Sunday, January 24, 2016

PUMPKIN Luxury and a Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

It still blows my mind that I can ask my Smart phone questions and it answers them! I got my first ever Smart phone in August and after accidentally dropping it into the toilet right away and soaking it in rice for 24 hours, I have been enjoying it's high tech-features ever since! 
One of the cool things I can do is locate the recipes on my blog in seconds. I pick up my phone and say"OK Google", which activates the listening function. Then once my phone starts listening I tell it what recipe I want such as,"Sallyseashell lentil coconut curry." Or "Sallyseashell protein balls." Within seconds my phone has located the recipes on my blog and they appear on my screen. Lastly, I prop my phone up somewhere in my kitchen (I know, I need to make one of these fabric stands!) and cook my heart out! So obviously my goal is to post more of my favorite recipes on my blog for easy access!

This past summer Micah planted a different variety of pumpkins called Winter Luxury pumpkins. They have been so delicious! They are thick, meaty, and a beautiful bright orange color! I have really enjoyed harvesting them, processing them, and turning them into all my favorite pumpkin foods. (So grateful for my husband's thoughtfullness in growing these pumpkins for me.)

First I slice them in half and scoop out the seeds. I wear my Christmas apron year-round.
Next I quarter them and boil them in a large pot for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If I can slide my fork through the meat easily, I call them done.
 After the pumpkin has cooled down, my little guy likes to help scrape the orange meat off the skin.  Pantsless, of course. I collect the puree "mush" in a large bowl to get it ready for bagging.
 Next I measure the pumpkin mush into 1 cup portions and divide them up into ziplock bags for the freezer. Since I use the pumpkin puree for so many different recipes, I've found that keeping one-cup portions is easiest. i.e... A big pumpkin pie takes 2 cups. 24 pumpkin muffins take 3 cups. My morning pumpkin smoothie takes 1 cup. Pumpkin pancakes takes 1 cup, and so on. 
And that's it! I always make sure to have plenty of pumpkin pie spice mixes on hand so I never run out because pumpkin pie spice makes pumpkin......pumpkin! I either buy pumpkin pie spice mix on sale or make my own. If you have powdered ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, you can make your own easily. (I never use mace. What IS mace??)
 My boys love these pumpkin muffins! We make them whenever we get the craving!

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe:
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 1/3 Cups brown sugar
3 Cups Pumpkin Puree

1. Heat oven to 375 F (191 C)
2. Put 24 cupcake papers into two muffin pans.
3. melt butter in microwave or in small pan on the stove on low heat.
4. Put the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
5. In another bowl, mix the eggs and brown sugar. Then add the pumpkin puree and butter.
6. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until mixed. 
7. Use a small scoop to fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Utah or Bust!

Our theme for this upcoming summer is UTAH or Bust! We're basically not making any travel plans other than exploring the beautiful, dynamic, and  natural outdoor resources right here in our own backyard! Last summer we were so busy roadtripping to California and flying to Hawaii  that we didn't do a lot of fun things right here in our very own neighborhood. This summer will be different!
Utah is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. People come here from all over the world to see for themselves the canyons and mountains and rivers and peaks and hoodoos and lakes that make this place so amazing. We haven't even touched the surface of all that is amazingly Utah!
Just recently we took our kids to Snow Canyon to hike around just for a couple hours on New Year's Day. We live just an hour from here! This place is fantastic for little kids who loves to run and climb all over the rocks! The kids can't wait to come back and camp in the Spring.

A couple of weeks ago Micah and I went out on a hiking date. We like to occasionally hire our favorite babysitter and go hiking up in the hills, just the two of us. This time we went hiking in the hills up behind our neighborhood. I had never been back there before! It was so gorgeous! The white snow on the red rocks really takes my breath away every time. I love it!
We took our two dogs walking with us. They went crazy running all over the place. We even lost one of them for a portion of the hike as he took off running up the mountain and never came back. We finally found him back at the beginning of the trail. Phew!
Anyways, it was a fun, romantic hike with my favorite husband and hiking companion.

I took the three older boys up in the red hills a week later to hike after church on Sunday. We had so much fun! They were making me laugh so hard the entire time. They were all  in these incredibly goofy, laughing moods that contagiously made each other and myself goofy and laughy all over again. There was this one moment where my five year old Jonah was trying to scramble up a steep incline. So I told my nine year old Zadok who was at the top of the incline to grab his hand and pull him up. My nine year old grabbed his hand, which was inside of a glove and pulled the glove right off! They started laughing hysterically. I got serious and told them to consider how dangerous it would've been if Zadok was pulling Jonah up from falling off a cliff. Imagine if you grabbed his hand but it was really his glove and it came right off and you had to watch Jonah fall to his death! I scolded. Zadok thought about this for a second then replied,"Well, at least I'd have something to remember him by."
Then they all started laughing again.
Boys, boys, boys.
After that we found a rock that looked like The Grinch. We decided this is where Whoeville is, but the Whos are too small to see so we might have been accidentally stepping all over them. 
In other exciting news, we turned our minivan in for a tour van. Yes, it's an actual 15-seater tour bus complete with beautiful western landscapes painted on the side doors. At first I scoffed at my husband for wanting to buy such a huge, extravagant van, but after thinking about it, it all made perfect sense. This will become our adventure wagon for all our camping and exploring needs! We can take out the 2 back seats and make room for all our camping gear, plethroa of children, and even our dogs! This van will go everywhere we go, checking off our Utah bucket list one canyon, one mountain, one river as we go!

Last but certainly not least, my baby turned 18 months old today. sniff sniff.  I don't know what to say--the time is going too fast! I want to bottle him up and save him forever like this. He's too darn cute. And that curly hair reminds me of a little cherub. I don't want to cut it, but I know eventually I'll have to. It's starting to get in his eyes. I tried a headband but he doesn't like wearing it. He also doesn't like it when I spray the detangler and brush the bedhead out of his hair. So, we shall see. Right now my favorite thing in the world is kissing those little cheeks and rubbing my fingers through those springy curls!
Here's my little buddy with his new boots that he hasn't taken off for three days because he loves them so much:
Utah Summer Bucket List:
Coyote Gulch
Mystic Hot Springs
Kanarraville Falls
Zion National Park (again and again)
Capitol Reef
Navajo Lake
Duck Creek
Yankee Meadows
Uintahs-Kings peak (Micah and Z-boy)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Real life, not braces life

I am trying hard not to let the comments bother me. After all the people giving them were just being friendly and polite and trying to make me feel good. 

"Wow, you look really great! You've lost a lot of weight haven't you?"
"I wish I could lose that much weight! You look amazing!"
"You look amazing! You've lost so much weight!"

I don't really know how to respond so I just say the truth: Yes, actually I was starving after I got my braces put on because I couldn't eat all my favorite foods so I lost 15 pounds and went down two pants sizes. I was pretty miserable because I couldn't eat anything, but yeah, I've lost some weight!

I should be happy! I should be jumping for joy, right? Thank you! I should scream! Starving myself and losing weight is my absolute dream!!
The problem now is that I am slowly putting the weight back on now that my teeth are less sore. It's not a problem for me per say, but has the potential to psychologically mess with a persons self esteem.
"So wait, what you're saying is I look amazing now that I've lost weight? What was I before-- A big fat un-amazing hog of cheese?" Exactly.

In real life, not braces life, when I eat healthy, exercise, and go about my normal routine I plateau at a size 12, 160 pounds. This is normal for me. This has been my normal size and weight since right after high school. This size and weight is where I feel most comfortable in my skin, where I know I'm not over-eating or under-eating or over-exercising or under-exercising: it's right where God intends me to be. However, when I starve myself because of braces, or get huge and pregnant, or eat too much over the holidays my weight goes up and down and changes to fit my growing needs. (Yes, pumpkin pie is a need! ) 

I am happy with my plateau and don't feel that I should put excess energy into trying to be unnaturally smaller than I am. 
So that's why the comments bother me. Just because suddenly I've lost some pounds, I get comments that are potentially supposed to make me feel good, but instead they have the reverse effect. I've written about this before, about how in most cases weight loss compliments are neither appropriate nor helpful. In fact they usually reflect the person's own values about thinness and what their priorities are: being thin equals being more beautiful. more lovable. more healthy. more happy. etc etc.
There's also a lot of people in this world who value being thin over other traits that are far more meaningful like humility, kindness, Godliness, love, tolerance, and acceptance. I won't lie, I've been there before.
But I tell ya what, the shape and size of a body isn't going to have the long term affects we all wish for. After we're dead and gone people aren't going to say,"Gosh, we're sure going to miss her lean legs and rock hard abs." Nope:, they're going to miss the virtues that made us lovable, likable, and a decent contribution to society. This is something I've been thinking a lot about as I see a world where people really struggle with their self worth. Self worth is something I have struggled with and I think most people question at some point in their lives. Am I pretty enough? Smart enough? Important enough? Is what I'm doing with my life going to make a difference in the world?

Well I think the answer is pretty simple. You are valuable, worthwhile, beautiful, and significant because you are simply a human being. By some miracle of the universe, or nature, or science, or God, or whatever your beliefs may be, you arrived here on planet earth and that is enough to make you amazing. People are amazing.
If we could just step outside of this human experience for a second and see things operating from a much grander scale (like maybe outer-space) we would see this race of people living, breathing, walking, eating, playing, loving, and simply existing to rise with the sun day by day. This is miraculous in itself and I don't think it's fair to put other values on a persons life....i.e. You are only important if you are healthy. You are only beautiful if you are thin. You are only smart if you make a lot of money. You are only worthwhile if you are talented. You are only valuable if you believe in God.... and on and on.

All people have value simply because they are people.
I'm becoming more aware of this fact as I grow into a less selfish person.
This way of thinking is  probably not enough to end the epidemic of low self worth in the this world, but it's enough for me to wake up and love my neighbor. And It's enough for me to find joy and happiness in staying home to raise my children. It's enough for me to put down my Smart phone and play with my little boys because they need me. And it's enough for me to accept those who hate me and tolerate those who piss me off. It's enough for me to see the eternal perspective of life and how the most important thing to do is to accept those different from me. Just as God wants me to do.

So I'm not going to worry about lean legs, rock hard abs, or even if people find me all that like able. What is important is that I find value in myself simply for who I am, love myself, and know that I am amazing no matter what size my pants are. In other words, I am trying to be happy here on my plateau so stop messing with me. :)

Last thought: I really like this response from Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) to the folks criticizing her for not looking like the same person in the current Star Wars movie as she did 32 years ago. Fisher has been the subject of online body-shaming and hateful social media posts following the opening film. She responded with her own tweets:

Love her!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Things that made me happy today

Things that made me happy today:

*Driving past my children's school today and seeing my eldest son out on the playground laughing and playing with his friends. I pulled over on the side of the road just to spy on him for a few minutes and watch him jump all over the place with this silly grin on his face.  He was clearly enjoying himself and that made me very happy to see!
This year hasn't been as rewarding as was last year for him. He doesn't love his teacher as much and there's a few kids at his school that really bother him. He is emotionally sensitive in nature so even if the bothersome kids aren't bothering him directly, he still comes home feeling bothered. So, I love it when I see him feeling happy and excited about life. When Z-boy is happy and excited about life, the whole world will know it! He lights up a room! He lights up an entire recess field enough for me to stop and watch him shine.
Z-boy shining bright at home with his brothers

*Micah took Odin ice-skating after school today, just the two of them. Odin loves ice-skating. I took both the big boys on Saturday and watched as Odin went around the rink 67 times (he counted) real fast, non-stop. Today when he went with his dad he said that he was faster than these three teenager girls that he kept passing by on the rink, over and over. And everytime he passed them one of them said to him,"I like your hair!" He came home grinning from ear to ear.
Saturday's trip to the ice rink

*This little monkey. He makes me happy every single day. He is almost 18 months old. He goes to nursery on Sundays all by himself. He loves marbles and bubbles and balls and tackling his big brothers. He hates brushing his teeth, but loves eating the toothpaste.

**Looking at this little picture Jonah drew for me below. He came up to me with this picture in his hand and said excitedly,"Here Mom, this is for you! Do you know why it has heart balloons on it?"
No, I don't! I said.
"Because I love you!" he said!!
My heart just about melted into teeny tiny heart-shaped-balloons. If you know Jonah you know he doesn't share his emotions very often or very strongly. He's told me he loves me maybe once in his entire five year old lifetime. I will keep this picture forever and ever!

Today was a happy day! I have four children that make me happy every single day.

Lastly, here's a picture of my big bracey smile. I'm finally starting to feel like a normal person. I even ate my favorite pistachio nuts on Christmas and didn't die from tooth pain. I am embracing the braces and embracing all the good, happy things in my life. I have a lot to be grateful for!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

Oh my! It's the end of 2015 and I only wrote 30 blog posts this past year! I am officially fired from blogging!
 I really love sitting down to write on my blog and miss it like crazy, yet every.single.time I sat down to write this past year I was interrupted by something else. No joke! Whether it was a completely blank mind, guilt for not playing with my 5 year old, remembering I was supposed to pay a bill, answering an urgent breastfeeding question, returning a friend's text, or getting kicked in the hands by my nursing toddler, I just kept getting interrupted at the keyboard. So, I gave up.  I gave up and moved onto other things like painting rooms in my house blue and green and yellow, reading novels recommended by my book club, running lots of miles, baking lots of pumpkin pies, playing Go Fish with my 5 year old for the 100th time, driving kids to and from school, preparing lunches and snacks, helping moms with boob questions, and making sure my toddler had my full attention while breastfeeding him (how he likes it!). So my life has been very full, however, I really miss writing and realize there has been an empty void in my life from the lack of it.

My goal for 2016 is to write more. Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors and writing enthusiasts says that sometimes all you have to do to reach your writing goal for the day (if you otherwise think you are too busy) is to sit down and make your fingers move. Just make them move and see what happens. We might think in our heads that we just don't have time to write and then that never-ending list of other important things pops into our minds. Suddenly writing isn't important anymore! But the truth is, that list will never go away and if we're going to write, we need to just sit down and make the time. Another suggestion she makes is to make the goal to write something that will fit inside of a one inch by one inch picture frame. It's such a tiny goal, but if we can just sit down and fill up that frame, sometimes that's enough to get our minds going. She even has a little one inch by one inch picture frame sitting on her desk to remind her to reach that goal. I might have to get one someday.
My problem as of lately has been feeling like if I'm sitting down writing then I am neglecting __________ (fill in the blank with whatever person, chore, responsibility, child, future dish that needs to be washed). The guilt this past year has been too much so I've avoided my computer and tried to be more responsible. But, as I've found out, my soul has suffred. My writing soul has been suffocating and yearns to get back out from it's dark hole. I need to jump out into the light and write, write, write.
Studies show that people who (love to write) are happier, feel more satisfied with their lives, feel more fulfillment and accomplishment on a daily basis, and find more joy in the day to day mundane things of life. I just made all of that up, but I'm pretty sure it could be true. Also it's probably true because I say it's true for me, and I've experienced all of that when I am free to write. 

My other goal for 2016 is to not only write, but to write more passionately. It's been safer to stay in the shadows on some subjects, but I'm not a stay in the shadows type of girl. I can be a strong voice when I want to be and I think it's important for me to be more authentic with myself on what I believe to be true and right and good. There's a lot of freaky, trolley, creepy, and shmutty people voicing their opinions on the internet, why can't I be one of them? Just kidding. What I mean is that I want to be a force for goodness, light, and positive influence on the world around me. Sometimes the internet really scares me and makes me want to go hide in a hole and never come out or show my true identity to the world. But on the other hand, if everyone did that the world would be left with only the creepy creepers. I hope to share more in an effort to put something good into the world. Even if it's only on this little space, in this little corner, on this little blog, that my mother mostly reads. Sometimes.

Happy 2016 and may all your wishes come true.
(If wishes were fishes we'd live in the sea,
munching on seaweed as glad as can be)

Oh, and here's my year in review of a few things I can remember I/we did:
**I started running up my favorite hill
**Flew to Seattle Washington with my two little ones to see my mom and siblings
**Threw a HUGE fundraiser yard sale for my LLL group and raised over $800 selling people's used stuff.
**Micah cut down the big Pine trees out front and planted fruit trees
**Camped at Zion NP
**My Dad came to visit. We went to Bryce Canyon National Park
**Watched as my eldest little boy went backpacking with his Dad for the first time, for 4 days.
**Started and quit Crossfit (knee injury, sucky gym-daycare)
**Three week roadtrip to Joshua Tree Park, Sequoia Park, and Malibu Beach
**Our baby M turned one years old!
**Went to Oahu for ten days 
**Tried to get rid of our dogs three different times with no luck
**The boys started piano lessons and got really good at it
**My sister Leilani and niece Waimea came to visit from Oregon
**Trained with Lacey for a half marathon then neither of us ran in it.
**Sent my middle baby Jonah to Kindergarten.
**Got my very first bike trailer to stick my little kids in so I could ride my bike more
**Started working for AYUSA as a community representative
**Read 16 novels 
**Got braces and a palatal expander in my mouth. Getting surgery in 2016.
**Celebrated eleven years of marriage to my favorite guy

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The la la la la Laundry game!

This is how our downstairs hallway looks 99% of the time. This is the clean laundry that comes out of the dryer and is then thrown into heaps onto the hallway carpet. Yes we own laundry baskets and yes the clean clothes often start out in them...... until they are dumped out, picked through, and shuffled through in hasty attempts to find those favorite shorts or missing socks! Hence, the permanent laundry mound:

I'm finally getting used to this permanent mound in the downstairs hallway. At first it was irritating: a constant source of annoyance and stress as well as a reminder that I can never keep up with housework for as long as I live: Of course I'd rather have my four children than a hallway free of laundry mounds-- its just a pity the two can't coexist.

So now I've turned our laundry mound into a bit of a game where once a week on either Wednesday or Saturday, depending on how high the mountain is, we put the laundry away in a fun way!

Here's how we play:
First we blast music (totally necessary). Usually Weird Al's latest hits or Cousin Waimea's birthday party mix.
Then I sit on one end of the mound while all 3 older boys sit on the other end.
Next I start tossing clothes at their heads in the air while shouting out who they belong to. The person whom it belongs to has to catch it and put it into their pile.
At the end when all the clothes are gone from the pile, everybody puts their clothes away.
Lastly we fold towels and sheets, put away dish rags, and match socks. 

And that's the laundry-put-away-game.

It's pretty fun most of the time except for when one of the boys is in a grumpy mood-then it's pure crankiness and annoyance and everyone puts away their laundry mad.
But that doesn't happen too often. Most of the time it's loud, hysterical, and filled with fun mischief-like when Zadok and Odin start wrestling each other into the walls, or when Jonah is laughing the entire time and trying to catch Zadok's clothes before he can get to them.

I miss not having a clothing line. One of my favorite pastimes in the world is hanging clothing out in the sunshine! But, it hasn't worked out so far in this house to have one. Maybe for the better since I have four children now and more work to do, plus the washing machine is all the way downstairs and lastly, it's cold, snowy, and rainy a lot of the year. Excuses, excuses.....
Maybe I'll get a summer clothing line someday when my littlest isn't so little anymore and my arms are more free.... We'll see.

Okay, It's time for me to get back to my laundry pile. After all, laundry is my life.

(I think it's funny that I've written about laundry before:
here and here and here)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Porn KIlls

I had a chance to sit down with a teenager of 17 years old recently to talk about his porn watching habit. I wanted to help him to overcome his constant urge to seek out X-rated adult websites that are destroying his mind and soul. He has so much greatness happening in his life, why does he feel he needs to watch porn? When did it start and why does it continue?
His answer was simple: He was a young boy about 10 years old playing computer games one day when commercials popped up on the side advertising naked women. He was curious so he clicked on the ad for the website. The images surprised him but also excited him in many unfamiliar ways. He didn't really know why he liked looking at these images, but he did. Everytime after that whenever he was playing computer games he would also look for those websites. 
Then each time after that he would search deeper and deeper into the net and find more and more websites full of pornography and adult themes. He had to hide it from his family because he knew his mom would not be happy with him, so he started playing computer games more privately. Soon his porn-watching habit became addictive and he couldn't stop. Everytime he played computer games he found he was clicking through endless websites of pornography. He soon found that when he wasn't on the computer, all he could think about was getting back onto the computer so he could look some more. These images began to take over his mind and force him into addictive habits of secrecy, lying, and sneaking around his family and friends. His mind became consumed with seeking out more and more pornography websites, images, and videos to satisfy his cravings to the point that he couldn't focus on much else. His grades started dropping, his social life  lacking, his family relations  strained, and he spends most of his time in his room feeling depressed. This is what pornography is doing to him, all because he clicked on the wrong  website at 10 years old. 

I had the opportunity to talk with this young man because I wanted to know how I could help. I wanted him to know that his secret is out and there was no more hiding from it anymore. I also wanted him to know that it is not too late to change direction, get help, and live a happy life free from addictive habits. 

We live now in a day and age where choosing to watch porn is not just a choice in morals, it's becoming a public health issue. Poeple are getting sick from watching porn. Before the Internet generation, one could either choose to buy playboy or subscribe to the playboy channel or other adult related content, but now we live in a world where we have access to pornography at the click of a button.  That includes children.
Current public health research shows that viewing pornography at a young age can lead to  sexual violence, mistrust in relationships, confusion in relationships, confusion about sexual intimacy and love, low sex drive, loneliness and depression.  The porn industry loves to market their products as glamorous and exciting but behind the scenes we know that the porn industry supports human sex trafficking, abuse, enslavement, and the demoralization and dehumanization of young girls. 
It's basically disgusting and evil and I will do anything in the world the prevent my children from ever watching it. 
There's a pretty amazing website called Fight the New Drug,  who's mission is the educate people about the harmful effects of watching pornography. They supply facts, information, and helpful resources for recovering from addiction, as well as helping families with prevention in their homes. Their popular motto is PORN KILLS LOVE. I purchased a T-shirt last year and wear it proudly.

Our Young Men's Stake President spoke in church one Sunday and gave an analogy that I thought was really helpful in helping parents understand how dangerous the temptations of pornography are to teenagers. He said to imagine that your child has a stack of magazines in his or her room, everything from sports magazines to gaming magazines to cooking magazines to favorite music, movies, games, and even craft magazines. All these magazines are stacked up next to his/her bed and available for him/her to read anytime he/she wants. But, also inside this stack of magazines is a pornography magazine, full of sexual, abusive, and disgusting images. You go to bed hoping your child doesn't pick that magazine up and look at those pictures, yet you're not sure if he will since it is in the same stack as his favorite sports and cooking magazines. 
He went on to explain that we have to do more than just hope they don't pick up the magazine. With the use of Smartphones and handheld devices our children have this metaphorical stack of magazines with them at all times! They have 24/7 access to anything they want to find out or view on the web! So what prevents them from clicking on the porn websites if it's just as easy as clicking on their favorite gaming or sports website? In the privacy of their bedrooms what prevents a child from either a.) accidentally picking up the porn magazine, or b.) finally giving into tempation and looking at it...maybe even with his friends.
The answer is parental supervision, parental involvement, and parental prevention. We have to be the ones to educate our children about why they don't want to pick up and look at that magazine; how viewing those images has the potential to damage their lives and effect them negatively for years to come; how pornography is more addciting than cocaine: how they have to make the daily choice to NOT  pick up that magazine when mom and dad aren't around. 
He said that each family will decide what is best for them, but for him and his wife they decided to take away phones at night and give them back in the morning. That way their kids don't have unsupervised access to the web. Many temptations arise when kids are left alone in their rooms on the net. He also suggested making Internet time in the home a public place in the house where everyone can be seen and heard on their devices. There can't be any sneaking around or secrecy that way. Other families might choose to put strong parental blocks and filters on their Internet systems. All families should educate.
So what happens if your child has already been exposed to pornography? Don't feel bad. Don't beat yourself up. Move on and try to get the help you need. For some this might be counseling, a spiritual blessing, a talk with a trusted  friend, a new beginning in how you will manage things in your home.  Open and honest communication about this is needed. This Internet generation is a new era for so many of us and I'm sure with prayer we can be led to know how to handle these situations as they arise. Through God all things are possible.

I am going over to talk with this 17 year old friend later this week about what he's learned. I let him borrow the book,"Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Todays Young Kids."  I'm hoping that he's learned a bit more about the cycle of addiction, about what pornography is doing to his mind, and hopefully the most about how he can get out of it.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Braces update

I got my braces on 2 weeks and 2 days ago and I can finally eat solid foods again. I wasn't sure there for awhile if I'd ever eat a sandwhich ever again, but I did! I had to cut it into 20 tiny pieces, but I managed to chew it up without being in too much pain and agony.
I also found this helpful video online which explains what is going to happen to me in 6 months when I get the surgery to extract my hidden canine. It's pretty fascinating, I think:

The only thing different with my situation  that they didn't show in the video is that they will be removing my baby tooth after making room for the larger tooth to come down. Exciting!!
Scary!! I'm a wee bit nervous. 
All this is still so surreal to me. As I'm running around town and doing my errands and regular mom stuff I'll forget I have my braces on until I try to talk. Then I hear myself slurring my S's and stuttering over my "Kn" sounds, and suddenly I remember that I have these awkward metal things stuck to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. It makes me feel depressed and wish this lame two years was over already. My orthodontist says it could take up to five years to convince that tooth to come down, but I'm staying optimistic and sticking with two. I really hope I get to the point where I dodn't even notice they're there and can resume a normal life.

On another happier note, one of my favorite concoctions I've been making while on the soft foods diet is Pumpkin Smoothies. My husband grew some pretty awesome pumpkins in the garden this year, which I then process into puree for pies, muffins, and smoothies. Here it is for future reference:

Sally's Pumpkin Soy Smoothie for Owie Teeth

1 1/2 cups vanilla soymilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large handful fresh spinach
1 sweet banana
2 teaspoons Stevia
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Blend til smooth, rich, and creamy.

The End

Friday, November 13, 2015

Eleventh Anniversary Thoughts

My husband and I celebrated eleven years of marriage yesterday. It doesn't feel like we've been married that long, but we've got eleven years worth of memories to prove it! Last night at dinner  he was reminding me of all the different things we've been through these past years,  from all the jobs to moving around from state to state to having children to funny little moments that I'd forgotten about. 
It was just the two of us for a dinner and movie date so I really got to listen to him and look him in the eyes. It was in that moment that I felt so completely grateful to have this man to spend my entire life with. To be able to look over at someone who has shared all these memories with me,  and to know that we are in this life together, brought me so much comfort and joy. I  feel so blessed to have a companion to live with, togrow with, and to share my life with. I am so grateful to be married. 

I imagine that it only gets even better from here as our children grow older and we continue to grow closer. I hope Micah knows how much I love him and appreciate him in our lives together. I'm not always the best at showing my appreciation, or being romantic, and I'm coming to find that I'm a terrible gift giver, but in my heart I am completely loyal, dedicated, and forever in love with my husband. One of my greatest achievements in life was finding and marrying him and seeing our love grow through all the hardships we've faced over the years. My marriage has proven to me again and again of God's love for me and His plans to magnify me in my life. Marriage is truly a gift from God.
Thank you, Micah, for being my husband forever and ever. 

Here's my facebook post from yesterday, just for the record:
"11 years of marriage today to my wonderful husband. I love you so so so much and can't imagine my life without you in it!! You are the the cream cheese to my bagel, the flower to my cactus, the lid to my chapstick, the plug to my bath, the fabric softener to my laundry, the sprinkles on my donut...You complete me in every way possible."

And here's a picture: This photo was taken partway up Mt. Timpanogas on the day Micah officially proposed to me. He set the timer on his camera and it snapped right as he asked me to marry him. It was a very surreal moment for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Facebook fast fail

I failed miserably at my facebook fast: I only lasted 10 days. I got sucked back in at Halloween because let's face it, seeing everyone's Halloween posts is my favorite part of the whole year!! But, I'm not going to count this off as a failure, because it accomplished exactly what I needed it to accomplish. I took a break, reestablished my priorities, and came back with a fresh perspective. 
I actually do this a lot, and I think it's a healthy and productive thing to do. It would be too dramatic and unnecessary for me to quit facebook all together, and I now I know I can't go forty whole days without it, so I'm going to write this off as a win for knowing myself so well that I can set limits and boundaries that even I can live with. 
Forty days is a really long time. Why did I choose forty days? Probably first because I like alliteration (facebook fast both start with f!) and also because I read the scriptures a lot and I figured if Christ can go without food and water for forty days, then I should be able to go without social media! But alas, I can't. It's too much of an important and crucial part of my social life. And I probably couldn't go without food and water for that long, either. I'm just a pansy all around.
Here's to coming back to facebook a much more balanced person, and for liking facebook so much that I can't even be away from it for 10 days.
And here's a picture of a cute toddler seeing snow for the first time. His exclamation was so happy, I wish I could've recorded it!" "Goohooowahahaha!" or something sounding like that.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sweet baby boy

I took my two older boys to see a play tonight and left this little one at home with his dad and five year old brother. Towards the end of the night I received a text from my husband saying that he was fussy and tired and looking for me. As soon as I got home he greeted me with the biggest smile. He also started making the sign for wanting milkies so we went downstairs and cuddled in bed. He latched on and fell asleep within seconds. The look on his face was pure contentment and peace to be in his mamas arms.
I laid there for awhile and played with his curly hair and nuzzled his little cheeks and felt pure love wash over me.
I love this fourth baby boy. I can't imagine what our lives would be without him. He is my little love. My sweet baby boy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Wonky Tooth Needs Fixin'

I got braces on my teeth two days ago. It's still freaking me out. When they first put them on in the orthodontist's office and I went to the bathroom, I was mortified at what I saw: there was my normal face, but then when I opened my mouth there were these shiny, metal brackets attacking my inncoent, white teeth. It reminded me of a horror movie or something. I wanted to cry but I didn't want to deal with any sympathy from the nurses. I have to wear these braces for 2 years, so I'd better just think positive because these metal parasites aren't going anywhere anytime soon!
For those who might be curious about why I am wearing braces at 36 years old, here is the story of my tooth: When I was a little girl and all my baby teeth were getting pushed out and adult teeth coming in, one of my baby teeth didn't fall out. This is because the adult tooth got impacted at a 45 degree angle in my upper gums. Everytime I went to the dentist and they showed me the X-ray we could see the adult tooth stuck up in there. 
The dentists told us that sooner or later that baby tooth would rot because baby teeth don't last forever. (Did you know that is a fact that baby teeth don't last forever?) Most of my dentists (I've had a dozen different ones as I've moved around so much) mentioned it everytime I went in for a checkup that someday I would have to get that taken care of! But, for whatever reason it kept getting ignored and pushed aside as I got older and older. So although we knew that day would come that my baby tooth would rot and I would need to get the adult tooth yanked down, it just never happened, until now. My baby tooth is not quite rotten yet, but it is starting to turn brown and deteriorate. Because of my age my bones are denser and harder and the process is substantially more difficult to go through. If I had done it 25 years go it would have been a simple procedure, but because I am older and my roots are more cemented, I have to have braces, an expander, and an oral surgeon to help remove the baby tooth and extract the impacted adult tooth. It's a long, painful process, and something I didn't expect at this time in life--but hey--life is full of unexpected surprises. This morning I went back in to get the expander cememnted into the roof of my mouth just to add insult to injury because with the new braces, my sore, painful teeth, and the fact that I can only eat liquids, it just wasn't enough. haha. 
The expander will help expand the bones in the roof of my mouth to make room for my new tooth. It's freaking me out also. I feel like a robot. I have to use this small, metal key and insert it into the expander every night and twist it two times to the left before bed.

I'm trying not to complain because this is going to help my overall health and well being in the long run. I should feel grateful that I live in a country that has these resources to help my mouth survive. Instead of braces and surgery I could have a rotten, infected tooth in it's place. I guess two years isn't so bad. I just have to get used to eating, cleaning, and talking, and also used to being sore once a month when I go back in to get them tightened.
I'm also feeling a little more creative with the things I can eat. The first day all I could think of was smoothies, then today I ate a pumpkin-spinach-banana-soy smoothie, pureed vegetable soup, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoe muffins soaked in whole milk eaten with a spoon. I won't be on an all-liquid diet forever, just until my teeth stop hurting. I'm not really sure when that will be, but hopefully soon.

It bothers me a little that some people think I got these braces on to straighten my teeth out. I've already received comments like, "Why braces? I thought you already had straight teeth." I wouldn't choose these braces for three reasons:
#1. Because my teeth were straight enough for me. #2. Because I'm not sadistic. I wouldn't put myself through this misery for the sake of vanity. And #3. I'm too old for braces. There's a reason I look 13 in that photo below: because 13 year olds have braces, not 36 year olds. haha. Except for me because I have a wonky tooth that needs fixin.

Here's an X-ray of my teeth. You can see the impacted tooth in my top gums on the right. It's going to see daylight for the first time ever in about 6 months! Those white patches are cavities that have been filled in. Aren't teeth exciting?

Here's me, in all my braces and glory. My friends and family say I look 13 again. Wouldn't that be fun?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Week the busiest week!

A wizard, an orange guy, a red Power Ranger and a bag of jelly beans and friends! That's what 2015 Halloween is made of! It's only Wednesday and already the festivities have begun! Halloween is always a busy time but one of the funnest in terms of getting pumped, planning costumes, sewing costumes (I learned how to make wizard robes this year), carving pumpkins, decorating the home, going to parties, and feeling the exciting spirit that is Halloween!
I love all of it and love celebrating with my children!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This world needs good babysitters

We've been super blessed in our lives to have a babysitter we can trust and who loves our children. I suppose this is something I've always wished and prayed for, and now I can see that my prayers have been answered because we have Emily. 
Our first day at our new church here in Cedar City, this tall teenage girl with braces and big smile walks right up to our family and says,"I want to babysit your boys! They are so cute!"
And the rest is history.

My husband and I aren't huge party animals, but we like to get out on dates at least 1-2 times a month. We like to go to exotic restaurants like Thai or Indian with non-kid friendly foods  and have a space of peace and quiet for 2-3 hours to ourselves to talk and recharge our tired brains. We like to go to our Temple together to worship, relax, do important work, and connect on a higher, more spiritual plane. 
Now that our baby is 15 months old, I finally feel comfortable leaving him for more than an hour. It takes a long time for me to be able to go on a date without my nursing baby. Right now we are at a really comfortable, happy place with that and it's been fun to have my husband all to myself.

I'm just really, really grateful for a good babysitter. I talk with other moms who don't leave their children with anyone because they don't have anyone they trust. One of the biggest concerns out there nowadays is that moms and dads don't want to leave their precious children with someone who is on their phone the whole time. To have a teenager come babysit, only to have them texting, talking, gaming or surfing the web, is unacceptable to me. 
The ideal babysitter will give your children attention, play with them, read them stories, care for their needs, and entertain them while you are away. This is the type of babysitter I was as a teenager, and this is what I expect from my sitter.
We need good babysitters in this world! Good babysitters become good mothers. Good mothers teach their teenagers not to fiddle with their phones constantly while they are babysitting. 
I am grateful for this family that fell into our lives. I am grateful for all the Emily's out there that allow us parents to leave home for a few hours with the peace and reassurance that our kids are in good hands. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Forty Day Facebook Fasting

Are you:
Feeling scatterbrained and cluttered in your mind? Losing and misplacing things constantly? Feeling a slight spiritual void in your heart? Feeling disconnected from real relationships and friends? Feeling distracted from your family? Feeling anxiety over too many responsibilities and too many things to keep track of? Are you forgetting to do simple things like pick up your child from school? (yes, this happened.)

**This may be a result of facebook overload. 

Join me in fasting from Facebook for forty days as we clear our hearts and minds from excessive images and thoughts from social media that get in the way of real life. Don't get me wrong, I love facebook and the opportunities it allows for us to connect, share, and respond to one anothers needs. There is nothing wrong with being a  part of a large community of people that you care for! In fact, many blessings have come from being involved with my facebook tribe. However, I know deep down in my heart that when I feel like the above, I've been overdoing it and it's time for a facebook fast.

Here's a little chart I made to mark off as I go and keep me on track. Notice that I get a TREAT every 10 days. That's to keep me motivated! Treats can come in the form of pedicures, a new outfit, something pretty for my room, a new can of paint, or a pint of my favorite Ben n' Jerry's ice-cream. 
Be creative and award yourself for staying true to your commitments!
I am starting tomorrow! Who's in with me?

**Disclaimer: Because facebook is more than just socializing, I will still respond to private inbox messages. I will also continue to post events and reminders to the groups I am in charge of: (my Breastfeeding support group, Cub Scouts group, and Church group). I do not think maintaining my groups is contributing to my craziness and I need to be available to those communities.)