Thursday, October 4, 2012

Which side is more Charitable?

I saw a post on facebook the other day from a left leaning friend, it stated that they could understand why rich people were republican, but why on earth were there all these low income republicans.  After all policies that help the poor are Democratic.  Republicans support tax breaks for big businesses and wealthy individuals and the theory is that with them having more money and less regulations the poor will have more jobs.  Their thought process is that people should be required to work for what they have, end handouts, end programs that help people afford higher education.  I have heard over and over that if the government would just get out of everything free enterprise would take care of all the needs of the people.

So it makes sense why most left leaning individuals are shocked when poor, religious people are die hard republicans.  The obvious answer is that rich or poor if you don't believe in Abortion and do believe in traditional family the Republican platform is the only choice that meshes with conservative values.  For years I've believed this is the only reason so many people in my religious sphere are Republican.  But the other night my father came home from a fundraiser for the governor of Utah.  Set aside the fact that it was a $500 a plate dinner and that grown adults were dressed like they were attending the prom?!? He summarized a speech made by supporters of the governor that touted how superior our state was, all because it is run in a republican fashion.

According to CNN money our state has the 9th lowest unemployment in the country.  Sitting at 5.8% that is far below the national average at 8.1% (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Just looking at unemployment our state is doing much better than the rest of the country.  And just like the economic success of the Clinton era current government could make the case that economic policies are responsible for job growth.  I'm not saying they are not but I think this is one reason poor republicans believe that leaving the private sector private will benefit them.  Business's like to move to states (or countries) that benefit their bottom line.  This is a strong argument for right wing economic policies.

State average income levels for 2011 were at $39,811 (, while the National average income levels sat at $59,606.  So it is clear that while unemployment is down, salaries for those employed are not at the national average.  So there are employed poor in this state.  But we are also a highly educated state. We sit 11th in the country in bachelor's degrees among populace, almost 30%.  While we are ranked 11th in High school graduation, sitting at 90%.  State officials could make the case that we employ people and educate them better than most of the country.

 I live in an area of lower income, as evidenced by housing prices in the area and that our elementary school is a Title 1 school (which is determined by the number of student's eligible for free or reduced school lunch). Since our state seems to employ many people at low to middle incomes in this state it makes one wonder why those people would not elect people who believe in helps for the middle to lower class.  After all I know a number of gainfully employed people who while going to school were on food stamps, and medicaid.  Many had their children for free and a large number of my acquaintance used the program WIC.  And yet those same individuals believe that food stamps and government handouts should be done away with at the federal level (which really means at any government level). After all a less government approach at the Federal level translates to a less government approach at the state level, it is ideological and translates across Federal and State lines.

Lets look for a moment at the reasons why a state may be successful at employing and educating it's populace.  Yes, it may be due in part to economic polices of less taxation of the rich and large companies.  It may be due to policies that discourage government involvment in social programs and more responsibility on the community.  But wait, if the responsibility for the poor, elderly and mentally ill is placed on the community, then the community has to be fiscally able and charity minded enough to handle that responsibilty.  Which brings me to the real reason poor, religious people are Republican.  In this state we have a large segment of the population that self taxes themselves at 10% by paying tithing that goes towards a massive welfare program run by a religous organization.  Not only that but within neighborhoods you have a large segment of populace who donates monthly to an immediate relief fund that helps neighbors that cannot afford food, shelter, healthcare and other necessities.

Essentially the Republican viewpoint only works if you have communities that are willing and able to care for their own.  They do take care of their own, but they also assume that everyone else in the country live in communities that are able and willing to take care of those who cannot (or will not) care for themselves.  That is why in my opinion poor, religious individuals are essentially permanent optimists in their frame of mind.  After all it takes an incredibly secure belief in the goodness of human nature and the voluntary distribution of wealth to really believe that there does not need to be a basic standard of decency enforced by the government.

I believe the Republican way of governing works in our state, not because the theory is sound, but because the populace is hardworking and voluntarily charitable.  Also there are many people who are abnormally rich and their income (that they volluntarily tax for the poor) helps supplement the large number of poor.

The question then comes naturally, what if there are communities where people are not able to take care of their own?  Or a scarier question. What if they aren't willing to take care of their own?  That is a new point of view and honestly it makes those "bleeding heart" liberals pessimists who don't believe in the inherent goodness and philanthropic natures of the rest of the world.  Yes they suggest everyone, whether they want to or not should pay for those who cannot care for themselves.  Liberals believe that people and corporations are greedy and heartless, and need to be regulated so that people don't die on the streets due to a lack of sympathy.  They require children be fed healthy food in schools because they believe (with good cause) that most parents raise obese, unhealthy children and when left without regulations will run wild.

I am flabbergasted when good, Christian people oppose good things on the principle that they would do that anyway and they shouldn't be required.  While that may be true, it isn't a cure all because not every community, not every individual thinks that way. 

Now I am not a Liberal, nor am I a Conservative.  I believe that we have to take things from both schools of thoughts and make good decisions.  I think things will be better if we stopped emphasizing why the other side is wrong and start trying to understand why the other side thinks the way they do.  Believe it or not people have good reasons why they support those political stances.  Not everybody who disagrees is ignorant and uniformed.  It is not that everybody has to fence sit or change their side of the fence, just open their eyes to those on the other side and recognize their humanity.  After all both sides reflect people who care about other people.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mario Princess Party! For less than $40

My eldest wanted a Mario Party for her seventh birthday.  I waited to see if she would change her mind.   She is very girly and usually does a princess theme for her parties.  But she borrowed a wii game Mario Party 8 from some cousins and fell in love with it.  She insisted that she wanted her party to be a Mario Party and even told me several times that she wanted the sign to read "Happy Mario Party 8, 7th Birthday Hannah"  I convinced her that a sign that read that way would be terribly confusing and I got her to agree to a simple "Happy Mario Party" sign.  We did so many fun things for this party and I just had to share with the blogging world just in case any other moms wanted to see how to change things up for a girl and still do a totally Super party.

 At first my daughter wanted a princess peach cake, at the last minute she changed her mind because she desperately wanted to tell her friends they were going to eat Mario....go figure right.  But I make the cake design by frosting it smoothly with buttercream.  The design is not freehand.  If you take a piece of parchment paper and put it over a picture of what you want on the cake and then pipe it with clear piping gel and then flip it over on the top of the cake you have a lovely guide to your picture and it works with almost anything.  I've done strawberry shortcake, tinkerbell, tangled, winnie the pooh.  Anything there is a picture of you can do this kind of cake, fairly easy.

 Okay the stars I was rather proud of.  A friend lent me her chocolate molds and I made the yellow stars and then at her sugggestion I cut out some pieces of yellow construction paper glued on a free printable Mario Star and stapeled them over the bags the stars were in.  I meant them as prizes for party games but not every child who was invited showed up so I was able to put one bag of stars in each childs party bag.
 Chocolate mustaches....yeah so freaking awesome and the girls loved them as much or more than the boys.  I did make Mario and Luigi hats out of felt (same friend had a pattern she lent me and extra felt from when she made these for her boys party).  I made crowns for the girls in case they wanted to be Princess Peach or Princess Daisy.  Many girls actually preferred to wear the fake mustaches and Mario or Luigi hats, go figure.
 I boiled some eggs for a game of hold the yoshi egg on a spoon while you run to the end of the yard and back.
 My amazing friend has a super large vinyl cutter and she whipped this up for me in about five minutes.  We cut out as many black mustaches as there were kids and each kid got a turn pinning the mustache on.
 I ended up making cupcakes and a cake because we had grandparents coming over for cake and icecream later that night.  The cupcakes were for the kids and by chance I saw this glass etched by my little brother in art class and I made him lend it to me for the party.  Isn't it cute?
Possibly my most favorite part of this party was the question mark pinata. Seriously how awesome is that.  It was filled with little baggies full of GOLD COINS!! yeah I geeked out over that, but I also bought some cheap hard candy that looked like the candy they sell in the Mario Party 8 game.
For added character (aren't I punny) I made sure pictures of Mario characters were all over the walls and doors.  My little brother drew that sign freehand just fifteen minutes before the party started.  I also (thanks to pinterest) found a place online where you can download and print he-res pictures of Mario Characters on my home printer.  I just printed them on cardstock cut them out and then stuck them to the wall with good ole' fashioned blue sticky tack.  Originally I spend fifteen dollars at hobby lobby for wall stickers untill my friends reminded me I could make my own (I returned those and spent a considerable amount less on the party:-) So my party total, are you ready, it was less than $40*.  Now that does not include my gift for my little Mario Princess.  Getting her the Mario Party 8 wii game doubled my party cost.  But that was the only present I bought her.  I did spoil her and make her a few dresses, hats and shoes for her fake American Girl doll but that didn't cost me anything because I was given the fabric for free and had some patterns on hand.
*Side note.  It cost me very little for this party because I had much of the supplies to make things on hand.  I made the cake from scratch because my daughter wanted a vanilla cake, to go along with her vanilla icecream.  I had the construction paper for the sign and printed off the letters on my printer (with ink I already had).  The Mario mustache game was done for free just because my friend is awesome.  And my awesome friend also lent me some leftover colored chocolate to make the treats.  And obviously the ink used for printing off the characters cost money but I didn't count the cost because I already had the ink.  The point is you can do a cheap party if you make things with supplies you already have.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rich or Poor?

There has been quite a bit of talk (people, newspapers and blogs) about whether or not we ought to have an insanely rich president.  I read a great article about how many of our presidents in the past have been very wealthy and adjusting for inflation Mitt Romney would only be the second richest president we've ever had.

Why do people get upset over somebody rich being president?  Why didn't everyone get upset over Obama and his money, after all he is pretty rich himself?  I will attempt to answer these questions in my own little blog corner of the world because it is something I've been postulating myself.

Poor people don't like to think somebody will be in charge of shaping economic policies who doesn't understand the concerns of the average Joe.  This seems to be a well known fact, but why?  A recent article in the Deseret News by Doug Robinson said sarcastically "We need Joe Average in Washington. We need someone we can connect with, someone like our neighbor or the guy up the street who parks his car on the lawn."  After all what is wrong with somebody who's used to handling large sums of money in charge of our fiscal and political future?

After much consideration I believe I have an answer of some sort to all those questions.  You see I come from a poor family.  My opinion can literally be called a humble opinion because I have lived beneath the poverty line for the majority of my childhood and young adult life.  Because I grew up without new clothes; or fancy yogurt that wasn't about to expire....because of that background I have the slightest problem with people who come from money.  It's similar to the problems women who are struggling with infertility have with those who blink and get pregnant.  Lack of empathy lends towards making comments that are ill-timed, inappropriate and downright hurtful.  Should that mean that those who have no true empathy should not be allowed to talk to those who are hurting?  Now that would be just silly, but in a few historical cases when those in power live far beyond those they rule over it has caused....complications (to say the least).

I recently had the opportunity to go to Paris (not so poor anymore, some of you may say;-)  While there I was able to visit the incomparable Palace at Versailles.  I'm not a history buff but I was always fascinated by French Revolution.  Let's look for one instant at Marie Antoinette.  She is famous for two things.  Famously saying "Let them eat cake" when she heard the peasants were starving.  And the other thing she is famous for is getting her head cut off because the peasants were mad at her.  My husband and I walked with a crowded group of people through the King and Queen's bedroom's and other rooms.  One room used to be where the King and Queen used to eat their dinners.  The common folk were allowed to come on certain days and watch them eat.  It was quite a popular event and many would come from far and near to view the richest people in the

It seems fairly clear to me from Marie Antoinette's experience that "being out of touch with the common man" can have some serious side effects.  When in a position of power it would be extremely important to understand how the other half of the world lives.  Whether rich or poor if you haven't seen both sides of the fence it seems like there is a possibility of not being able to assess their concerns while making very serious decisions.

Which brings me back to my aversion to those who are raised with money.  I have different feelings towards them than I do towards those who were raised poor and then through hard work have become incredibly wealthy.  It's not the money itself that makes me uncomfortable around them, it is their completely unrealistic view of the world.

This is what bothers me the most about Mitt Romney.  Now I know logically it isn't his fault his family has had serious money for generations but something within me cringes when I think of a modern day aristocracy in charge.  I don't want somebody who's never wanted for anything ever to tell the poorest of the poor that they don't deserve to have the government pay for their insurance.  I have an even bigger problem with somebody who's been a very rich CEO and who's daddy was a rich CEO tell us that we shouldn't tax the richest of the rich as much as we tax the average Joe.

It's not their money that makes people distrustful it is living one's entire life in the lap of luxury and then assuming that you know how to govern the poor slobs below you that weren't that lucky or that smart.

I don't follow politics that closely, mostly because it turns my stomach how much everybody beats up on each other.  Tearing each other down, criticizing, picking at and emphasizing each others weaknesses and bragging about your own abilities seems incredibly un-Christian.

This post is not intended to recommend that anyone not vote for Romney or for anyone to vote for Romney.  I just wanted to explore for myself why people are so against having a really rich president.  Personally I think it would be better to have a rich president who has also been poor, but that doesn't mean Romney wouldn't do a good job.  I felt (and now feel) more positively towards Obama simply because he has proven that he is smart because he came from very little and made something of himself despite his humble origins.

If you have an opposing opinion to mine and want to criticize my admittedly "humble" opinion, please be kind.  I have a hard time taking criticism myself and would appreciate hearing opposing opinions if stated kindly (not that many people read this little blog anyway, but just in case:-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Today or to be more precise yesterday sucked!!

It is midnight and I am writing a blog post.  What does that say about me, my mind or my life?  I am so....frustrated sometimes with the way that life turns out.  I am so tired of feeling like my feelings are wrong, sometimes I really just want to be right.  Well if I'm being honest I always want to feel right.  Lately though it feels as if every feeling I have I know I shouldn't feel.

There are times when I am glad that very few people read this.  There was a time when I wanted some sort of notoriety or notice from the world at large or from a sizable group of people.  At this point right now I am incredibly glad that there are only a handful of people who care what I have to say.  I've seen a few semi famous bloggers and seen people attack every little thing they say, do or post.  It saddens me that it is easier to be harsh and hurtful over the Internet than anyone could be in person.  Well anyway that is one of many reasons that I feel safe writing to a few seemingly interested folk.  It is nice to feel heard, by a few strangers and a few people who know me and all of whom will be kind and forgiving of anything I post here.

I had a horrible start to my day today.  I woke up late and besides not having time to get ready for church I realized that; due to very recent instructions from regional ecclesiastical leaders regarding what I can and can't use to teach children songs; all of the things I prepared for use were not going to fit within the rigid guidelines they set. Scrambling for some last minute changes proved too much of a challenge to actually arrive at church on time.  Coming in late I found an entirely new set of leaders sitting on the stand.  A man who I had never before laid eyes on was my new ecclesiastical leader.  I just wasn't expecting it; I knew that they might change the leadership but I expected that since I had been living in this area for almost four years that I would have at the very least heard of or seen the man before.  I got over the shock and attempted to adjust my mind to the new reality.  That done, I worked my hardest to teach the children a new song; it went OK.  I was on my way home feeling better.  It wasn't what I had expected of that day but I was feeling better about things.

Then I walked up to the front of my house and realized I didn't have our garage door opener.....I had left through the garage so I knew I brought it with me to church but I did not have it when I got home.  I walked back to the church and got on my hands and knees looking for it amongst the pews; after checking with the lost and found I staggered back home dejected.  My children just seemed to get on my nerves and despite my husbands best efforts at being understanding I was beyond the point of dealing with things anymore.

I threw a fit and went to my room and napped.  I didn't want to deal with the kids, I didn't want to talk to my husband and I certainly didn't want to think about all the things my mind insisted on thinking about.

After a long nap  I got up and prepared a meal for my family and grudgingly watched them play a gaming system that I never thought I would have in my home.  When the kids finally went to sleep I breathed a sigh of relief.  Perhaps without the audience of little children I'd feel less encumbered and more able to wind down and get ready to face another week of life.  Then it happened.

I am not shocked anymore when I hear my sister is in the hospital.  It is a common part of life now.  But I will never get used to talking to my mother on the phone about it.....she is so heartbroken, she is so worn is always too much to deal with.

Informing my family that we are dealing with the same thing, yet again is never something I will get used to either.  And this is the first time that I have to let my missionary sister know over an email that her sister is feeling so alone, desperate and scared that she is not safe being outside of a hospital. 

I hate feeling annoyed every time I get the call.  If my first reaction was always one of love, support and charity perhaps I might not feel like the scum of the earth.  But I am beginning to automatically roll my eyes when I hear the words.......

Why can't I feel the emotions I should feel when I get slammed with something?  Why can't I be the person who feels nothing but love and acceptance all the time?  I want to be better.   I want to be so much more than what I am.....and right now I feel weak, tired and too run down to navigate life with even the least amount of dignity.

I don't want to feel like my sister is a burden....but I do.  I don't want to feel tired of my children and husband...but I do.  I don't want to feel annoyed because I don't know my new leader......but I do.  I don't want to feel so weighed down by feelings and emotions that I can't sleep because my mind won't stop deconstructing my world and coming up with the same conclusions.

It all just jumbles into a giant haze.  Or actually it is really simple.  I just have to stop when I think something and decide whether or not it is something I want to be thinking and then if it isn't who I want to be find a way to get rid of those thoughts.  But it isn't easy and it so often involves talking to a good friend.  Not because my husband won't discuss it with me....but he always says the wrong thing.  Always unintentionally of course but I just can't talk to him about things where I feel so emotionally unstable and upset at myself for my feelings.

Perhaps that's why I like to "complain" on my blog at times.  I want somebody to hear me....I want to know that somebody out there possibly feels the same way and relates.  Really I count myself lucky that I don't write to a large audience, because I have no desire whatsoever to hear anybody tell me that I am a bad person or that what I am dealing with is nothing compared to somebody else.

I just had a crummy day and I needed a (safe) place to look at it, as objectively as I can.  And it really doesn't hurt that a few people actually read this because they care about me, my sanity and sometimes about the originality or even honesty of my thoughts.

Peace out friends and here's hoping tomorrow will be just a little brighter than today was:-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marriage tips ;)

Pinterest lately has been spinning with many tips for happy marriages. I know that a lot of people just repin things without looking at the link (I do that myself) but I have got to say that after actually going to a few of those sites and reading what those crackpots say I get a little bent out of shape. There are people writing suggestions and professing to be marriage experts who have not had any kids, have been married only a year or two or are of a very young age.

I want to preface my statements today by assuring you that I am no marriage expert. I have been married almost 9 yrs. to a wonderful man, who is not perfect...but that's OK because I am far from perfect as well. As much as I believe I know about a happy marriage, I acknowledge that I really know nothing at all.

First of all I think women need to take a step back when reading suggestions from other women on marriage and view them as opinions, from people who have neither a counseling degree nor the wisdom of decades of experience. Whatever one person says about marriage, it may or may not be an accurate portrayal of reality. Another statement to add is that you have no idea whether they are or are not even still married to this person they are flouting as perfect.

People who are honest about life, acknowledge that there are times and seasons to everything, including marital bliss. Being happy has as much to do with suffering through well calculated insults, dreading your spouse coming home and having a hard time looking at them without feelings resembling hate; as it does with constantly thinking of the other’s needs, showing devotion through actions as well as words and even having constant physical intimacy.

Perseverance is as important as positive thoughts, leaping at the first chance to get away from your spouse is as important as loving every moment you spend with them. Yes it is good to focus on all the things you can do to show love, but don't get caught up in believing that therein lays the secret to happiness. There are two sides to every equation, and negativity exists; ignoring the hard things in marriage suggests to those you interact with that if there is any negativity or hard things there is something wrong with a relationship. A normal, healthy relationship includes losing control of your emotions every once in a while.

I have learned through a pain-staking trial and error that I should temper my emotional outbursts and let go of so many things that annoy, infuriate or even degrade me. Many comments that are hurtful weren't said with that intent. Many actions that make one feel unimportant, little or unappreciated are often the result of a tired spouse, not a vindictive enemy.

At times it may seem that you are white-knuckling and suppressing every urge you have to let out your honest feelings. Sometimes there will be outbursts, where you will make a mountain out of a molehill; but those too are a healthy part of marriage. In my limited studies in Child and Family development obtaining my minor in college I learned that it is not the ferocity of your fights that predicts divorce. I know I have said this before on this blog and to the (three possible) people who actually are interested in anything I put on this blog:-), but happiness is better predicted by the ratio of good to bad as opposed to the absence of fighting altogether.

My point in this post is not to discount the good things that can happen from reading a post on 101 ways to improve your marriage, or to suggest that people should not be actively looking for ways to spice up their marriages or ways to improve their relationships. My point is that you should take those posts with the honesty (or lack thereof) with which they were written.

I admit I bristle (more than slightly) when I read that women should exercise so that they can keep their spouses interested in intercourse. Or that you should always greet your spouse at the door with a long kiss, or that you should have sex as much as possible and ignore the tired, achy feelings of motherhood (or pregnancy) and focus on the fact that if you don't it will result in a failed marriage. I find it condescending and misogynistic to make women return to the ideals of the 50's that caused the backlash of the women's lib movement; which in turn caused its own backlash of Dr. Laura and "The proper care and feeding of husbands". Let's break that cycle with honesty. It's not one way or the other; you can be a woman who acknowledges that you may not always be perfectly thin, always wanting to have sex and making perfect meals every day in a spotless house without ever losing your temper. And yes you can acknowledge all those things and still be a super sexy woman who loves her family and has a great intimate relationship with her spouse.

It's also about understanding that everything is not about the bedroom (even for men:-); because if all it took to make a spouse happy was acting as if you'd be ready for the bedroom anytime, then men wouldn't get married at all and would simply rely on prostitutes and pornography to satisfy lusts (which sadly is becoming a growing number of men in this world). Real men know that love is about enjoying the ebb and flow of every part of a life shared together. It is OK to expect your man to evolve beyond their lusts into a loving relationship with you. One where your body is celebrated at every stage of being a wife and mother. You can enjoy each other as much when you are dealing with a softened, stretch-marked belly and the soft motherly insulation around your chin post-baby as when your body is hard, trim and muscular after a year of training for 5ks and half marathons. Both are beautiful realities of the life cycle of a mother.

A healthy relationship in the bedroom is about getting rid of physical expectations and celebrating what is real. The same goes for the other aspects of a relationship. I know a couple who laugh with each other every day over the things that go wrong (constantly) in raising a family of four boys. They disagree, and all the while smile and laugh at each other's crazy mistakes, unintelligible comments or even misdirected and misguided actions.

It's not about being perfect people, it's about celebrating each other’s imperfections and moving beyond them and not letting them define each other. I know many people who suggest you never say anything unfavorable about your spouse to anyone. I think this can be good counsel but there are those who are in abusive relationships where they should talk with others, and need to so that their spouses know that there are people beyond their spouse who they will be held accountable to if they insist on abusive behaviors. Keeping abusive behavior (that includes emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse) secret does nobody a favor. You are not helping your relationship to keep a hurtful action secret. It is the job of every good friend and family member to support a woman in their relationship as long as they decide to be in that relationship. But they should be allowed to talk about what they are going through.

That comes with a responsibility of knowing whom with which to share your marriage details. If your mother will undercut your relationship choose another safe source that supports you. Above all find someone to talk to, even if it's a therapist. In all the posts I have read about keeping marriages healthy I have not ever seen finding a neutral third party to confide in as a way to improve relationships. It is a rookie mistake of any married person to believe somebody is headed for divorce because they are going to counseling. People who invest in counseling are those who are willing to do anything to save a marriage and it should be listed as a way to improve relationships not kept as a stigma only to be used by those whose marriages can't be fixed by a woman going to the gym more and being more willing to have sex.

Men wouldn't be so opposed to going if we as women refused to let it have a stigma.

Counselors come in every shape and size and finding someone in whom to confide doesn't have to cost you any money. Sometimes you can find a grandparent who you have seen in a generally happy and steady relationship through many years who can place your troubles into perspective. Or even a couple who is a little older than you who seem to be yielding positive results in their relationship. Great counsel can come from those who are divorced and have experienced the very thing that you are striving to avoid. For those who are deeply religious seeking counsel from an ecclesiastical leader can be an extremely beneficial use of time. Even a friend of similar (or even younger) age and situation can be a great resource, but don't be afraid to ask for help. If you tell a trusted source your troubles you are not ruining your marriage, asking for advice and help is a sign of an individual/ couple who truly are committed to making it work.

All I ask of anybody who comes across my "advice" is that you think twice before committing to some of the extremes that are being raised as a standard for a good wife.  I have not put any value in some lists that suggest unrealistic things like “yes it is possible to never speak an angry word to your spouse”, give me a break (and yourself for that matter).  Allow for mistakes, and be happy that you aren’t perfect.  Perfect people generally are called back to heaven early and I’m sure you and your spouse don’t want to die earlyJ  Enjoy each other’s imperfections and give yourself some room to improve, go easy on yourself.  Definitely try to improve things but make sure that you are actually making improvements instead of instituting some unknown person’s presently working suggestions.  Remember their situation may have changed since they typed that and they may actually be improving the truth in the first place.