the hospital, but the previous ER visits were worrying Doug. So, off I went to Urgent Care. This is perhaps my final helpful hint: If you have an 18 month old with a gash right above her eye, just go to the ER. The Urgent Care people will have you wait, fill out forms, go to the treatment room, and then tell you to go to the hospital because they don’t do stitches near the eye.

I decided to call Doug (maybe to tell him that I was right about Urgent Care), and then I decided to make a visit to the Baptist ER, just in case Methodist was keeping track of our visits! All things considered, we were in and out of the hospital very quickly. Baptist has a separate ER for kids, and we got there before all the crazy drunken New Year’s nonsense happened. Afton got 6 stitches in her eyebrow, and hopefully you won’t even be able to notice the scar by the time she’s 15!

Okay, so this is the longest post ever! If I had been up to date on my blogging I would have been able to spread this out over 3 posts! If you’ve made it this far, I’m very impressed! Just know that everyone made it through the end of the year … just with some stories to tell!

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