Thursday, September 19, 2019

Brain Dump

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #30:

Brain Dump

I've hit the point where the writing challenge has almost caught up to me. I've stayed a few days ahead with posts, but as of the moment I am typing this, I only have one more draft scheduled. This might be when the writer's block sets in (...again. I started off with some writer's block, but then I found my flow for a while).

Here are some random things that have piled up in my brain over the past few weeks.


Three weeks ago (with my doctor's supervision) I went off my high blood pressure medication. I had to change prescriptions since my meds were making me cough (took me nine months to figure out it), so I asked if I could try going off medication altogether before starting a new one. We gave it a shot... a five-day shot, to be precise. Yeah... I have high blood pressure still. So I'm back on meds. I'm going to try to be off them by the end of the year. That means I have to find better ways to take care of myself. That's some hard stuff.

I also weaned off my anti-depressants. Because why not be drug free for a minute? I've been okay so far. I'm actually doing really well, and I'm very high-functioning right now. Why can't I just be like this always? I feel like this is who I really am. Why must it ebb and flow? It's really sad to feel as great as I do with the constant worry that I'm going to hit my wall any minute. I feel like there's a cloud chasing me, and it will eventually get me. Again, why can't I just be like this always?


One interesting thing about my use of anti-depressants is that I have always gone on them when I've had a three-year-old (the only exception being right after I had Nicky when I had terrible post-partum depression. That was the first time I was ever treated for depression).

All of my kids have been really difficult three-year-olds. Is it just a coincidence, or is that what pushed me over the edge four out of five times? I dunno. But I'm not anticipating having any more three-year-olds. Maybe the new age will be 15, and I'll get to start a whole new regimen. I'll let you know.

But maybe I'll be a little better off now than I was during the toddler years. Maybe I don't have to keep worrying about it. Maybe I'm in a season of life that will be better for me.


With Nicky starting junior high and Eva being in preschool 4 days a week, I feel like our lives have entered a new phase. It's been really good so far. I mean, junior high has the potential to be just plain awful, but Nicky is doing okay (save for one incident that broke my mama heart).

This week Nicky was one of four students chosen to represent the school in a golf tournament. He played on a team with his principal and her boss. This is so cool, especially for a kid who has stayed under the radar and been overlooked for most of his life.

When Nicky started school this year, I wondered if it might be time for a cell phone, but I thought we could go a little longer without him having one. Then within the first two weeks of school there were at least 8 incidents where a cell phone would have been a real life-saver. I ended up ordering a phone for Nicky from Gabb Wireless. Gabb phones have a touch screen that can call and text, but they have no internet access, no apps, and they can't send or receive photos.

It's been wonderful!

But Nicky is the type of kid who doesn't care about having a cell phone. He didn't want one. I have to make him take his phone places.

(That won't be the case when Daisy needs one. Oh how I dread the day!)


Speaking of Nicky...

He's kind of like an old man. His knees creak when he walks and up and down the stairs, and he likes to wake up early to watch the news (the news thing is really a big change for Nicky because up until this year, we have always had to shield him from the news because it would give him such bad anxiety). He also gripes a lot about "people these days."


Lately I've been wondering if I'm a weird. I mean, I know I'm weird (aren't we all?), but I've been wondering if I'm weird weird. Like maybe people walk away from me after an interaction, and they think, "Holy crap! She's weird." This is leading me to all sorts of paranoid thoughts about people not liking me. Maybe I'm not likable! Maybe people just tolerate me. Oh my gosh, what if I'm not fun? I'm probably not fun because I don't like to go up high. Can I stay on the ground and still be considered fun?

Oh, hello, Insecurity! Way to take over my blog post. Ya jerk.

It probably doesn't help that I don't know how to talk to people, and I end up saying really weird things like, "I enjoy the sensation of my nostrils being stretched."

(OHMYGOSH, am I doing it? Am I being weird?)

Moving on...


But on a slightly related note...

I've been trying to be better about talking to people lately. "Friendly conversation" is not something I'd consider a strength of mine. I'm more of a "wave hello and move on" type of person. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, I don't really stop and talk to people unless they initiate it. I just assume everyone is busy and trying to get on with their days, and they probably don't have time to chat. Plus there's that nostril thing I was talking about...

But I really love connecting with people, and I think we can all use some human interaction, so I guess I need to do my part to make it happen.


Here are ten things I'm a firm believer in:
  1. Twenty-minute naps
  2. Pockets in active wear 
  3. Dancing in the kitchen (or anywhere, really)
  4. Driveway recliners
  5. Dips and sauces
  6. Vans
  7. Temperatures in the 55-65 degree range
  8. Never skipping breakfast
  9. Journaling
  10. Getting up early 

As you know, I love cooler temps (see #7 above), but I have to acknowledge that my aging body starts to get achey when it gets lower than 55 degrees. I go walking with some friends three mornings a week, and on Wedneday, it was 51 when we walked, and my legs an hips could sure feel it. It took a few hours to get them warmed up and comfortable again.


And now I'm off for the day. If you made it this far, thank you for enduring my thoughts. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Meee Yow!

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #34:

Something New

Last week was Daisy's tenth birthday. How is she ten?? I can't even.

I decided to try something new and take her to Tinkers Cat Cafe for her birthday. Scotty is allergic to cats, so he stayed home and did boring things like watch baseball. But my mom and my other kids joined us.

Scotty made me promise to not adopt a cat while I was there.


I'm pretty sure I need Fennec in my life.

He loved me! He really loved me!

But as he snuggled up to me, I would repeat "Cat hair and kitty litter! Cat hair and kitty litter!" to remind myself that I don't want a cat.

So let's talk about the fact that cat cafes exist.

It's kind of weird, right?

You can go to a cafe and order a drink and a pastry and then go sit in a room full of cats. I opted to not have any food and drinks there, though they had some Italian cream sodas and a few baked goods that looked yummy. It does smell like cats there, though, so the appetite is easily suppressed.

At the cafe, you can reserve a time to hang out in the cat lounge. We went during children's hour which is Thursdays from 5:00-6:00. I had to make our reservations online a few days prior. It was $6 per person (the normal price is $8 per person per hour).

There were 15 cats, and they are allowed to go in and out of the lounge, as desired. The room has chairs, cat toys, books, brushes, etc. You are allowed to pet the cats, but you can't pick them up. I was lucky to have Fennec climb willingly on my lap so I could have ultimate kitty bonding time. 

My kids absolutely loved it, and the girl who hosted us in the lounge did a great job keeping the kids busy. They played with the cats, of course, but they also drew pictures and played games. They got to feed the cats some treats and brush them. 

It was fun little outing and prrrfect for Daisy's birthday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Boss of Me

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #8:


Lately, I've been working on implementing a new routine. As part of the uncommitted hour, I try to make a plan for my day. I know this is a responsible and highly recommended practice, but I've always been a little aversed to it. I struggle with feeling guilty over how I use my time, though, so I decided I need to be a better steward, especially since I have the luxury of a few hours to myself most days with Eva in preschool. I want to use that time effectively and wisely.

This isn't my first attempt at planning my days, but this time, I feel like it's more successful because my kids are older. All of my other attempts were thwarted by teething babies and tantruming toddlers. Trying to make and keep a schedule during those phases of life was just discouraging, which is probably how I developed my aversion to schedules in the first place.

Now I have a lot more control.

For the past couple of weeks, I've taken the time each morning (or the night before) to write down everywhere I need to be and when. Then I write down:
  • Things I have to do (appointments, fulfilling commitments to others, errands, etc)
  • Things I should do (exercise, one-on-one time with Eva, cleaning, service, personal study, etc)
  • Things that would be nice to do (reading, blogging, napping, etc)
I look at where my time windows are, and I fill them in accordingly. I only schedule the time my kids are at school. I don't worry about the evenings - they take on their own scheduling.

As I plan, I take into consideration which tasks can be completed while Eva is home, and which ones would be best to tackle while she's at school. This has made it so much easier to fit everything in. Then, throughout the day, I don't get distracted by tasks that aren't priorities, and I don't procrastinate as much. 

When I outline my day, I identify where I can allow flexibility. For example, last week I wanted to get to the temple, so I scheduled a time for the temple. But I also had a friend who was going through something difficult, and I wanted to be available to her if she needed support. So as I scheduled the temple, I made the decision that if my friend needed me, I would give that time to her instead (I made it to the temple).

Me pretending to be organized

I realize I haven't stumbled onto anything new here. But I'm excited about it because I feel like I'm finally in a season of life where I can function in this way. Also, I found a planning method that works for me. I've participated in some organization and time management classes in the past, and I've never felt like I found a system that suited my needs or my personality.

The primary reason this is working for me is because I've done a good job sticking to my plans each day, and I haven't rebelled. Any minute now this new routine could go down the drain. All it takes is a sick child, a bout of depression, or a spontaneous idea to derail my success! But for now, I'm thriving on having a plan, and I'm trying really hard to let my daily schedules be the boss of me. I feel happy about what I've accomplished since I started this routine. I really hope I can keep it up!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Woes of Scotty’s Clothes

What the?!?

The dress code for Scotty's work is slacks and a button-up shirt with a tie. Church clothes, essentially. 

It's been interesting with Scotty riding a motorcycle to work because he keeps running into a little problem...

(Oh! Do you know that Scotty has a motorcycle? I'm not sure if this is something I've ever mentioned). 

But anyway, the problem...

He keeps splitting his pants while getting on the motorcycle. 

The first time it happened, he was on his way from work to an off-site meeting with a business associate. He tied a suit coat around his waist and went into a couple of stores on his way to the meeting to try and find some cheap replacement pants. He had no luck, so he decided to just keep the suit coat around his waist and begin the meeting by confessing that he'd split his pants on the way there. 

After the second time he split his pants (second time in a month to be precise), Scotty started using a more delicate approach to boarding his motorcycle. He claims he's now a professional at not-splitting his slacks. It's only been a week. We'll see... 

Those aren't the only pants casualties Scotty has suffered at work. Scotty's building has an amazing cafeteria that serves breakfast and lunch. One day he snuck down there for breakfast and ended up with bacon grease spattered on his crotch. This was at the very beginning of the day, and due to the location of the spill, he decided it would be best to go buy new pants. 

(Those "new" pants are pictured above with a giant hole in the butt). 

Scotty's pants aren't his only wardrobe problem. His work shirts suffer greatly from one problem in particular:

Scotty donates plasma to bring in a little extra money for our family, and every now and then, his bandages fail him.

Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Yes, I think there is.

Spare clothes in the desk drawer!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thoughts on Self-Worth

September Writing Challenge - Prompts #10 & 15:

Self-Worth & Letter

For most of this year, I've worked on earning my Personal Progress. Earlier this week I went in for my interview with the bishop to complete the process. I had the opportunity to tell him about the things I did for my value experiences and projects. I also shared with him some of my testimony of Jesus Christ.

One of the last requirements for Personal Progress is to write your testimony.

In my written testimony (and in talking to the bishop), I shared some of the things I've done to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ (I won't elaborate here, but I have always struggled to have a relationship with the Savior). I talked about two of the things I wrote about in this post. One being that I looked very closely at all of the art of Christ and identified some of the images that most closely resemble how I imagine the Savior to be.* The other being that I wrote a letter to myself  as if it were from the Savior.

Those things helped me grow closer to Christ, but I want to talk about the letter.

The letter wasn't easy. In fact, I didn't like doing it at all, but in hindsight, I can see how important it was for me. It was hard to write because in order to imagine a letter from the Savior, I had to be willing to see myself the way the Savior sees me. I've often been encouraged to see other people as the Savior sees them (or as God sees them), but until I wrote my letter, I hadn't thought a lot about seeing myself that way.

To look upon myself, knowing all of my flaws and shortcomings and being privy to all of my tantrums and selfishness, and to do so with compassion, love, and forgiveness is quite hard. But in doing it, I gained an entirely new sense of my self-worth.

When I was finishing my degree and working on my practicum, I read a study on a topic referred to as "perceived mattering." Perceived mattering is genuinely feeling like you make a difference - that you matter. Perceived mattering is an essential predictor of psychological well-being, and the key is the perceiving.You have to feel it. It's one thing to be told that you matter. It's an entirely different thing to actually perceive it. To feel it.

Sometimes I can perceive my worth. Sometimes I can't. Ya'll know I struggle with depression, and one of the worst things about depression is that it attacks your sense of self-worth. It seems so dirty, but there has been a lot of growth in the struggle.

When I truly look at myself through the eyes of the Savior, I can't not see my worth. I have to fight pretty hard to keep that perspective, but I can perceive that I matter.


*If you are wondering, there are two pictures that I am drawn to the most, and both of them are pictures of Christ with children. This is one of them:

There's just something in His face and body language as He interacts with these children that depicts what I need the Savior to be. I need the Savior to be one who gets down on his knees to meet me where I am. 

And I need the Savior to look at me like this:

With pure love and understanding.

I also have to acknowledge the way the young girl is holding the Savior's arm. It's a grasp of stability. She is little, and she probably doesn't understand why she's holding him that way, but I do! He is keeping her steady. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What We Built

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #13:


Early in the summer, our TV was on the fritz. I kept my eye out for good deals, and I ended up buying a new TV from Best Buy. It was bigger than our fritzed TV (which was 36"), so we needed to figure out what to put it on. Our previous "TV stand" was actually a really old computer armoire that was slowly falling apart.

In our minds, the set up is "temporary" because we plan on finishing our basement and moving the TV downstairs when we finally have a family room. But the thing is... the computer armoire was our "temporary" fix for the "finishing our basement" story, and it ended up hosting our TV for three years. When will we finish the basement? Maybe next month. Or maybe six years from now. I like to keep things suspenseful!

So even though our TV set-up is "temporary," we don't know how long "temporary" is going to be.

I had plans to find an old dresser from the thrift store to paint and put the TV on. You know, something cheap but cute. That way it wouldn't be a big financial investment, but hopefully it also wouldn't be ugly.

I checked out a few thrift stores, and then I realized that we have a backyard full of wood, and we could just build what we want!

So Scotty and I worked together to design and build a TV console for our new TV. It was a labor of love and afforded us many date nights in the back yard.

I've held back from writing about it on the blog because it doesn't photograph well. How vain is that? But really, it doesn't look great in photos because it's right across from a window, and there's no angle that really captures the amazing job that Scotty did putting it together (this angle was the best I could do to not get a horrendous glare).  We're pretty happy with how it turned out. It cost us about $60 to make.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Uncommitted Hour

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #1:


Ah, morning!

I love mornings, especially this time of year. I enjoy the cool, crisp air, and I like that it's a little darker. I won't like it as much in the next few months when it stays dark a little too long, but right now it's perfect. When the mornings are darkish, it makes me feel like anything I do before sunrise is extra credit. I like that feeling! It gives me the illusion that I'm ahead of the game.

With school starting back up, we've had to figure out our mornings. Nicky started junior high, and thus, ushered in a new phase of life for us. Now that we've gotten into our groove, I've found something I really enjoy about our new morning schedule. I call it the "uncommitted hour."

Nicky leaves for school at 6:45 and then I really don't have to start getting my girls ready until 7:30. Of course, they are usually awake long before then, so I've been letting them watch PBS until 7:30. This gives me 45 minutes of time between Nicky leaving and the girls needing attention. Hence... the "uncommitted hour" (which is technically not an hour, but the "uncommitted 45 minutes" just doesn't sound as cool).

I've been using this time for ME, and it's been wonderful. I might sit down to plan my day (more to come on that subject as I tackle prompt #8: routine), read my scriptures, get dressed, eat breakfast, or even stare at a wall. Sometimes I exercise. Sometimes I nap. Yes! Nap! I have laid down on the couch and napped from 7:00-7:30. I've gone for walks, loaded the dishwasher, showered, and even made grocery store runs. I also frequently end up at Chick-Fil-A for free breakfast!

The beauty about the uncommitted hour is that it is truly uncommitted. I don't approach it with expectations or to do lists. I leave that time open to tackle the "whatever," and if I happen to do something productive, it increases that "ahead of the game" feeling as I go into my day.

I'm almost hesitant to hit publish because I don't want to jinx my beautiful mornings. A month from now I could be in a completely different pattern. For now, I will live it up during the uncommitted hour!

(And if you've been wondering how I have time to post everyday for the September Writing Challenge - this is how! It's the uncommitted hour! I've stayed about five days ahead, so you're reading something I wrote days ago. Ah, I love being ahead of the game!)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Decor I Adore

September Writing Challenge - Prompt # 11:


A while ago, someone left a comment on my blog pointing out that I never post pictures of my house anymore. I hadn't noticed this, but now that it's been brought to my attention, I realize it's true! I rarely post any photos from my home. I don't have an explanation as to why this is... other than we started some remodeling projects several years ago, and everything has been in disarray since, so I'm not as apt to take and post photos anymore.

Side note: A long time ago, I did a home tour on my blog. I just went back and looked at those posts and saw how much my house has changed in the last decade. Here is my family room (which no longer exists - we made it into a bedroom and storage room), here is my kitchen which now looks like this, here is my living room (watch for Old Stinky), and here is my bedroom.

Since we're talking "decor" today, I'll throw in a few home photos. I really love decorating. I'm not going to claim to be good at it (heaven knows I've tried some really weird things during my time as a homeowner), but I enjoy experimenting and moving things around. My version of "cleaning" is actually "rearranging home decor." So nothing ever really gets clean around here, but stuff gets moved. I make lots and lots of holes in my walls because I'm always swapping things out (I've tried using Command products. They just don't cut it).

One of my favorite decor items is wreaths. I'm a sucker for wreaths! In fact, on the very day I'm writing this, I walked away from this beauty:

Because I already have two white wreaths. But I came *this close* to have three.

This is my oldest wreath and one of the first things I bought when we moved into our house 15 years ago:

It's very "stick"-y, and it's actually been falling apart for several years and is kind of lop-sided, but I love it so much, I just keep making it work.

This is my newest wreath:

I bought it from Ross last week. I'd been eyeing this one from Sam's Club for a while:

So I was really excited when I found the one at Ross because it looks very similar but was $13 cheaper. 

The window frame is another one of my longest-lasting pieces of decor (the stick-y wreath spent many years hung on the window frame, but a few years ago, I moved the window frame from the living room to the kitchen, and the stick-y wreath kept stabbing guests in the head while they ate dinner, so Stick-y Wreath isn't allowed in the kitchen). I bought the window frame from a yard sale for $1 before I even had kids, and it's been a staple in my house ever since (I recently tested it for lead. Let's just say... licking and/or inhaling the window frame is strongly discouraged). 

In addition to the interior, I also love having a seasonal wreath on the front door. 

I have wooden door hangers for a few holidays, but my preference is always a wreath. Oh how I adore a good wreath!

For a typical member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have surprisingly little religious decor in my house (if you looked at my past home tour, you would see that this hasn't always been the case). 

Currently, this is the only religious decor (or it was until last week... keep reading):

I made that temple myself. I was looking for something to represent the temple in my home, but I couldn't find anything in the size, color, or style I wanted. I stumbled across a similar picture on Pinterest, and decided to try making something like it. I cut the temple silhouette by hand with a stencil cutter. That was an exciting new adventure (I also did a Jordan River one). I wrapped some canvases in... well... canvas, but the kind that has more of a burlap look, and slapped on some paint. I really like how it turned out (but I just don't want anyone to look too close because stenciling doesn't always result in good clean lines). 

When I shop for home decor, I tend to be drawn to items that correlate with what I'm going through at the time - things that represent my current learning or feelings. Last week I found this sign at Ross (making this my second piece of religious decor):

I had to have it because this has been a big theme in my life lately - faith over fear (as briefly explained in this post). I don't know where I'm going to hang it. It's just floating around the house for now. 

When Scotty travels, I tend to use decorating as a coping mechanism. He knows that when he comes home, there's a pretty good chance our room will have new bedding or the bathroom will be an entirely different color. Last time he was gone, I bought this sign:

It spoke to my soul because Scotty's most recent trip was his last one for the year, and now he gets to be home for a while. 

This week I've been really excited about getting my fall decor out. I used to go hog wild with fall and Christmas decorations, but now I've adopted a "less is more" approach. I've stuck to the things you see in this post and a wooden pumpkin garland over my living room window. When I did KonMari earlier this year, I reduced my holiday decor to one bin for fall, one bin for Christmas, and one bin with all the other holidays combined. Okay, so mayyybeee the wreaths aren't included in that since most of them don't fit in my bins. I haven't yet learned how to hold back on wreaths. They spark joy, I swear!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About the Soup I Bought From Sam's Club

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #6:

Bullet Points
  • It's stormy today, and I love it!
  • I decided to celebrate the storminess by eating soup for lunch
  • I have some containers of soup from Sam's Club
  • They come in a two-pack and they are a couple of dollars off right now
  • (Offer ends September 15)
  • So they cost $5.98
  • That equals out to less than $1 a cup
  • Which I think it pretty reasonable
  • So I bought several kinds
  • And shared them with some friends who have been sick lately
  • The chicken noodle is good
  • So is the tomato basil, if you're into that sort of thing
  • I didn't buy the chicken tortilla because tortilla and taco soups are the armpit of the pantry
  • I mean, I'll eat it, but it's always something I make when there's really nothing better to make, and I need to use up some canned tomatoes and beans
  • So why buy it pre-made if I can produce it from my pantry in a pinch?
  • I promise I have a point
  • Wait... do I have a point?
  • I haven't tried the loaded potato, but I will soon
  • They haven't been stocking the broccoli cheddar
  • It doesn't have very good reviews, though
  • But neither does the chicken noodle
  • Am I weird for liking the chicken noodle?
  • It doesn't beat homemade, but it's still good
  • But back to lunch...
  • For lunch I tried the autumn squash soup
  • Ick!
  • It was more pumpkin-y than butternut-y, and it was very heavy on nutmeg
  • I don't like nutmeg! 
  • I threw away the rest of the container because I refused to share my living space with it
  • And then I took the second container to a friend who says she likes that sort of thing
  • I told her to beware of the nutmeg
  • She promised to let me know what she thinks
  • I do like butternut squash soup, though. Homemade.
  • And thus I conclude this post with the realization that it truly had no point
  • But just know that I am excited for soup season

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Yellow Ridge Lane

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #2:

My Street

As I've contemplated this prompt, I've realized that I don't have a lot to say about my street. It's fine, but it's not amazing. I’ve lived here for 15 years. There are some great people on my street -people I’m happy to call my neighbors - and a ton of people I've never met. I feel a great desire to change this, but my few attempts to do so haven’t yielded great results. There's a man down the street that I introduce myself to about once a year. He never remembers me. Every time I "meet" him, he tells me everything he hates about every family on our street.

I'll tell you something I love about my street, though. It's wide. Vehicles can line both sides of the street, and there's still plenty of room for cars to pass each other. If we have nothing else on Yellow Ridge Lane, we at least have width, and if for some reason I ever live on a narrow road in the future, it is a luxury I will truly miss!

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Proper Burger Eating Technique

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #23:


When I was a teenager and young adult, I didn't like to eat messy foods. Dishes like hamburgers and ribs were absolutely out of the question.

In high school I had a friend named Josh who was a couple years younger than me. After I graduated and got married, Josh and I remained friends, and we worked together at the local dairy. Josh was still in high school, and he asked me if I would help him out with some plans for a school dance. He and his friends wanted to tell their dates that they were taking them to the Roof - a fancy restaurant downtown. But really, they were taking their dates to a literal roof. As in the patio on the roof of my mom's garage wherein they would be served baby back ribs from Chili's.

(Please note that neither Josh nor I had fully developed frontal lobes at the time).

I, with the help of my friend Michelle, served baby back ribs and cold french fries to the poor girls who thought they were going to the Roof. It turns out that girls in prom dresses with freshly painted fingernails aren't really interested in eating baby back ribs. I failed Josh by not pointing this out earlier.

After watching the girls stare at their plates for a while, Michelle and I gathered up the dishes and then served crepes for dessert (which the girls downed. Probably because they were starving, and they could use forks). Back in the kitchen, we looked at the piles of uneaten baby back ribs and thought, "We can't just throw those away!" so Michelle and I hung out after everyone left and had ourselves a feast.

That's when I discovered that I'd kind of been missing out with my messy food aversion. Those cold, rejected baby back ribs were pretty stinkin' great.

This opened up a world of new dining options for me. I became a big fan of BBQ, and I allowed hamburgers to come into my life (in hindsight, this might actually have been a bad thing).

There's still a part of me that struggles with messy food, though. When at all possible, I prefer to eat with a fork. And I like my food to be on a plate. You would think that's a pretty standard preference, food on plates, but Red Robin doesn't seem to think so.

You never know what Red Robin's latest experimental plating technique is going to be. They go back and forth from plate to basket. See that first picture? My most recent burger came wrapped. That's new. The latest plate-avoiding tactic by Red Robin. 

They are always up to something, and you just have to go with whatever their latest "thing" is. If it's something really dumb, just hang tight. They'll change it in six months. Remember when they tried to practice "fry control" by serving their bottomless fries in metal rings?

At Red Robin I never know if I'm going to be allowed to have silverware. Sometimes I have to be vetted and deemed worthy of silverware. Other times they have it sitting on the table as a standard. It just depends on their "thing" at the time. 

Speaking of "things," here's mine:

I hate eating Red Robin Burgers with my hands. They're messy, and the toppings slip off. This is true of other burgers, too, but I'm most pet-peevy about it at Red Robin. I'll deal with Crown Burgers or the Habit because those are fast food places, not sit-down-at-a-table-and-have-food-brought-to-you places. 

At Red Robin, I want to keep my hands clean, and I want to eat off a real plate. So when RR is in a basket-serving, silverware-depriving mood (which is more often than not) I have to ask for a plate, a fork, and a knife. 

I then cut up my burger and eat it like a salad. 

And since I'm not pre-approved for silverware use, I feel all sorts of defiant and quirky! 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

All By Myself

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #17:


In my current phase of life, alone time is crucial to my well-being. I didn't know this about myself until recently. Last year I figured out that one of the most healing actions I can take is to kick my family out of the house for an evening so I can be alone at home. Scotty often suggests that I leave for a while to have a break, but sometimes I need everyone else to leave so I can spend some time alone in my own space.

Other times, I find myself alone in public for a quick minute. Like last week when my family was waiting in the truck while I ordered Papa Murphy's, and then the lad making the pizzas ended up being the slowest moving person on the planet (he sure was nice, though. He let me use lots of coupons even though they said "one coupon per visit" on them). 

During these brief moments of alone time, I have one of two reactions:

1. Rejoicing... because I have a moment to breathe and just... be

2. Panic... because I wasn't planning to be alone, and I don't know what to do with myself

Sometimes when I'm alone unexpectedly, I don't quite know how to handle it, and I end up feeling guilty or lonely. But when the timing is right, and when I'm prepared for it, being alone is really refreshing, and it helps me recharge.

Here are some things I enjoy doing alone:
  • Going to the library - it's always nice to have the chance to meander a bit and not keep track of my kids
  • Doing my Church callings - I'm willing to work with others, but it's always nice when I have a calling that allows me to just show up and do my job without having to counsel with or depend on other people (that's one perk of my current calling - primary music leader)
  • Going to the temple - I enjoy going with other people, but it's also really nice to go alone once in a while. It gives me a better opportunity to ponder and experience some quiet
  • Going shopping - I find that my shopping behaviors are heavily affected by other people. I've been to stores with people I feel like I can't buy anything in front of (and then I go back to the store later and get the things I didn't get while we were there). I've also had the opposite experience where I go with someone who makes me feel like buying everything I see. In fact, I used to have a friend named Erica (she moved and we lost touch) who was so much fun to shop with because she always loaded her cart with no reserve, and it made me feel wild and adventurous. Shopping alone, though, allows me to be more authentic in what I buy, whether it be in a responsible manner or a buy-all-the-things manner (I shop both ways)
  • Driving - it's rare for me to be in the car alone, so it's a special treat when I have full control of the radio, and no one is talking to me or fighting in the back seat
  • Cooking - this is one thing I wish I could kick everyone out of the house for, but I also desire to teach my children some life skills which means I have to let them in the kitchen 
  • Riding my bike - most of my bike riding is done with kids which means I have no control over the speed or the distance, and I get weird requests like Eva wanting to ride next to me and put her hand on my thigh as we go. I've been sneaking on some rides by myself while my kids have been in school. Audiobooks make great bike ride companions
  • Crying- I haven't figured out how to cry in front of other people. After 20 years, I still don't know how to cry around Scotty. I'm not much of a crier, in general. It's not that I don't feel emotions, because I do. They just manifest themselves in more of an angry and irritated sort of way. So when I really should cry, I just bite everyone's heads off instead. Every now and then, if the timing is right, I can get a good cry in while I'm alone, but sometimes I miss my window, and I don't get to cry when I need to. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Art of Falling Back in Love

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #5:


Over the past several years as I've grown my family and made drastic life changes like going back to school, I've experienced a side effect that can best be described as "falling out of love" with the temple.

It really got bad when our district temple, Jordan River, closed for renovations a few years ago. I consciously decided to not renew my recommend for a while. I didn't participate in the dedication when our temple reopened, and I didn't even experience FOMO for having missed it.

There was nothing specific that took my heart to this place. I can't look back and pinpoint a "thing." It was likely a combination of my phase of life, the time commitment of school, some worthiness concerns, and spiritual fatigue. I became weary from the rhetoric of "We are so blessed to have so many temples nearby. We have no excuse for not attending the temple regularly!"

I admit, I've had fantasies of living nowhere near a temple.

Oh, to be free of that pressure!

I didn't used to be that way. I used to love the temple. Before I had kids, I went every week. I remember what it felt like to love the temple, and I would like to have that back. I'm all for fixing damaged relationships. Sometimes I just don't want to do the work, especially if it means being uncomfortable for a while.

Through some genuine effort, I got myself to a place where I felt like I could have a temple recommend again. Then when Nicky got his temple recommend allowing him to do baptisms for the dead, I felt like it was really important to set an example of temple attendance for my son. Slowly but surely, I've started going to the temple again.

For one of my Personal Progress value projects, I focused on temple work. I've done a lot of reading and personal study as I've tried to learn to love the temple again. Someday I hope to find a book about the temple that really speaks to my spirit. I've read some books about the temple, and while I always find a gem or two in each one, none of them are the book for me. I'm sure it's out there somewhere, though. Perhaps an unfinished manuscript on someone's desk.

I wanted to share this struggle because I like to keep it real, and I know there's someone reading this who can relate - someone who's in that place. I want that person to know she's not alone. The wrestle is part of the growth. I feel like I'm going to experience greater learning as I move forward. I just had to step back for a while. And you know what? I'm okay!


Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Other Brit and Her Many Gifts

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #19:


Recently, the lesson in the Come Follow Me curriculum discussed spiritual gifts.

Now let me just be honest... I pretty much never do Come Follow Me lessons with my kids, so don't let this post make you think that I'm on top of that stuff. I am so slow jumping on that bandwagon. I'm pretty much just being dragged down the parade route by my shoelace.

The asphalt! Its burns!


This one time, I tried a lesson, and we talked about spiritual gifts.

I had a really hard time explaining "spiritual gifts" to Daisy.

I told her that "spiritual" gifts are like talents we have that help accomplish Heavenly Father's work on earth. I gave the examples of being a good teacher or being able to know when someone needs help even when they aren't showing it or being able to understand the scriptures.

Daisy thought about this for a minute and then said, "Oh, I get it! Like Britney Spears."

I stuttered, "Um, uh, w-w-what do you mean by that?"

And she said, "Like how Britney Spears has a lot of spiritual gifts."

Now I don't want to assume that Britney Spears doesn't have any spiritual gifts available to her... but um... she's not really a prime example for the discussion at hand. I can assume that the lesson was lost on Daisy. As most of my lessons are.

Despite the disconnect in teaching my soon-to-be ten-year-old child about spiritual gifts, it's a topic I have always loved exploring (it's also a topic addressed in Seekers Wanted, the book I recently posted about). I hope I can help Daisy develop an understanding at some point in her life. I guess in the meantime, we'll work on lip syncing "Hit Me Baby One More Time."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Piece of Furniture You Didn't Know You Were Missing

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #25:


Shortly before Daisy was born, I asked Scotty if he would find me some sort of comfy rocking chair to put in our bedroom. When Nicky was born, I wanted everything to be cute and trendy, but we couldn't afford a cute and trendy rocking chair, so we didn't get one. With Daisy, I didn't care about cute and trendy. I wanted something comfy and cheap.

Scotty found a La-Z-Boy in the classifieds for $20 and brought it home. It was old and ugly, and there wasn't space for it in our room. It was the perfect addition to our home, though, because it served a great purpose: providing a place to rock and feed my baby in the middle of the night. We could only fit it in our room if we put it parallel to the wall with the back facing the bedroom door. Very bad feng shui! I named the chair Old Stinky. It didn't stink, luckily, but it looked like it should. 

The chair moved between our living room and bedroom for the next nine years depending on what phases our babies were in.

In July when we inherited a "new" couch, I decided it was time to get rid of Old Stinky. Our bulk pick up day for garbage was that week, so I took the back off the chair and started moving the bottom piece to the curb. I made it down the stairs and into the driveway, and then I decided I'd just leave it for Scotty to take care of after work.

Later that night, I went outside to watch Eva ride her bike (our nightly routine). I usually grab a camp chair out of the garage to sit on, but I saw Old Stinky sitting in the driveway and decided to put it back together and sit in it.

It was glorious! A driveway recliner!

I still had one more day until garbage day, so I ended up moving the chair into the garage so I could sit on it again the next day. By the time garbage day rolled around, I couldn't bring myself to part with Old Stinky as I'd discovered a new purpose for its existence!

I didn't know I needed a driveway recliner in my life, but now that I have one, there's no going back. I keep it in the garage. Sometimes I open the garage door and sit in it, and other times, I pull it out into the driveway (this is better placement on hot days since there's more airflow).

In fact, if you're looking for me...

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

One Book. Just One.

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #22:


A confession: I almost went back to my original September Writing Challenge post and edited it to say "books" instead of "book." I don't have to follow any rules for the use of "book," but as I started considering the singular word versus the plural word, I got really nitpicky. There are far more writing options for books, but who cares if I write about a book or books when the prompt is "book?"

(Ruminating over things that don't matter is one of my favorite past-times).

In the end, it's all good because I found the book. Singular. And I'm here to write about it. One book: Seekers Wanted by Anthony Sweat.

I became acquainted with this book by complete accident. It was a random pick - I didn't know anything about it aside from the little blurb on the cover: "The skills you need for the faith you want." I'm familiar with Anthony Sweat as a popular speaker for youth (I really enjoyed his presentation 10 Reasons Why Joseph Smith is a Prophet), so I assumed that this was written for a teenage audience, and that it would be a nice, quick read... if I even started it (it was just meant to be a filler book - an "if I get bored" selection, if you will). 

What I didn't know (and what Mister/Brother/Professor/Doctor Sweat doesn't know) is that this book was written for me. I did end up starting it, and it was an immediate page-turner (okay, so technically I listened to the audiobook, so there was never a page turned. What's the audiobook version of "I couldn't put this book down?" "I couldn't turn this book off?"). Never have I read (er... listened to) a religious/faith-based book that was so perfectly attuned to my learning style, my concerns, my questions, and the topics I want and need to study. This book stimulated my intellect and fed my soul. 

I've written before that I think Research Methods is a class everyone should take. Seekers Wanted is like Research Methods for Mormons. Brother Sweat addresses some of the more scholarly approaches to evaluating sources of Church history and doctrine. This book was refreshing and healing for me. I became weepy several times because so many of the messages in this book are things I needed to hear (and also because I read it during a certain hormone-laden time of the month). Of particular interest to me were Anthony Sweat's perspectives on ambiguity in the gospel, sustaining Church leaders, and living the law of consecration. 

I gained some great insights to help me with some issues I have with Church leaders (because yes, I have them), some reassurance that I'm doing just fine in areas of living the gospel where I thought I was failing, and a sense of overall peace with issues that I haven't known how to address for myself or for others. 

After I listened to the book, I went out and bought a copy. You win, Deseret Book! You win!

Now, would I recommend this book to others? Of course! But I also know that just because a book is so right for me doesn't mean that it will mean anything at all to someone else. 

One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis and expresses how books affect us all differently:

“You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported."

This quote comes to mind whenever I feel strongly about a book. My books will not necessarily be your books. But don't let that stop you from giving it a try! Just make sure you get in touch with me if you love it! We will have much to discuss!

Semi-Outdoorsy: It's a Thing


I don't really consider myself to be "outdoorsy." Instead, I think I'd describe myself as "semi-outdoorsy." 

Yeah. Semi-outdoorsy.

I go outside sometimes. 

There are things I love about being outside: fresh air, mountain views, plants and greenery, open spaces, and colorful skies - to name a few. There are also some things I hate about being outside: hot temperatures, wind, allergies, and creatures trying to steal my food.

Here are some of the things we've done over the past few weeks as part of our semi-outdoorsy lifestyle:

Hung out at Willard Bay with our friends

Countless bike rides
including our first successful outing with all four kids on bikes where no one crashed, and we made it over two miles 
(I got a flat tire, but no big deal)

Enjoyed the piers of San Francisco

Explored Muir Woods

Enjoyed the beauty of Muir Beach
(sand in the shoes and all)

Ate S'mores

Endured skinned knees at the splash pad

Hiked around Provo River Falls

Went fishing in the Unitas
(I don't support fish kissing)

Ate ice cream
(ice cream was devoured immediately prior to the taking of this photo and therefore, is not pictured, but it was rocky road from Summit Inn Pizza, which is one of our favorite places)
(And yes, pizza was also devoured, but we did that inside).

Did a campground service project

and spent some time topless