Sunday, June 25, 2017

Who am I?

I have about three weeks left until I graduate.*

When I went back to school, I was experiencing a bit of an identity blip (I decided to go with “blip” instead of “crisis” because it wasn’t really a “crisis” – just a period of feeling lost). I didn’t really have any fresh goals. I wasn’t progressing. I was a little bit depressed. Even my friendships were in a bit of a rut. Going back to school helped me find what I’d lost. I felt a new sense of purpose, and I felt like I actually knew something other than diaper brands and PBS Kids series.

But now I’m here at the end, and I am again experiencing an identity blip. I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know who I will be when this is over.

Part of me wants to start fresh, but the other part of me longs for someone that I used to be.
I know I’ve changed in the past three years, but it’s hard to take inventory of my change because I don’t know what’s temporary and what’s permanent. I feel like I will have to get reacquainted with myself after I graduate and really figure out who I am again.


I hope I don’t sound melodramatic, but going back to school and having four little kids was hard. It was so hard. And I had to adapt in so many ways to be able to do it.**

One of my biggest fears is that I will have a degree, but I won’t be better. If I’m not better at the end of this than I was when I started, what is the point? Nothing I’ve learned matters if I haven’t transformed into something better. I feel like I’m going to be put to the test.

I keep having ideas pop in my head for things I want to do after I graduate, but I keep suppressing those things. I can't overwhelm myself. 

One thing at a time, Britt. 

Finish school, then take it slow.  

*After graduation I will have about a week’s worth of assignment and internship work to complete. I feel like I need to throw this out there because it might make me hesitant to celebrate. I don't want to do my victory dance before I cross the finish line. 

**Now I have friends who are talking about going back to school, and I have to fight every urge to say, "Are you INSANE???" Because guys, I'm not lying when I say it's hard. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's So Write

Several years ago, I listened to a talk on CD by G. Sheldon Martin.
Brother Martin is a licensed mental counselor slash seminary teacher. He is equal parts behavioral science and gospel, which is sort of what I want to be when I grow up. I love me some psychology, and I love me some religion. Putting the two together is like putting gravy on mashed potatoes. It is so right.
But I’m not here today to go on and on about Sheldon. I’m here to go on and on about something he said:
"Writing is the most reformed form of thought; to write it, you have to think it."
Oooooo! Do you love it?
Let’s say it again:
"Writing is the most reformed form of thought; to write it, you have to think it."
Notice that it doesn’t say, “To write it, you have to believe it.” But you do have to think it, which means anything you write has made a path through your brain and down to your finger tips and onto paper (or screen). Anything you write has been contemplated, pondered, and processed in some way.


I love this thinking/writing connection, and as I contemplated the association between the two, I thought that there might be some articles published online about the health benefits of writing. So I did some official Google research and found a lot of great information. As I assumed, writing has been shown to have positive healing effects for mental illness, cancer, and even AIDS. I could list thousands of amazing statistics and facts about writing, but I will just sum it all up with this:
Writing is good for you.

I don’t claim to be an expert writer, but I love writing, and I feel that writing consistently throughout my life has helped shape me into who I am.
Writing has healed me, comforted me, and pacified me.
Writing has connected me to other people and encouraged me to think with depth.
Writing has allowed me to express myself creatively and to explore new perspectives.
I know that writing doesn’t appeal to everyone, but even in small doses, it can be therapeutic. Here are ten ideas, all requiring different levels of commitment and time to get you writing if you aren’t already:
1. Start a blog (or pick up where you left off over a year ago on the blog that you already have)
2. Write a letter
3. Keep a journal
4. Keep a page-a-day notebook
5. Fill someone else’s writing with margin notes ("marginalia" for the win!)
6. Document a single story from your life
7. Write a list
9. Model a piece of writing after something someone else has written (with proper credit, of course)
10. Write thought bubbles in newspapers or magazines
In slightly adapted words of country singer Lee Ann Womack:
"I hope you dance write!"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

All the Rage

I have a confession. I love playing with my kids' fidget spinners. If I see one sitting around the house, I'll pick it up and spin it for as long as I can before they catch me and take it back.

Maybe I should have rules about fidget spinners. Like, if you leave it out, it's mine.

But meh.

I haven't come to a place in life where I want to enforce fidget spinner rules. For now, the only rule is that you can't take them to church.

Anyway, the fidget spinner craze has made me nostalgic for all of the fads of my own childhood.

In first grade, slap bracelets were banned from my school.


(Twenty-four years later, when Nicky took a slap bracelet to the face and had to get stitches, I was finally at peace with the slap bracelet ban of 1990).

image 
In sixth grade, it was Pogs.


Our elementary would have special days when we were allowed to play with Pogs at recess, but we weren't allowed to play "for keeps." I'm not sure how they refereed all that.

In eighth grade, everyone snuck their Giga Pets or Tamogotchis in their backpacks.


I never had one, but I would often play with my friend's during social studies. 

In tenth grade, it was laser pointers.


It's been kind of fun to tell our kids about the crazes of our childhood. Of course, there were far more than just these, but these are the ones I remember causing problems at school. About the same time the secondary schools were having problems with laser pointers, elementary school was starting to have problems with Pokemon cards. My little brothers were in on that one.

What crazes causes problems in your school? Do you find it as exciting as I do to play with a fidget spinner?

While the Eggs are Boiling

Every morning, the first thing I do upon waking is find my place in space and time. Where am I, and what day is it? As soon as I know that I'm in my bed, and that it's [insert day here], I move on to the next question: What am I stressed about today? 

This probably isn't the healthiest practice, but remembering my stress is one of the first things I do each morning. Then I spend the rest of the day freaking out accordingly.

This week and next week, I'm beta testing some workshop lessons on stress for my internship.

Funny, right?

And what I'm getting to here... eventually... in a round about way... is that stress is the reason I've decided to blog today. I've always thought of blogging as something I shouldn't do when I'm stressed. After all, I don't often yield the most quality writing when I'm freaking out about something, and if I'm using time to blog, I'm not using time to tackle what is stressing me out.

Side note: You should also know that in addition to being highly stressed right now, I'm also very, very angry - that's not a good time to blog since I have a hard time controlling what I say, and I feel like I'll explode and tell the world off any second.

But since I've written a workshop curriculum on stress, I now know that engaging in a creative hobby for a brief period can be an effective stress coping mechanism. So I should be blogging while I'm stressed. Writing can help me get into a state of flow, and flow is healing.

So let's make a deal:

If I whine about life being hard and not having the time or ability to accomplish everything I need to (particularly for school), and yet, I take the time to write a blog post, you won't judge me on my time management skills. Mmkay? Cuz you will know that I'm seeking flow through writing. I'm medicating! Let me sip the sweet nectar without judgement.

With that, let me tell you ten honest things about life right now:

Honest thing #1: I'm hard boiling some eggs (just had to throw that in there to validate my title)

Honest thing #2: I am on the brink of a breakdown

Honest thing #3: I'm not sure what this particular breakdown is going to look like when it hits. I don't think I'm going to cry. It's going to be an angry breakdown. I'm probably going to punch something or say something awful to someone. It will be some sort of angry tantrum, and it will probably be brought on by something stupid like a comment about the weather. I'll keep you posted.


Honest thing #4: The breakdown is a result of lots of tiny things piling up at once. Individually, I can handle each "thing." Collectively, the "things" are going to take me down!

Honest thing #5: I really want a day where I can just eat, sleep, and watch TV all day. I want to lay in my bed with my phone and the remote, and I want to leave my front door unlocked and have people bring me food. But I don't want to see the people, so I'm going to need to install a dumbwaiter.

Honest thing #6: My eggs are done, and they are perfect! WIN!

Honest thing #7: I can't handle criticism in any form.

Honest thing #8: My kids have watched TV all day for almost an entire week.

Honest thing #9: I have a two-year-old who is constantly crying and clinging to me, so I feel like I can't get anything done. By the time she naps in the afternoon, I have no energy to do anything productive, and I usually pass out on the living room floor.

Honest thing #10: I bought a battery-powered pepper grinder on clearance at Sam's Club, and I don't know how to put the peppercorns in. Now I'm reconsidering my intelligence.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Milestones for Zoe

It's been an exciting month for Zoe!

In case you, like me, have a hard time keeping track of my children, Zoe is the third child. She's four... if I'm remembering right.

Anyway, Zoe has had a bit of a rough go in some areas of life. I don't mean to make it sound worse than it is, but she has had difficulty learning to speak, and she has had a delay in her social/emotional development. This all affects her behavior, of course, so there have been some hard times. She is doing pretty well right now, but sometimes she regresses.

I have a hard time knowing what's best for Zoe, but I have noticed that she makes progress when she's out of school for the summer (she goes to school for speech therapy). Last year, I saw many improvements in her behavior and development during the summer. Then two weeks into school, she regressed. Her speech and behavior declined, and I had to fight her almost every day to get her to go to school (I also had to fight her to go to dance class, and I continually fight her to go to primary - I can count on one hand the number of times she has been to primary this year. So it's not just school. She struggles with all forms of structured group activities. I even have to fight her to get her to go to a play group to be with friends she has been asking to play with all week).

I have to seriously consider whether sending her to preschool again next year will be the right choice. I don't want to fight her. I don't want her to regress. But I need a break from her. And I'm worried that if I keep her home this year, kindergarten is going to be a problem next year.

For now, I'm hitting pause. I have decision fatigue. I can't deal with it.

But what I was getting to is that Zoe has had some milestones since finishing school for the year.

Milestone #1: Zoe has started sleeping in her bed. Dare I even mention that this child has slept on my bedroom floor for the past two years?

She still occasionally sleeps on my floor, but maybe only one out of five nights.

Milestone #2: Zoe got her first "official" hair cut.

I've never been able to get Zoe to sit still for a hair cut, but the other day, I was going to get my hair trimmed, and Zoe asked if she could come with me and get a hair cut. I didn't think it would really play out, but she did it! She got a shampoo and had about eight inches cut off. She picked how short she wanted it, and she sat still in the chair. I almost cried! And now her hair is so easy to do. It's a game changer.

Milestone #3: Zoe said her first prayer.

We've never been able to get Zoe to say prayers. A few times we've been able to get her to repeat a prayer, but she's been very resistant to that. Last week, she told Scotty she wanted to say a prayer, and then she did it all by herself. She said prayers every day for the next few days, and now she's back to refusing to pray, but SHE DID IT!

Milestone #4: Zoe learned how to ride a two-wheeler.

Zoe has been telling us for a few months that she wants to "ride a bike with two wheels." I confess... this is where my life has been easy. Scotty takes the training wheels off. We run up and down the street with the kid a few times, and they get it. I didn't think Zoe could do it, but she begged and begged. To my surprise, she nailed it.

(The ease of bike training has been more than made up for by my children's inability to potty train).

Milestone #5: Zoe has started singing.

Singing has been hard for Zoe, but in the past month, she is starting to be able to sing full songs, and she seems to enjoy it.

I am enjoying seeing her progress. She might not keep up with it all (prayers, for example), but I'm glad she is picking up on some new skills.

Zoe isn't the only one reaching milestones around here. Eva almost peed in the potty for the first time last week! She has been sitting on the potty for months, but she hasn't made any "deposits." A few days ago, she sat on the potty and peed, but she wasn't positioned correctly, so she peed all over the floor. I was right outside the bathroom door when she did it, so I don't really know what went wrong, but I cleaned up the pee, and then we celebrated!

Given the history of my children's potty training, Eva will be out of diapers in 18 months (but she'll be riding without training wheels in twelve). Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Frumpy Moms Guide to Social Belonging

A few weeks ago I clicked on a link someone shared on facebook that went to a blog post that talked about the division between the moms at school drop off. The blog post basically separated moms into two groups - those who get ready in the morning and those who don't. It talked about how the "done up" moms all flock together and chat while the "frumpy" moms are all in survival mode and stay in their cars and feel isolated.

I both related to the post and loathed the post at the same time. It was written by someone who groups herself with the "frumpy" moms, and she took on the position of somewhat shaming the "done up" moms while also totally comparing herself to them.

I related to it because I'm one of the "frumpy" moms, at least in terms of getting ready in the morning. Unless I have something really important going on that day, I don't do my hair or make-up, and I'm usually in workout clothes or something pajama-like (and trust me... it has nothing to do with actually working out). I'm always in survival mode, and I often feel like I'm hanging off a cliff by my pinkie. I'm frequently in a condition where I prefer for people to not see me.

But I loathed the post, too, because I didn't like the way the writer labeled herself and the other moms. She divided mothers by us and them, and she wasn't interested in closing the gap. All of the thoughts she expressed in the post were based in her own assumptions - assumptions about the women she was separating herself from. Assumptions that they don't "get" her and that their lives aren't hard.

I'm guilty of it, too, of course. I've looked at mothers and grouped them by types. I drop off kids at school, and I'm well aware that there are moms who are dolled up to the nines and moms who won't even brush their teeth until 3:00 p.m... if they are lucky. I know that there are workout moms and working moms and volunteer moms and rich moms and poor moms. I've put them in groups. I've given them labels.


And I've made the mistake of not talking to another mom because I assumed there was some difference between us that made us incompatible in some way.

In fact, here's an example. A confession of something I did that was kind of horrible...

A few months ago, I was at a restaurant with my family, and I saw a friend of mine from high school. Not just any friend - one of my best friends. We haven't kept in touch very well since we graduated because she lives out of state and doesn't use social media. She was here visiting, I assume. Anyway, I saw her from across the restaurant, and I didn't go talk to her.

I didn't talk to her because...

Because...

Because she was skinny.

And I have put on 75 pounds since high school.

So because of this difference, her being skinny and me being, well... a little on the thick side, I didn't go talk to her.

I allowed some delusion of a division between us based on the physical conditions of our bodies to keep me from talking to someone who was once one of my closest friends.

Dumb.

Shortly after that, I had another experience that was quite the opposite.

I was at the grocery store early in the morning. It was the day after Eva had gotten stitches in her forehead. I was tired and unshowered. I had greasy hair and zits all over my face. I was wearing a baggy t-shirt, ten-year-old yoga pants that were covered in paint, and hot pink sequin slippers. The child in my cart looked just as disheveled as I was.

I ran into an acquaintance there, one who is a "done up" mom. This woman never has a hair out of place. She is absolutely pristine, always. My initial thought was, "Oh no!" because we made eye contact, and there was no dodging her (Would I have dodged her if I'd had the chance? Maybe. Probably).

We stopped and chatted, and guess what! It was great. I had no reason to avoid her other than my own distorted thoughts. She was kind and friendly, and we had a nice exchange. I left feeling grateful that I'd talked to her.

Shortly after that, she contacted me to ask for my help with something, which proved that just because a mom is "done up" doesn't mean that she doesn't have problems or hardships. "Done up" moms and "frumpy" moms can be friends! They can help each other out!

For my internship, I had to read a book by Kelly McGonigal called The Upside of Stress (I recommend it - it deals with so much more than stress. It's a great book for coping with adversity in many forms).

The book talks about some of the research of a psychologist named Greg Walton, who focused on mindset intervention. One of his intervention topics was social belonging. He would go to an Ivy League school campus and talk to the students briefly, giving them the message that if they felt they didn't belong, they weren't alone. This simple intervention showed improvement in academic performance, physical health, and overall happiness over the following three years in the students compared to those who did not receive the intervention.

The point is - feeling like you don't belong is a widespread experience, but we tend to think we are alone in it. Our interpretations of conversations, setbacks, and misunderstandings can be viewed as evidence that we don't belong. What we sometimes fail to see is that almost everyone feels that way. So it's not just the "frumpy" mom in the van at school drop off. Chances are, some of those "done up" moms standing in a group feel the same way.

I think we excuse ourselves from reaching out to others because we feel we don't belong, but if we recognize that everyone feels left out or disconnected at times, we can connect better with each other. So let's not look at the differences between ourselves and other women and make assumptions about who fits in and who doesn't. Someone can appear to have a rich social life and still feel incredibly lonely inside.

Let's not allow our grooming process to dictate who we connect with.

Get out of the van. Say hi. Smile. Work that greasy updo.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Oh, That Internship

Right now I'm doing my internship - one of the last requirements before I graduate.

I've had several different tasks to work on as an intern, but the bulk of my efforts are going toward revising and beta testing a workshop.

Guess what the workshop is on!

WILLPOWER!

(I am saying that in my He-Man voice)

"I have the (will)power!!!"

Go figure. I'm studying willpower at a point in my life where I am completely devoid of willpower. In fact, since I started my internship, I've found watching TV, overeating, and overspending all the more appealing.

But hey, if you feel like talking about dopamine triggers, I've got plenty of conversation material.

Anyway, I have to work for a minimum of ten hours a week (160 hours total), which I thought would be cake, but it turns out, it's not cake at all.


Interning from home is hard work! If I could have a do over, I'd do an on-site internship for sure!

It's hard to get anything done in the five-minute increments my children allow me to work. I feel like schoolwork adds up in five minute sessions even though it's not ideal, but internship work doesn't. Partially because of my writing process. When I write workshop lesson plans, I go through quite the mental ordeal. I read and reread. I cross reference, double-check everything, change the order of paragraphs, stare at the screen and meditate, and I talk to myself... a lot. I think I get a good two hours per week toward my internship by simply talking to myself about the lesson content. I have to make sure I can form verbal explanations from my lesson outlines. It's all about rehearsing! That's all hard to do in five-minute sessions. I mean, I just barely get in the "talking to myself" zone, and then I have a kid pulling at my leg asking for "water in a sippy cup with ice" (that one is Zoe - she likes her drinks on the rocks).

Anyway, bless my in-laws for taking my kids to the zoo today so I can have some time to blog catch up on my internship.

Seven more weeks, folks! Seven weeks til I wear the gown!




Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Few Thoughts About Summer

Summer's not my favorite. I've probably made that very clear since I write at least one whiney post about it each year. For me, surviving summer is the equivalent of Running Wild with Bear Grylls...

...except it's Running Wild with Four Kids

...so clearly Bear Grylls isn't here to help me get by.

I've actually never watched Running Wild with Bear Grylls, so maybe it's not like that at all, but I have seen Bear Grylls skin something mountain goat-ish and sleep inside its carcass, so yeah. My summer is pretty much like that. It's all about desperate efforts to survive.

I have a theory about the moms who love summer break. I think their kids sleep in. Is there anyone here whose kids wake up at 6:00 a.m. who loves summer break? Is there anyone here who has done four hours of parenting by 10:00 a.m. who posts a countdown to summer break on their facebook page?

If you don't count the weekend or the holiday, we are only on our third official day of summer vacation.

Thus far, Eva is the most injured child. She fell at the park and got a bloody nose. Then she fell at the park again, a few days later, and scraped up her face and got a fat lip. She also skinned her knees and her toes.

We've already used two bottles of sunscreen (I used to try and save money by using the rub-on kind, but now I splurge on the spray because I can get it on my kids while chasing them).


I've already had to establish some firm Summer Rules:

Rule #1: Don't ask me for popsicles before 10:00 a.m.

I originally aimed for 1:00 p.m. but I had to amend that rule because I need to be able to shove something cold and sweet in my kids' faces earlier than that.

Rule #2: Don't be psycho.

This rule leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but I have found myself repeating it to my kids in various circumstances:
  • When Nicky is kicking the wall because he's bored
  • When Zoe is thrashing around on the floor screaming because her arm is stuck in her nightgown
  • When Daisy tells me three times every day that she thinks she has broken a bone
  • When Eva is clawing my face with her nails of death for no other reason than she is two, and that's what two-year-olds do
Rule #3: We are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a family whether you like it or not, so sit down and be quiet.

That one is pretty much self-explanatory, but it has been difficult since I am sick and hardly have a voice. It disrupts the excellence of my Dumbledore impression, but I'll be healthy again someday, and my raspy Dumbledore voice will be back with a vengeance. Wait... I guess my Dumbledore voice is perfect right now. My Hagrid and my Mr. Dursley need some help, though.

Rule #4: You have to have clothes on if you are outside.

We've been having a naked problem lately.

I'm sure there will be many more Summer Rules implemented before the end of the season.

Summer break is not for the weak!

And I'm kind of weak, so I guess summer break isn't for me.

(Seriously, moms! How do you do it?)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Officially Summer Break - Just Not For Me (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: I'm sick. It started about a week ago and then got bad over the weekend. I have a sore throat and cough, my eyes are watering like crazy, and I have fluid in my ears. It feels wrong to be sick like this when summer is upon us. I feel like I should be eating soup, but it's too hot for soup.

Fact #2: The kids are out of school, and I am not. I've done this before, but it's harder this time. I'm taking more classes than I have in the past, and my kids are older and more demanding (namely the two-year-old who insists on being held all day. I do most of my computer work with one hand while holding Eva's legs with the other so she can't kick the keyboard).

May 2017 
{School work}

Fact #3: I'm hoping that the aforementioned two-year-old will start taking some decent afternoon naps at home now that I don't have to pick the older kids up from school every day. Eva has had to live her life "on the go," and it has really messed up her sleep.

Fact #4: Scotty started a new job last week. I made him stand on the porch for a "first day" photo, just like I do for the kids. He wasn't exactly thrilled, but he is a good sport.  

First Day

Fact #5: The new job brought some changes. For one, Scotty has to wear suits every day. That's a big step up from his previous ward robe of collared sports team shirts that he gets for free. We had to buy a new car (Scotty had been driving a work truck), and Scotty had to get a passport. 

Fact #6: On Sunday I met Durga. She's a friend from my blogging community of yesteryear. When I started blogging (in 2005!!!), the only people who really read blogs were other bloggers, so I had my little populace of people I connected with online. I've had the chance to meet some in person, and there are some I'm still in touch with on social media whom I've never met. Durga lives in Australia, but she is in the U.S. on "holiday," and she happened to be close by, so I crashed the house where she was having dinner. 

May 2017

I wish I could have sat across from her for hours and listened to her talk (that accent!) but it was a quick, ten-minute hello, and then off we went. I was on my way home from a weekend trip out of town, and I was sick, tired, and sunburned. I didn't want to pass up the chance to meet an old friend from across the ocean, though. 

Fact #7: Meeting people like that used to terrify me, but now it's become an exciting part of my norm. I still get a little nervous when I meet someone, but it's always a good experience. Now that I'm in school online, I have relationships with class mates that I've never met, and the day will soon come where I will get to meet a few of them. 

Fact #8: The hard part is when you have a great "online" relationship with someone, and when you meet in person, you crash and burn. That has happened, too!

Fact #9: Last week I found a loft bed on clearance at Sam's Club, and without thinking, I bought it for Zoe. It was the display, and it needed some repairs, but I knew Scotty was up to the task. What I didn't know was that they weren't going to take it apart for us. So when we came back that night to pick it up, they brought it out fully assembled (but they only put the bolts in half-way) and lifted it into our trailer with a forklift.

May 2017

Luckily, Scotty had brought some tie downs or we never would have gotten the thing home. We drove twenty minutes on back roads to get it home. It takes up half the bedroom. Things appear smaller in a warehouse than they do in a tiny bedroom. 

Fact #10: Speaking of van experiences, this was our parking spot at a swimming pool over the weekend. 

May 2017

Scotty climbed in and out of the passenger side, and he opted to leave the dumpster lid open to avoid having someone come open it and slam the lids on the van. 

I Dream of Churches

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite books was Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hawn. 
I read the book several times, and I always loved that the book took place in an old church turned private residence. Of course, “old church” usually means there is a cemetery nearby, and that’s where Helen comes into play, may she rest in peace.
Because of this book, living in an old church became a childhood fantasy of mine. I still have a soft spot for the idea. In fact, I occasionally have dreams where I live in a church. If the planets ever align and an old church becomes available in the right place at the right time, and I have the money to buy it and turn it residential, consider it done. 
Of course, I live in Utah where churches are plentiful, but not the right kind of churches, so I was surprised when, a few years ago, I came across this in a local newspaper:
Baptist Church0001
It is exactly what I’ve always dreamed of, and it is HERE in Utah… in the town I grew up in! Someone is living my dream in (what I hope is) a happy and Helen-free manner.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

God's Greatest Gifts


Before I became a mom, I worked in a secondary Special Educarion school handling the finances of four SpEd programs and School Nursing Services. Our school was different than a traditional SpEd school in that it offered vocational training. We had job sites both on and off campus. Some students were bussed to locations in the community such as Sam’s Club and K-Mart, while other’s stayed at the school to work in the computer lab or floral shop.
One of my favorite aspects of the school was the small restaurant on campus where the students learned food service skills. Everyday at 11:00, I helped the café instructor by working with students on the cash register. Since the school served only 160 students at a time, I knew almost all of them by name. I had the chance to work with students from all different backgrounds.
Working with such students presented me with many opportunities to learn and grow. One student in particular that stood out to me was a girl named Sage who was studying floral design. One of the rooms in the school hosted a beautiful, black grand piano, and one day, Sage asked her teacher if she could play it during class. Her teacher told her that if she had her things put away in time, she could play the piano for a few minutes before she got on the bus. Sage was usually a good student, but on that day, she was exceptionally well-behaved. Ten minutes before class ended, she had everything cleaned up and was ready to play the piano. Her teacher asked her if she had taken piano lessons, and she said, “No, I’ve never had a piano at home to practice on.” So we assumed that Sage would sit at the piano and fiddle with the keys for a while without making much of an impression on those listening.
When Sage sat down at the piano, she hit a few notes to help position herself at the keys, and then she began to play the most beautiful rendition of How Great Thou Art, as if she were a concert pianist. Her hands moved up and down the entire piano hitting several keys at a time resulting in perfect chords. She knew exactly where to place her hands, and she never hit a bad note. Not one! There were several of us in the room with her at the time, and every single one of us had tears in our eyes. She continued to play songs until it was time to board her bus. While walking her out to the bus, her teacher asked her how she learned to play like that. Sage said, “I don’t know where I learned it. I just sat at a piano at church one day, and I knew how to play it.”
Sage was blind. And to think of her sitting at the piano creating such beautiful music by simply hearing the song in her heart brings tears to my eyes even now. Listening to her play the piano made me feel like I was taking part in a miracle. What an amazing God we have – to take away a young girl’s sight for reasons we can’t comprehend and give her an incredible musical gift.
I don’t know where Sage is now, but I hope there is a piano nearby.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Common Scents

I used to have a Sunday School teacher that had no sense of smell. At first I thought it was really cool that someone could be born unable to smell; she never had to smell B.O. or garbage or the Great Salt Lake on a windy day. But as I thought about it more, I realized that she would never experience fresh mountain air or fireworks or perfume. She’d never smell fresh baked bread or cookies. And worst of all, it would take her a while to notice if she stepped in dog poop.
It’s funny how the mind can make life-long associations with scents. When I was little, my family ended up with a bad piece of beef. My mom cooked it, filling our house with the ghastly odor of fleshy rot. It was bad, and I mean bad! Following the creation of that tear-jerking aroma, my mom sprayed the house down with Glade Air Freshener in cinnamon. Ever since then, if I smell anything that remotely resembles that cinnamon air freshener, I immediately smell the beef, too.
Likewise, when I smell B&BW Warm Vanilla Sugar, I smell the dog poo that my sister tried to cover up with body spray on Thanksgiving several years ago.
When I smell witch hazel, I remember some of the more unfortunate aspects of child birth.
Not all of my scent associations are negative, though. I still swoon a little when I get a whiff of the cologne Scotty used to wear while we were dating (you know, before we got married, and he stopped trying to impress me). I remember my first pregnancy when I smell coconut, and I remember baby Nicky anytime I smell lavender since I used to lather him up in lavender baby lotion and inhale him  like a scratch and sniff sticker.
The smell of coffee has always been enjoyable for me and reminds me of Barnes and Noble. I never say, “Oooo! I smell coffee!” I always say, “Ooooo! I smell Barnes and Noble.” Likewise, I often say, “Ooooo! Smells like vacation!” when I experience the scent of sunscreen.
When I clean my house, I occasionally use Harry Potter Pine Sol, which became such when I read Harry Potter following a thorough wipe down of all my home’s surfaces.
I think we often take such small blessings, like having a sense of smell, for granted. I’m very thankful to be able to experience fragrance, both good and bad, and to have such a refined sniffer as to be a memory keeper of sorts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

El

A few weeks ago I saw a good deal on The Little Mermaid DVD so I bought it to add to our movie collection. We'd previously owned it on VHS, and I only recently got rid of all of our VHS tapes.

I can't even begin to fathom upgrading to Blu-Ray.

I like to be a good ten years behind.

Anyway, yesterday Zoe and Eva were watching The Little Mermaid in the van, and I was reminded of something from the movie that has driven me crazy for most of my existence.

As a child, Ariel was my Elsa. I went around singing, "Ahh ah ahhhhhh, ahh ah ahhhhhh!" knowing that I sounded just like Ariel. "Part of Your World" was my "Let it Go," and "Under the Sea" was my "Do You Want to Build a Snowman."


I didn't love every song from The Little Mermaid, though. I've always taken issue with "The Daughters of Triton." It goes like this:

We are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well
Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, Allana
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
Our seventh little sister, we're presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She's our sister, Ari- (Gasp!)


If you recall, the daughters of Triton were putting on a musical performance under the direction of Sebastian, and right as the sisters were about to present Ariel in her "musical debut," they realize she isn't there. 

That never sat well with me - as much as I loved Ariel in my childhood, she also gave me a lot of anxiety. She repeatedly put herself in danger and refused to follow the rules. She was unreliable and didn't think of others. 

She showed all of the deficiencies of an undeveloped prefrontal cortex. 

But that's not my issue (okay, it is an issue, but not the one at hand).

The issue at hand is the unfinished song. I have always gone crazy wondering what comes next. Ari- WHAT? What is the "el" supposed to sound like? What's the next note? Is it high? Is it low? How long do they hold it? 

Is it the note I think it should be? 

You know when you watch a movie, and you hope it will be different this time, but it always turns out the same? 

They miss that last syllable EVERY.DANG.TIME.

And I can't deal. 

The only thing worse is watching Gus Gus try to carry the cheese.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

This post is brought to you by homework avoidance (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: A few months ago, I had a darling little girl who loved me. Now I have a two-year-old.

Fact #2: There are a lot of articles online that chastise people for using the phrase "terrible twos." We're supposed to call it "the boundary phase" or some other fluffy crap that praises their development instead (just one more thing society can argue about).

Regardless of the terminology, having a two year old is rough.

Now, will someone hand me some food so I can cope by eating my emotions?

Thankyouverymuch.
Fact #3: Speaking of the two-year-old, Eva got her first stitches last week. As per family tradition, they were in her face.

Fact #4: The week prior, Daisy needed stitches in her wrist. She sliced it open while trying to make a telephone out of cans.

Fact #5: Before Daisy cut herself, we'd gone an entire year with no emergency room or instacare visits! That's pretty miraculous for a family of six.

Fact #6: Two weeks ago, I hurt my back. I've had this particular injury before, and it takes a long time to get better as it gets aggravated any time I pick up a child. I need it to heal. Like, now.

Fact #7: As soon as I wrote Fact #1, my neighbor texted me and asked me if I wanted a cheeseburger. How did she know? 


Fact #8: I have good people.

Fact #9: I've been reflecting a lot lately on my good people and on my life's blessings, in general.

Fact #10: Now I gotta go eat my blessing... er... cheeseburger.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

14 Adventures - Part III

This post is a continuation from the other day when I started writing about 14 adventures that Scotty and I have experienced together in honor of our 14th wedding anniversary. Read adventures 1-5 here and adventures 6-9 here

10 & 11. His & Her Bachelor's degrees

This adventure is grouped and yet, separate.

Scotty's original career and education plan fell through, and it took some time to regroup and find a new path.

When I was pregnant with Nicky, Scotty came home from work one night and told me that it was time for him to go to school.

As with many other big decisions we've made in our marriage, this choice was made after a prompting from the Holy Ghost (luckily Scotty had been "in tune" because I completely missed that one).

It took eight years, but time passed, the credits added up, and he graduated with a B.S. in business management.

We had three children while Scotty was working full-time and going to school at night. I told him, after we had Zoe, that I wasn't going to have our last baby until he'd graduated.

image

Don't let the photo fool you! Scotty finished his degree before I was ever pregnant with Eva. He attended the ceremony the following year when Eva was a few weeks old. 

I was serious about not having any more babies while Scotty was in school. What I didn't know is that I would be the one in school when I had my fourth baby. 

I wasn't planning on going back to school until my kids were older (I had an Associate's degree and a certificate in accounting). In fact, my secret hope was that I'd never need to go back to school. Then I got one of those infamous promptings and a positive pregnancy test. I was also the primary president, so I thought, "Well, at least I can let one of these things go. Heavenly Father, do you want me to be a student or a primary president?"

He said, "You're going to be both for a while, and you're going to be fine."

And I was. 

I scheduled Eva's delivery in between finals and the start of a new semester (I literally had three days). 

I know that none of this would have worked out without the Lord's hand in our lives. I was only able to do it through his intervention and grace. 


12. South Carolina

Scotty and I have traveled a lot together, but we're not well traveled. I don't know if that makes any sense, but it's the best way I can think of to describe how we roll. We tend to go to the same places over and over. We don't leave the country, and we always go by car. 

One of the few exceptions to this was our trip to South Carolina. We dreamed of going to South Carolina someday since that's where Scotty served his mission. Even though I'd never been there, myself, a part of my heart had lived there for two years.

In 2010, things fell into place to allow us to go. We took Nicky (age 3) and Daisy (8 months) and flew across the country. We didn't book any hotel rooms - we left our itinerary wide open. The only obligations we had were a flight to and from Columbia.

We spent a week traveling all over the state. This is the only time in our marriage that we have had so much spontaneity.

Day 2 - Mission Office


13. The Spartan Race

I don't like to talk about the Spartan Race these days, but if I'm truly talking "adventure," that's it. Scotty and I trained for a year and did the Beast together. It was completely out of my comfort zone and something I'll likely never do again. 

But at the time, it was a huge part of my life. I worked incredibly hard. I am not naturally athletic, so I really had to push myself. It ended up being one of the best dates Scotty and I have ever been on!

Spartan Race

14. Job changes

These adventures aren't in any particular order. I tried to keep them chronological, but some of them don't fit in a timeline. 

I'll end with the adventure of changing jobs. 

As is part of life, we've been through some changes in Scotty's career. We've experienced a lay off, several years commuting much farther than the average Utahn does for work, and a blip (the "blip" - as I call it - was a job Scotty took for a while in Salt Lake that was actually a blessing in a roundabout way, but it put us through some really hard times financially. He was only there for six months and then he returned to his former "far away" place of employment in a new position). 

Last year, on our anniversary, Scotty started a new job. 

This year, he is again starting a new job, and thus, landing us in an all new adventure! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

14 Adventures - Part II

This post is a continuation from yesterday when I started writing about 14 adventures that Scotty and I have experienced together in honor of our 14th wedding anniversary. Read adventures 1-5 here

6. Having Nicky

Maybe it seems like a gimmick to count each of my children as a separate adventure, but I tried to group them together as one adventure, and it didn't really work because we have a story for each child, and each of them has brought us new experiences (don't worry, I'm not going to tell you the full story for each one. We'd be here for weeks).

Baby 1 051

Nicky made us parents. He ended our bout of infertility. He was the first to shake our world. He brought so many new and foreign things into our lives.


7. Having Daisy

Daisy was our first girl, but part of what made her birth adventurous was that we decided not to find out what we were having. It took a heavy amount of self-control, but it was totally worth it. One of the coolest things I've ever experienced was having Scotty tell me we had a daughter.

2009 09 15_0108

Daisy brought us the adventure of having more than one kid.

(Just for the record, two was my magic number. Having one kid was hard, but having two wasn't so bad. For some reason, I thrived with two). 


8. Having Zoe

Zoe allowed us to, once again, experience finding out the gender of our baby at birth (it was a lot easier the second time). She also threw in another adventure when she decided to turn breech the night before she was born. Miraculously, my doctor was able to turn the 8 lb. 9 oz. mass of baby. 

More Zoe

Zoe brought us the adventure of having "sisters" in the house. 


9. Having Eva

Eva's birth was an adventure because she brought with her the reality that we would have three daughters. Bringing Eva into the world was a huge leap of faith for Scotty and me. Having three kids was really hard on us. We were completely overwhelmed by Nicky, Daisy, and Zoe, so when we started to feel the promptings from the Spirit that it was time for another little one to join us, we had to put our full faith in God's plan for us.

Scotty and I both received our own promptings, but neither of us said anything to the other because we were too scared. Then one night, when we were laying in bed nearly in tears because of the difficult day we'd had, I laughed hysterically and said, "You know what's horrible? It's time to have another one!" and Scotty, too, laughed with a hint of mania, and said, "I know!"

New Baby April 2015

We weren't going to find out what we were having, but we saw a little too much on the ultrasound screen. It turned out that possibly knowing what you're having is a lot harder than not knowing at all, so the following month, I asked my doctor to do a gender check.

Eva was our first complication-free delivery and our first bald baby.


TO BE CONTINUED...


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

14 Adventures - Part I

Today is Scotty's and my 14th anniversary.

Here's a photo of us from when our faces were skinny, and Scotty had weird, flippy hair that was so over-gelled it was almost like he had inverted devil horns coming out of his head.

Scanned Pics 013

(For historical reference, this picture was taken three years before we got married). 

As I was contemplating the possibility of an anniversary post, I started thinking, "I've written it all!" What more can I say? I've written our love story, I've made lists of things we agree on and things we disagree on, I've written about his and her everything, and I've covered every detail from the sappy to the horrible. It's all on the internet somewhere (maybe that's a bad thing?) and I'm out of ideas for anniversary posts (Did you know I've been blogging for 11 years? I started my first blog before I was pregnant with Nicky). 

But then I started thinking about an adventure that Scotty and I are in the middle of right now,* and I remembered that we've experienced a lot of adventures together. 


So in honor of our 14 years, here are 14 adventures Scotty and I have embarked on together:**

1. Scotty's two year mission to South Carolina

When I was 16, Scotty served a mission for our Church. I didn't see my boyfriend for two years!!!

TWO YEARS!!!

Scanned Pics 002

We only communicated by written letter and two phone calls a year (okay, maybe we snuck in a few extra).

2. Getting married

Getting married is always an adventure, but when you're 19 and 21, it adds a little "typically hazardous" flair to it. 

We've managed this adventure pretty well, though, and I have God to thank for that. Scotty and I were very prayerful in making the decision to marry young, and I know we did what was right for us.

Scanned Pics 010

(Note that we got married before digital photography was common. That, too, was an adventure! But it didn't make today's list).

3. Living in this house

Scanned 035


Scotty and I rented this house from his grandpa. It was really old and beat up, and it had a lot of strange quirks. For example, there was a set of stairs that went straight up to a ceiling. There was also a room-sized shower in the basement, and in that shower, there was a hatch that led under the house. There was a small cupboard full of jars of various liquids (we just left them alone, we had no idea what was in them), and there were lots and lots of spiders. 

The house was terrifying. I was always scared to come home alone, and I never went in the basement unless I was giving someone a tour (an absolute must when you live in a house like this!)

4. Buying our first house

Buying a house together is a big milestone and a great learning experience. It brings a lot of new responsibilities and forces you to do things you never knew you would have to do. It's a big commitment, and it's simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

5. Doing the infertility thing

We had some trouble getting that first baby here. We did fertility drugs and a couple of tests. I got pregnant with Nicky during a "month off" while we were getting ready to move on to the next phase of treatment. I'd had an HSG (which found nothing), and I got pregnant the following month. 




TO BE CONTINUED...


*More on this particular adventure later
**Okay, so I've probably written about each of these adventures already, but not in this particular format

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Weekend Away

This week is our anniversary. Scotty and I have been married for 14 years (as of Tuesday - sappy anniversary post pending). We realized, as we discussed the timeline of our lives together, that we have been a couple for 18 years. This means that our relationship is a legal adult, but it's not old enough to drink. It's basically lost in emerging adulthood.

To celebrate our anniversary, we decided to head out of town for the weekend. We stayed one night without kids, thanks to my brave mom, and then the kids came and stayed for the second night (we went "out of town" but not far).

We went to one of those places that acts like it's fancy, but when you look past the charm, you detect that it's really out-of-date and not actually any nicer than the two-star Howard Johnson you usually stay in.

Luckily, we got our room for about half price, but I was still very obsessed with pointing out everything about the place that bugged me (I don't do this at the Howard Johnson because I know what I'm getting when I book a room at the Howard Johnson, but you better believe I do it at a place that charges an arm and a leg and makes itself out to be better than it really is). 

I won't give you the whole List of Things That Bugged, but I will show you this one minor detail:

Dumb light fixture

The light fixtures. 

Please tell me I'm not the only person who thinks the placement of these lamps is horrible. Am I too picky? Am I?

I just can't imagine that any interior designer or electrician would think this was a good idea... and yet... there it is!

How am I supposed to sit in bed and watch TV with a lamp in my head space? Scotty and I both hit our heads on the darn thing. Howard Johnson would never do that to us! 

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I was going to say something else about our weekend, but now I'm too fired up about the light fixtures. Give me a minute to compose myself...

Okay...

Nope. I'm not quite there yet. 

I'm trying to think about what we did for our weekend getaway, but my mind is completely consumed with thoughts of the lamps over my head (and all of the other nuisances that I promised not to mention).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What I Feel Today

Some things have happened over the past few weeks that have reminded me that there is a God.

I have seen evidence of His hand in my life. Evidence that I can't deny.

Sometimes I grow distant from Him, and I start to struggle with finding Him. But today, I feel Him strongly, and I believe in Him firmly.

I just wanted to put that out there.

For you.

But also for me. For the days I forget or doubt.


“Yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44 Book of Mormon)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Vomit & Things

It's late, and one of my kids threw up tonight.

There's something about having a kid throw up that makes me want to blog.

It might be because I need to reach out and say, "Hello, World. It's me, Britt. I've been barfed on, but you didn't take me down!"

(For a minute there, though, it almost did take me down).

Since it wouldn't be ideal to write an entire post about child vomit, here are some other things going on right now.

Thing 1

I went off my anti-depressants. That was stupid. I found myself right back in That Place. I started them up again, but it hasn't been long enough for me to feel better.

Thing 2

I hate running.

Just had to throw that out there.

Thing 3

The reason my child barfed is because she hates her antibiotic. Zoe and Eva both have ear infections. Eva has to be pinned down twice a day for ten days to get an antibiotic in her (it's awful, and I hate it with every fiber of my being). She does not want to take it, and she will scream and gag until she throws it all back up in my face.

Pretty much all of my kids have gone through this "make myself throw up to win the power struggle" phase.

Thing 4

Last semester, I had this amazing confidence. I felt like I could do anything. I felt like I was going somewhere in life and that my education was solid. I felt like I'd found a path of sorts, like maybe I was heading in the right direction.

That's gone now.

Thing 5

My internship has given me a huge reality check. I thought that maybe after I graduate, I could take on some work from home. I don't know how mothers work from home. It's one thing to do a school assignment. It's a completely different thing to have to work a set amount of hours in your home each week when your life is ruled by tiny dictators.

Thing 6

My kids never stop fighting, and my house is always a mess. Being a mom is hard.

I keep trying, but I'm not getting any better at it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#mascotgoals

About a year ago I met my friend Shannon, and the angels sang.

Shannon & Britt
Shannon and I routinely text each other about our nap schedules.

Allow me to elaborate a little. Shannon moved into her in-laws' house, one street away from me, last May. I met Shannon at church, and we became good friends quickly. We now joke that the angels in heaven rejoiced as they watched us meet because they knew what was coming, but we had no idea. 

Along with that joke is the assumption that we were good friends before we came to earth, and that God told us that we would have to wait 33+ years before we found each other in mortality. Our reaction was, "Okay. It's cool. We can do this." 

Because we trusted God. 

And we were a bit naive about mortality. 

I say "joke" because I don't know what else to call it, but we are actually quite serious about this. We often say to each other, "Remember when we met in Relief Society, and the angels sang?

Shannon & Britt
We have created enough memes with our faces in them that I had them made into
a book for Shannon for Christmas.

One thing I really enjoy about Shannon is that she has some things in common with me that I haven't had in common with someone before. Our friendship began with a lot of bizarre "Me too!"s.

One of our foundational "Me too!"s is that we both want to be mascots.

I'm not talking Chick-Fil-A cows waving on a street corner. We want to work the crowd! We want to perform!

I don't remember how the subject came up, but I do remember that we were on a morning walk, and we ended up staying out for an extra 45 minutes because there was so much to say about mascots.

Now we routinely text each other #mascotgoals. When I was at the Utah Grizzlies game, I texted Shannon, "I don't want to be a mascot on ice." She agreed. We don't do ice (though Shannon has a suppressed desire to be a figure skater - she just doesn't want to do it in a large animal head). And when Shannon was at the Utah Jazz game, she sent me a video of the Jazz Bear riding a motorcycle, and she said, "I would ride it with so much more pizzazz!'

And I know she would! She's all about her craft.

In our mascot-ing dream, hip hop dancing is a must.


Shannon, in particular, would like to do a mascot rendition of "Whatcha Say" from So You Think You Can Dance.


Shannon and I regularly practice our dance moves via Fitness Marshall videos, and to make our rehearsals legit, Shannon has a cat costume, and I, of course, have my chicken costume (they don't breathe well. Our professional costuming will have a cooling system).


We came up with a mascot idea in November that we want to pitch to a certain company. We have costume ideas and the whole bit. We just need to find an "in." And we'll totally do it for free if they will spring for the costumes.

We've talked about hosting mascot retreats where mascot friends can get together for a weekend to relax and share inspiration. Obviously, when we are mascots, we will have a mascot tribe...

...of mascot-ing women...

...in their mid to late thirties...

Okay, so maybe it's too late in life to be anything more than the mascots of our children's elementary schools.

We're too out of shape to do back handsprings.