Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Do

When I married Scotty, I had forever in mind. I didn’t enter into marriage thinking that things might not work out. 
Scanned Pics 020

Scotty’s and my marriage has been wonderful so far. We’ve recovered quickly from the bumps we’ve hit along the way, and we hit our tenth Anniversary last year. I know that’s no triumph, but 1 in 12 couples head for the divorce courts within the first 24 months, so we’ve beat at least one statistic. Unfortunately, there are somw factors in our marriage that make our chances of divorce statistically higher:

  1. We were both under the age of 25 when we married.
  2. Both of us come from divorced parents.
That certainly doesn’t mean we should run to our lawyers and sign the papers now, but it makes me more aware of potential problems in our marriage. With the American divorce rates at 50%, I understand just how susceptible we are. My hope is that awareness leads to prevention. Despite the statistics, I believe that coming from divorced parents has made Scotty and me more committed to our own marriage. 
I cherish marriage and family, and therefore, my personal belief is that spouses should be committed to each other and take the steps necessary to work things out. There are obvious exceptions to the rules – abuse, infidelity, substance abuse, and the like. I understand that there are also times when one partner wants to work things out, but the other doesn’t, and that makes saving a marriage overwhelmingly difficult.
In my faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are taught that families can be together forever, but being a Mormon doesn’t make my marriage any more likely to survive. In fact, several years ago I came across a study that showed the percentages of divorce among various faiths. It showed that 24% of LDS church members* have been divorced while only 21% of Atheists have been divorced. There are several factors that could create those stats, such as Mormons entering into marriage while Atheists may be more likely to co-habitate first, but I find it interesting that religion isn’t necessarily a key in successful marriage. I do believe that religious practices such as family prayer and religious values such as honesty contribute to a successful marriage, but those things require action and not just simply being a member of a particular faith.
I really want to have a successful marriage. I want to beat the odds. I realize every day how much work marriage requires, but I’m willing to put forth the effort. 
For more information:
*There is, however, a stronger likelihood of lasting marriage among Mormons who marry in the temple (an outdated analysis of Temple Marriage success may be found here).

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's St. Patrick's Day {and ten other random facts}

Fact #1: My kids woke up this morning, ran into my bedroom, and had a big 'ol freak out because no leprechauns came to our house during the night. There were no green footprints, no chocolate coins, and no Lucky Charms.

Fact #2: I thought I was being awesome when I set out some somewhat-green clothing for them on Sunday night. I'm pretty sure that would have been sufficient in 1980.

Fact #3: I realized on Sunday night that I must have a subconscious aversion to green. None of my three kids have any clothes that are truly green, so we had to make due with some teal and lime variations.

Fact #4: Don't pinch my babies! It's not their fault!

Fact #5: Have my kids been looking at Pinterest? Where did they get these crazy notions about leprechauns?

Fact #6: Nicky blames Daisy for the lack of leprechauns because she woke up too early and prevented their arrival.

Fact #7: There were many tears this morning.

Fact #8: I snuck into the fridge and colored the milk green and tried to be super enthusiastic about the GREEN! MILK!

Fact #9: "But the milk tastes yucky, and the leprechauns forgot to pee in our toilet, Mom!"

Fact #10: I give up.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Confessions of the Morning

We have a problem here at the Brittish household: our kids wake up too dang early.

Yesterday, for example, I got out of bed at 5:30, and there they were! Watching Despicable Me like it's a perfectly normal thing to do at 5:30 a.m. on a school day.

Three hours.


That's how long I had to be a conscious mother before my child left for school. Tell me... what am I supposed to do with my kids for three hours every morning before school?

Now, I realize that there is a pro to all of this - I never have to fight my kids to get them out of bed. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to actually wake my kids up in the morning (and 4 of those 5 times were because we were leaving for Disneyland at 3:00 in the morning). For that I am grateful.


The same thing could be accomplished if they slept until 7:00.

For the love! Why won't they sleep until 7:00????

But back to the "What am I supposed to do with my kids before school" thing.

That time could be used quite productively. The kids could get all of their chores done. Nicky could practice the piano or read and free up some of his afternoon time. We could get our family scripture study done.

But I can't make it happen.

Because I don't want to be a mom at 5:30 in the morning.*

When I wake up to my kids, the chaos is immediate. I'm overwhelmed instantly, and the fact that it's dark outside and my kids are begging for cups of milk and they've already helped themselves to the boxes of candy they got from their grandma the night before and there's no chance of fitting a shower in just makes it all so much worse.

So the dang kids watch TV all morning because that's all I can handle.

Sometimes, they get TWO FULL HOURS of TV before 8:00 in the morning.

Yep. You heard me.


Judge away, friends. This mama is just telling it like it is.

I'm going to roll over and go back to sleep now. Wake me up when Curious George ends.

*You might be thinking I put them to bed too early - but it doesn't matter if they go to bed at 8:00 or 11:00 (we've tried various bed times). They still wake up by 6:00. They might sleep in until 6:30, but I'm not willing to let them stay up for two extra hours because they might sleep in for half an hour.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pay Day

You know how I've been running for the past eight months or so?

Well, let me tell you a little about what running has done for me.

10 miler
{My friend Jennifer and me on our first 10-mile run}

It has made me stink. I smell horrible when I run. I don't think I've done anything in my life that has made me smell as bad as running has.

It has cost a lot of money. I've had to buy clothes made from fabrics that I didn't previously own. I've had to buy sports bras (I didn't own any before) and expensive shoes. And then there are all of the race fees and the gym membership I bought for my family so I had somewhere to run when the air quality was deadly.

It has destroyed my toenails. I have lost two toenails already this calendar year (i.e. in three months), and I kid you not, the day after the second one fell off, I got two new black toenails. I keep my toenails super trimmed, but even the slightest hair-width of toenail growth is enough to destroy my toes.

(Sidenote: I just bought new running shoes, and I decided to try a half size bigger to see if it helps with the toe drama)

It has caused me "let myself go." I rarely get dressed or do my hair and make-up anymore because I always have to be ready to go running if I can squeeze it in. I am more fit than I have ever been in my life, but I look like crap! (see above photo).

So mostly, running has turned my into a disgusting slob.

Go me.

The other day, though, I discovered a hint of a pay-off. I was sitting down with my feet up on the couch, knees bent, when I looked up from my book and saw daylight shining between my thighs.*


Between my thighs!

My thighs have never had a problem touching one another. For as long as I can remember, they have made full contact (squish included) on a regular basis, and yet, there I was, legs together, with daylight shining through. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to startle me.

I'll take it.

*Just in case you're wondering, I haven't lost any weight since I started running. I am a little more toned, and my boobs have shrunk, but I weigh the same. I believe this is quite a bummer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not in the Mood

This morning when Zoe had her morning B.M. (boy, that's a great opening line, isn't it?) I thought to myself, "I am really not in the mood for poop right now!" Come to think of it, I don't think I'm ever in the mood for poop, but it got me thinking about other things that I'm not in the mood for right now:

I'm not in the mood for gardening. Usually by March I have my garden all planned out for the year including diagrams, shopping lists, planting dates, and a budget. Not this time. Don't make me do it!

FOR.THE.LOVE! Don't make me do it!

I'm not in the mood for eating healthy. I can only eat healthy steadily for 2.5 weeks. I just entered week 3 with an abundance of Girl Scout cookies. I can't look a vegetable in the eye or I'll start crying.

Canning Season 

(Maybe this is causing my garden aversion?)

I'm not in the mood for Scouting. Part of my responsibility as the primary president in my ward is to oversee the Cub Scouts and the 11-year-old Boy Scouts. I am trying so hard to LOVE Scouting and to learn everything I need to know to be an effective Scouts leader. I'm reading handbooks and going to trainings and looking at web sites.

But I am not feeling the love.

Nope. Definitely not feeling the love.

I am not in the mood for soup. Soup is a touchy thing for me. There are a lot of soup recipes that I enjoy, but at the same time, I get sick of soup really quickly. I should probably only have soup three times a year. In fact, I have intentionally limited soup in my meal planning, but right now there is a new corn chowder recipe that is plaguing my meal plan. I keep bumping it to the next week, then the next, then the next. Why can't I just make the dang soup before it's a hundred degrees outside?

Oh, probably because I'm not in the mood for soup.

But I can't just eliminate it from the meal plan because I already bought the dang ingredients for it!

I'm not in the mood for cleaning. But I never have been.

Anything you're not in the mood for lately?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Only the First

This morning I was scrolling through my Goodreads profile looking at all of the books I have read over the past several years, and I was amazed at the number of books that I don't remember. At all. I look at the title and think, "Did I lie when I added that book? I've never even heard of it!"

It makes me sad that there are so many forgettable books. It also makes me sad that I have wasted so much of my time on those books because, let's be honest, if they were good books, I would remember them. Which means I have read a lot of not-great books in my life.

I have this fear, though, that if I give up on a book, I will miss something incredible. A long time ago, when I was first becoming a reader (I have not always loved reading - it is something I needed to explore and learn), I discovered that very few books capture me in the first 100 pages. Some books take up to 200 pages to earn my affection. For this reason, I usually follow a 100 Page Rule: I will give a book 100 pages before giving up on it. Many times I will read the first 100 pages, then the next 100 pages, and even though the book has not yet proved itself, I keep reading because A) I'm so far into the book that I might as well just finish it or B) I'm worried that something amazing will finally happen sometime in the next 25 pages (admit it, it would be very unfortunate to give up on a book on page 203 when the book becomes amazing on page 217) (but at the same time, I curse the author that takes that long to get to the good parts). It does happen, though - sometimes I keep reading "just in case," and I am rewarded. Such was the case with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay - I am glad I kept reading.

That is all to say that I end up finishing a lot of so-so books just to confirm that they are, in fact, so-so.

But that is not at all what I was going to say in this post (oh, how the mind wanders!)

When I started typing, I intended to discuss my complicated relationship with YA series.

I think we can all admit that there are way too many subpar series out there. I am guilty of reading some of those series, and going into them knowing that they are subpar and enjoying them anyway (hello Infernal Devices trilogy!)

There are other series, though, that have much more promise at the onset, and therefore I set my expectations high based on the first book. They start out fantastic and then plummet into the so-so during the subsequent books and leave me utterly disappointed.

Thus, here are five first books from YA series that I wish had been published as stand-alone novels:

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

2. Partials by Dan Wells

3. Blood Red Road by Moira Young

4. Birthmarked by Caraugh M. O'Brien

5. Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Of course they are all dystopian or post-apocalyptic books, and there is obviously some law somewhere that says such books can not be published as single books or someone will be hanged - leading publishers to only offer contracts to authors who agree to write a series even when that wasn't their original intent.

But really, any one of these books would have been good enough on its own with a couple of simple modifications.

And there would be less love triangles in the world!

(Or squares, which one of these series has).

(Seriously! A love SQUARE! For crying out loud!)

So if you're looking for a good book, read those. And then STOP! Don't let the cliffhanger endings invite you in!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Family Scripture Study

Family scripture study isn't easy.

I don't think it ever will be.

This year we set a goal to read the Book of Mormon as a family. We are well on our way, but reading the Book of Mormon with three tiny kids while the hubs is in school is extra challenging. So reading "as a family" sometimes that means Scotty isn't home to read with us. Other times we have to read while Zoe lays on the floor and screams or while Daisy storms out of the room because she didn't get to read first or because the pages in her book didn't turn the way she wanted them to.

Did I mention that it isn't easy?

I just wanted to make that part clear in case there was any question.

There are many ways to study the scriptures as a family, and I hope that as our children get older that our scripture study can become more meaningful. We have tried various methods, and I think it's great to change it up from time to time. Here is what we are currently doing:

We each have a copy of the Book of Mormon - Scotty and I have our nice, personalized copies, and the kids have their own little blue copies (they have multiples since they are always losing them and/or damaging them) (we get them free from D.I.). We read two pages every day. Since the children can't understand the scriptures very well yet, we ask them to listen for the names of the Godhead and raise their hands whenever they hear one. Nicky takes turns reading a few verses, and Daisy "reads" by repeating after us.

It is amazing how fast they have picked up on the scriptural language - they are rocking the "notwithstandings" and the "neverthelesses."  Also, even when Daisy is in one of her "moods" and refuses to participate, we will hear her like an echo from the other room repeating the names of the Godhead as we read.

Me: Thus saith the Lord...

Tiny echo from the kitchen: Lord!

So even through her defiance and complicated four-year-old drama, something is sinking in.

When Daisy is in a rare, agreeable mood, she will sit still for several minutes and color in her scriptures while we read.

2011 11 04_2183 copy

When the time and circumstances allow, I will draw a picture in her scriptures for her to color - such as a tree in Lehi's vision or a boat for Nephi's ship (this is something I also do for my kids in sacrament meeting to keep them busy). 

Each time we read our scriptures, we put a marble in a jar for each kid, and during the first Family Home Evening of each month, we do a "Family Store" where the kids can use their marbles to buy things from a Sterilite container under our bed. 

We are also using these Book of Mormon Charts for the kids to track their progress (we update them each week during Family Home Evening).

We are trying really, really hard to make this work and to keep it positive. I try to never force my children to participate, but rather, invite them to participate (which is why Daisy very frequently is in another room doing who-knows-what while occasionally saying, "Lord!") There are moments where things have gone so awry that I've had to say, "Okay, we are done for tonight," before we have finished our two pages. There are still meltdowns and fights and moments of wanting to pull my hair out, and we miss days here and there, but we're doing it! 

Even though it isn't easy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sixteen Months

In case you're not keeping track, I have a 16 month old.

My little Zoe.

Oh, she's cute.

And she is super funny.

But, good heavens, she is a handful.

(You know how moms get offended when someone at the grocery store says, "You've got your hands full, don't you?" I am not one of those moms. In fact, I consider it a compliment. Thank you for acknowledging that my job isn't easy. Because it's not. I would be more offended if someone came up to me and said, "You've sure got it easy!" At least the person who says I've got my hands full understands that my life is complete chaos. I want credit for that).

I dread taking Zoe out in public. First there's the car seat fight. You know that one, right? With the arching back and the screaming? And the dangling from the grab handle? I have to pin her down like a WWE wrestler and wrangle her arms in the straps at least three times each before I can get anything buckled. It's like trying to put a straight jacket on a wild boar.

Then when we finally get to, say, the grocery store, she can not be restrained by the seat belts in the carts. She slips right out of them - it doesn't matter how far I tighten them, she loosens them (and let's be honest, they aren't very high quality anyway, and 50% of them are broken - I have to search through shopping carts everywhere I go to find the ones with functioning safety belts only to have my baby climb right out of them).

So life feels a little inconvenient at times.

But at the same time, this is such a fun age.

Zoe cracks us up, and she's really amusing to watch. I love all of the little things she has picked up on, like how she drapes purses over her shoulder, and how she slam dunks the ball in our living room basketball hoop.

Three Things

I don't like how she constantly climbs on the kitchen table or how she throws her food down the stairs or how she grabs handfuls of silverware and chucks it all under the couch.

But I will deal with those things because I love how deeply she yells, "Eeeeee!" when I push her in the swing outside and how she moves her highchair across the kitchen floor at warp speed.

I love how, when we clap for her, she claps for herself. I love how her face beams with pride when she accomplishes something tricky, like slipping her feet into her sister's cowgirl boots and then making the effort to stand up in them. I love the early-walking phase. It's so amusing to see a little, tiny person wandering the house, and those wobbly steps are just the greatest!

This age is hard - Zoe is clingy and fussy a lot of the time. She fights sleep and gets really grumpy. She is very difficult to take out of the house (I think I cry just as much in public as she does), and she is oh so stubborn!

But I know I'll miss this.

I'll miss it so much.