Sunday, February 18, 2018

Meet Teenage Britt

The other day I stumbled across a copy of the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Journal that I wrote in as a teenager. I took a deep breath and read through it, knowing it would be slightly painful. I don't reflect fondly on my teenage years. I wish that my adult self could travel back in time and talk some sense into my teenage self, but it wouldn't matter... I know her, and I know she won't listen. Her frontal lobe isn't fully developed.

Through my journal, I was reminded of some of the truths about Teenage Britt. Here are some of them:

She was an avid journal keeper.

I filled many journals from the time I was ten until I was about 22, so it's no wonder one of them was the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Journal. As a young adult, I carried a journal with me to church each Sunday and wrote in it before sacrament meeting started. It was around the time I became pregnant with Nicky that I stopped keeping a journal. That was about the time I started blogging, so that's probably why I stopped keeping a hand-written journal. I still have one, but I only write in it a few times a year.

She was very self-conscious about her face.

I had terrible acne when I was a teenager. I tried every over-the-counter and prescription acne treatment known to man. I think my body was composed of 10% salicylic acid by the time I turned 20. Nothing worked. I was always trying to cover my face, but I couldn't afford fancy make-up, so I just caked on the cheapest Cover Girl foundation I could find. I avoided swimming pools like the plague, and if I had to get in water, I never let my face get wet.

I finally found a prescription that worked when I was in my twenties. It was called Evoclin, and my insurance didn't cover it, so I had to pay about $120 for it. Now they make a generic version, and it's much more affordable. My skin cleared up and stayed clear as long as I was proactive about using the prescription. After that, I tried to get rid of my scarring through chemical peels. They didn't really help.

I used Evoclin until I was about 27. Then I went off it, and my face remained (mostly) clear. I still have minor scarring, but for the most part, my face has healed. I still get zits but not like I did as a teen and young adult.

She didn't get asked to high school dances.

I never got asked to a dance at my school.

She made some really weird date choices.

I didn't go to any boys' choice dances, but I went to all the girls' choice ones, and I asked some really strange boys. One time it was a boy who worked at Chick-Fil-A in the mall. I don't know why... he wasn't interested in me at all. Our relationship was purely customer service oriented - I bought chicken nuggets from him on my lunch break from work. He said yes, and we went, and it was incredibly awkward.  Then when I was a senior, I asked a sophomore to Senior Ball. Again, incredibly awkward.

I don't know what my thought process was.

She was a liar.

Until I was about 25-27 years old, I was very dishonest. I must have very desperately longed to change this as a teenager because in my Chicken Soup journal, I mentioned several times that I wished I were more honest.

I have some pretty good ideas about why honesty was a struggle for me, but I wont go into it. It's something that took a long time to overcome, but I did it. I believe I'm an honest person now.

She couldn't function without boys.

As a child and as a teen, I put way too much stock in boys. I was always longing for someone, anyone to like me. It wasn't just a crush or "taking interest" in the opposite sex. It was absolute desperation. It was pathetic and sad. I don't know how it looked to the observer, but I know what I experienced and felt at the time, and I don't think it was healthy.

She had amazing friends, but she didn't know it.

I am still very close to a lot of my friends from high school. Not all of us see each other regularly, but we try to meet up with at least once a year, and we have a great time.

She had questionable hygiene.

Of everything I could tell you about my teenage self, this is, by far, the most embarrassing. I had terrible hygiene! I did not bathe nearly as often as I should have. I washed my hair and face, and that's it. AND... I was on the dance team! Which means I sweated for hours and hours each day.

I also rarely washed my clothes, and I always slept in them. I never wore pajamas. Sometimes I didn't even take my shoes off.

I was probably the stinky kid, and I was clueless. No wonder no one asked me to dances!

She was good overall.

Even though I lied a lot and might have been smelly, I was a really good teenager. I did well in school, I was responsible, and I stayed out of trouble.

She held herself back.

I was a very timid person (still am). I wanted to try out for the school play or be in the choir. I would have loved to do student government or play volleyball or basketball. I was so incredibly scared of failure, that I never let myself try anything. I still struggle with this, and I worry that I've projected it onto my kids.

She had incredible faith.

This is the one thing I still can't wrap my mind around when I think of myself as a teenager. I had such a strong testimony. I studied my scriptures diligently and carried a Book of Mormon everywhere I went. I lived for Personal Progress and seminary (even though I sluffed sometimes). I listened to spiritual music more than secular music, and I went to church alone a lot of the time.

There was something in me that was very spiritually mature. Sometimes I wonder if I was better at it then than I am now.


Teenage Britt had a few strengths, but I am so very glad that she doesn't exist anymore. I occasionally pay tribute to her by jamming to N'Sync or telling "Back in my day" stories, but I always follow those events with a big sigh of relief that I never have to be a teenager again!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Currently {February 2018 Edition}

Reading: The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel

Watching: Lost... again.

Listening to: "Man of the Woods" by Justin Timberlake (the song, not the album - though I have "test ran" each song) in between The Greatest Showman soundtrack.

Procrastinating: Making some doctor appointments, cleaning my house, and doing any exercise that involves more work than walking.

Wanting: A family room. A few years ago we built a bedroom and a storage room where our family room was. We intended to build a family room in our basement, but life got in the way. We need a little room to spread out. There isn't enough seating in the living room for everyone, so I feel like we are all in each other's space all the time.

Trying to: Convince more of my friends to watch Lost.

Craving: Sushi

Wearing: A Dunder Mifflin hoodie and jeans.

Relieved by: Nothing. I'm super anxious about several things, and I might explode.

Missing: A Chinese restaurant that Scotty and I used to eat at before we got married. We went there at least once a week. Sometimes twice. We were fans. Sadly, they closed down a long time ago.

Excited to: Watch more Lost and work on some new puzzles we got for Valentine's Day.

Neglecting: Getting my hair trimmed (Friday goal: make a hair appointment).

Feeling: Meh.

Wishing: That I were less prone to feeling annoyed.

Burdened by: Valentine's candy wrappers stashed in every nook and cranny of my house.

Loving: Lost

Thankful for: Hulu. Because Lost isn't on Netflix anymore.

The Beginnings

I looked back through my blog archives and found that it's been four years since my last Valentine's Day post. I'm overdue for something sappy and gag-worthy.

This morning, I did the math and realized that Scotty and I have been together for 19 years as of today (for a minute I worried that we missed the 20th Anniversary, so I was relieved that it's only 19).

Let me tell you how it all began...

The First Begining

Our relationship has more than one beginning. The first beginning was when I was 14 years old. Scotty and I went to the same church, but we never really interacted. He was two years older than me.

One day for a youth activity we were playing games out on the lawn of the church. We played "human knot" where you stand in a circle, everyone grabs two random hands in the middle, and then you have to work together to untangle yourselves without letting go.

Scotty grabbed my hand.

It meant nothing to him, but for me - it is what brought him to my attention.

That night I wrote in my journal that I was going to marry Scotty.

The Second Beginning

Several months passed after the "human knot" incident. During that time, my crush on Scotty grew big time. I confided in some friends at church that I liked him. I never thought anything would actually come of it - for me it was just really fun to crush on an older boy. I didn't know Scotty very well, and I just assumed he had a girlfriend. But oh! What a fun challenge it was to think of ways to try and talk to him or to just conveniently be where he was. My best friend lived really close to Scotty, so when I walked to her house, I would always go out of my way to walk past Scotty's house.

(Spoiler alert: my best friend ended up marrying Scotty's step-brother, so walking past his house brought multiple results).

On the day before Valentine's Day when I was 15, I dragged a friend of mine from to Scotty's house to give him a Valentine. It was just a paper Valentine with a sucker attached to it. My friend and I were always jokingly asking Scotty if we could drive his car. The Valentine had a picture of a car, and it said, "Valentine, you drive me crazy!" (We still have the valentine).

The next morning, I went out on my front porch and found one of those gas station roses wrapped tightly in a cellophane tube (do these things still exist?)

I picked it up, and turned it over to see a message written in Sharpie:

To: Brittany
From: Scotty

I'm sure you can imagine the reaction of 15-year-old Britt.

(I was freaking out in the best of ways).


Nineteen years later, I am blessed to still share February 14th (and all the other days of the year) with Scotty. Those teenagers who swapped valentines seem like completely different people from a completely different lifetime, but I am so grateful that Scotty and I have stretched, changed, and grown into two people who still love each other.

Scanned Pics 032
(We don't look anything like this anymore!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Eight Favorite Quotes - Braving the Wilderness

For a while I've been contemplating writing some posts where I share my favorite quotes from the books I've read. I've been hesitant to do so because long lists of quotes don't really make intriguing blog posts. But today I realized what a wonderful resource it would be to have these compilations of quotes for my own reference.

Today's list comes from Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, which I finished a few weeks ago. My overall rating for this book is about 3.5 stars. This book has some really strong five-star content, but you have to wade through a lot of 2-3 star content to get to it. I've checked out all of Brene Brown's books from the library at various times, but this is the first one I've finished - not due to lack of interest but lack of time (remember when I did school?) I will definitely be going back to revisit her other books. I love her perspective.


The best gift this book gave me was the term "wilderness." Since reading it, I have found myself calling out the wilderness. As I witness contention over issues where I can see both sides, I now take a deep breath and say, "This is the wilderness," and somehow, that brings me peace.

With that, here are eight quotes I enjoyed in Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown:

"Do not think you can be brave with your life and your work and never disappoint anyone. It doesn't work that way." -Oprah Winfrey (p. 5)

"Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater that all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion."  -Quoted from The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

"Wilderness is a metaphor to represent everything from a vast and dangerous environment where we are forced to navigate difficult trials to a refuge of nature and beauty where we seek space for contemplation. What all... have in common are the notions of solitude, vulnerability, and an emotional, spiritual, or physical quest." (p.36)

"Be more curious than defensive." (p. 37)

This quote is referring to listening to other people's perspectives and asking them questions rather than worrying about defending our own points of view.

"People are hard to hate close up. Move in." Title of Chapter 4

"It is consistent with the idea that collective assembly is more than just people coming together to distract themselves from life by watching a game, concert, or play - instead it is an opportunity to feel connected to something bigger than oneself; it is an opportunity to feel joy, social connection, meaning, and peace. Collective assemble has long been a part of the human experience and the current work begins to quantify its important psychological benefits." -Quoted from the research of Shira Gabriel, Jennifer Valenti, Kristin Naragon-Gainey, and Ariana Young, 2017 (p. 130)


If you only read one quote from this post, I would want it to be one of these last two:


"...if our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media, and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own, and we betray our faith." (p. 76)

"Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong. You will always find it because you've made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don't negotiate their value to the world... No one belongs here more than you." (p. 158)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Eva's World

Meet Eva.

Age 2.8.

Toe-headed, sippy cup obsessed, highly opinionated, lovely, stubborn Eva.

Whether you argue for age two or age three, she is definitely in the thick of the Terribles. 

(For the genetic cocktails Scotty and I have created, it seems to be worse for age three, so I keep reminding myself that what I'm going through now is nothing compared to what's coming over the next year).

(Also, when my kids are out of this phase, and go I back and read my blog posts where I boob about how hard it is, I always think, "It couldn't have been that bad. Why was I such a whiner?" but then when I'm living it again, I realize... it really is that bad. So this is a note to my future self: age two and three are really, really hard. You're not just being a baby! You've been through it four times now. The pain is real). 

(AND... I know that there is someone out there who has teenagers who is thinking I'm an idiot).

The good thing about the Terribles is that they are also incredibly cute at this age. One minute they are literally clawing the skin off your face and screaming in your ear (in public, no less - I just love when we're in Costco, and my child's scream is so high-pitched that the people around us flinch and cover their ears), and the next minute they are giving you eskimo kisses.

What is with these tiny people?

(As I'm writing this, it's 6:30 a.m. and Eva is right up in my grill whispering "milk" in her serial killer voice).

The other day I took my first steps toward returning to my former routine of getting up at 5:00 in the morning. I'm out of practice so I was exhausted by mid-morning. I got Eva some milk (to prevent the whispering) and turned on Daniel Tiger and took a quick nap on the couch. I think I was woken up by Eva about every three minutes for the 18 minutes I attempted to sleep. At one point, she was climbing all over me, and when I got up, I was soaking wet, and so was she. I'm pretty sure she peed on me. She also managed to unlock my phone and take about 200 pictures. Most of them were of her own finger, but she also took these little gems:

About 1/4 of the photos featured her feet:

At some point, she must've accidentally gotten into the filters.

And apparently I was the subject for a time.

I've never really seen what I look like when I sleep. I'm a little creeped out by my eyes. I appear to be peeking. No wonder no one respects my sleep. I don't look believable!

(Not that my kids care one bit whether I'm really asleep or not).

This age is beautiful and hard. This is the phase where, with each of my children, I have ended up on anti-depressants. My coping skills with a three-year-old are very lacking, and this phase fatigues me (physically and mentally). It's really easy for me to slip into a pit of overwhelm. I'm not quite to that point, but I feel myself heading there.

C'mon Eva. Let's get through this.

(And while we're talking about it, please, pretty please, don't touch the 700 piece puzzle that I left sitting on the kitchen table last night because I falsely believed that I could finish it before you woke up this morning, but here it is... 6:45, and you are jumping on the couch - the couch that you have managed to dislodge most of the springs from, reiterating that I can never have anything nice).

(Sigh... I already know how this story ends. At least I'll have something to blog about tomorrow).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Things I've Done Lately

Cooked eggs in mason jar lids (it went exactly how I thought it would)

Got a tilapia bone stuck in the roof of my mouth while eating fish tacos and playing Risk (I lost the game due to a very tragic mistake in Asia)

Filled sippy cups...

Over and over and over...

Drove three miles with this Walmart bag stuck to my antennae (thank you, random flying garbage)

Slept on wet hair and woke up as Inigo Montoya

 Sliced my finger (and nail) with a rotary cutter 

Went to the Brad Paisley concert

Navigated Crazy Hair Day

Endured Nicky's first Lego League competition

Ate this gyro (but removed some of the onions)

Finished a couple of puzzles

"Oooo"-ed and "ahhhh"-ed over the twistiness of this head of romaine

Bought new boots

Attempted to learn the choreography from the "Man of the Woods" music video

Monday, January 29, 2018

There I Am

A few weeks ago, I ate lunch under a large framed print of Carl Bloch's Sermon on the Mount painting. It's a very familiar piece to me since a lot of Carl Bloch's artwork is displayed in LDS churches and temples. It's also on the cover of the Gospel Art book.

I remember reading in a Dan Brown novel (I find them interesting - don't make fun of me) that in art, the hand pointing up, as it is in this painting, is a symbol of enlightenment, knowledge, or understanding. Dan Brown used the example of Horatio Greenough's sculpture of George Washington, but I immediately thought of the image of the Savior teaching on the Mount. 

As I sat under the painting enjoying my sandwich, I started looking at each of the people in the painting, wondering which one is me.

In truth, I see a little bit of myself in all of them. 

Sometimes I am this woman hiding my face and wallowing in my doubts, fears, insecurities, and weaknesses. 

Sometimes I'm this guy, sitting with my back toward the Savior but still listening over my shoulder just in case He says something I like. I kind of look at this man as the one with the FOMO. He's there just in case it ends up being good, but he's not "all in." 

Sometimes I'm this man in the background. I'm there, but I'm not listening all the way. I'm thinking about something else or leaning too far into my own intellect.

Other times, I'm one of these people whispering in the shadows. I'm listening but with the intent to gossip or scrutinize.

And then there's this guy. He's listening, but his body language suggests that there is part of him that is closed off from what he's hearing. It's like he's saying, "This is nice, but I'm not ready to give up this or that to follow you." He's listening, but he wants to take what he hears and process it on his own and then decide if it's what he wants. Sometimes I am him.

Sometimes I'm this man - listening intently but worried that I might be reproved. Ultimately, I'm on board with what the Savior says, but I'm on the edge of my seat because I don't want to feel chastened. I listen with equal parts hope and nerves.

Sometimes I am this person - wanting to be there to hear the message but lingering back just a little bit in case I'm not worthy. I want to be with the Savior, but I don't have the confidence to let Him see me up close.

Sometimes I am this child - innocently distracted by a butterfly (read more about Bloch's use of children in his paintings here - it will give you a fun, new way to look at his work).

Fortunately, despite all my other personal connections with this painting, I also see myself in this man - giving the Savior his full attention and getting as comfortable as possible because he's in it for the long haul. Yes, that is me, too. I hope to be this man more than I am anyone else in the scene.