Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | December 18, 2012

Bah, Humbug – Christmas Rant

Bah humbug! Once again I am feeling link a grinch. I guess I am more of a Fall person. I love pumpkins and the weather getting cold. I love the brightly colored leaves. Christmas time is another story. Everything starts dying. I like the lights. I like the decorations. Thanks to my mom’s obsession with nativities, I have a love for creches. I enjoy the Christmas music for a small season. I do get sick of hearing the same songs on the Christmas station after a short while and there are a few Christmas songs that I never enjoy hearing, “Rocking around the Christmas tree,” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” are a few on the list.

Is it the commercialism about Christmas that I hate? I don’t think so. I think the problem is that I am a perfectionist and inclusionist. I like to include everyone. I hated being excluded from things as a child, so given the opportunity, I would love to give everyone the perfect gift. But that is not possible. So, I would like to get a few people the perfect gift. That is also not possible. I don’t know what the  perfect gift is, and if I find the perfect gift for one person, what about the others? What do I get them? Do I just not get anyone anything? I hate that. But I also hate leaving people out. Bah, Humbug!

I guess, despite the fact that Christmas is a rubbish time on the mission, I miss Christmases on my mission. I miss not worrying about Christmas gifts. Sure, maybe you would try to get your companion a little something, but that was rather hard since the only time you weren’t with your companion was when you were showering or in the bathroom. I liked the focus being on the Saviour. I struggle with that now. I have suitcases to pack, presents to buy or not buy and what about the fact that it is my first born child’s first Christmas?!

He is almost one. What do I do? Am I supposed to get him something for each of the Christmases we will have? Our Texas Christmas, our Moreno Valley Christmas and our own personal Christmas? I don’t see packing him something in the suitcase just to bring it home-but can I really not bring something for him to open from his parents on Christmas day? So many decisions! I repeat, Bah, Humbug!

Comments along the lines of “Don’t get me anything,” will be utterly useless. I feel like that is a plea to get that person the perfect gift and if I can’t figure out what it is, then clearly I am slacking. And let’s face it, I like presents. I guess why I have such a hard time with this is that I’m picky about presents. I like ones that thought has gone into, but I also don’t like ones that are useless. My mother-in-law got me a lovely Christmas with the Prophets book last year or the year before that. I loved it! I like to read and it was really cool. My husband got me a beautiful salad bowl for our first Christmas. It was amazing and something that we will have and use forever. I want to give gifts like that. I want to give things that people will cherish and enjoy. But figuring out the perfect gift for anyone, let alone everyone, is really hard.

Will Christmas ever be fun again? I liked it when Santa used to come to my house. I think that is because I didn’t have to worry too much about getting the perfect gift for everyone else. When I am working on helping Santa know the perfect gift for Little David and his siblings, will I feel less stressed? Maybe there will be more joy involved and that will outweigh the stress.

And all this complaining is pretty dang selfish. I am so blessed. I have the most beautiful baby boy and the most wonderful husband. I have amazing relatives on all sides. I’m going to get to celebrate Christmas three times, not just once. I have a wonderful life. Maybe I just need to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That is a good one for appreciating Christmas. I need to fold laundry and pack now, but maybe later. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | September 10, 2012

Political Opinion

Ahhh…Election years. What a wonderful time to let your true colors show!.. on Facebook, that is. Many friends whose opinions you may have never guessed might be posting strongly worded statements in favor of this candidate or opposing the other candidate. I think originally I was going to lament the whole process and how sad it is that once every four years we become a very divided country. On the other hand, the two-party system has been keeping America strong for …2012-1776=…236 years…give or take a few. Two head strong parties that balance each other out is not a bad system. I think that both parties have good points. I also think that in election years both parties have a tendency to over dramatize the opinions of their opponents. I have very dear friends and family on both sides of the elections. In all things, if you want to learn about what a particular party believes, ask a member of that party, not the opposing party.

Me, personally, I would like Mitt Romney to win. I don’t think that the world will come to a close or that the second coming will come any sooner if President Obama remains in office for four more years. I’m conservative. I believe that the way to encourage businesses to hire more employees and thus create more jobs is not to increase their taxes as they gain more success. I think that businesses are about many things but in order to stay in business they have to make money. If hiring more employees is going to cost them more money-why would they? If, on the other hand, hiring more employees allows them to continue to grow and become more successful, why wouldn’t they? I’m not saying big businesses shouldn’t pay taxes, just not a greater proportion of taxes than any other business.

I am also quite opposed to socialized medicine. I lived in England for eighteen months and saw too many people who could only get medical care if they could pay ridiculous prices for the private hospitals and physicians. The universal health care that was offered didn’t cut it. There weren’t enough doctors and nurses in the hospitals. It was not effective. I’m not saying that medical insurance is perfect or that how things are the way they are now is ideal either. However, I do believe that socialized/universal health care will not be an improvement.

Other issues that I have an opinion on:

The definition of marriage-judging from everything else you’ve read so far, you might have a guess on where I stand. I support the traditional definition of marriage. I believe that the family unit is ordained by God and that men and women have divine roles in it. I believe that God created men and women differently, and that the process of creating life is sacred. I believe children have a right to be raised by a loving mother and father. I understand that this is not always the case, but I believe this is the ideal that should be the goal.

Abortion-I’m against it. Please do not say, “it is a woman’s body, let her choose.” False! It is a baby and a mom and a dad. Third trimester abortions are inexcusable and should be legislated against. In extreme cases, such as rape, or when the mother’s life is in danger, families should consult within the first two trimesters. Unwanted pregnancies resulting from unprotected sex from two willing participants should be raised by the willing participants when possible and when not by adoptive parents (if you are worried about there not being enough of those, just go to an adoption agency and check out the list of waiting/hopeful parents).

Immigration-Ahhh! We are a country of immigrants. Yes we are, but that doesn’t mean that we have an open immigration policy. If we are going to provide health care and education to residents of this country we need to be able to keep records. In order to do that we have immigration policies and numbers. Education and health care cost money. I have relatives who do not have insurance and are not millionaires, and yet they manage to keep their kids healthy and taken care of, by paying out of pocket health expenses. It is possible for them, it is possible for others, particularly those who are visiting this country. My parents immigrated my sister here legally. Was it a process? Yes. Did they go through it? Yes. It was possible for them, it must be possible for others as well. Does that mean I think any illegal immigrant should be chucked back to their own country? Nope, but I do believe that without laws and regulations, we will not be able to support the residents of the U.S. in basic needs like education and health care. (Not saying that either should be free, just that they won’t even be options if there is not order.)

There are other issues but these are the ones I can think of currently with my “mommy-brain.”


I am conservative. Why? Because it makes sense to me. I agree with the arguments put forth by conservatives more often than I agree with arguments put forth by liberals. I think that both parties make great points. I dislike when either party or its affiliates generalize about the opposing party. So election years become a bit of a love/hate issue with me. I love seeing people excited about politics. I hate people generalizing and saying horrible untruths about others. I’m grateful for a two-party system that provides balance. The end.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote in November, whatever your political opinions may be!

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | June 21, 2012


Wednesday evening 7 pm: Leaving the apartment with husband and baby to get a few last minute items before our trip to Texas the next morning. Just as we round the first block of apartments we enter a heartwarming scene – neighborhood kids playing soccer. They were passing the ball back and forth-it brought a smile to my face until… one kid gets passed the ball perfectly for a great shot – directly at my baby. Before the kid has a chance to breathe I yell, “PAUSE!” Everyone froze. After a moment, the kid , bless his cotton socks, said, “right, I knew that.” We walked through and I said, “thank you.” The players unfroze. What I really wanted to do was dance some sort of wicked-awesome-victory-dance while chanting, “Shazaam! Bazinga! And Heck Yeah Baby! Who’s your Mommy? That’s right-She’s Freakin’ SuperMom!” In reality, I just beamed and told David that yes, I was indeed SuperMom.

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | June 4, 2012

5 Months and 2 Days

Hello! Have you missed me? Well, I’ve been busy. Perhaps someday I will explain in full detail all of the things I’ve been up to, but for now…I think I will just post some adorable photos of what has kept me so busy for the past 5 months and 2 days.

Day 1

Baby Blessing Day

Baby’s First Plane Ride

Meeting his cousin Elaine

Smiling for Granny

There are many more photos, but I think this shall do for this post. Perhaps I’ll add a few more stories with the photos next time.’Til then, Cheerio!

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | December 17, 2011

100 Things I’m Grateful For.

In the December issue of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ magazine, The Ensign, an apostle of the Lord invited the Youth of the church to make a list of their blessings. I decided that I am still relatively young and so should make a list. He gave 10 helpful prompts to make the process easier. Here we go…

*Write 10 physical abilities you are grateful for.

1. Sight-I love looking at the beauties of the Earth from trees to the ocean.
2. Hearing-I love the sound of the ocean and beautiful music.
3. Taste-oh how I love yummy tasting treats!
4. Walking-It has been more of a struggle lately, but I love walking.
5. Smiling-Thanks Mom and Dad for paying for my orthodontia and Thanks Dr. Rynearson for straightening my smile.
6. Toes-Especially when they are being given a pedicure.
7. Fingers-Excellent tools for scratching and pushing buttons on the remote control.
8. My mother’s fat deposits-I’m grateful for my booty!
9. Fruitful Loins-I’m grateful to be carrying Dobby this Christmas.
10. A Handsome Husband-for all the physical aspects!

*Write 10 material possessions you are grateful for.

1. Christmas Trees-My lovely, fake, trees that light up my kitchen and living room
2. Blankets-Warm and fuzzy blankets on cold, winter nights.
3. A lovely apartment-a perfect first home for Dobby.
4. Couches-Comfy places to sit and chat or take naps on.
5. Shoes! Shoes! and more Shoes!
6. Clothes-Comfy pregnancy clothes these days.
7. David’s job-it is so lovely not to have to work.
8. A refrigerator-The tool that keeps so many delicious things good for long periods of time.
9. Baby Stuff-Cribs, Pack’n’plays, changing tables, rocking chairs, breast feeding pillows, etc.
10. Pictures-I love looking at pictures of loved ones and wonderful memories.

*Write 10 living people you are grateful for.

1. My Handsome Husband, David!
2. Our Baby, who is currently living in my belly, but still living.
3/4. My Mom and Dad
5/6. My Sister and Brother-in-law
7/8. My parents-in-law
9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17. Granny, Grandaddy, Jon, Debra, Elaine, Karen, Brandon, Jacob & Stephen

*Write 10 deceased people you are grateful for.

1. Great Grandpa Donald Schmutz-Thanks for sicking the missionaries on my parents.
2. Grandma Elaine
3. Susan Quintero-For Henry V and a trip to Amsterdam
4. Grandma Shirlevon-For the marvelous stories my mom tells about her mom.
5. Joseph Smith, Jr.-The Prophet of the Restoration.
6. President Gordon B. Hinkley- The prophet of my youth.
7. Gumps-for my inability to tell jokes, but thorough enjoyment of them all the same.
8. Sister Bowden-for housing us missionaries despite old age and little space.
9. K.T. Renville-for being responsible for the two dates I went on at BYU.
10. Captain George Cannon-for being the horrible, horrible man that I am related to.

*Write 10 things about nature you are grateful for.

1. Trees-Beautiful Fall leaves
2. The Ocean-My home, sweet home
3. Winding paths-Excellent places to walk
4. The Mountains-all the wonderful hikes I would go on with my dad through various mountains
5. White Tigers-Albus’ ancestors
6. Waterfalls-From Costa Rica to Washington
7. Sandy Beaches-Love feeling the sand between my toes
8. Cows-Mainly for dairy products and beef
9. Cats-Prince Albus Striped Tiger
10. Chickens-Yummy eggs and yummy sandwiches

*Write 10 things about today you are grateful for.

1. For it being Saturday, a day when my Hubby is home
2. For the ward Christmas party
3. For my mommy coming down to entertain and distract me while we wait for Dobby’s arrival
4. For something productive to do at 3 in the morning when sleep is no longer an option
5. For it being cold enough outside to warrant having the heater on, despite being a temporary oven
6. For the opportunity to stay in bed late in the morning with my Handsome Husband
7. For computers that allow me to type things now and edit later
8. For pillows
9. For Christmas music
10. For Granny Great’s baby blanket for Dobby

*Write 10 places on earth you are grateful for.

1. Costa Rica-Best Honeymoon Ever!
2. Leeds, England-Best Mission Ever!
3. Bolton Abbey-the prettiest place ever
4. The Isle of Mann-A marvelous heritage
5. Vesinet, Paris, France-A marvelous park-town/suburb of Paris
6. Rome, Italy-A place to fall in love with
7. Texas-my Handsome Husband’s home
8. Corona del Mar Beach-Sight of my parent’s first date and where my Handsome Husband proposed to me
9. Santa Ana, CA-The best place to live in 2011
10. Moreno Valley, CA-An excellent place to grow up (in the 90s)

*Write 10 modern inventions you are grateful for.

1. Modern medicine-tylenol, ibuprofen, epidurals, etc.
2. Cell phones-so nice to be able to communicate so easily
3. The Internet-Hooray for looking up answers to questions without Encyclopedias
4. Electricity-Again, being able to be productive at 3 in the morning when sleep has failed me
5. Airplanes-Making a 20+ hour drive to Texas a 4-5 hour trip
6. Cars-The wonders of modern transportation
7. Toasters-Yummy, warm pumpkin bagels
8. Microwaves-The object that has saved me from starving many, many times
9. Ovens-(I’m beginning to think it might be time for a morning snack with all the food references) Making yummy food fast
10. Projectors-Helping me not go blind from looking at tiny images

*Write 10 foods you are grateful for.

1. My mommy’s sour cream enchiladas
2. My sister’s pumpkin cake
3. My mother-in-law’s rolls
4. Granny’s farm fresh eggs
5. L&T’s great Caesar wrap with cheddar cheese and ranch dressing
6. Red Velvet Cupcake Frozen Yogurt
7. Peppermint Ice Cream
8. Black Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
9. My dad’s Caesar salad, especially the croutons
10. My father-in-law’s steak

*Write 10 things about the gospel you are grateful for.

1. The Book of Mormon-Best book ever!
2. Families can be together forever
3. Great values
4. Service opportunities
5. Cub Scouts
6. Priesthood blessings
7. The Priesthood-the power of God on the Earth
8. Relief Society-Most awesome organization of women ever!
9. Primary-excellent learning opportunities for children
10. Hymns-“My soul delighteth in the song of the heart (D&C 25:12)”

Now it’s your turn! What are you grateful for? Cheers!

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | November 10, 2011

Getting Poked

Today I got poked. This is the second time this month-which actually is pretty good for me, in comparison to the last 7 months. Today was another blood test. On Nov. 1, I got the flu shot. Last month I got poked 5 times. The good news is, that over the past 7 months, I have begun to conquer my utter fear of needles.

I remember when my baby doctor mentioned that I had to get some blood work done. I was not excited. My first visit to Quest Diagnostics included two pokes in one morning. I had to fast, get poked, eat something, and then get poked one hour later. The first poke included filling up nearly ten tubes with my blood. The second poke had me completely freaked out. I brought my teddy bear and nearly squeezed the stuffing out of it. The phlebotomist asked what the poor teddy bear had ever done to me.

Luckily for me, my initial test results were such that I now needed to get poked every 6 weeks to 2 months during my pregnancy to check up on my under active thyroid, and also get some more tests to clarify an odd result of another test. So, getting poked twice in one morning really wasn’t the worst of my problems. Though, of all the blood tests, I think the second poke that morning was the scariest.

Over the months I have gradually become less petrified of the poking. I still refuse to look at the needle, but at least my entire body has stopped ceasing up in frightened anticipation. I am not looking forward to the iv that will go in when I go in for delivery-in fact, I am probably looking forward to that less than the actual birthing process pains. Still, all these things shall be for my experience and for my good. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | November 9, 2011

The Star Spangled Banner

Creative Commons image by StuSeeger

Recently, in a cub scout den meeting, I learned the origins of our beloved national anthem. I thought I would share what I learned because it moved me.

“The Star Spangled Banner” was taken from the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” by Francis Scott Key. The poem was written during the War of 1812. In 1814, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner set sail from Baltimore to negotiate the release of prisoners, one of which was the town’s doctor, Dr. William Beanes, with the British. Their mission was approved by President James Madison. Originally their cause looked grim, but after showing letters from British soldiers regarding their kind treatment from Dr. Beanes, the British agreed.

However, Keys and Skinner had heard details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore, and were held captive until after the attack. They watched their city get attacked from the water. They had no way of knowing who was winning. It wasn’t until the next morning, when they saw their flag flying still that they knew that the Americans had won. Knowing the background of what had happened really brings new meaning to these beloved words:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | October 27, 2011

Pregnancy Ups and Downs

Pregnancy is an interesting stage of life. There are downs and ups. It is exciting to see newborns and think about having one of your own in what feels like minutes. At the same time it is petrifying to think of having a little person who relies solely on you for everything.

The downs: heartburn, weight gain, irritable legs, pains in the lower abdomen called round ligament pains that make getting out of bed or up and down difficult, hunger, food cravings, exhaustion and more! Some pregnant women experience morning sickness, nausea or vomiting. I have experienced mild amounts of nausea, but have been blessed so far to avoid any vomiting. The heartburn is a more recent development, but can really interrupt an already hard-to-sleep-through-night. Did I mention sleeplessness – which is something that makes the whole exhaustion bit really “fun.” Having to get up and go to the bathroom 2-5 times a night can really mess up a good night’s sleep. The longest I have been able to sleep so far has been for five hours-a random fluke. Most of the time I take multiple two to three hour naps throughout the night. Sometimes I am lucky and can fall quickly back to sleep after having to get up and use the loo. Other times I am not so lucky and am up for a couple of hours. The good news is that I assume this is just good preparation for constant feedings.

The ups: feeling your baby move, kick, turn, summersault inside of you is incredible! Hearing his/her heartbeat for the first time and then over the course of the pregnancy is also pretty exciting. Looking at cute baby stuff and being able to buy or register for it is fun. Having the baby kick and get excited when Daddy is putting his head or hand on your stomach to feel him/her is thrilling. Not all people enjoy, but having friends come up to you and rub or touch your belly is something I enjoy. I feel like it is a way they are showing how much they love and are excited for my baby-it makes me happy. Knowing that there is a little person growing inside of you just waiting to come out and be loved is amazing! Spending time with friends and family discussing all things baby is fun too.

There are many more ups and downs of pregnancy-what are some of your most memorable pregnant moments?

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | October 23, 2011

A Book Report and Some Ramblings About: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

A dear friend of mine suggested that I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (BHTM). David and I went to the library the other day and they actually had a copy. I decided to give it a try. The cover seemed very intriguing-a woman who set out to write about the benefits of Chinese parenting over Western parenting who learned many valuable lessons while raising her two daughters and sharing her successes and failures.

In the beginning, there are a few solid rules that Amy Chua did not allow her daughters to do:

*attend a sleepover

*have a playdate

*be in a school play

*complain about not being in a school play

*watch TV or play computer games

*choose their own extracurricular activities

*get any grade less than an A

*not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama

*play any instrument other than the piano or violin

*not play the piano or violin

Okay, when I first read that on the back cover, I thought this sounds insane, but I’m curious to learn the reasons behind the insanity. Amy Chua has two daughters and the book takes us through both of their childhoods into their teen years. They were both brilliant musicians before they hit their teen years and studied with some of the best music teachers. People asked Amy how her daughters got to be so talented. The simple answer is hard work and lots of it. She insisted that her children practice 90 minutes every day, rain, shine, vacation or otherwise. This was not easy for her children nor for her. She and her husband are both full-time professors at Yale. His work asked him to travel a great deal and anytime anyone went on vacation, they all went on vacation. As a result, her kids have visited most of Europe, along with many other countries. She had to secure practice time and instruments in every place they went.

Her children didn’t have time for play dates. When they weren’t practicing, they were studying. If they didn’t come in first in their classes, that meant studying until they were. What was the problem with school plays, some may ask? Asking children to stay after school for hours, occasionally coming to school on Saturdays to play Chorus #212, seemed like a ridiculous waste of time and energy.

I must confess after reading her story, I really didn’t think she was insane. Driven, certainly. Insanely busy, yes, but not crazy.

Will I be trying to raise Dobby using the Chinese Mother model? No. I don’t have the stamina. That being said, there are a few techniques and tips that I think might be useful.

I think insisting on music practice for a decent amount of time is a good idea. I’m all in favor of either the violin or the piano. I would like my children to be able to play and I think either of those instruments are preferable to some other options that don’t seem to be as useful in later years. I wish I had stuck with practicing the piano. My wonderful husband got me a keyboard for Mother’s Day this year. Which now means that I have no excuse not to practice and try to teach myself. Perhaps a teacher might help me a bit with motivation. Perhaps-not that it worked when I was growing up…I seem to recall having gone through three or four piano teachers, but never actually practicing.

Amy Chua did have to “brow beat” her children into practicing, which later on, they really appreciated. She describes some pretty intense fights about practicing, but the results seem to be worth it.

She mentions never worrying about being the bad guy and being hated by her kids, because some day they would appreciate it. She also discusses her disdain for the Western parenting model that attempts to make your kids your best friends while growing up. Now, her explanation is more that most Chinese children love and respect their parents when they grow up, whereas most Western children do not. How often do you hear people blaming their parents for something that is not right in their lives? How often are those people Chinese?

I think this particular concept rings true with me because my parents, particularly my mother, was not bothered about being my best friend. She always made it clear that she was my mother. Parents, teachers and leaders were always to be respected and listened to. She was firm. Now, we were allowed to have sleepovers, play dates, and seeing as how I am not a concert pianist, my mother was not a Chinese mother. She was amazing and did let me make many of my own mistakes, while trying to guard me from any that would cause permanent damage.

Parenthood seems quite daunting to me. I hate making mistakes and making mistakes with my kids seems like it will be 10,000 times worse. That being said, mistakes are a part of life and a necessary part of life that I am constantly trying to learn to live with.

Take Aways From the Book:

1) It is not only okay, but necessary to say “no” to your children. My mother tried to avoid saying “no” to me, and I seem to recall trying to teach my dad to say “no” to me. As such, I am a bit on the spoiled side-my poor husband is learning ways to help me say “no.” He hasn’t actually said “no” to me yet, but occasionally he will ask some questions that will help me to see that what I feel is absolutely necessary at the time, really is just a passing fancy.

2) It is okay to reject sleepovers. I never actually enjoyed sleeping over at friend’s houses. Socially, it seemed like the thing to do, but I have always liked sleep too much to enjoy sacrificing any amount of it. Also, I kind of think the world we live in has come to a point that I would rather not worry about what my kids are learning at their friend’s houses while the parents are asleep.

3) As far as choosing their extracurricular activities, I have to hope that I’ll help them find things that they will enjoy, while also guiding them towards more beneficial activities. I want all of my sons to get their Eagle Scout and my daughters to get their Young Women medallion. I do want them to play the piano or violin. I would like them to play soccer, but I am aware that sometimes people aren’t overly athletically inclined. (I always enjoyed sports but was never overly gifted. I excelled in musical theatre. I starred in three of my high school’s four musicals while I was there. The amount of time we spent practicing was insane, but I will never forget the high I got from getting the last bow or singing solo after solo on stage. I loved it. I usually did better in school when I had more activities going on.)

All that being said, I don’t want them to be overworked. I want my kids to have an enjoyable childhood, but I also want to prepare them for the rest of their lives. And thus I look ahead at parenting with trepidation. I assume it will require patience and endurance, among many other things. BHTM was an intriguing book with some great ideas, as well as some not-as-great ideas. I recommend reading it for yourself and seeing what you think. Cheers.

Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | August 24, 2011

Zip Lining and Waterfall Repeling

“Honey, would you like to add waterfall rappelling on?” My husband of nine days asked me, after I had already been strapped into a harness for zip lining. Oh sure, since I’ll probably die before I make it to the second of ten zip lines, why not add waterfall rappelling?

Nine days earlier my sweetheart, David, and I had been sealed in the San Antonio Temple. For our honeymoon, we went to Costa Rica. We had spent the first week of our honeymoon in a place called Manuel Antonio, in a gorgeous hotel with a three-window-walled view of a tropical paradise. For our second week, we headed inland to the Arenal Volcano area.

I had really wanted to go white water rafting, which we did in Manuel Antonio. David really wanted to go zip lining. We made friends with our taxi driver the first night in Arenal, and he ended up being our tour guide for our second week. We asked him about zip lining and he directed us to a tour company that took you zip lining and waterfall rappelling in the same morning.

I was very scared of the zip lining, but David had gone white water rafting with me, so I figured I really ought to go zip lining with him. I had never been rappelling or zip lining. Waterfall rappelling sounded terrifying to me. In zip lining, there is a horizontal rope—you are harnessed to one end and you slide along the rope to the other end very rapidly. You have to hold yourself in a ball-like position to keep going straight down the line. It happens very quickly and you are hundreds of feet above the ground. I imagined waterfall rappelling was similar to zip lining, but rather than a horizontal line, it was more of a free fall harnessed to a vertical line. The waterfall rappelling was 80 meters. I really didn’t know the meters to feet ratio but I knew that this was a long rappel. I was relatively sure that I was going to die that day.

They took us to a practice zip line—I failed so miserably that they gave me a chest harness as well as the hip harness, to make the sliding easier. After practice, they piled us into a bus that had been pimped out with these massive tractor wheels. The bus was harnessed to an actual tractor, and the tractor and bus went blazing up the mountain.

My typical facial expression is a smile. When people look at me, I usually smile. It has become my natural reaction. I couldn’t smile at this point. I knew that I was going up the mountain in a very freaky bus-tractor-contraption to my death, and my brand new husband was leading me to it. I was scared and so not-well-pleased with my recent choice of eternal companion. Why in the world had I agreed to this?

We made it up to the start of the mountain and the bus dropped us off. At this point we started hiking. I like hiking, both feet are on the ground, and even though I am never in shape and am the slowest, I know that the farthest I can fall is about 3-4 feet to the ground. It works for me. The tour group took us to a look-out point. I had been scared before, now I was white as a ghost and speechless. There was the most beautiful death scene I had ever seen. A huge waterfall surrounded by a tropical jungle. Right next to the waterfall was a tiny metal ladder and between us and the waterfall were about ten zip lines hanging across the scenery. At least I was going to die in paradise.

We hiked up to the first zip line. David went first in an attempt to comfort me and let me know that I would probably not die. Well, that would have been fine, but the zip line disappeared into the jungle-how was I supposed to know how the zip line story ended? After David disappeared, they harnessed me up. Usually on scary roller coasters, I just close my eyes and wait until the end—not this time. The surroundings were way too beautiful to miss anything—blinking was criminal. So, wide-eyed and petrified, they sent me down the first zip line.

WEEEEEEEEEE! Wow! Zip lining was amazing! And not only that, but I was zip lining through a tropical jungle paradise. It was amazing and so much fun! I found my smile again. This was something worth doing. I couldn’t stop smiling—it was awesome. There were ten zip lines in all. The tour guides had mentioned earlier that after six zip lines, the waterfall rappelling group branches off and finishes the last four lines after the rappelling. For those first six zip lines, I choose to block out the waterfall rappelling, so as not to miss the fun. Tragically, after the sixth zip line, it was time to face the music. My smile disappeared again.

We hiked up a little bit and finally made it to the top of the waterfall. Apparently in regular rappelling, you usually start with the rappelling and then at the end, you get to drop for a little bit. As my luck would have it, with the waterfall rappelling, you start with a 30 meter drop, and then you rappel the rest of the 50 meters down. The platform we got on was just kind of hanging over nothing. After harnessing yourself to the rope, you have to jump off the platform into the 30 meter drop. One of the tour guides went first to show us what it looked like. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to see what death looked like, but I figured it might be a good idea anyway.

The guide went and it didn’t look like a free fall. He slide down the rope a bit, but it was much slower than the zip lining and he kept stopping occasionally and releasing more rope. David turned to me and said, “and you won’t go anywhere near that fast.”

Seriously? Wow. This would not be that bad. I might even live through it. David went first, and then I followed him. I jumped off the platform into nothingness and thanks to a general love of unhealthy food, I actually went down the rope at a good pace. To my right was a gorgeous tropical waterfall. Wow! Once again, I was blown away. Never would I ever have considered going waterfall rappelling or zip lining had it not been for the wonderful eternal companion I had chosen. Apparently I had made the right choice. I finally made it to the bottom—I struggled a bit with the actual rappelling part, but for the most part it was incredible.

There was one part of this whole experience that hadn’t crossed my mind and that was how we were going to be getting back up to the top of the waterfall. They showed us after we were at the bottom. To get back to the wall, we had to climb across this little metal ladder bridge, which reminded me of the bridges that Mt. Everest climbers climb across—tiny and petrifying. And here I thought I was home free after surviving the zip lining and waterfall rappelling. Not so much. As we got closer to the wall, the metal bridge started going up—reminding me strongly of the rope ladder that Indiana Jones had to climb up at the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The tour guides never attempted to rip my heart out of my chest like Indiana’s did, but I am pretty sure they were just waiting for it to burst out of its own accord.

They actually had to harness us to the ladder, so in case we slipped, we wouldn’t fall quite so far. For once, I was really glad they let me go first. If I was going to fall, I wanted everyone going with me. Aside from worrying about slipping, I really didn’t think I had the upper-body strength to climb back up the 80-meter waterfall. Step by step I continued to climb up. The guys behind me were probably driven crazy by the slow pace, but I was just eternally grateful when I finally got to the top of the rope ladder and there were some stairs waiting for me. They still harnessed us to the stairs to make sure we didn’t fall down the mountain, but I had ground under me again. I knew we would be fine.

What a crazy adventure! The last four zip lines were delightful. Finally we made it back to our hotel. I survived the day and it had been amazing! What a great day! It was petrifying and exhilarating. I was scared to death, but I also ended up having the most fun. I picked the best husband ever!

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