Thursday, January 16, 2014


Scotty will graduate from school this year. I have two thoughts on this:

Thought #1: Hooray!

Thought #2: Oh, no!

The "Oh, no!" part comes from the fear that when school is done, something else will take it's place (like a second job or a time-consuming church calling) and nothing will really be different.

The "Hooray!" part, well... that's obvious, right?

It is my hope and dream to be able to have my husband come home at the end of the work day. I want him to eat dinner with us and be a part of our evening routine. I want him to see his children while they are awake and hold the baby while I sweep the kitchen floor. I want him to go to bed with me instead of staying up for an extra three hours to do homework.

It has been a long, hard journey getting this degree.

Back when Scotty graduated high school, he planned to become an electrician. He spent a year working for an electric company before serving a two-year mission for the LDS Church. The plan was to come home from his mission and work for that company again while doing an apprenticeship program to become a journeyman.

While Scotty was on his mission, two major events happened. First, the terrorist attacks of September 11. Then the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Both of these events resulted in a decrease in work, and the company had to start laying people off, so when the time came for Scotty to return to work, there wasn't a place for him in the company.

This was a huge devastation for us; we were completely lost. It had been "The Plan" - it was what Scotty wanted, and it was what I wanted, and our lives were supposed to fall perfectly in order after his mission.

Scotty spent about two weeks talking to all of his connections, trying to get his foot in the door at the electric company. One day, he ran into an old friend who worked at a warehouse. The friend suggested that Scotty come work with him. Scotty took the job thinking it was something to do for a few weeks before a job came through with the electric company.

Well, a job never came through, so Scotty's dreams for his education and career were crushed, and there was no Plan B.

So Scotty worked at the warehouse and quickly moved into management. He made decent money for a 21-year-old, and I was working, too, so we bought a house. Scotty's boss was very anti-school, so anytime Scotty made any mention of going to school, his boss would say things like, "You don't need to go to school. I'll make sure you're making X dollars in X amount of time. You'll be able to retire at age 35."

We were so young and impressionable. We fell under the guy's spell and believed every promise he made. Now, obviously, we know a lot more about life. And guess who got laid off and had to go to school?

Yep. That guy.

After a few years or working at the warehouse, Scotty came home one day and said, "I need to go to school."

It scared me, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I was pregnant with Nicky, our first baby, when Scotty started school.

Since Scotty had a good job and we had a house and a baby on the way, he started small by taking a few night classes at the community college. That became the routine, semester after semester, and when you work full-time and have a family, a few night classes can be overwhelming. Scotty ended up getting laid off from that "good job," and fortunately, quickly lined up another "good job," and the routine continued.

He graduated from the community college and transferred to a university. Then more night classes. Then a few day classes when things started getting less flexible (thanks to his employer for letting him attend class during lunch breaks and allowing him to leave work for class and work late to make up the time).

Now there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Two more semesters. TWO!!!

It will have taken nearly eight years. Scotty has been in school for the entirely of our children's lives. Save for two semesters Scotty had to take off for financial reasons, our children have never known their dad as a non-student. They have gone days at a time without seeing him because they go to sleep before he gets home from school at night and wake up after he leaves for work in the morning.

It has been very, very hard.

So this is a very exciting milestone for us.

It's not the path that I would have hand-picked for us. If I could start over, I might do it differently. But then again, as hard as it has been, we will come out of this in a good place. We've had our home for ten years, and we got it for a very good price. Scotty has a decent job - it has its inconveniences, but they have been so kind to work with him and his schooling. We will also have zero school-related debt. The first four years, we paid for everything ourselves. Then, for the last four years, we've been able to get some grants and reimbursements. We still have to cover some of the expense ourselves, but only about 25% of it.  It was hard to do since our income is "just enough" for what we need (we've relied heavily on Christmas money and tax returns).

Maybe, just maybe, it has been the better way to take the journey.

(For us).

(I don't think I would ever recommend it to anyone else).

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014: Sing a New Song

So far 2014 has been decent to me. I have been really excited to make some resolutions for this year (I started brainstorming back in September), but it has taken me until now to really ponder about them and decide what I want to accomplish this year.

On New Year's Eve, I stumbled across a blog post that mentioned U2's song, "Forty." I'd heard the song before but never really thought anything of it. I ended up watching a music video on Youtube, and I was really drawn to the words as I contemplated the changing year.

"I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay..."

I took a moment and read through Psalm 40, and so much of the passage stood out to me that I decided to make my theme for the year:

Sing a New Song

(No trendy meme or banner necessary. I'm too lazy).

I don't usually assign my years a theme (though I tried it once and didn't really carry it with me past February), but the theme fits so perfectly with what I want from 2014 that I had to go with it. This year I want to change my perspective on many things, improve my spirituality, and truly become better. In other words, I want to sing a new song - a different one than I have been singing for the past year.

With that, here are some of my resolutions for 2014:

Run a half marathon before June. An actual, organized event is ideal, but I reserve the right to run a "private" half marathon should my finances prevent me from paying a registration fee (which is very likely). I signed up for an 8-mile race in June, and the race was just changed to 12 miles, so I might as well train for a half marathon.

Win something. I can win by skill (sometimes) but not by luck. I want to win something this year - a drawing, a giveaway... heck, I'll even settle for BINGO at a family party (even though I hate BINGO, but my hate is a direct result of the game not being winnable by skill).

Reach the weight recommended by my doctor. I'm 15 pounds away. It should be possible, but I'm not one to work overly hard to lose weight. I like my goodies too much.

Read the Book of Mormon as a family. We're already working on it. We figure if we read two pages with our kids every day, we can finish by the end of the year (and we can afford to miss a few days... which we will... because we aren't perfect).

Read The Power of Everyday Missionaries and the Old Testament. It should be easy, but the book? I just can't bring myself to do it. I've had it sitting on my shelf since July of 2011 when my stake leaders gave it to me and asked me to read it. And the Old Testament? I have no problem starting it, but I usually give up somewhere during Abraham's life (sorry, Abe).

I also have a lot of resolutions that are either personal, embarrassing, or not "measurable" (in other words, it's kind of hard to check them off the list) that I won't go into in depth here, but they are the ones that will really help me to "sing a new song:"
  • There are three friendships or relationships I have specific goals for
  • I am trying to do 5,000 things to improve my home/family life
  • I have a bad habit I'm trying to overcome
  • I'm trying to get in a better place spiritually and emotionally
In addition to my resolutions, this is an exciting year for two reasons:
  1. In February, Scotty and I will have a 15th Anniversary (of being "together," not of marriage), so from that point on, I will have been with Scotty for more than half my life! 
  2. After EIGHT YEARS of night classes, Scotty is graduating from school! 
So here's to the new year!

It's going to be a good one!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Running in a Winter Wonderland

I just came home from a 6.5 mile run. It was dark and 19° outside. When I got home, my thighs were the brightest shade of red I've ever beheld on my own skin. My feet were wet, my hair was wet, and when I sat on the toilet, I almost fell off because my legs were numb.



I was worried that I'd run less in the winter months and lose some of my ability, but I've actually been running more. If there's a snow storm, I am all the more excited to get out and run because the air is fresh, and I love the clean look of the white snow. I love the way it feels under my feet when it is powdery and new. 

It helps that I have some friends who are willing to participate in the craziness*.

It also helps that running in the snow gives me a good excuse to go slow (I'm not a fast runner, and I really don't see myself ever being fast). 

Also, I haven't fallen on my butt yet. That's a perk.

The only issue I have with winter running is the bad air - I live in a valley, and we get horrible inversion here. After a few days of poor air, my throat and lungs burn, and I feel like there is a weight on my chest. And that's without running. I do myself a favor and stay out of the muck as much as possible. But when the storms hit, I get outside.

I hope you didn't think this post was actually going somewhere. I just wanted to say that I love running in the winter. 

(Sidenote: I just had to make a blog label for "running." Who is this person? If 28-year-old Britt knew that 30-year-old Britt would do such a thing, she would have tsk-tsk-ed).

*One had to warm up to the idea. The first time I dragged her out running through slush and ice, I thought she was going to kill me. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Politeness of Kings

Today was the first Sunday of the year. It is common in my church for our starting time to change at the beginning of the year (this is because multiple congregations use the same building, so we rotate the times we use the church each year). Last year, church started at 11:00. This year, church starts at 9:00. 
I could list several reasons why I love 9:00 church, but I'll skip that for now and just reiterate that I LOVE 9:00 CHURCH!!!
I'll admit, though, I was a little "off" this morning because it's been a while since I had to get a family of five ready for 9:00 church. My preparations for the day reminded me of a post I wrote three years ago after my cousin e-mailed me and asked me for some tips on being punctual. 
I thought I'd re-publish that post today in honor of 9:00 church... which, though I declared my morning was a little "off," I was not late for, just so you know.
If you're a "late" person, you'll probably read this and want to punch me in the face. Can we still be friends?
If I have ONE talent, it’s being punctual (that and smelling burps – if you burp within a mile of me, I will know. I can’t help it. It’s my gift).
First let me tell you where my punctuality originates from. When I was 12 years old, I had a subscription of sorts to The Babysitters Club books, so I received a book in the mail each month. One of the books I received was a babysitting guide with tips on how to be a good babysitter. Since I was starting my own career as a babysitter, I abided by the book religiously, and one of the tips was to always be 15 minutes early. So at the age of 12, I began going everywhere 15 minutes early because Ann M. Martin told me to. I had no idea that this was not normal, but I’ve been on time ever since.
There are several reasons to be punctual, but here are two of the most important:
1. It is courteous to be on time. In most cases where time constraints exist, there are other people involved. This means that when you are late, there are either people waiting for you or there are people who are distracted by your entrance. By being late, you are communicating to others what your priorities  are. Think about this: if you are consistently late for your job, what does that say about the value you place on your employment? Who are you letting down by not being there on time? Who is making up for your tardiness?
2. Being on time keeps things from getting hectic. You are more likely to make poor traffic decisions, get frustrated, and speak unkindly to people (especially your spouse or children) if you are running late. Imagine this: your son has an appointment at the pediatrician at 3:00. At 2:55, you are pulling out of your driveway. How will you drive? What will your walk into the doctor’s office be like? What will your sign-in time be? How many other appointments will now be pushed back because you were late?
If you are in a pattern of being consistently late for everything, I honestly can’t empathize with you because that has never been a problem for me. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle to be on time. If you were to ask me how to be on time for things, my answer would be, “Just do it.” How am I on time for things? I just am. It’s a hard question to answer, but here are some tips that might help:
Tip 1: Identify some of the reasons you are late. What is happening at the moment of departure that is keeping you from getting out the door? Are you looking for your car keys? Does your child need a sudden potty break? Pay attention to what is happening and brainstorm some solutions. Perhaps you need to find a designated place to put your keys and make a habit of keeping them there ALWAYS. Maybe you need to have mandatory bathroom breaks for your children 15 minutes before you go anywhere. Figuring out what is routinely making you late can help you identify solutions to the problem.
Tip 2A: Figure out how much time you need. Determine how long it takes to travel to your destination. Are you traveling during high traffic? Are there several stoplights between here and there? Then consider what you have to do when you get there. Will you need time to ride an elevator? Will it be difficult to find parking? Is there a fair amount of walking involved? People often aren’t prepared to spend time dealing with these things, but these are realistic things to consider when planning your time.
Tip 2B: Allow time for things that take time. If you are a mother who has to make two trips in and out of the house, buckle three car seats, and load a stroller in the trunk before you pull out of the driveway, you need to allow time for that. If you’re going to the doctor’s office, you need to allow time to sign-in, pay a co-pay, and take care of paperwork. It’s very easy to overlook these factors, but they make a significant difference in planning your time.
Tip 3: Plan departures, not arrivals. It may be helpful to plan on what time to leave instead of what time to arrive. If you’re not arriving at your destination on time, you’re probably not departing on time. Use Tip 2A and figure out what time you need to leave in order to get to your destination on time (or early!!). And don’t forget Tip 2B – if your departure time is 2:45, and you walk out the front door with three kids at 2:45, you’re already late. Give yourself adequate time to buckle the seat belts, pass out the sippy cups, and find a soft hits radio station.
Tip 4: Start earlier. If you have a hard time getting out the door on time, perhaps you need to start getting ready earlier. I think this tip is common sense, but I didn’t want to leave it out.
Tip 5: Get ready the night before. This is another no-brainer, but if you have an early-morning appointment or event, get ready the night before. Set out clothes, pack the diaper bag, and figure out what your breakfast plans are. Anything you can do the night before to eliminate stress in the morning will help you manage your time better.
Tip 6: Plan for the unpredictable. A close friend told me recently that the reason she is always late for everything is because something unpredictable always happens when she’s trying to get out the door. I thought, Well, if it happens every time, isn’t it predictable by now? Sure, it’s not always going to be the same thing, but if there is a five-minute emergency EVERY TIME she tries to leave the house, she can probably manage her time in a way that will allow her to deal with the crisis and still be on time. When planning her departure time, she can easily up it by five minutes so that she has five minutes leeway should a small catastrophe take place.
Tip 7: Be aware of the time. Sometimes people are late because they simply don’t pay attention. If you know you need to be somewhere at a specific time, watch the clock.
Tip 8: Make a commitment to be early. If you plan on being early, you will hardly ever be late. Leeway is a blessing. Use it! In today’s fast-paced world, many people have anxiety about downtime. Being early for something might mean that you have ten minutes with nothing to do. Use that ten minutes to read a book, listen to a song you like, or talk to your kids. Don’t be afraid of being early. I used to arrive at the gym ten minutes before it opened so I could sit in my car alone and pray. There is always something productive you can do in your car if you have to wait.
Several years ago I attended a conference for my job. One of the speakers at the conference focused on punctuality. He reviewed some of the reasons that people are late. He told us that some of the reasons are just bad planning while other are psychological. Some people are consistently late out of subconscious rebellion or need for control. They (subconsciously – remember) don’t like other people telling them what to do, and by being late, they gain a sense of control, they have the upper-hand. I have always thought that was interesting – and frankly, if you’re that type of person, I don’t think I’m capable of “curing” you. But if you simply struggle to manage your time, and you have a desire to be on time, I hope that the tips I’ve given will help you out a little bit.
Now, just for some practical application, let’s use a little scenario to practice:
You have three kids ages 5, 3, and 1 Church starts at 9:00 a.m. You want to be in your seat five minutes before church starts. It takes five minutes to drive there.
Q: What time do you walk out the door?
A: 8:40 a.m.
Why so early? Because you have to buckle three kids in the car which take five minutes (8:45 is your departure time). You have to drive to the church (8:50). You have to unload the kids and walk in the building (8:55). And there you have it! You’re on time!
But what about the getting ready part?
My personal Sunday rule is to start getting ready two hours before church starts. Don’t be fooled – you don’t actually HAVE two hours to get ready because you have to walk out the door at 8:40, remember? That means you have an hour and a half (7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. because you are allowing 10 minutes leeway for “unpredictable” catastrophes).
You already have everyone’s clothes set out and the bags packed because you knew you would be stressed out on Sunday morning so you took the time to prep everything on Saturday night. You have a simple breakfast, get everyone bathed, dried, and dressed. Your baby poops up his back, but that’s okay because you have plenty of time to change him. Then you’re out the door with your church bags at 8:40 as planned.
You aren’t overwhelmed. There is no yelling or dismissal of the Spirit because you are going to be to church on time. It feels so good!
Mormon Standard Time

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Resolutions in Review

Another year has come and gone, and I'm very excited to finalize my resolutions for 2014 (I have big plans! It's going to be a good year... uh... hopefully!) But before I settle in to my goal for the new year, here is how I did on my resolutions for 2013:

Lower my cholesterol naturally. DONE. I had high cholesterol, and now I don't. I accomplished this through diet and exercise.

Weigh less at the end of the year than I did at the beginning of the year. DONE. The results aren't amazing, but my weight fluctuates between 5-10 lbs less than it was at the beginning of the year.

Run a mile. DONE.

Get together with my high school friends. DONE. Twice. Overachiever!

Have Christmas money all saved up by Halloween and most Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. DONE. Almost. There are always a few people who pop up closer to Christmas that I need to buy gifts for, and those are the most stressful gifts to buy. I guess that is why I chose the phrase "most Christmas shopping." This resolution needs to be improved upon because it didn't fix what I was trying to fix when I made this resolution.

No new clothes or shoes in 2013. NOT DONE. I made it to about August, and then it dawned on me that this resolution was ill-timed since I made it right after having a baby. As I transitioned from maternity clothes to regular clothes, I realized most of my clothes didn't fit, were very dated, or were in rough condition (stains, holes, etc).

No pop. MOSTLY DONE. I had a few sips at parties, but I never got "back on the sauce."

I am pleased with the outcome of my resolutions for 2013, but this was no easy year. I really struggled mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Perhaps that is a cliche - do we not all struggle in those areas? But really, something in me shifted during this year. I lost a lot of confidence in myself as a mother and as a spiritual leader. Sometimes I reflect back on this post, and I don't even recognize myself. Who was that person who lived guilt-free? There is no trace of that left in me. This post more adequately reflects where I am now.


I hope this new year will bring about some changes for me in those areas. I have a lot of work to do and a lot to overcome.

Bring it on 2014!