Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Confession: I'm coming out of the closet

Often in the past few months I've held this inward conversation with myself asking, am I afraid to live up to my full potential? am I afraid to be successful? am I afraid to be well liked and noticed? am I afraid to be myself, to be authentic? am I afraid to be happy? The scary answer following all these questions was Yes. I've made a few efforts since asking, to change the answer to Hell No!

One of them was taking my barbie blond hair which I loved and dying it dirty dish wash blond so that I could grow out my natural color without looking like a skunk. I've also been making an effort to wear make-up less, like you know to the grocery store doing the mundane. These were the first baby steps to being authentic, and let's be honest physical changes were the easiest place to start, the mental changes are the tough part.  I feel like making the physical changes is a step in the right direction to being authentic, and will help, (just as this blog does) to train my mind not to worry what others think about me.

Usually Sundays are a day when we get together with family. I began to be aware that although I am happy, I formed this habit of keeping to myself, observing, instead of interacting, and it appears that I am unhappy and not having fun. To change this, I'm attempting to smile more. It's strange but by smiling, I actually feel happier, even though I thought I was happy before, and smiling does contribute to having a more enjoyable time.

Then there's how many times do I self-sabotage? The many times I remember to pray but don't, eat the wrong thing when there are plenty of healthy choices in the fridge, stay up late even though I could go to bed early. These are little things, and maybe it sounds like I hold myself to an impossible standard, because really, we all eat the wrong thing sometimes, fall into spiritual ruts, and do things in general that we know aren't good for our bodies. Still, I like the idea of striving for something better, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it when I don't choose the best option. Part of that also lies in the goal of authenticity, and owning who I am without being ashamed.

Something else I've meant to do over the last decade is become better at conversation. I've always admired Mike's Grandma on how she is a great conversationalist, especially her ability to make you feel like you're the most important person in the world. I once complemented her on this and she told me she really appreciated the complement because it's something she's worked on her whole life, and it didn't ever come naturally. From that day I knew I wanted to be like her.

I can't rely on my past experiences to help me out. Sure, I had lots of friends in high school, but in high school you're thrown into social situations every day you can't avoid. I've found that as an adult, especially since getting married and having kids, oh it's very easy to avoid all social situations, until you've forgotten how to mingle and do small talk.

This will take time as I have spent the last decade enjoying my cocoon, and i'll admit, I didn't even care about making friends. I was perfectly happy to stay home and enjoy my alone time. I secretly love (well not so secretly anymore) to be alone. However, going through depression made me realize I had no support system outside of my husband. That turned out to be a scary place, but I only have myself to blame for avoiding every opportunity I had to make new friends in a new place. So I've come to the amazing conclusion (and I apologize if this is very mundane and old news to a lot of people) that to be a healthy, functioning, happy person, friends and social circles are actually important, even though I don't naturally crave them.

How does one do this? Especially when you're married to an introvert like myself, so you don't really have an example close at hand? I love to read, and I'm a very practical person. I love stories that teach me something, that have an impact on the way I see the world, even when I'm reading fiction. So this translates into my current book How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends. Did I just admit that? Yes, the title does make me sound desperate, and socially awkward, but I'm not above reading about something I'd like to get better at. Now I'm only two pages in, but I found page 1 very enlightening,

OMG! you mean that is why I don't meet people? Really? I thought keeping my arms folded was a way of saying I am totally uncomfortable in this situation and I just really need a hug right now so I'm hugging my self for comfort, nope! huge surprise.

So if I see you in the grocery store, or church, or on the street, wherever, and attempt to make conversation, be kind, I'm a beginner, I promise to get better with practice. And just in case you need clarification, I'm not coming out of the rainbow closet. I'm coming out of the closet you pass through to become authentically you, to be unafraid of who you really are, and share that person with others because you tell yourself that anybody would be lucky to have a friend like you, and it would be a waste to stay hidden.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Material and The Spiritual

The night before Christmas Eve I cleaned the main level of our home in the middle of the night. My brother in law said "cleaning with little kids in the house is like trying to pick up in the middle of a tornado" and that's why sometimes its easier to loose the sleep than to clean during the day. Then the next day Christmas Eve, somehow I still had energy and decided to clean the entire basement for the heck of it. This turned out to be totally worth it, (even though none of our guests went downstairs) because I found the battery charger for my camera down there, in a place I never would have looked, which means, I have great pictures of this Christmas to share.

I also didn't have to share my camera with three year old Amy, because Santa brought her a new pink camera. I was a little disappointed it's only got 1.3 megapixels, but it totally makes up for that by letting you play games with head shots you've taken of people. We laughed so hard when Amy took a picture of Grandma face and put it on an animated bodies.

Our traditional Greek dinner turned out great, and I didn't burn anything. Happy tummies, happy faces.

Santa brought Transformers as promised, and so did Papa. :) Hunter and I spent hours yesterday mastering the auto bots. Usually action figures, not my thing, but a transformer is a whole 'nother fascinating story! We loved it!

Then later in the afternoon we all sat around the new pink table and broke out the Easy Bake cookie mix. Later that night Daddy joined in on the fun to help us make fondant covered cakes.

Daddy too was happy with his gift and for the first time in 10 years I managed to surprise him for Christmas, with something he wanted, needed, and loved. Much thanks to my brother in law for picking it out :)

All gifts this year were successful for us, no return shopping, I would say it's our best Christmas yet. But then I always have to bring the guilt into it, the guilt of gosh if we had such a great material Christmas (I've spent more this year than ever) shouldn't we feel guilty that we didn't have a more Christ-centered Christmas?

It's true, I do feel like my heart didn't receive that great revelation I've had other years when I've had a better focus on the Savior. Sure we spent some nights telling the story of the Nativity to our children, watching a Nativity show, and we anonymously dropped off a box of gifts to a neighbor in need, but I still feel like I"m going through the motions with my heart closed. I've always been an all or nothing kind of gal, and I'm sure it would be easier for me to say no gifts this year, we're going to focus on service, random acts of kindness, and learning about the Savior, but I'm not so sure that's the best idea.

I've got to find a balance between the material and spiritual Christmases. All too late I did google and find a wonderful blog with ideas to have a more Christ-centered Christmas. Maybe not quite too late though, maybe I'll roll this into my New Year Resolutions and call it finding ways to have a more Christ-centered year, after all, it doesn't have to be December to look for ways to serve others and have the true spirit of Christmas with us.

And just for fun. .  ..

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When we have to flex our parenting skills

A child of mine, after being repeatedly told his play date was tomorrow and not today, opted to lie to his teacher about who was picking him up from school, and walk to his friends house, instead of going home with his cousins. All kinds of thoughts about this child's future burst from my brain, like is this the beginning of his rebelliousness? how can we use this to teach him what he did was dishonest? and dangerous? and the embarrassment he caused when I got a call from his friends mother, wondering why he was at her house?  Well, maybe he doesn't need to know about that last one, but boy I felt like today was do or die, like if we didn't handle this right, today, right away, we would loose our innocent five year old forever. I'm sure I'm being overly dramatic about this whole thing, but hey, I can't help the thoughts that run around in my mind.

I'm pretty sure when he saw his Dad hop out of the truck at his friends house, he had the fear of God in his eyes. For the first time ever, a 5 minute timeout would not do, and he was sentenced to his room the rest of the evening. He stayed willingly, and actually took a long nap. Maybe he was tired from his after school excursion. These were followed by one of those Full House heart to heart talks, yep never thought I'd be the mom having one of those, anyways. . . .Being raised in an uber strict household, I always worry if I'm being too harsh with rules and punishment and all, but I think we succeeded in teaching him what he did today was not okay by any standards. Overall I think he's a sweet, caring, diligent kid, so we must be doing some things right, right?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Having a BahHumBug Moment

Christmas doesn't exactly bring out the best in me when it comes to home decorating. Our house has been under renovations ever since we bought it five years ago. The first year included renovating the master bedroom and bathroom because we bought the house from my in-laws, and it would have been too weird to sleep in "their" bedroom, so we had to make it our own. Next all the wall-paper had to come down, and new paint graced our front entry room and hallway followed by new faux wood floors the year after that. Last year we finished the laundry room, which leaves us with a kitchen and living room remodel, new carpet upstairs and down, two bathrooms and three bedrooms to finish in the basement and in 10 more years we'll be done!

Just in time for the kids to grow into teenagers, enjoy their finished rooms for a couple of years then move out. Life sometimes seems to work backwards (anyway, that's a future post). But at Christmas time I go into hyper remodel mode to have everything just right for our big Greek Christmas Eve dinner with my family, and our in-law breakfast Christmas morning. Of course it never is just right, it's more like as good it gets for this year.

So instead of blogging as much as I could have this week, I've been working out more (which I'm not complaining about, because I'd rather have washboard abs, than washed the dishes, not that I've got/done either?) and I've been painting doors, (hopefully I can find the box of stainless looking door-knobs stashed somewhere in the basement or garage for the last 5 years). I'm happy with my whitewashed doors, I feel like it makes the whole house brighter, lighter and cleaner looking, but I miss the stolen hour here and there when I would read or be inspired to jot something down;  however that won't stop me from attempting to also paint the kitchen and stairwell. And let's not forget finish the Christmas shopping, wrapping, treat making, and gift giving. Am I sounding like the Grinch yet? Only 17 more days till New Years, I'll be glad to have all this busyness behind me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Update on Hunters school progress

Something finally clicked. Lately Hunter has been putting two and two together. First he came to the realization that if he wants to be an astronaut engineer, he has to learn to read and do good in school. Then secondly this week, he finally understood the reason we're teaching him letters, that when you make the sounds in letters and put them together, they make words! Like today we learned the word pink which he thought was purple at first glance. I told him to say each letter p-i-n-k and immediately he knew it was pink.
To him this is a very novel concept, albeit one that we have been attempting to explain to him the last couple of years. 

Still, I'm so happy he's figured these two things out, it's doing wonders for his motivation to learn and ability to focus. I can now see real daily progress in each of our study session. He is beginning to retain new letters after a couple of days of study instead of several weeks. The same is happening with his sight words. I also saw a break though with counting. He used to 15 every time, even after constant reminders. A couple of weeks ago he mastered counting to 20 and is well on his way to 50. 

He's also remembering simple words in his books from school. When we began reading them I tried explaining to him that the words were the same on every page but had a different action, like "We go to school, we go to the park, we go to bed," and every time we turned the page, even though "we go to" was exactly the same, he could not remember the words. Finally those days are over and he is reading those little books on his own! It's incredible to see his progress and witness him learn to read. Yeah, you could say I'm pretty proud of him. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why we teach our kids to believe in Santa

 I've recently discovered online tonight that not everybody shares my warm feelings about Santa Claus, and have even gone so far as to call parents who teach their children that Santa is real, liars. This made me so sad and I immediately thought of one of my favorite books of all times A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think it gives the best reasoning I have ever heard for the importance of believing in Santa Claus.
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
So beautifully put. The world can be an ugly place, and I love that memories of Santa are one of the things that makes my time on earth a little more lovely. This is one of the reasons I've decided to continue the tradition of believing in Santa with my children. I believe the memories of magical Christmases have helped me look for the magical moments that sometimes I could easily overlook as an adult. I count the times I've sat together at the dinner table with family, noticing each smiling face as magic, you know, the hallmark card sort of type. Little moments that happen every day can have that same magic feeling as Christmas does. 

Often during Christmas there are ample opportunities for service as well which also create spiritual feelings related to Christmas. I believe Santa is also an important example of performing service, he sees all children the same and treats every one with love. Santa and the Savior are both examples of loving your neighbor and how we should treat one another. 

However, I don't want to down play the importance of the Saviors birth in any way. He is the most important reason we celebrate Christmas, and our children are very aware of the nativity story and the importance of Jesus in their lives. I don't feel that allowing them to believe in something magical for a time, and seeing the delight on their faces Christmas morning, lessens the joy our children feel when learning about the Savior during this season.

One of my favorite memories was my first Christmas at my aunt Debi's house. It was a ritual of mine to sneak into the living room in the middle of the night in hopes to catch Santa Claus. As I came down the large staircase and tried to see into the foyer I saw red light and was sure it meant Santa was there. I squinted trying to adjust my eyes and sat when I reached the second to last step. 

What I saw was a 3 foot tall Christmas tree with red lights and red decorations. Missed him again I thought, but he’s been here, I know it!  I wonder why he would leave us another tree? It is beautiful though, just exactly the way I would have decorated if it were mine. 

The next morning I discovered that my presents were under this small tree instead of the big one where the adults presents were. I couldn't believe the little tree was actually mine. It was as if Santa had left behind some of his magic. Every year after that I would set up the little tree with the red lights in my bedroom, and revel in the cozy feeling it gave. Of course when I was older I knew the tree was bought by my aunt but the knowledge of that didn't lessen the warm memories it provoked.

I never wanted to stop believing in Santa no matter how old I was. By the time an adult finally broke the news to me, I had already kind of figured Santa was mythical, but I was hoping nobody would tell me the truth so I could continue to pretend he was real. I wanted so much to hold onto one magical thing in my life. Now, I love getting to relive some of that magic through my children's eyes, and hope that they will have wonderful memories from this time of year to look back on as well when they are grown. I do not believe for an instant that believing in Santa detracts them from also feeling reverence towards the Savior and the reasons for his birth.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Do my kids know I love them?

Between yesterday's post and today, I must be feeling really sentimental. . . .

I tell my children I love you, use your inside voices, take your shoes off, brush your teeth, I love you, can I have a kiss? You have stinky breath, pick up your shoes, I love you, let’s read a story, count with me, A says what? Ahhh that’s right, I love you, will you let the dog out, can you go harvest the garden, are you hungry? I love you, do you want to go to the library? What kind of cereal do you want? If you say that one more time you’re going to the time out corner. I love you. I love you. I love you. Do they know? Did they hear it in all my requests, my questions, my orders?

For the child who is getting Transformers for Christmas

I'm thankful for OP (Optimus Prime)

Dear Optimus,

Each morning you softly scuttle into my room to wake me with your agenda. I pretend to be asleep as I listen to you turn on the space heater and make transformer sound effects while you warm your body for the day. I think about where the next hour will take us. Into the kitchen where I will ask if you want cereal, and you will decisively request an eggie sandwich to make you taller. You are so attune to growing healthy, and strong like a transformer. You’ll leave the crust on your plate when you’re done and I’ll try to coax you into the bathroom to brush your teeth. You’ll whine, growl, scream that you don’t want to! then walk to the sink as long as I’ve got my eye on you. When you brush the foam will drip down your chin, you’ll contort your wrist to get to that unreachable side, and I will remind you to spit before your paste lather is on the tile floor. You will run out of the bathroom and beg to watch Optimus Prime in your cardboard box transformer suit. The one you have smeared glitter glue onto, crayon, marker, pencil, paint, daily a new kind of decoration for your precious cardboard body. I lay in bed and wonder if you would believe you are stronger braver more heroic than Optimus, because you are what's real. The pictures you have drawn and taped next to my bed are real. The brother who helps his little sister find her shoes is real. The son who works so hard to learn his letters to be an astronaut engineer is real. You grow a little each day, but I won't admit this when you ask me daily to measure your height. I worry about the day you will become too old for my kisses, while I watch you transform to the tall, strong man you will someday become.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY Soap Dispensers

I've spent at least six months grimacing every time I looked at my ugly soap dispensers, and I've finally turned them into something my eyes can tolerate. I should have taken a before picture, because the old ones were really ugly. Oh well, I'm very happy with the results of the new ones, and I couldn't believe how easy they were to make. I just took a nail, tapped a bunch of holes in the lid, then flipped the nail around and hammered the wider head over the tiny holes to create one big hole. I kept it snug so when I pushed the head of the dispenser into the hole it was a tight fit. This way I didn't have to mess with hot glue, because yes I'm too lazy to get out the glue gun, but voila! they are beautiful and functional and made with mason jars, what more could a girl want?

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm getting an early start on New Year Resolutions

I don't know what it is about December that gets me thinking about all the things I want to improve on, but it happens every year. I get all these ideas about how to reform myself. In the past I have tried to wait until January to implement them, but by then it seems like all my steam is gone, so this year, I'm making changes right now, while the ideas are still fresh in my head.

#1. If you're not loosing weight, you're gaining. In my case, the last few years I seem to be gaining weight, unless I'm actually taking the time to consciously be healthy. So I began today tracking calories with my fitness pal, drinking at least 2 liters of water, and eating 2 servings of fruit and vegetables each per day. Goal -2 lbs per month.

#2. Be better about studying with Hunter. So now I've got a game plan. Instead of picking something random to work on each day, I've made a calendar with four categories plus his 20 minutes of reading to work on each day, with stickers and rewards etc.

#3. Exercise more consistently and add variety. Instead of running 2-3 times per week, I'm going to do 5-6 times per week using my old triathlon training program that I did two years ago. I'm not actually training for a triathlon, but I like the variety of the workouts. As an added bonus of the elbow breaking, I'm attempting to work fewer hours so this should help with making time to exercise more.

#4. Church goals. These same ones are on my list every year. Temple. Family Home Evening. Family Scripture Reading. 'Nuff said.

#5. Be more grateful. We had this amazing lesson in Relief Society about gratitude, and I learned something, "the more grateful you are as a person, the happier you will be". Since I feel like I've finally gotten away from the muck of depression, there are still days that are. . .not so great. But I do have days were I am very happy, and I would like more of those days. I keep a journal and write almost every day anyways, so I'm going to add to it a bullet point list of things I am grateful for that happened throughout the day. I think recognizing all the good in each day will help keep those happy vibes flowing.

So wish me luck! I'll give an update after New Years.

Friday, November 29, 2013

28 Days of Thankful

Since I didn't do the whole things I am grateful for each day of the month, I thought I would do them all in one day, so here goes:
  1. Kids who love to cuddle
  2. On that note, ugga mugga's (rubbing noses) from Amy who insists she must have one before anybody can leave the house.
  3. My husband who lets me read him every blog post for approval before publishing.
  4. Chocolate
  5. Books
  6. Libraries
  7. Tuesday Dinners
  8. My little niece so I can still buy baby clothes
  9. Nursery, both being called to Nursery, and when I got to send the kids there.
  10. Our dog who no longer pees on the carpet since we started buying potty treats.
  11. When we have deer and elk meat in our freezer.
  12. When I get my husband back after hunting season.
  13. The smell of pine from the Christmas Trees at Smiths.
  14. Children who climb into my bed when I am afraid of the dark. (just don't tell them that)
  15. Plastic plates and spoons cuz when you don't have a dishwasher, plastic is your best friend.
  16. When my husband does the dishes, he's so much faster than me.
  17. When the kids hold the couch cushions apart so I can vacuum between them, really makes me happy!
  18. The days that Hunter wakes up before I do and cheerily lets the dog outside all by himself.
  19. When kids brush their teeth without whining, it does actually happen on occasion.
  20. Long drives in the mountains
  21. The perks of working for an airlines, like flying for free.
  22. People who now call me Anya with a Y, you are so endearing, you have no idea.
  23. Audiobooks
  24. My job who gave me time off work when we got stuck in the Primary Childrens waiting room for two hours.
  25. The awesome Christensen's, no place I'd rather be on Thanksgiving!
  26. For tons of cousins for my little ones to run around with while we stuff our faces with Turkey.
  27. For Christmas Tree's from Smiths Marketplace, ahh the smell!
  28. Online shopping, so I can get my Black Friday on even though I have to work, especially Amazon :)
Merry Christmas!
(yes! I can finally say that now!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Broken Bone Story

For the last two weeks I've been in kind of a funk. I'm sure it has to do with Amy falling off the kitchen counter while somebody else was watching her. I rushed home from work and took her to the IHC InstaCare.

We've gone there many times, usually when a cold isn't just a cold and we know there's going to be a prescription involved, but it's the weekend. Isn't it always the weekend when the kids get super sick? But this time, we show up and the name on the outside of the building has changed to After Hours Medical. Well, I've got a kid who's screaming her arm still hurts an hour later, so we're going in. We get x-rays, a soft cast, with the tiniest sling I've even seen and we're on our way.

"We'll call your tomorrow to let you know if it's broken" they say. Next day at 7:30 pm I call them.

"We'll let you know tomorrow" I"m told again. Next morning the receptionist calls me back.

"It's not broken" she says.

"That's great, but what do I do with it?"

"What do you mean" she says.

"Well, she says it still hurts." She puts me on hold for a few minutes.

"Then take her to Primary Children's Orthopedic Center."

"But you just told me it's not broken?" I say

"Well, that's what the doctor said."

Thanks. So another 24 hours of wondering what the right thing to do is. I called her normal pediatrician and spoke with the nurse. She was great, and gave me some advice I could really use. Keep it in the sling, and if it still hurts in 7-10 days bring her in. Finally, now we had a plan. Initially I thought, now I can relax, I don't have to be worried anymore, I just have to wait week or so. Then later that same night the doctor After Hours called. First of he and the receptionist both said,

"Hello, is Amy there?" Don't they know she's 3? I kept wondering to myself.

"This is her mom." I answered

"Oh hi, this is doctor so and so, we spoke this morning?"

"Um, no, I spoke with the receptionist this morning."

"No, we spoke earlier today."

"The person I spoke with was female." I think I've irritated him by this point, so he moves on.

"We've got the full report back from the radiologist, and I'm just going to read you exactly what it says here." From which he basically used a lot of big words to say that they believe there's a good chance it's fractured, but they can't see it in the x-ray.

So my relaxed mind had about 5 minutes before I spent the rest of the week feeling like bad mom. I know, it could have happened to anybody, but I couldn't help the detrimental feeling that this happened because I was at work, instead of being the person taking care of my kids. Honestly, it could have happened to anyone, it even could have happened while I was at home. Alight, let's put working mommy guilt aside, I waited, hoping she would magically get better. After 10 days, I took her soft cast off, prodded her elbow, watched her wince and scream at me for touching it, and called the pediatrician back.

Take her to Primary Childrens. Appointment scheduled and 3 days later we arrived! Two more x-rays and I finally knew for sure without any doubt that she had cracked the pointy tip of her elbow. She would be sporting a neon pink cast for the next 3 weeks. Oh the relief! I never thought I would be so happy to hear my child's elbow was broken! But seriously, bad news is a whole lot better than not knowing. To alleviate any more guilt I ask the very kind lady doctor

"Did I totally make this worse for her by waiting two weeks to bring her in?" And in the most kind way she says

"It's no big deal, she didn't break her inner elbow, with the cast on she'll heal right up." Thank you, thank you, thank you, lady doctor. We can all move on, I'm not a bad mother, Amy is healing, and she's lovin' the pink cast.

Have you ever had a kid with a broken bone? What's your story? Did you go through something similar, or completely different?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Last night I finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I'm a little bit torn on my opinion of it. On the one hand I loved how Cheryl was able to move on with her life after the death of her mother by taking her life into her own hands hiking from the Desert in California up to Northern Oregon. She writes beautifully without being cumbersome in her descriptions, and I love the way she weaves her past into the story of her 4 month hike.

On the other hand, I read about how she does heroin, and in my naive mind I think, STOP what are you doing? This is bad this is very bad! How will she recover, how will she ever become a functioning member of society? I was amazed to find that there are people who have done drugs who are able to leave it in the past. Okay, so it's pretty apparent I don't have any experience with drugs or friends who did them. So maybe it was good for me to read about it to gain a new perspective, instead of living in a bubble world, but I will admit it startled me.

What also startled me was sex with strangers. Just repeat all the reactions I had about her doing drugs, STOP, how will she recover, and then she does. The whole thing really served as a reminder to me that we're all flawed, we're all going to make mistakes. I think we're actually meant to, not in the sense that we should seek to mess up, but in the sense that in case it happens, there is always another side to everything, and nothing in our lives that we can't change, should we decide to become different people, and hopefully along the way we will have learned something about ourselves and the the rest of the world, and become happier more insightful people than we were before.

So do I recommend reading Wild? Yes. Will it be on my favorite books of all times list? Debatable. But it was a close call.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

my Sunday notes and musings

Every Sunday during Relief Society I take notes on my phone and then later that day or sometimes later in the week like today, I read over my notes and rewrite them in my journal. (I know, should probably just take the journal to church).  Feeling a little self deprecating at the moment, so I thought I would look over my notes. They were short this week, only two.

"Forget yourself and go to work." Written by President Hinckley's father. Reminded me not to bemoan all the difficulties of being a working mom with two little ones, which for me right now probably means going to sleep instead of lying here worrying about things that can't be fixed in the next 12 hours.

"You're a small package when you're all wrapped up in yourself." Made me think about how we all want to be the perfect package, the perfect friend/mom/wife who always listens and never looses her temper, who volunteers for every PTA activity, and wears a size two, but I'm not that package I'm me, but I can be a great friend/mom/wife if I stop worrying about myself and get that inner chant going that says I am enough I am enough I am enough. Thanks to Scenes from the Wild for the sweet reminder.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mom, did you make it with love?

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I've been reading a lot of blogs about the drudgery of cooking. I will admit many times my family will beg me to make dessert and I will think I just cooked you an amazing meal, wasn't that enough?  In contrast my son often reminds me why I cook for my family.

So many times when I have made my kids lunch, or dinner, or whatever, my five year old son asks me "Mom, did you make it with love?"

I stop and remember back to what I was thinking about when I made it. If I did make that dinner with love, he seems to gobble it up, as if those vegetables really do taste better because I was happy when I made them. Perhaps there is a connection between the flavor of our food and the spirit we held with us when we prepared it.

I don't know why he asks me if I made his dinner with love, but I'm so grateful he does. It's a constant reminder why I do all the things I do for them. For love. I hope we can all remember this as we slave in the kitchen for days before Thanksgiving, and cook our dinners "with love".

Monday, November 18, 2013

What's a Friend Crush?

Is there such a thing as a friend crush? I believe there is. I've been listening to The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch and I find myself comparing my behavior to his asburger driven eccentricities. When meeting a couple at a party with his wife he says,

"We need to become close friends with these people as soon as possible. Invite them over this weekend, they like us it's obvious. He mentioned they have a boat, that was an invitation for us to join them on it, right?" His wife responds with,

"They were just talking to us the way people do at parties, I think they might be drunk."                            

While his reaction may sound weird to some, I think it's partially perfectly normal, either that or I am extremely weird. I find myself meeting people at church or at work, or even on the playground picking my kid up from school, about whom I think to myself, wow this person is so intriguing and I think we'd get along really well. But I'm pretty shy, so it takes monumental effort for me to take whatever that next step is to getting to know them better.

Enter the "friend crush". I will obsess about what's the right thing to say when I see them so I sound interesting and not like an ignorant idiot. Should I call them to hang out, is that too forward, am I staring too much when I see them, maybe I should ask them questions about themselves so they will feel important around me and will enjoy my company more? My self queries and inhibitions are endless.

Does anybody else get "friend crushes" and if you do, how do you go about moving past any anti-social inclinations that come more naturally to you than easy going normal behavior?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I thought it was supposed to snow yesterday? I can't wait for the winter wonderland to begin!

When it snows Hunter and Amy can't wait to help Mike shovel our driveway. They don’t care how cold they get, they are captivated by the wonderment of white, wet, snow.

I am 8 years old and I truly believe that if I pray, God will make it snow. On Christmas morning there is frost on the Bay Area lawn and that is good enough for my prayer, but I still hope for a miracle, maybe next year.

I am 9 years old, it is the first time I've seen snow. I am driving in a minivan with faux wood panels through the Cascade Mountains. There are patches of melted snow on the side of the road. Every time we pass a dirty mound of wet snow I yell “SNOW” as loud as I can. I am hoping my Aunt Debi or my Grandma Betty’s husband Dan will pull over and let me play in it. I had no such luck.

I am 10 years old. I’ve just arrived in Oregon. Debi has bought a farm house. As I get closer I see the snow. It doesn't snow often in Newberg, sometimes not at all during an entire winter. There are 2 inches on the ground, not enough to bury myself in, but enough to build a snowman. Dan helps me roll his head and body. It seems like we used every inch of snow from the gravel driveway, all rolled up into a jolly snowman. I could finally say I had played in snow.

I am 11 years old. We are driving from California to Utah in a moving truck. It was February the daily high in Fremont 65 degrees. Twelve hours later it was 30 degrees in Utah. At the house we were going to live in for the next 4 months there is an dirty pile of snow taller than me. I had missed the light fluffy fresh snow, but it was a promise that I would never have another snow-less winter.

I am 12 years old. It’s Saturday. I trudge through the snow to Amy and Lindsay’s houses. They tell me we are too old to play in the snow. I am too old for snow angels, too old for snowmen, too old for snowballs. I am shattered. I am wishing I could go to California and find my 8 year old self. I would bring her here and revel with her in the snow until she can't feel her fingers and toes anymore.

Amy is one Hunter is three. I look in the back of their closet and find snow pants, a heavy coat. I walk over to their dresser and quickly pull out gloves and hats. The snow is too deep for Amy to walk in so she crawls through it sinking to her shoulders. Hunter is bounding past her. I pick her up and run her to a place in the back of the yard near her brother. He is eating snow and swinging at it with his little gloved hands. Amy sits, her eyes huge, staring up at the snowflakes falling on her nose. I attempt to make a snowball and roll it across the yard. It’s more difficult than I remember. Hunter is more interested in smashing the ball than rolling it. I teach them how to make snow angels. The toddlers are delighted. I feel so warm in my coat, with the snow cradling my body. I am in a cocoon of crystal.

With time we have our snowman. He’s a little crooked; one tree branch arm is longer than the other. He has a carrot nose and rocks for eyes. One of Amy’s pink scarves is wrapped around his neck. We strip off our layers inside the house and stare at our snowman through the large window, and I am 8 years old again.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Guest Post at Segullah

Today I had a guest post published.

The prompt was to tell your story in a tweet-sized byte. I'll admit I let myself ramble for a lengthy 220 words but I think it sums up my story pretty well.

So head on over to Segullah to check it out and if you feel inspired, share some comments as well :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Dinners

Tuesday is the most enjoyable evening of our week. My husbands Grandparents, their three children, and their children, everybody who can make it, comes to Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner. No matter how much I drag my feet to get myself there, I've never regretted going. Here's a few of the reasons why.

Grandma's cooking. As an uncle always says, they are "above average" dinners. We've never had an average or heaven forbid a below average meal. Grandma will tell you, it was easy to do, nothing to worry over, but secretly we all know she spends all week doing her planning, preparing, marinating, and roasting.

The Japan Game. Grandpa served an LDS mission in Japan. When their kids were little Grandma and Grandpa served in a Japanese ward here in Utah. Japan holds a special place in everyone's heart. Every Tuesday, our uncle tried to find ways to get Grandpa to say "Japan." A Tuesday dinner is not complete until Grandpa has said the magic word. Tonight I think Grandpa finally won the game by proclaiming "Japan!" right in the middle of conversation, making the moment worth every giggle and praise we paid him.

Feeding Grandpa. In his senior years grandpa has a hard time making his body eat enough food. He's lost a lot of weight in the past few years, so our cousin was assigned to sit next to Grandpa, encourage him to eat, and report back to Grandma. She tried so diligently today to get Grandpa to have some peas, she made all the sounds Grandpa has taught us to get babies to eat, gwowing, which is a sound produced by saying gwow in the back of your throat while rolling your tongue. She even barked at him, Grandpa's specialty, but he could not be convinced and gave her his kindest scowl.

Teasing the whale. I think it is in retribution for our cousins excellent care of Grandpa and making sure he eats that in addition to saying Japan, Grandpa always remembers to chide her and call a whale. She laughs and elbows Grandpa as she munches on her salad, and pours her second drink of juice. We all like to join in and everybody has a good natured belly laugh about it, including the whale.

Ask the Uncle. Our uncle is the kind of person who throws everybody else off. I never know what he's thinking or what he's going to say next, but there's no denying how intelligent he is. Mike and I love to save up our questions to ask him, like when we read a scripture we didn't understand, or what does he think about tattooed wedding rings, or what he thinks of Obama. He always has an answer that makes us think just a little bit more, and he's our well of information and good opinions.

Talks with Grandma. Grandma always seems to get around to every person by the end of the night, and ask how you are doing, how's school, how are your parents, how is this project you were working on, what is new in your life? She always knows what to ask, and always remembers what you spoke about the last time, so she can ask for a follow up and get an update on your progress. Grandma says that when she was young, she was shy, and that she has learned to have good conversations through practice. She has the ability to make you feel like you are the most important person in the room, and her love for her family shows through, when she talks to each of us.

Eating Competitions. When all the older boys have come to Grandma's from school, or work, or we have another one home from a mission, there is always an eating competition. The best competitions take place over hot dogs, mini tacos, skewers, and ribs. I'm not sure what the Tuesday Dinner record is on ribs, but it's got to be enormous. Even I have no self restraint on Tuesdays and usually eat twice as much as I ever normally would.

Grandpa's Garden. I learned how to garden from Grandpa. I saw my first homegrown potatoes in Grandpa's garden, learned what wall of water is and the proper planting time for tomatoes, cucumber vines grow upward on a slanted wire fence he created, fruit trees must be sprayed for bugs, carrots and beets can grow all winter. He taught me to put plastic over my garden and cut holes for the plants so I don't have to weed as much, and he taught me how to install a drip system for watering. All the kids are required to help Grandpa with his garden, and even us married kids are no exception to the rule.

Sometimes it is tiring to sacrifice the time I could be spending relaxing in my own living room. "Ugh" I'll say "I just want one quiet evening at home, it seems like we're always going somewhere." Later, when we're all loaded in the car after an above average meal, great conversation, and had our souls lifted, I'm never sorry I went. I fear the day when Tuesday Dinners will come to a close, I know they can't go on in Grandma's house forever. When that happens I've decided to carry on the tradition with my children and parents, and someday Mike & I hope to be the Grandma and Grandpa we have witnessed so many Tuesdays before.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Pero Addiction

There seem to be three drinks that I rotate from each season. When it comes to drinks they're all an addiction to me. In summer it's smoothies, preferably with blueberry. I can't get through a hot day without my smoothie. In the fall it's vegetable juice, carrot, apple, ginger, it's delicious and screams autumn to me. But now that we're past Halloween and I'm starting to feel the holiday spirit, and I've gotten over my yearly hot chocolate craving, I've turned to Pero. It's almost as yummy as coffee, not quite, but almost, and with a little sugar and cream, I have my winter drink. Extra bonus, with only barley, malted barley, chicory, rye and nothing else it's only 5 calories per teaspoon, beat that hot chocolate! mmmmm I love my Pero.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rise and Pray

Scripture of the day: Why sleep ye? rise and pray lest ye enter into temptation. Luke 22:46

I love winter, the snow, the chilly air, the sweaters and boots, but I do not love that chilly air when it's time to get out of bed. Just five more minutes, I can spare ten more, five more, ah crap, I've got 20 minutes to get out the door. In the summer it's so easy to roll onto my knees, it's just as warm on the floor as it is between my sheets. But winter, forget it! Occasionally I drag all the blankets from my bed with me to the floor as I pray, but I only get away with it when my sleeping companion is out of bed. Most of the time I snuggle up as close as I can to him for warmth and sleep as late as I can. This is probably exacerbated by my temptation to stay up too late.

I love that quiet time when everybody rests including me, just without the shut-eye part. Last night I worked on my 2013 photo book at Costco.com, or I'm up because I couldn't put down Wild by Cheryl Strayed, or I'm catching up on Revenge and Nashville, or hey I'm blogging, maybe you've noticed a lot of my posts are around midnight. But I can't keep on like this, I have little people to feed and dress, places to be, and a morning run to get in, because yes I'm that stereotypical person who if she doesn't work out in the morning, she doesn't get it done at all. You've probably noticed I've been posting less as well.

Maybe I've hit a slump. I debated for a while over which is better, quality or quantity, but then I remembered why I started blogging, it was to hold myself accountable to write every day, for the experience of it, for the consistent practice of putting words to um, screen? The second reason was to train my brain not to worry about what people will think of me. So I'm going to go with quantity, granted you may see some short posts, or something less than entertaining. That's okay, read the ones you like, ignore the rest. Hey, I do the same thing when I read a book; if it hasn't got my attention after the first few chapters, I move on and find a book more interesting.

So when I roll out of bed tomorrow with an extra blanket on the floor and a space heater next to me, let's all hope I'm well rested so I can pray for morning inspirations, a good run, and my sanity.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I lay down in bed and Mike says

"Why are you breathing like you're out of breath?" I hadn't noticed but realized my heart was racing when he brought it to my attention.

I've felt this before, had many nights where I lay in bed and felt my heartbeat pulsing, my body one throbbing mass. I can feel the throbbing in my lips, like my pulse is trying to explode around my mouth. My body feels like an undulating river, or like waves pounding on the shore. It must be stress related. I must be worrying. In fact I do have a huge decision to make about my job. It's one of those things that's so important I feel like making the right choice is life or death.

I've only been 100% sure about one choice I made. It was about getting married. I knew before I had gone through the motions of prayer, that Mike was it for me. I was so sure, as if God had stood before me and spoken the words out loud. I was so young and I knew I wasn't ready for marriage, but I couldn't deny the powerful feeling that I was supposed to marry Mike. Ten years later I have no regrets despite how unprepared and young I felt.

I wish I had that certainty about every decision I've made. I have made most choices relying on my strong analytical senses, with detailed pro and con lists, one, two, and five year plans all worked out on paper. But each time the decision end up being made based on feelings. Maybe that is because I am a woman and we are driven by emotions more than any other influence. I have come to recognize one thing, that making decisions based on fear causes regression instead of progression.

If I choose against something due to fear, I probably made the wrong choice. But fear and red flags must not be confused. Red flags occur when morality and integrity are questioned by making the choice. So far I don't see any red flags, and the only thing to fear is fear of the unknown. Do I play it safe, or decide on something that is unknown but has the potential to significantly benefit my life and my family's life?

When I choose I hope I will have the peace of mind allowed by choosing the path that will cause me to lay in bed, head burrowed in my pillow making its familiar curve under my neck. I will close my eyes, breathe slowly, and quickly melt into the restful sleep of oblivion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Letter From Mom

The events I posted about in Firstlight are a story I seem to be telling more often. I think I'm no longer ashamed of my past and I'm finding that sharing it feels like cutting tethers I had carefully tied to hold myself back. I read a post over at Segullah: The Scars We Bear, which brought me back to my past, and allowed me to realize that I would never give away the scars I earned growing up. I have learned too much and contrary to Daisy Buchanan, if I lost them I would be a beautiful little fool, the worst thing a mother can be in this world.

I also see the scars I've carved into my mother. Scars I wish I could take away, but it's surprising to me to see how they have also faded. Five years ago my mom wrote me a letter. It means the world to me that she wrote this letter. Perhaps it's one of those things that heals the wound, without making the scar disappear, so we'll always have a reminder, but no longer suffer the pain. It shows me how she is thriving despite all that she has been through, and all that I have put her through. It is another illustration of how firm my mothers faith is and the amazing example she is to me. This is what she said:

Dear Anja,
Today our RS Lesson was about the letters Joseph sent to Emma. Out teacher gave each of us paper to write a ‘love letter’ to someone dear to us. I pick you. Anee girl I just want you to know how much I love and appreciate you. You know things were pretty shaky after the divorce and I felt like I lost you. . . then Hunter was born and I got married again. . . .I got you back! Yeah!! I love you so much and think you are a wonderful mother and daughter. I feel like you accept Darrel and that makes me happy. I was thinking if dad and I didn’t get divorced you might not have met Mike. . . .I’m not going to dwell on the past but go forward with faith. Thank you for accepting my husband and letting me be a part of your life again. I cherish our relationship.
Love you,

Monday, November 4, 2013

We lit our first fire of the season yesterday and it reminded me of this

I was 8 years old. I could smell a wood burning fire. It smelled good enough to eat like having a barbecue in winter. I heard the crackling logs as I walked down the hallway into the living room. I loved that our fireplace was open, that I could see the burning wood through the heavy metal mesh that blocked embers from sputtering out onto the carpet. Dad had made the fire before he went to work. It was a school day so I wouldn't be able to enjoy it’s warmth for very long. I relished in the smell as I got ready.

I was 24 years old. We had bought my father-in-laws house that same year. We had decided to remodel the master bedroom as soon as we moved in. Neither of us wanted to share the same bedroom Mike’s parents had shared. There were no other usable bedrooms in the house, so temporarily we put our bed in the corner of the living room, right across from the wood burning stove. We used a couch to create a divide between our bed and the rest of the space.

The living room built 30 years after the house had been built. It was now 40 years since then, but the vents in the living room had never been attached to the furnace. Every day when Mike came home from work he would load the brick shelf around the stove with wood and make a fire. Each night I would warm up rice bags in the microwave to heat my feet, when the warmth of the fire had died down. All we had were the silk sheets we'd gotten as wedding gift. Every morning I could see my breath when I woke and opened my eyes. I knew we needed warmer sheets but I was waiting until we have the money. New house, new baby, things were tight. After 3 months we went to Wal-Mart to buy something else, and we saw some bed sheets. They were fleece so soft and cozy and warm looking. Whatever it was that we had gone to the store for that day, we bought the sheets instead, and we've never regretted it.

We got home at about 2 in the afternoon. Mike made a fire, and I immediately put the sheets on the bed. Then I had to try them out. Mike tried them with me, and Hunter at 18 months couldn't be left out. It was warm, it was the first time I had nestled into bed and the sheets weren't cold. It felt so good I needed to close my eyes. Maybe we would take a nap with Hunter just to enjoy these new sheets. It was like I had taken a drug, and all I could think about was how warm I felt, how I never wanted to leave my bed again.When we woke up it was 7 pm and we had missed the family Christmas party.

When I was 26 years old we decided to replace our furnace. The old one had been removed months ago. We had ordered a more efficient one, but it had not arrived yet. With the old furnace gone, all we had was our wood burning stove. Although our bedroom had been finished, with no heat it was useless, so we moved our bed back down to the living room again. We hung a blanket over the opening to the hallway so all the heat from the stove would be contained in our living room. I became very good and lighting fires on my own. I had even figured out how to get it going without letting any smoke back fill the room.

We lived and slept in the living room for two weeks. The only time I would leave it was to use the bathroom or prepare food in the kitchen then quickly bring it down to the living room. We had a fire going 24/7 those two weeks. We used an entire wall full of wood outside our home. I had never been so grateful for the wood. I had wood splinters in my fingers by the end, I smelled like wood, and all I saw was wood surrounding the doors that led to the driveway, piled around the fireplace, chips all across the tile where we had split kindling. All I could see was pine and chestnut logs surrounding me in a wood paneled room. The smell of burning wood has a cleanliness to it. Like all the bad in the world is being smoked out, and what remains is pure sweet smoldering home.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My New Favorite Holiday

I've remembered how much I love to trick-or-treat!  For some reason I always ended up working on Halloween until this year. This was the first Halloween I was able to relive my trick-or-treating fantasy and take the kids out.

It felt so good, all the excitement washed through me as I stood back and watched my kids race each other to see who would get to ring the doorbell, and in their young sing song voices call out trick-or-treat! Halloween is officially my new favorite holiday, all I have to do is buy or make adorable costumes and I get all the thrills of going around the neighborhood without having to dress up myself. Most fun, least work of any other holiday.

In case you're wondering, the adorable Troll is my niece.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


My daughter calls her brother a tweak.

It’s okay, I tell him, a tweak means

she thinks you’re really cool. Days later

she calls him a tweak for the umpteenth time.

Don’t call your brother a tweak I say. But mom,

he reminds, she’s saying she loves me.

In the driver’s seat I quiet, let the road

do the driving, lead me wherever

I’m supposed to go. I listen to their banter

in the backseat and feel my brain sharply

twisted and pulled in two directions.

I think I am being tweaked.

What Makes Mike Happy Happy Happy

  1. Sons of Anarchy
  2. Pretending to remove his thumb and watching Amy have a meltdown until he reattaches it
  3. Making turds flow downhill. . . .he's a plumber ok
  4. His wife's cooking. . . .yep that would be me!
  5. You Tube watching people be stupid
  6. The smell of black powder
  7. Waking up on the hillside with a fresh layer of snow
  8. The sound of a screaming bull elk in the aspens
  9. Watching Hunter find his first shed
  10. Teaching Hunter to shoot a 410 when he was 2

Monday, October 28, 2013

DIY no sew Fairy Costume

This year I was playing lazy and hoping I wouldn't have to make any Halloween costumes, especially since my sewing machine is broken and I haven't got around to taking it to a repair shop, and I lack the funds to buy the one I really want. I got lucky with Hunters costume finding a $12 Captain America at Costco over a month ago, and you know how much I love to impulse buy. But for Amy I could not find a costume that either of us liked, or that was the right size for a 3 year old. Why is everything either baby sized or little girl sized at Costco? I figured the easiest way to go for her was a no sew tutu. I found a $5 pair of wings at Wal-Mart in her favorite colors pink and purple, bought matching tulle and set to work.

Since I couldn't sew an elastic for the waistband, I used one of my elastic headbands to tie the tulle around, so glad it was the right size to fit Amy.

I used a plastic bin lid to wrap the tulle around so I only had to make one cut per spool, and make ever piece even and the same length.

Then I began attaching the tulle on the band by folding the tulle in half lengthwise, sliding the loop under the band the pulling the ends through, beginning with the color I wanted on the outside of her dress first.

After all the tulle was attached I turned it inside out so the purple would be on top and the knots were on the inside.

Attach some ribbon for straps, and tie another ribbon around her chest, put some sparkly shoes on her and voila she was done. Sorry though, you'll just have to wait until Halloween to see Captain America and the purple Fairy in costume.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Costco thrives on impulse purchases.

Has anyone ever had a conversation like this about going to Costco?

Mike: "The kids are really hacking it up at night. Let's go to Costco tomorrow and get a humidifier."

Me: "My monthly Costco trip isn't in my budget until November. If I go I'll buy all kinds of things I think we need. Why don't you go without me so I won't be tempted to buy anything else." He smiles at me his eye twinkling. I start to giggle.

Me: "Did I just say that? I forgot you're just as bad as I am! That's like sending an alcoholic to the state liquor store!"

Mike: "I could still go if you want me to, but it would be more fun if we went together."

Me: "Yes, we could help each other be strong! Will you reign me in? Shut me down if I try to buy anything else?"

Mike: "Course I will, and then let's get churros after!"

Me: "There you go, already tempting me to buy another thing!"

Mike: "You can't go to Costco without getting a churro! They're churrolicious."

Me: "You see, we're a lost cause!"

Mike: "Maybe you should go without me."

Me: "You're right, I think I have more self-control than you do."

Mike: "Damn straight!"

All joking aside I found another blog with some really great advice for shopping smart at Costco on The Money Beagle.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What I wish I knew when I was in college

I received an envelope in the mail today from the University of Utah School of Music. It was a request to donate to their scholarship fund because as the letter states "The demands of the program make it difficult for performance students to work and attend school." Were they aware they were sending this letter to someone who had dropped out of the music program because she couldn't handle the amount of practice and studying required and work a full time job? Probably not. I'm not blaming the school, but I do blame myself for what I wish I had known back then.

I was too proud to take out a loan to pay for school. I had been raised with staunch expectations to pay my own way through college without ever falling into debt. I was too proud to let my husband support me. Getting through school and relying solely on yourself for everything is an admirable desire, but after ten more years of life I've come to realize it's okay to let people help you and it's okay to have student loans if you want to graduate. So I will try not to be resentful, and maybe I will even donate so that other young students will have a better opportunity than I did.

In the meantime, I keep telling myself my time will come. I wish I knew when, I'm all about deadlines and planning, making schedules and lists. It's frustrating not being able to put "go back to school" on my calendar and count the days until that day is here. But like every other woman out there, my mother instinct is too strong or I'm too practical, so I will continue to worry over the success of my children before I achieve my own. That said, I will go back, I've promised myself, I don't take my own promises lightly and I always keep my word.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Parent-Teacher Conference

Update on Hunter:

We're making progress! Especially since the last time I posted about Hunter. He's not going to be tested for any learning disabilities yet. He is getting a little bit of extra help from an aide in class. Mike and I are still working with him every day, and Mike's aunt has been coming once a week.

The Results: he can write his name! Yes! I will admit I shed a tear or two the first time he did it right. What can I say? I'm a proud mama. He's learned more letters, still coming slowly but we're almost there! Counting is coming too, he's learned all the numbers and I'm estimating one more week and he'll be able to count to 20.

My first parent teacher conference was last night, and since we already have a handle on where Hunter is academically I was worried about how he was doing socially, especially if he's anything like I was. I actually found my kindergarten report card a few days ago and even though I had no trouble academically, I scored as low as possible on things like, displays self-control, plays well with others, listens without interrupting, follows directions well, and you get the idea. Who knew I had such bad social skills? Or maybe I still do and you all aren't telling me . . . . . . .? I'm happy to report Hunter is nothing like I was. His teacher said he's very aware of his classmates feelings and is always willing to share, he intentionally tries to make all his classmates around him happy. He's friendly and plays great. Yes! Another proud mama moment.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Have you ever had to lead music?

A few months ago I was called to lead the music in Relief Society (a meeting for women held during LDS church). I can see why I was called, I mean I can read music, but that's about the extent of my choir capabilities. The first time I had to lead I was shaking, yes I have developed some stage fright since I've spent the last 29 years of my life trying not to be noticed, ahem, until this year and beginning to blog.

I think anxious and apprehensive are the best words to describe it. Before the song I frantically turned to the back of the hymn book to find the diagrams on how to wave my arm, but it didn't seem to pay off that first day; neither I or the pianist were following each other and I had to stop several times to find the beat.

Feeling very abashed, especially as I noticed an older woman in the front row carefully watching me. Oh no  I thought she's so religious, she's going to think I'm sacrilegious that I don't take this seriously. Graciously after the meeting she said "you did great, you'll get the hang of it." Whew! I dodged that bullet! Seriously though, I was so grateful for her kind words, they gave me the strength to go up there again the next Sunday.

Every week I flip to the back of the book and make tiny motions with my hand to 'practice' before leading in front of all those women. I thought I was getting better, and I must be because I think I've become entirely too comfortable when I'm up there. I'm not proud to say, though not too proud to write about it......my most recent blunder. I stood with my hymn book ready, and began to daydream. I completely forgot to begin leading until the pianist stopped after the prelude and gave me the stare down. "whops! Sorry everybody! I was so not ready for that" and begin!

Yes I probably am loosing my mind, I didn't even realize what a studious daydreamer I am, and I can't even remember what I was thinking so hard about that distracted me in the first place. Maybe it's late onset ADD? but I guarantee from now on I'll be super focused. It's amazing how embarrassment can keep you from making the same mistake twice.

Anybody else have a story about leading music?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Running to the 80's

Running Update:

Distance: 3 miles
Previous best time: 35:30
Today's time: 34:47
Mini Goal: 3x11 minute miles
Final Goal: 3x10 minute miles

I love 80's music. Thanks to Amy for getting me hooked on 80's in eigth grade. I can't help it, whenever I hear some Police, Cure, Depeche Mode, all of it, I can't help but smile, it just makes me happy! Today's run made me very happy because Motivational Man made an 80's and 90's Music Video. Love it! Hoping he makes a purely 80's video soon!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I can't get Royals out of my head. I'd heard it before but it caught my attention on an episode of Revenge, then I heard it on the radio several days in a row. I love when lyrics sound like poetry, I think that's why I'm such a fan of Pearl Jam, every one of their songs reads like a poem. But I couldn't figure out Lordes' lyrics on my own so I went to songmeanings.com where I found more teenage interpretations than I could ever want. Once I got some perspective on the meaning, I'm now somewhat disgusted with the song, I love it but I hate it. Here's why.

It's ironic that someone singing about how she lives in a bad neighborhood, who doesn't have wealth, has to count her dollars, who claims not to be caught up in a love affair with celebrity, admits the only fantasy she really wants to have is to be queen B to rule or should we say be on top, be cool. Even more ironic is how wealthy she'll become from making this song, and I find it hard to believe with all that money she'll earn she's not going to move into a big house, ride on private planes, wear diamonds and ball gowns.

It's a dirty trick that she's putting down other artists in order to help herself rise to fame, but that is the one fantasy she asks you to let her live, to be queen B, so at least she's not shady one bit about her intentions, and yet we're all falling for it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Joys of Acne

I remember my first breakout, I was 14 and in the 9th grade. I asked my parents to buy me some face wash and that was that, the acne cleared up and I didn't think much about it till college. At that point I started to break out more and more and I remember thinking I thought this was supposed to go away with age? Nope sorry, my face laughs at me and squeezes out another inflamed pimple. There was Neutrogena, ProActiv and glowing pregnancy skin without a trace of blemish to keep my psyche free of zit worry during those days, but now that my baby bearing days are over and I'll be 30 next year, I should be over this right? In fact I'm so over this I finally went to see a dermatologist.

He tells me it appears to be hormone driven and he's going to prescribe a hormone suppressant that should work immediately. Which hormone does it suppress you ask? Why testosterone of course, because didn't you know excess testosterone in women creates hormonal acne? Who knew. Oh, and it's also the same drug given to men wanting to become more feminine prior to a sex change. Um, well, all I can say is I'm desperate and glad I'm not a man. I also get to apply a retinoid cream that makes your pores more slippery. It required special permission from my insurance to cover because using it for acne is an "off label" application. What does that mean, you ask? It mean retinoid creams are mainly used for firming up your skin like collagen or botox, only it's topical, yay for me! Oh and to speed up the process, he says, I'm going to have you try Aczone topically during the day. It's pretty amazing stuff he tells me, they used to prescribe it internally for lepers because it kills bacteria. Wow, so now I'm a testosterone charged woman with leprosy who needs botox.

Wish me luck! Here's my before pic, I'll post an after pic next month.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My five year old asks me if he can do aerobics. . ..

should I be worried or proud? All I have to do to get Hunter to eat a meat, fruit, or veggie is tell him it will make him big, strong, and healthy. When I run on my treadmill he gets his gloves on an punches our heavy punching bag right alongside me. He's such a skinny guy and most kids in his class are taller than him. I'm pretty sure his main concern is making sure he grows as big and tall as the other kids. Today he surprised me though. I've only done an exercise video a handful of times with the kids around, but for some reason only known to Hunter he asked me if I would turn on a workout video for him. It's a couple hours before bedtime so I thought Sure! get all your energy out! Little sister Amy followed along too for the first five minutes, but Hunter is now 30 minutes in and still going strong, oh I do wish I had his energy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Cancer Story

Everybody has a cancer story. I think it's safe to say there isn't one person in American that hasn't had cancer or known somebody with it. This is mine.

I was surprised at how easily I found the Breast Cancer Center at the hospital. As I walked toward the automatic sliding doors I thought how incredible it is that there’s an entire wing of the hospital just for breasts. Why isn't there a kidney center, heart center, lung center? Were breasts more diseased than any other body part? Or is it because society is vain? Maybe both I decided.

I was glad to be there, for two weeks the thought of a lump in my breast hung over my head. My intuition told me it was nothing but I wanted to be sure so I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.