Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Break Check-In

I'm currently trapped in a hotel room with my kids. We are on "vacation" (I used the term very loosely here since it's me alone with four kids in southern Utah. It's a lot of work). Zoe is asleep, so we are trying to navigate nap time while being crammed together in a small room.

The good news? This cheap hotel has really good cable. We are taking full advantage of the multiple Disney Channels. I've also gotten my first real dose of Paw Patrol (a show I often confuse as "Papa Troll." Like, when my kids point at merchandise and say, "Mommy! Mommy! Look! Paw Patrol!" I say, "What's Papa Troll?")

We were supposed to come home today, but last night, I spontaneously extended our "vacation" another night. Why? 

Reason One: There is a winter storm warning this afternoon on our route home. 

Reason Two: We've been in the car too much. On Tuesday we spent about six hours driving. Yesterday we drove into Las Vegas and ended up spending about seven hours total in the car. We couldn't stand the thought of spending another 5+ hours in the car today.

Reason Three: It's Spring Break. Why not?

Today has been really fun, so I'm glad we extended the trip. We have had the pool to ourselves all day, and it has been WONDERFUL! (I love having things to ourselves. Maybe I never really learned how to share???) I even got to go in the hot tub! I rarely get to go in the hot tub on vacation, but having the relatively small pool area to ourselves meant I didn't have to worry about my kids bugging other people, and I could see my kids from the hot tub. What a treat! 

Saint George 2017
{Pool naps for the win!}

I've also been able to listen to an audiobook off and on throughout the trip, which has been another treat! This has only been possible because of the DVD player in the van that keeps my kids from fighting (well... not entirely, but it has decreased the fighting by about 75%).

And the best news of all?

I found the Van Gogh painting that was stolen from the Wynn Casino in the cinematic masterpiece, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

Saint George 2017
{Slight chance it's a forgery}

Last night, we got home late, and half the kids were hungry, so I ordered a pizza and had it delivered to our room. The kids were blown away by the fact that food can be ordered and delivered to a hotel room. Why should we ever leave?

I have had to do quite a bit of homework on "vacation," which is always a bummer, but after 11 years of school (8 for Scotty and almost 3 for me), homework on vacation is our norm. We know no other way! It's just routine. 

The days on vacation have been awesome. The nights have sucked. Trying to control my early bird children each morning while we are wall to wall with people who probably want to sleep late on vacation has been a nightmare. My kids sleep like psychopaths, so I have been head butted, kicked, laid on, and clawed with gnarly toenails. Last night Zoe didn't fall asleep until 1:30, and yet, she was still awake and jumping on beds and slamming doors by 6:00.

Traveling with children is not for the weak! I'll tell you!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wherein I am Losing my Mind

I can't help but notice the drastic effect that being a mother has had on my cognitive function. Ten years ago, I never would have believed that my mind could be so muddled and foggy, but with each kids it gets worse (that's one reason I have to stop at four - my brain can't handle any more).

Two things have happened this week (among several other smaller things) that indicate that I have "lost it."

Let's start with this morning when I almost left my house with no pants on.

I rolled out of bed at 6:30 and grabbed my running gear which I had set by the bed late last night. I took everything downstairs where I then sat down to put my running shoes on. I stood up and went into the kitchen to get my arm band and ear buds. When I came back into the living room to go out the front door, I saw a wad of black clothing on the floor, and that's when I realized... I was in my underwear.

This is an easy mistake to make since I wear religious underclothing, and they kind of have the same feel as workout clothes.

If I hadn't seen that wad of clothes on the floor, I totally would have started running in my underwear. How far would I have gotten? How many people would have seen? (Note that I live on a busy road, and this was during the morning commute). Would anyone have honked at me?

You know when you almost hit something with your car, but at the last second, you realize what's about to happen and you either swerve or slam on your breaks to avoid catastrophe? The physiological response of realizing you almost left the house in your underwear is very similar.

After I discovered my error, I obviously needed to put pants on (and a shirt, for that matter), but it takes so long to lace up my running shoes (foot drama! Oy!) that I didn't want to take my shoes back off. I practically destroyed my pants whilst stretching them over my ski boat shoes only to discover that I'd put them on inside out.

I left them.

Every now and then, my hand brushes against the tag, and I remember that I'm still wearing them... six hours later.

The other thing that happened was even more of a doozy!

A few weeks ago, Scotty and I booked a trip to Disneyland for later this year. The company we went through sends a big package in the mail with drawstring backpacks and lanyards for everyone, plus the tickets. The package came last week. I opened it while sitting in my van in the garage.

The next day, Scotty asked what I did with the vacation package.

I couldn't remember doing anything with it, so I assumed it was still out in the van. Scotty checked the van and couldn't find it, so I went out to check, expecting for it to be right in plain sight, at which point I could boast and say, "It was right there, silly!"

Yeah... I couldn't find it.

I had no memory of what I'd done with it. I scoured the van, the garage, and the house and couldn't find it anywhere. I started mentally walking through what had happened when I'd come home the day before. I opened the package and then I came in the house. Daisy had dance class, so I ran her to class and came back home. I was in and out a lot during the hour after I checked the mail.

I started to wonder if I could have thrown it away. Sometimes when there's junk mail, I'll take it straight to the outside garbage can before I come in the house, but that seemed impossible. I wouldn't, nay, couldn't have thrown it away. That would've been beyond stupid!

I walked around the house, opened the garbage can, started sifting through, and sure enough... there it was, lying right at the bottom of the can! And not only had I thrown the whole package away, I'd first stuffed it full of garbage from my van! Baby wipes, grocery ads, a Pringles can, sucker sticks from the bank, and even a few pinecones my kids had dragged in.

I was horrified as I realized that I have become a person who throws away vacation packages! And it's not like they came in a tiny envelope that could easily get lost between two pieces of junk mail.

No. No!

This was a package! With backpacks and lanyards in it! It was BIG!!!

{My face after The Retrieval}

And it wasn't just our tickets. It was my in-laws' as well!

I threw away seven five-day passes to Disneyland, and if my husband hadn't asked about where I'd put them, I never would have known what happened to them. This could have ended quite badly.

I think I need constant supervision.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fist Pump Pending

Friday night was my last workshop for my practicum.

I'm almost ready to breathe a huge sigh of relief and give an enthusiastic fist pump, but I'm not quite done with the workshop yet. I have to polish up my portfolio and get it turned in. It's due on Wednesday, but I'm heading out of town on Tuesday morning, so I need to have it done and turned in by Monday. So far it's 78 pages long. I have about 8 more pages I'm waiting for final approval on. Then I'll add those, and Bob's your uncle! I will hit an education milestone that seemed so far out when I started school. I can't believe I've reached this point. It's an event that seemed so daunting in the beginning. Practicums are usually part of master's degree programs, so I felt a little "in over my head" when I found out I had to do one, but I've also looked forward to it. It's pretty cool to get to the point where you have a little more control over what you're learning and how you implement it.

I don't think I've talked much about my practicum here; just a few brief mentions of it. Basically, I had to write, market, and teach a family life education workshop on a topic of my choosing. All of this was done while working with a consultation group and under the supervision of my teacher, who is absolutely amazing and has prepared me more for my future than any instructor I've had thus far (and I've had some pretty good ones)!

Choosing my topic was hard because I had so many ideas and so many things I am passionate about. I was very prayerful in selecting my subject matter, and the topic I was inspired to write about was happiness - particularly for women and mothers. Happiness in motherhood is something I have personally struggled with, so it was great topic for me to invest in.

There was a lot of flexibility in the practicum. I needed to provide four hours of instruction, and that could be done in a variety of ways. I could have taught a one-hour lesson four times. I could have taught a two-hour lesson two times. I just needed to get four hours in. I decided to do it "the hard way" (I didn't know it was the hard way until I was too far into it to turn back) and have three 90-minute classes that were all different. I ended up reviewing a total of 112 research studies to write my curriculum (I didn't use all of them - the research starts to get repetitive the more you delve into it).

It was a lot of work, but it was worth it! I learned so much, and I had a blast teaching my workshops. I networked with some great family-oriented organizations, like Power of Moms and Aha Parenting. I also got to correspond a little with Linda Eyre and Sonja Lyubomirksy, which was really fun!

The workshops themselves went really well. I had a wonderful turnout - forty different people attended across three sessions. I designed the workshop so people could come to one session or all sessions. I had quite a few people who came to all three, which was so kind of them! I was overwhelmed by the support I received, and the feedback I was given was positive.

{A little snippet from the first session}

In its entirety, doing this workshop has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, so I'm really excited to be able to do the fist pump sometime within the next 24 hours. It will be one of the more meaningful fist pumps I've done.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

That Time Scotty Interviewed Me... Five Months Ago

Back in October, I interviewed Scotty for a blog post. Then he decided to interview me for a blog post. He fell asleep 11 questions in (am I that boring?) so we decided to finish the interview later.

That was almost half a year ago, which is a pretty accurate representation of our version of "later."

Today, I found that interview in my draft folder and decided it's time to post... finished or not.

I highly recommend that you interview your spouse once in a while. Just try to stay awake... It makes a difference.

Here are the questions Scotty asked me:

1. Who is your favorite musician or group?

Maroon 5 is definitely up there. I also like Pink.

2. What would you consider to be a perfect date with your husband?

It's not so much about what we do - I think almost any date can be perfect as long as we aren't going to a haunted house. I would love to go on a Disneyland date sometime.

3. What's your dream job?

I would love to be a writer, and I would love to be a choreographer. There's also a part of me that needs to be a professional mascot. The key word is "professional." I don't want to be the Chick-Fil-A cow.

4. What do you consider to be one of the strongest parts of your testimony?

I believe very strongly that there is something more than our earthly existence. A God, a heaven, and life before and after this one.

5. What is your favorite thing to do when you're by yourself?

Depending on my mood - I like to peruse the thrift store or Ross. Pretty much any time I go to the store by myself, it's amazing! Sometimes it's nice to just read a book or take a nap. I'm becoming a napper in my old age. Ha ha!

6. If there was one thing you could teach somebody, what would it be?

I'm not saying I'm capable of this, but if I could choose a topic to throw my heart into, I would love to teach marriage and family classes. I would love to teach preventative courses to help marriages succeed from the beginning so they do not require intervention later.

Update: This is actually happening! I wrote a workshop on happiness in motherhood and am currently teaching it. I am also signed up to become a facilitator for a marriage preparation program, and I will also be piloting a workshop curriculum for an organization beginning in April!

7. If you could pick a dream car, what would it be?

I just want a really awesome van with all the bells and whistles. (Scotty is not convinced that this should be my answer, but I'm for real!)

8. What is one of the hardest things you've ever had to do?

Dealing with some family circumstances.

9. Growing up, what was one of the funnest things to do with your friends?

Sing and dance. Some of my best memories involve turning a song on and going wild.

10. Who is your favorite actor?

I really have a lot. I like Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Tom Hanks, and Michael Caine - to name a few. There are a lot of actors I like.

11. What's something you can't live without (excluding food and water)? 

My cell phone, quality chapstick, and pen and paper.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Other Creative Things

Over the past few weeks, I've channeled my energy into some creative tasks.

For one, I dabbled in making weighted blankets. I made an experimental one for Zoe. I thought I was doing it the "easy" way, but I was actually do it the time-consuming, tedious way (story of my life!)

When it was finished, Zoe wasn't interested in it at all. Eva likes to use it sometimes, and Scotty has been sleeping with it on his legs to help with restless leg.


The next week I made another blanket and used a completely different process that ended up being much better. I gave that blanket to my friend's daughter who has autism. Now I'm going to make one for someone with fibromyalgia.

A year ago I painted my bathroom. Scotty and I made a frame to go around around the mirror, and I painted the cabinets.

Then I never finished the bathroom. This week I finally bought a shower curtain and hung some stuff on the walls.


I found the pink trays in the dollar bins at Target for $3. I added hardware to the backs and made them into shelves. I wasn't sure if pink was a good idea, but I figured I could paint them a different color later if I don't like the pink.

Now that it's all up on the wall, I'm sold on the pink. I like the color with the wood sign and the wood detail on the hooks. The pink stays!

(For now... I can guarantee I will paint them or take them down at some point because that's what I do).

Another thing I've been throwing my creativity into is a workshop series I'm teaching for my practicum. My first class is in two days. I'm very excited. I love my topic! I've created a three-part workshop about some of the scientific findings of happiness as well as depression, body image, comparison, perfection, and relationships. 

One part of my workshop that I'm really excited about is that I have prizes to give away! I wasn't required to provide prizes, but as I was reading my textbook that teaches family life educators how to create a workshop curriculum, one of the recommendations was to partner with other organizations. I started thinking about some of the organizations that I follow on Facebook, and I thought, "I wonder if any of them would be willing to donate items for a drawing for my workshops." So I emailed some people. Then I started getting responses. Pretty soon, I had a stack of materials to give away to deserving mothers. 



I love this. The workshop writing. I love to teach, I love to write, I love to learn, and I love to give people stuff. Maybe I'm even good at it. I don't know yet. I'll let you know. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Birthday Poster Round-Up

A few years ago the PTA president at my kids' school asked if I would make a birthday poster each month for the school. I did the posters for two years. Then it became a little too much with school, so I took last year off, but this year I started up again. Here are the posters I have made for this school year so far:

Birthday Poster

Birthday Poster

Birthday Poster

Birthday Poster

Birthday Poster


It's a fun way to exercise my creative muscles and help out at the school. 

See some of the other posters I've made:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

To act and not be acted upon

Oh, hi.

It's late Saturday night, and I just finished my homework for the week. For the last few semesters, there is at least one class that I completely slack off in. I refer to it as my "back burner" class. Now that I'm finishing the uppest of my upper division courses, I put all of my focus into the more challenging classes and hardly pay attention to the "back burner" classes. 

Here is how my classes have gone for the past three semesters:

Spring 2016
Front burner: PSYCH 201 - Development of the Lifespan
Back burner: CHILD 320 - Adolescent Development

Fall 2016:
Front burner: MATH 221C - Social Science Statistics
Back burner: FAML 430 - Something to do with families... and communities... and I don't even remember. 

Winter 2017 (current):
Front burner: FAML 445 - Practicum
Back burner: FDREL 200 - The Eternal Family
Waaaaaaay back burner: PSYCH 302 - Research Methods

Last week in Sunday School, I was talking to my class about the difference between acting and being acted upon. I gave several scenarios and had the kids identify which scenario is acting and which is being acted upon. 

One of the scenarios I gave was, "Memorizing what you need to know just long enough to take the test." I viewed this as being acted upon, since the motivation is to simply pass the test and move on. Some of my kids disagreed with me, saying, "But you chose to study!" My argument was that, in this scenario, you are being acted upon because you are not taking any action beyond getting the grade. You're being acted upon by the the need to pass the class. 

Another scenario was , "Internalizing what you learn by applying to to your life." I viewed this as the alternative to memorizing what you need to know just long enough to take the test. In this scenario, you are acting because you are taking the initiative to make your education personal, which will result in long-term learning. You are going beyond the grade.

I had to confess to my Sunday school kids that I have spent a lot of my life memorizing what I needed to know for the test - being acted upon - but in those areas where I have acted, I have been truly blessed with wisdom.

After that lesson, I realized that, in my front burner classes, I am acting, and in my back burner classes, I'm being acted upon

Today I had to take a test for Research Methods, my waaaaay back burner class, and as I read through the questions, I thought, "Have I even been reading the right textbook for this class?"


Fortunately I got a 'B.'