Friday, August 12, 2016

So Much to Say About Summer

I haven't documented a lot of our summer this year. A few months ago I bought a new lap top (which was actually a return from another customer sold to me for a discount), and unfortunately, it has had some problems. I've taken it into the shop six times since I bought it three months ago. Luckily, none of this has cost me a dime due to the awesome warranty, but I haven't had a decent computer to use for most of the summer. Today I picked up my lap top from the shop for *hopefully* the last time. We'll see...

Anyway, summer has been good to me. It was rough in the beginning because I wasn't doing very well emotionally, but I'm feeling a lot better now.

Here are some of the highlights from summer:

Nicky and Daisy took swimming lessons

Summer 2016 

We ate free lunch at the park about 25 times

We went camping - this was Eva's first time. She did alright.

We went to Wyoming with some friends and had a wonderful time.

Summer 2016 

We hung out at various lakes testing out paddle boards and kayaks.

Summer 2016 

Eva started walking.

We went to the Chalk Art Festival.

Summer 2016 

We spent a day in Logan and went to Willow Park Zoo and some other fun places.

Summer 2016 

We has season passes to Lagoon, our local amusement park.

Scotty and I went on Pioneer Trek.

Trek 2016 

My sister-in-law potty trained Zoe for me. HALLELUJAH!

I started doing PiYo. If I could eat healthy, this would probably be very beneficial for me.

Summer 2016 

Scotty, Nicky, and I went to Cub Scout camp.

Summer 2016 

I was on the committee for our Church's summer party. I learned how to twist balloon hats, sword, and dogs and then taught the Cub Scouts how. I now have the ultimate respect for balloon twisters.

I taught my kids how to sew buttons and do boondoggle.

Scotty and I worked on Nicky and Daisy's bedrooms to 85% completion.

Summer 2016 

We had a Grandma Camp complete with an inflatable water slide.

We went on 4-5 hikes.

Summer 2016 

We rode the Heber Creeper (a train).

Summer 2016 

I got up by 5:30 almost every weekday morning to exercise.

I figured out that the key to successful parenting is for each kid to have their own wading pool.

Summer 2016 

We killed two bunnies.

We kept nine chickens alive.

Summer 2016 

We did the neighborhood color run.

Summer 2016 

We celebrated Scotty's 35th birthday in the mountains.

We registered our four-wheeler for the first time since we bought it five years ago.

In many ways, we were bored out of our minds, but in other ways, we partied hard. I thingkI can declare this summer a successful one.

Now... hooray for school!

(The kids'... not mine!)

Five days and counting...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Things I Must Confess

I once ran over a lady with my shopping cart at Costco. She was talking on her cell phone, and I was pushing a giant composter that I couldn't see over.

Every time I get in the car with Zoe, I give her a Tic Tac and tell her it's medicine that makes her not throw up (she has a thing for faking car sickness. My placebo helps me know when it's legit).

I like McDonald's chicken nuggets and could easily eat a twenty-piece by myself if I didn't have to share with my kids (sweet and sour sauce is a must even though it tastes nothing like actual sweet and sour sauce).

I have completely given up on my New Years resolution to not drink soda in 2016. Every time I go to my mom's house, I get a cold soda out of her fridge and then I tell her, "I have to drink this because I'm quitting tomorrow."

I've used the same kabuki make-up brush for over 8 years (and I've never washed it). Every day, I think, "Wow! I am rubbing 8 years worth of... Something... On my face right now." But then I remember that a new brush is $30, and I get over it real quick.

I like to stick rose petals up my nose and then shoot them out like confetti (don't knock it til you try it!)

Sometimes I'm grateful for Zoe's speech issues because she says really awful, embarrassing things, and I can make it sound like she said something else. Like today, when she said "You're fat" to my friend, I totally played it off like she said "You bad!" which is what it sounded like anyway, and then I started play fighting with her and saying, " No, YOU bad!" and when she said, "No, YOU fat!" it sounded like she said, "No, YOU bad!" and then I started singing, "I'm Bad" by Michael Jackson, and all was well.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Women I Want to Be Like

Today I've been thinking about the women I admire most - the women I want to be like. I have so many friends and acquaintances who are just amazing! They are ordinary women with extraordinary traits. If I could be a combination of all of these women, I'm pretty sure I'd be a greater super hero than Marvel has ever seen. I'm just sayin. Alas, I'm not quite there, but here are some of the traits of a handful of the women I admire (the list is far longer than I can post today).

Let's begin with my friend Christie. There's a lot to love about Christie, but one thing I have always admired about her is the way she treats everyone like a best friend. She remembers names and details about people, and she is genuinely happy to see everyone whether it's a life-long friend or the server from Red Robin that brought her extra fry sauce six months ago. Christie has taught me to value people regardless of the relationship.

Next is my daughters' dance teacher Miss Sara. This woman is amazing in so many ways, but one thing I particularly like about Sara is that she has a full, busy life, but she never plays the "too busy" card. She is so giving of her time, and she openly and lovingly supports other people in their successes and accomplishments. Sara has taught me that the best way to have a full life is to show others they are worth making time for.

One of my life-long friends, Cheyenne is what I consider "Celestial Kingdom material." She is fit for heaven, and she's the type of person I'd be okay rubbing shoulders with for eternity. Cheyenne has the ability to see the good in every day things. She is a person who looks at 18 loads of laundry and sees the blessing of clothes to wear. She looks at chocolate hand prints on the wall and sees children to love. She looks at the grocery bill for the month and rejoices in good health and mouths to feed. Cheyenne has taught me that some of life's biggest messes and largest inconveniences are actually reflections of our greatest blessings.

One of my best friends from church is Brianne, and she is a good listener. Brianne once called me and let me whine to her about how "hard" my life is. She was so compassionate. She didn't give advice, she just listened and completely validated my feelings. The kicker was, Brianne's husband had cancer and nearly died last year. I kept saying, "Bri, I feel so horrible whining to you about all of this when at any moment you would be completely justified in saying 'Suck it up!'" but she never did that. Brianne has taught me that we all have pains and sorrows, and we don't need to measure one another by them.

Shannon is my newest friend. We only met a few months ago, but we "hit it off" right away. Meeting Shannon was an answer to a prayer. She showed up right when I needed her. She is pretty incredible, but one thing I really love about Shannon is that I have never heard her say one negative or demeaning thing about her body. In a world where we are conditioned to hate our bodies, it's so refreshing to be around a woman who doesn't fall for it. Shannon has taught me, for lack of a better way to phrase it, to shut up about my imperfections.

I love that women can draw strength from one another, and even though we can be catty, envious, or competitive at times, we ultimately have an opportunity to learn from one another and to experience variety in talents and abilities. I learn from other women every day, and even though I don't always apply my knowledge well, I'm trying to draw continually from the good I see in others.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

We Put the 'Rek' in 'Trek'

At the beginning of the year, Scotty and I were asked if we would be a Ma & Pa for stake trek. A big part of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the 1,300 mile journey early Church members took from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley.

This journey brought the pioneers many afflictions as well as many joys. As modern-day saints, we still rely heavily on their stories and experiences to build our own faith in hard times. The pioneers were wonderful examples of sacrifice and faith, which is why many youth groups reenact the trek west.

As part of trek, the teenagers are divided into "families," each led by a Ma & Pa. This particular trek was in Fort Bridger, Wyoming. We were given 8 teenagers for our family, and each family had a handcart to pull on the trail. We walked approximately 18 miles - 16 of those with our handcart.

Trek 2016

I honestly don't know how to summarize trek in a blog post. I've never been before - I didn't have the chance to go as a teenager, so this was my first experience. It was, in short, amazing. Our family was a great mixture of personalities and cultures. Everyone got along wonderfully, and I didn't expect that. We didn't have an ounce of contention among us. That's not to say there weren't struggles - our kids had problems with blisters and muscle fatigue, and we had an incident with a bloody nose, and one kid had constant tummy troubles due to IBS, but there was nothing major.

One of my concerns was the heat, and it ended up being very tolerable. Yes, it was hot, but there was a nice breeze that kept us from getting overheated. Another concern was the attitudes and behavior of the teenagers. In recent years, I haven't had the best perception of teenagers, but I now realize that that is because I've been working with some of the more difficult ones in my calling as a Sunday school teacher (for the record, my Sunday school class is currently in a place I would consider "good." Not ideal, but good. I'm fine with that considering some of the issues we've had).

The teenagers that were assigned to our trek family turned out to be pretty awesome. Scotty and I went to bed each night talking about how great they were, and while there were a few that would have done well in any family, there were a few in our family that we knew were "our" children. Not to boast, but there were some for whom we were the best parents for, and that affirmed to us that the organization of the families was inspired.

Trek 2016 

As a family, we shared many laughs and many spiritual moments. At first, things were a little awkward as we got to know one another, and it took some time for some of the kids to open up, but after two hours on a bus together, we were bonding really well. About an hour into pushing the handcart, I said, "Can you guys believe we just met this morning?" It felt like we'd been a family for a long time.

The farther we got into our trek, the closer we grew as a family. At the beginning, the kids would often run off with friends and come check in with us from times to time, but by the end, they wanted to stay together as a family. We spend a lot of time sitting in a circle on buckets, talking about trek, life, and the gospel.

Trek 2016

I won't go over every detail of trek, but there are two experiences I want to write about. 

First, I started having problems with my foot about a month ago. I started a new exercise regimen, and I thought my foot was just sore because I'd been exercising barefoot, which I don't normally do. But the pain didn't go away, and last week, it suddenly got a lot worse. I began to think that it might be plantar fasciitis (I still think that might be what it is). It got bad enough that I was limping pretty regularly, and I started to worry that I wouldn't be able to complete the trek or that, if I did complete the trek, I would do more damage to my foot. 

On the morning we left, I got out of bed and stepped onto my foot anticipating pain, but it wasn't there. It wasn't completely gone, but it was reduced to the point where I didn't notice it. My foot didn't bother me at all on trek. There were just a couple of times when I stepped on a rock and it hit the right spot and reminded me that I had a foot problem. Then, as soon as I stepped through the door at home, I took off my shoe and took a step, and the pain and limping immediately returned. 

Think what you may of that, but I believe Heavenly Father wanted me to go on this trek, so I was blessed with temporary relief from the pain so I could do so. 

The other story I want to share is pretty neat. On Friday night, all of the bishops (leaders of our individual congregations) came up to camp, and we met together as wards (congregations). While we were sitting with the youth from our ward, listening to our bishop speak, Scotty and I were both admiring the amazing sky. I was looking at this:

Trek 2016 

And Scotty was looking at this:

Trek 2016 

My sky looks prettier, until you notice this:

Trek 2016

We, of course, thought this was very, very cool. 

I am so grateful that we had this experience. It is something I will look back on fondly for the rest of my life. I am so amazed at how quickly I felt a genuine love for the kids in my family. When trek ended, there was a part of me that was devastated to send them back into the world. I wasn't ready for the journey to be over. 

It's been 24 hours. I miss them so much!

In addition to developing a great familial bond with my 8 teenagers, I also learned a lot about myself. I had many moments where I felt different from the other Mas & Pas. Scotty and I weren't doing all of the same things they were doing with their kids, and sometimes I felt like I should be doing things like them, but then I had the thought that I wasn't meant to be the same as the other Mas & Pas. Scotty and I were asked to do this because of our unique strengths and perspectives. We were never meant to be exactly like any other Ma & Pa. From then on, I tried to be myself and serve and love in my way, and that was what our family needed. 

The entire experience was so wonderful. I am antsy to do it again!

Trek 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Thoughts on Weight

I hope the title of this post doesn't turn you away. Weight is a topic I don't care to read or write about, and yet, here I am... writing about weight.

To get to my point in this post, I need to tell you a little about my history with my weight. Bear with me.

As a child and as a teenager, I was very thin. I ate anything I wanted - practically living off of junk food for the first 18 years of my life. Then, after getting married, I started putting on weight. I'm now classified as "overweight."

I'm telling you this as a matter of fact, not to put myself down or to whine. A few years ago, I had high cholesterol, and my doctor urged me to lose weight. The weight he recommended is 43 pounds less than what I weigh now (I'd settle for 20).

I never thought I would struggle with weight. I thought being thin for life was a sure thing for me. Even when I started putting on a little weight, I just brushed it off and thought, "I can afford to gain a few pounds. No big deal." But then I got to the point where it was too much weight, and I started feeling bad about myself.

The truth is, I feel bad about myself... a lot.

But I'm not going to dwell on that. I've realized that, even if I were 20 (or even 43) pounds lighter, none of it would matter if I didn't already like myself. So I'm working on that. Liking myself. But there's another important lesson I have learned from my weight.

A few years ago, I realized that if I'd stayed skinny my whole life, I would have continued eating absolute junk until I either acquired a life-threatening disease or died. I would have never exercised. Sure, I'd be thin, but I would treat my body like utter crap. That's just how I am.

But because I have struggled with weight, I have taken the opportunity to make lifestyle changes. I exercise, and because I exercise, I am strong. Yes, I weigh more than I should, but I have developed strength that I wouldn't have otherwise. This morning I was at an exercise class, and I was dripping sweat as I did burpees and push-ups, and I thought about how I never would have been able to do those things in my skinny body because I never would have had to.

Additionally, I know that if I'd remained skinny, I would have given myself the credit for it. I wouldn't have acknowledged that it was in my genes. I would have truly believed that I'd worked for it and deserved it (I can say the same thing of my children. I think God gave me strong-willed, slightly challenging children so I wouldn't give myself the credit. If they'd been well-behaved and obedient, I would have thought it was because of my wonderful parenting, and I would have been judgmental of all of the mothers whose children weren't perfect like mine because, clearly, those mothers would be doing it all wrong).

So in some sick, twisted way, I'm grateful for what being overweight has done for me.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Title is the Hardest Part (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: Yesterday my baby figured out how to take the lid off the bottle of breakfast syrup. Imagine this for a moment: a 14-month-old at the kitchen table with a 1 gallon jug of Mrs. Butterworth's.

No really, I imagine it!

Are you crying?

Because you should be.

Fact #2: Today the three-year-old opened a can of root beer and poured it into several cups on the kitchen table and mostly missed the cups. Where was I? Vacuuming bedrooms downstairs.

Fact #3: Do you see how dangerous it is to clean? A mere attempt at tidy carpet has resulted in what I'm sure will be eternal root beer stickiness on the linoleum (which only adds to the never-ending syrup mess). The cost of cleaning is to high! Too high, I say.

Fact #4: The Giver is on Netflix  now. If you've never watched it, you should.

Fact #5: We recently got to a place in life where markers were allowed to be kept in accessible places. Zoe still had a few marker-related incidents from time to time, but for the most part, it was working for us. This week, Eva learned how to take the caps off markers, so I have to go back to hiding all of the markers. The problem is, I'm so out of the habit that I often forget. Now  there are master pieces all over my house, and I am constantly finding markers all over the house without lids on them. I throw away about two per day.

Fact #6: Notice how I put that Giver thing in there to break up the messes a bit. Let the truth be known: my life is messy.

Fact #7: I'm a firm believer in supportive pictures in blog posts and yet, I do not practice this belief because of laziness.  It's been a really long time since I've posted a picture of anything, so here is my kid in a crow mask:


Fact #8: Sometimes when I talk to people my age who are single, and we discuss their current dating life, I realize that, at this point in my life, making new friends is sometimes very similar to dating. I keep finding myself in whirlwind "romances." Is this true for everyone, or am I just creepy? 

Fact #9: Tonight I had to go to a square dancing activity in preparation for the upcoming pioneer trek I'm participating in next week. What is a pioneer trek, you ask? This is where Mormons get a little crazy and dress up as pioneers and pull handcarts through the middle of Wyoming. 

Hopefully I'll be able to elaborate on this more in another post, but anyway... square dancing. One of my least favorite things on earth. I don't like touching people I don't know. In fact, in most cases, I don't like touching people I do know, and square dancing is very touchy-feely, partner-switchingly awkward. 

But I was a good sport, and I did it. I held hands with 20 different sweaty males (all of whom were either teenagers or married men... awkward, awkward, akward!) Plus we were all dressed in full-on pioneer garb, and it was 96 degrees outside. 

Can someone get me a medal? Cuz I'm pretty sure I deserve one. 

Fact #10: I was a little surprised when we square danced to disco music and "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Things I'll Miss

I have four kids.

How did this happen? How can I be old enough to have four kids? Why have I been allowed and trusted to be responsible for all of these little people?

It's a lot of people. I have many friends who have more than four. Frankly, I don't know how they do it. I feel like I have absolutely met my limit. Actually, I felt that way with three. Somehow I went ahead and had another even though I was already completely overwhelmed.

I routinely get the"You're going to miss this" speech from my elders. I smile and nod and try to be a good sport about it even though I really hate being given The Speech. I know I will miss parts of this, but I definitely won't miss all of it, and I'm a firm believer that missing it is part of the reward of surviving it. Once you've made it through, you get to have the blessing of hindsight that allows you to miss it. I'm not there yet. Let me have my resentment so I have something to regret later. It's my right as a mother. Stop bossing my motherhood.

Anyway, like I said, there are definitely things about my children's current phases and stages that I will miss someday.

Eva - age 14 months

I will miss her hugs and her unconditional love. Babies love their mommas like no one else. I'll miss her toddles - that silly walk that works for her but makes me contemplate, what if we all walked that way? I'll miss her baby giggles and her rolly thighs and her squishy potbelly. I'll miss the way her head feels on my shoulder and the way the weight of her sinks into my chest when she falls asleep on me. I'll miss the way she comes up to me while I'm asleep and gives me a big, loud kiss on the face. I'll miss the way she snuggles with her blankets. I'll miss the way she points and gets excited when she sees candy and the way her face looks when she says, "Whooooooaaaa!" I'll miss her weird, little tooth that has a slit in it. Someday it will fall out, and she will look like an entirely different person. I'll miss marveling at everything she learns and the ways she grows.

Zoe - age 3 1/2

I'll miss the way she whispers "Yesss!" under her breath when she gets what she wants (she pronounces it "Yefffff!" because she can't say make the 'S' sound very well). I'll miss the way she gallops everywhere she goes. I'll miss the way she sings, "I like you, I like you, I like you just the way you are!" and how she asks to watch "My whoa" which is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I'll miss the way she chirps, "Me help! Me help!" whenever I am working on something that I really don't want her to help with. I'll miss the way she put her swimming suit bottoms on with her waist through the leg hole and the way she plays dress up and announces things like, "Yook, I a yion!" or "Yook, me a daddy!" I'll miss her sincere laughter and the arches in her brow that don't quite line up with her natural eyebrows (maybe she'll get to keep those, but she's already lost the birthmark on her eyelid and the natural curl in her hair, so you never know what will disappear as they grow). I'll miss the way she eats the white stuff out of the Oreos and throws the cookies on the floor (see? I know that there are things I'll miss that annoy the heck out of me right now).

Daisy - age 6 3/4

I'll miss her confidence and her passion. Right now her self-esteem is high, and there isn't much to hold her back. She is fearless. She know what she wants and she fights for it. She isn't yet tainted by worrying about what others think. I'll miss the way she calls me "Momma," even though "Momma! Momma! Hey Momma! Momma! Hey Momma!" gets old after a while. I'll miss the mismatched outfits she insists on wearing (plaid shorts under a chevron pattern dress, loud neon socks with high heels for church). I'll miss her obsession with Beanie Boos and Shopkins and the way she lines them up to play. I'll miss her constant insistence that I spend every waking moment with her. I'll miss the way she dances through every room of the house and constantly asks for music to inspire her moves.

Nicky - age 9 1/2

I'll miss his desire to do what's right. I'll miss his passion for stuffed animals and blankies. I'll miss the way he insists that we do the same bed time routine every night. I'll miss the way he loves spending time with me and the way he asks me about everything I do. "What are you watching?" "What is your book about?" "Who sings this song?" "Will you teach me how to play that game?" I'll miss the way he uses masking tape to accomplish great things - like building a Hot Wheels track that runs down the living room banister. I'll miss his love for Cub Scouts and the way he looks forward to den meeting each week. I'll miss how goal-minded he is and his desire to achieve things. I'll miss the way he joins us in our exercising efforts - the way he does burpees in the living room with his dad and the way he critiques my moves. "Mom, you're doing it different than Shaun T. I don't think you're working as hard as he is." (BUSTED!)

So yeah... I'll miss it. I know it. I don't need anyone telling me so while I'm in the thick of it, though.