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. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day.

Since going back to school, I haven't spent as much time reading for leisure as I would like, but I still consider books a big part of my life. My relationship with books is different now than it was three years ago, but that's part of being in a relationship - navigating change.

In honor of World Book Day, I want to share ten of my favorite quotes from books I've read (these are only some of the many quotes I love).

Quote #1

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a book before the membrane of the last one has closed behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you."

-The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield



The quote perfectly describes something I've tried to express, and you know when you have a thought but not the words to say it, and when you finally find it written in someone else's words, you rejoice? This quote did that for me.

Quote #2

“Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weight hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.” 

-These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner





The word "burden" may seem harsh, but it truly is weight to worry over your children and their well-being.

Quote #3

"...there will be more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred good men."

-Les Miserables by Victor Hugo



In reality, I don't think God will weigh one over the other, but I love this reminder that we can change for the better. We can overcome our mistakes of the past and be made whole because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Quote #4

"October. My favorite month... There's a chill in the air that lifts my heart and makes my hair stand on end. Every moment feels meant for me. In October, I'm the star of my own movie... and I have faith in my own rising action... I come alive in October... October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars into my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins."

-Attachments by Rainbow Rowell




I love October, and the phrase, "every moment seems meant for me" is exactly how I feel when I get to wear long pants and walk through crisp leaves. 

Quote #5

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."

-I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak




I love this quote because character is truly what makes a person beautiful, but it also takes someone special to see that kind of beauty in others.

Quote #6

"It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?"

-The Giver by Lois Lowry




This quote is short and simple, but for me, it has great meaning. Agency and opposition are two strong themes in The Giver. These two things have essentially been removed from society in this book, and as they are introduced to the main character, Jonas, he begins to understand that they are necessary to the human experience. 


Quote #7

“The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, "We're pregnant." I want to go around the neighborhood saying, "We're depressed." If my mum can't get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it's eating us alive.”

-Saving Fransesca by Melina Marchetta




This quote stands out to me because I've had some issues with depression, and even though my depression is quite mild, I know that it affects my family. Research has shown that mothers with depression are inconsistent in parenting and have difficulty attaching to their children. Additionally, children of depressed mothers are more likely to struggle with depression, themselves. "We" have depression, and it haunts me. 


Quote #8

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling



This is another nod to the importance of agency. Our choices matter. 


Quote #9

“Millions of people can draw. Art is whether there is a scream in you wanting to get out in a special way.”

-My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok



I don't draw, but I have had other things screaming to get out.

Quote #10

“...I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



The human experience is both ugly and beautiful. I love the observations made by the narrator in this book, Death. We are magnificently and horrifically flawed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hold On To Your Ears

This post was inspired by poop.

Really.

The other day I was at the park with a friend, and we started talking about poop. I'm always shocked at how much there is to say about poop. Before I knew it, we'd engaged in 15 minutes of bowel-related conversation. I think we only stopped talking about poop because we needed to leave. The experience made me realize that I can talk someone's ear off about poop, if given the opportunity.

(Half of you are nodding because you can, too, and the other half of you are horrified).

This got me thinking about what other topics I can easily talk someone's ear off about, and I decided to make a master list. Maybe the list will come in handy someday. Maybe it will prevent me from talking about poop where poop isn't wanted. If we ever go to lunch, you can print it off and highlight the things you'll allow me to discuss in the event of awkward silence.


Here are some of the choices:
  • My kids
  • Books & other things I've read
  • TV (including, but not limited to: Gilmore Girls, White Collar, Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Robin Hood, Scrubs, M*A*S*H, How I Met Your Mother, Home Fires, Friday Night Lights, Hart of Dixie, When Calls the Heart, & Downton Abbey) (note that I don't have all positive things to say about these shows. The conversation might include several frustrations)
  • The gospel
  • Disneyland
  • Pregnancy & childbirth
  • Food
  • Anything and everything I've learned in school (this part of the list is very, very long - it might require its own post)
  • The 90's
  • Board games
  • Everything I've bought from Ross or the thrift store in the past year 
  • Blogging
  • Things that bug me
  • Depression
  • Throw up
  • Why vans are awesome
  • Running (but not from the perspective of loving it)
  • My past jobs
  • My history of celebrity crushes
  • Umm.... myself...
  • Lost (I know I already mentioned TV, but Lost is a subject of its own)
And, if all of these fail, there's always poop. Now, what would you talk my ear off about in return?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Facebook Test Run

Just a quick, little post to let you know that I have started a Facebook page for my blog. I know I'm several years behind on the times, but here is the link if you would like to follow.

I actually started it three months ago, and then I panicked because I didn't have a cover photo or a profile picture that I liked, so I let it sit until it was about to get deleted.

I figured it's time to dabble a little, and see if I like this medium. I miss interacting with my readers through comments, so I'm hoping a Facebook page will allow us to interact a little more.

At this very moment, I have two followers! And both are relatives! Ha ha!


Discovering and Nurturing the Best Within You

A couple of week's ago, I promised a post about strengths. I wish I could remember everything I hoped to say in that post, but I waited too long. I'm going to try to summon those thoughts as best I can today.

There are a couple of things that made me want to write this post. 

The first was my practicum, which helped me become more familiar with the positive psychology movement. Until recent decades, psychology focused heavily on what was wrong with people. It was about diagnosis and treatment - fixing people, if you will. In recent years, psychology has become more involved in researching human strengths, life satisfaction, and happiness.

While researching my practicum, I came across this concept from Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the prominent researchers in positive psychology, and it has been at the forefront of my thoughts ever since:

(Sorry for the blurry image - I took it from my slideshow presentation)

Let's pretend that you have something weak within you. Maybe there's a bad habit you keep going back to, or maybe you have some mental or emotional struggles. 

It can be very easy to hone in on our weaknesses. There are many reasons for this, but I think a big one is that we feel like we are being humble when we bring attention to our faults, as if announcing them to everyone makes us more noble and modest. 

Another reason I believe we focus on our weaknesses is to protect ourselves from being "caught." If I tell you everything I'm bad at and every area I'm weak in, then I beat you to it! You get to know about my weakness because I pointed it out to you. You don't get the glory of discovering my fault on your own! am in control.

I could give more reasons, but suffice it to say that, for many of us, it is our nature to focus on our weaknesses when it would do us a great deal of good if we focused on our strengths.

The second thing that got my thoughts flowing on this topic was General Conference, which occurred the first weekend of April. 

Several years ago, I started hearing people say that they struggle with General Conference because they feel like it's a run down of everything they're doing wrong. I'd never experienced such guilt during General Conference, so, while I felt sad for these individuals, I didn't understand why they felt that way. But then, in time, it happened to me. I started feeling like General Conference was a guilt trip. And the social media culture surrounding General Conference added immensely to that feeling.

This was new to me, I'd never felt that way before, and I didn't like it. I decided to actively battle this feeling by applying the same tactic I used a few years ago to tackle mom guilt. Instead of worrying about everything I am doing wrong during General Conference, I now try to focus on things I am doing right. I listen for statements that validate good choices I am already making, and when it comes to progress, I focus on messages that inspire me, and I don't worry about the ones that make me feel guilty. If I feel inspired, I am ready to act. If I feel guilty, I am not in a place to tackle that particular issue.* 

This is something I've been trying to do for the past few years, but it was only this time around that I was aware there was research to back this up. In essence, I had learned a way to nurture what was best within me. 

I'll try to bring this all together now.

Part of overcoming our faults and weaknesses is nurturing our strengths, and to do that, we need to know what they are! 

This is so hard for many people. In my workshop, I had the participants fill out a sheet to help them become familiar with some of the best parts of themselves. Some people handled this well and were pleased to make some new  discoveries about themselves, and others refused to write anything good about themselves. It was difficult for me to witness people I love feel incapable of acknowledging their own strengths. 

But anyway, back to the point - we need to know what some of our strengths are, because no matter what faults we have, there are good things within each of us. 

Just in case you need some help in that area, here are three ways you can discover some of your strengths:


You will need to create an account to fill out the questionnaire, but it is free, and once you have an account, you will have access to several other surveys.

This is a great exercise for those who struggle to name their own strengths because the program will do it for you. 

2. Fill out this "My Strengths and Qualities" worksheet

(Just for the record, the worksheet comes from Therapist Aid, not The Rapist Aid).

This one might be harder because you have to name your strengths on your own, but I like this worksheet because it has you go beyond just listing your strengths.

3. Ask someone you love and trust what they think some of your strengths are

Ooooooo! That's a tough one. But it's also a good one, because another person is going to see strengths in you that you might not see in yourself. 

Do it! I dare you!

And as a bonus, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have received a patriarchal blessing, I encourage you to look there for strengths.

Once you've identified some of your strengths, it's helpful to make a list of the ways you can use each strength (you may also include ways you have used that strength in the past). 

How can your strength bless your own life as well as the lives of others? How can you further develop that strength? 

As a religious person, I believe the cultivation of our best qualities can be accomplished through prayer. It is one thing to learn of our strengths, but it is another to develop and use them for the best purposes. Acknowledging our strengths may seem to be at odds with the commandment to be humble, but there is room for humility in the best parts of us as we use those strengths for righteous purposes and for serving others. 

Research has shown that doing a kind deed is one of the most effective (if not the most effective) ways to boost happiness, so I encourage you to acknowledge your strengths and use them to help others. In doing so, you will have a greater capacity to overcome your own weaknesses. 

*I would like to add here that I sustain the leaders of the Church, and I do not believe that it is the intent or purpose of general Conference to make us feel guilty. Feeling that way is, perhaps, one of my own weaknesses.
**According to my most recent completion of the survey, my top 5 strengths are spirituality, love of learning, humor and playfulness, creativity, and gratitude. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Currently {April 2017 Edition}

Reading: Peacful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (for the second time), and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (for the sixth time, but listening on Overdrive this time).

Watching: Home Fires

Procrastinating: Two teacher appreciation posters and a pinewood derby car.

Wanting: Some comfortable shorts. I've given up hope that such a thing exists.

Craving: Productivity. Normally I reserve this spot for food stuffs, but I really just need to get some stuff done and revel in the satisfaction.

Wearing: An Aeropostale t-shirt that I got from my brother's DI pile, and a pair of too-big jeans. Oh! And my shoes are from my brother's DI pile, too. Good heavens. Is this what I've become?

Relieved by: Eva having an ear infection. It's just good to know that there has been a reason for her difficulty the past few weeks.

Stressing about: All the things.

Missing: Some of the comforts of Scotty's old job - occasional Fridays off and PTO. There are definitely things I don't miss about the old job, but I sure saw my husband a lot more when he worked five times further from home.

Excited to: Go on some small vacations in the next few months. We will spend more time in Idaho this summer than we have in the entirety of my life.

Neglecting: My hair. Every time I get a trim, I promise to comeback in 8 weeks. Only once in my adult life have I gone back within three months.

Thankful for: My mind.

Looking forward to: Going to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point with friends this weekend. There will be no kids! No kids! Eep!





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Don't Got Time!

Remember in my last post how I was all, "Wow! This is what it's like to have time?"

That seems like a lifetime ago. Did that really happen?

Now I'm 12 hours behind in my internship, and I've started my two other classes. I'm up to my neck in dirty laundry. My house looks like a tornado went through it (actually, two tornadoes - a four-year-old tornado and a two-year-old tornado). My heart rate has doubled, and I want to throw up.

I just need to take a deep breath and remind myself that the beginning of each semester is hard. I always start out wondering how I'll ever make it.

Somehow I make it every time.

I just can't measure my success by whether I've showered or whether the house is clean.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Got time?

This week feels really strange.

I'm technically in between semesters, so I don't have any school work. This has granted me flexibility with my time that I don't really know how to handle. I spent about an hour this morning looking at recipes online. That's not something I can normally do, and it felt so weird to have the freedom to just look at food without a deadline pressing on me. I could have looked at food for three more hours, and it wouldn't have caused me any great amount of stress.

I've started my internship, which is a new adjustment. I need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of internship work each week to get my hours in before I graduate. But even with this new investment of my time, I've had a few points in the week where I haven't had anything to do because I've finished my assigned task, and I'm waiting to hear from my supervisor about what to do next. That has resulted in some hours of free time where there isn't much that I have to do.


It's weird to think that this was what my life must've been like before I went back to school. I often think about how I spent my time before I was in school. I don't remember what it was like. I remember feeling stressed and busy and tossed to and fro by my children, but I don't remember how I used my time. What did I do back then? I vaguely recall baking bread regularly and reading three books each week. Is that what filled my days? I just don't remember! All I know is that I thought I was so busy. And maybe I was. I just can't imagine it.

To be perfectly honest, I'm worried about how I'm going to spend my time after I graduate. I hope I use it responsibly. Part of me is nervous about losing school as my crutch. For the past few years, I've had school as my excuse for everything.

Take out for dinner? School.

Ignoring my kids? School.

Messy house? School.

Weight gain? School.

In the next few months, school is going to go away, and I'm going to be left without my excuse for everything. I might have to confront some truths about myself that I don't want to face - that I'm lazy, that I overeat and overspend, that I'm not always content with the stay-at-home mom life even though I feel very strongly that that's what's best for my family.

As excited as I am to reach the milestone of graduation, I'm also scared of it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wherein I Give You Homework

About two hours ago, I completed my last final for the semester.

(Insert sigh of relief here).

I'm now (kind of) in my last semester. I am doing an internship, which I have (kind of) already started, and I'll be taking two more classes starting next week.

This is good news for you, dear readers, because that means we are quickly approaching the days were I might post less about school.

Anyway... now that I'm done with my practicum, I have lots of things I want to write about. There's a post looming in my mind, but I'm not ready to write it yet.

Spoiler alert: It's about strengths.

And I've never done this before, but I have a homework assignment for you, but only if you're interested.

Visit the Authentic Happiness web site from the University of Pennsylvania, and complete the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. There is a little caveat - you will need to register and agree for your responses to be used in research to take the survey. Once you register, you will be able to do any of the questionnaires on the site for free (there are different web sites where you can take this survey, but I'm suggesting this one because it's the one my school recommends).

The survey is quite thorough, so it takes 20-30 minutes to complete. You will find that some of the questions seem redundant. Don't be annoyed by it. That's what makes it thorough.

I first took this survey in 2014. I took it again last night. My strengths have changed a little bit in the past three years. Or maybe I am just more in tune with my strengths. But interestingly, my top strength remains the same.

I'll share my strengths with you when I write the aforementioned post.

Let me know if you do the survey. I would love to hear what your top five strengths are!




Tuesday, April 4, 2017

More Puzzles

We've kept up on our puzzle habit over the past couple of months. Here are some of the puzzles we've done (there are a few I don't have pictures of):

Puzzles

Puzzle


Puzzles

Puzzles

Puzzles

Puzzles

We're still doing our fair share of the Thomas Kincaid Disney puzzles (Do you love the Alice one as much as I do?) but we've also branched out a little. 

The LOST puzzle is one that I made through Shutterfly when they had a free puzzle code (still had to pay $10 shipping, but I needed a LOST puzzle). 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Then the Wind Blew

Remember how last time I wrote, I was on vacation with my kids?

Right after I published that post, the power went out in our hotel. We hung out in the dark for about thirty minutes, my kids incessantly asking me questions.

When will the lights come back on?

Why won't the TV work?

Are we going to die?

My kids haven't experienced more than a little flicker of the lights, so this was new to them. I had to explain all the things. Don't open the fridge. No, you can't plug in the iPad. The air conditioner doesn't  work. There's no Wi-Fi.

Eventually, it became clear that the power was going to be out for a while, so I decided to load everyone in the van and go somewhere with light. When I walked outside, I was surprised to discover that we were in the middle of a nasty windstorm. There were palm tree fronds and red dirt blowing everywhere. Our hotel room window faced a wall, so I hadn't been able to see anything that was going on outside.

We'd been at the pool an hour earlier with perfect weather!

I walked out into the wind and back a few times, trying to gauge whether it was necessary to stay indoors. I didn't want to be the idiot who went out in the storm.

Then I was the idiot who went out in the storm.

My plan was to go somewhere close - the first fast food joint or store I could get to, just so we could be in the light. I had no idea that the power was out through half the city, but that became evident very quickly when I drove down the road and saw an endless stream of dark traffic lights.

I turned east, hoping to see working lights. There was one working light about three blocks away, so with hope, I moved toward it only to learn that it was the only working stop light around, apparently backed up by another power source. As soon as we got beyond it, the traffic lights were still out, and traffic was really, really bad. I'd just driven my family into five solid lanes of cars. No one was moving.

Some friends of ours were in Saint George, staying a few miles from us, away from the main part of the city. I texted them to see if they had power. They did. I wouldn't be able to get back to my hotel easily, but I was only three lights away from the freeway, and that could get me away from traffic lights and to our friends' condo. I was able to get through those lights, but it took about half an hour.

Being backed up in traffic like that gave me the chance to consider what it would be like in a more dire emergency. I thought about the movies where zombies attack or aliens land, and everyone tries to flee the city, but they end up in mass traffic where crowd psychology abounds, and everyone is screwed except the star of the film and the two children and the love interest who somehow break through and have a series of events work just enough in their favor that they don't end up dead.

We hung out at our friends' condo for about an hour, but my children's behavior was so unmanageable (there are bite marks on Daisy's back to prove it) that I was willing to go sit with them in a parking lot in the van if needed just to spare my friends.

We were out of diapers (which added to the "emergency" feel of the situation) and there was a Walmart one freeway exit away from where our friends were staying, so I headed that way. As I was pulling into the parking lot, I got an emergency alert on my phone. There was going to be a huge dust storm, and we were advised to stay indoors.

I ran into the store, wind whipping around me, and dirty rain blowing in my face. I grabbed a package of diapers, a loaf of emergency French bread, and a Cherry Vanilla Pepsi for good measure.

When I came back out, there wasn't an ounce of wind. It was like it had never happened.

We drove back to our hotel. Traffic was clear. The power was on. The swimming pool was full of people. Deep down, I wondered if I'd imagined it. I'm not sure why I got the emergency alert on my phone. It was either three hours too late or completely wrong.