Friday, March 25, 2016

Pray+God+People= all the answers I need

My life is super busy, as it should be with four kids.....but lately my husband and I have both been feeling so drained and burnt out that getting up in the morning to meet the days demands has been a real struggle. --Lots of tears and feelings of resistance to the normal everyday events like washing the sheets every morning for a child that wets the bed, or making special meals each day for the child that just won't eat, or making extra time for the child that needs more attention....and on and on.
So I do what I know best and I pray for help: Help in any form will do. And guess what? help comes in the form of people who feel inspired to do a little extra, to show up, give a little more, and make things happen. I.e... the La Leche Leaders who are helping on my breastfeeding Facebook page, the breastfeeding moms who are helping each other, my Cub Scout Leaders that are doing their jobs, the neighbor girls that come walk our dogs just for fun, the soccer parents who stepped up last minute to coach my son's team, the Kindergarten teacher who loves my son even though we always forget to do the weekly homework, and the kind lady at Great Harvest Bread Company who gave my picky picky son an extra free slice of cinnamon chip bread because he loved it so much. 

All these blessings add up; some big, some small, but they've made my burdens feel lighter this week. 

God is amazing. Prayer is amazing. People are amazing. I can do this!

He loves the cat but does the cat love him?
My Cedar City drift-wood and California seashells Mobile
It's officially skirt-season
never too old for an airplane ride

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saints and Sisters...A Tribe for LDS Women

want to share something that is very special to me— even sacred to my heart.
A couple months ago my friend Wendy started a new group for LDS Sisters on a new social media platform called Tribalry. She invited me to join. At first I wasn't interested nor excited about it. I'm already on Facebook and that's all the social media I have time for, I thought. But this felt different. As I looked into it more I not only knew in my heart that I wanted to join, but I knew in my heart that I needed to join.
So I did.

Saints and Sisters has become a place where I can share my true self as an LDS woman and dedicated disciple of Christ, in a loving and deeply personal environment. As I've gotten to know many of the other sisters on the forum, I can't help but feel a deep connection with them, something I've never felt on any other spiritually-related-online group! I also feel that Saints and Sisters is a refuge from the world; it is a place where I can safely share my gospel views and opinions without the bombardment of haters or negative naysayers, which are so prevalent on other platforms out there. (There are no Facebook trolls on this group, waiting to pounce and denounce the beliefs I hold so dear to my heart.)

Saints and Sisters shares weekly posts with uplifting spiritual content. The content is created from the genuine thoughts, experiences, and insights of a diverse group of LDS sisters. (I am a bi-monthly contributor, which has been a huge blessing in my life!)
To me, this forum is much like being in a Relief Society meeting with all your favorite, most inspiring friends, whilst discussing the things that mean the most to our hearts. 
The spirit is radiating! The content is inspirational! The feelings I get when I read these heartfelt stories of  hope, happiness, perseverance, and faith from women who share my faith helps me feel my own confidence and worth in this world. 
Lastly, I can feel God's hand in this online group. It was created from the humble and thoughtful desires of one woman's hope to connect LDS women across the world, in unity and purpose of Christ.

I am so grateful to be a part of Saints and Sisters. I eagerly invite all my LDS Sisters to join, participate, belong, and feel the love wherever you may be in your spiritual journey.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Snowboarding Self-Care

I took myself snowboarding two Saturdays ago on one of the best selfie dates I've had in a long time! I spent 6 glorious hours in the mountains carving turns, bombing down big hills, and launching myself off of ski-lifts to my own hearts content! Just me, myself, and I. No one whatsoever to stop me or slow me down!
I spent the entire day moving tirelessly as I explored every run and every inch of that mountain. My heart was exploding with happiness! By one o'clock I didn't want to even stop for lunch, yet I had to because my body needed nourishment to keep going, then I was back up on the mountain again to explore and carve and smile and just be me.

I needed a date with myself! I enjoy hanging out with myself! I don't get to hang out with me too often as I live with 5 other people, 4 of them who are like little appendages. Most of my days are spent feeding them, cleaning them, wiping them, teaching them, and worrying about them.
But up on the mountain it was just me. 
My arms were free, my mind was free, and my spirit was soaring!

I learned to snowboard as a teenager. One spring break I flew to California with my best friend and her family. They took me snowboarding up in Mammoth Mountain for my first time and even paid for me to take lessons. I loved it so much and couldn't wait for the next day to bomb down that mountain with all my new found skills! Unfortunately, my friend didn't love it. In fact the next day she took the money her dad gave her for snowboarding, found some guys selling weed, and smoked marijuana all day with the local potheads. I, on the other hand, spent one of the most exhilarating and rewarding days of my life navigating through the runs and lifts of Mammoth! Sure I was all alone, but I didn't care one bit. I found snowboarding to be just the right amount of challenge and excitement to keep me busy and happy all day. 
Having grown up with the solitary sport of surfing and spending many days out in the ocean alone, I was used to the peace and quiet that often accompanies me on my adventures. 
I picked up snowboarding again in college when I moved to Utah in 2002. My student loans helped pay for a season pass to Sundance, as well as new snowboarding equipment. I spent many Saturdays alone (or with my friend Reo) carving and sweeping down the slopes of Sundance! 

The only problem I discovered with snowboarding is that although it's wonderful in it's own regard, it can't replace surfing. Surfing is...surfing. 
To quote one of my favorite bumper stickers: "Only a surfer knows the feeling"
But, that doesn't negate the fact that I sure had some really fun adventures snowboarding in Utah in my college years! There was Powder Mountain with Shannon and her family, BrianHead with Pepper and Ricki, Brighton with those girls that I forgot all their names, and of course Sundance with myself or Reo.

The last time I went snowboarding was right after Micah and I were married. We thought it would be fun to go to Sundance together, but after several runs Micah sprained his ankle. It was  a sad day. :(  Micah spent many weeks on crutches and unemployed. It was not the brightest beginning to our marriage, either, which led to me selling my snowboarding gear and moving on from that sport.
That was eleven years ago and the last time I went snowboarding, until 2 weeks ago.

I'm so glad I got the opportunity to get back out there. Getting alone time to recharge as a busy mother is absolutely essential. Usually I get an hour or two here or there, so this six hour stretch was pretty unusual, but very much needed. I came back recharged, inspired, relaxed, excited, exhilirated, happier, and armed with some new perspectives on life. All that time to think to myself helped me think these following things:
--Good, wholesome recreation is absolutely crucial to my sanity and well-being.
--I want to share my love for the outdoors with my children always.
--I want my kids to learn to snowboard (ski-lessons next winter?)
--This cold, snowy place we live isn't so awful in the winter, afterall.
--There is a pretty fun and lively sub-culture of ski-people here that I never knew existed. 
--If I can't surf, at least I've got snowboarding.
--I want to ensure I'm always this active and healthy in my life.
--I am a mom, but I am still me.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Haha Just kidding. I'm still here.

Don't you just LOVE big, dramatic exits followed by "ahhhh, nevermind." I've decided that changing our minds, our hearts, and our directions is just part of life. It's the flexible, open-minded part of life that isn't black and white, but instead a colorful, brilliant opening, willing to accept whatever comes our way. Even if it means going back a little..... and changing our minds.

I had been feeling pretty confident all week long that my LLL Leader retirement date was set in stone.......
until I had a mom reach out to me asking to help her complete her training
...until I sat in a room full of breastfeeding women and babies and my heart melted all over again
...until I realized that giving up something you love isn't always the answer
...until I saw that by keeping my heart in LLL, I could also make room for other life missions
....until I realized that the group I had worked so hard to create was going to need my continued support until I could pass that support to another's hands.

All of these things are feeling right to me.
Therefore, I am taking back that last marching forth post as I March forth (or tenth, he he) to continuing to be the breastfeeding support advocate I feel strongly is still running through my veins. 
For as long as I need to be.
And here's more nursing photos, just because:

Photo credit goes to Raydean Whipple of HeyRay Photography. This is me nursing my 19 month old Malachi, just a week ago. :) 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Marching Forth, 2016

March 4, 2016

Today is one of my favorite and most meaningful days of the year! Maybe because I've already decided this,that fate always has a way of bringing about forward movement and change on this day each year. Today I "March forth" to new horizons and new adventures. After 8 years of service, today is my last day as a La Leche League breastfeeding Leader in my community. I am retiring and making room for other important things in my life. It has been an amazing journey working with this organization. The influence LLL has had on my mothering experience has been huge and unforgettable! I attribute so much knowledge, happiness, understanding, and joy raising and nurturing my four babies, to the concepts and philosophies I've learned from LLL. This is a bittersweet day for me, yet I continue to March forth and let the winds of change carry me to my next adventure. Thank you God for leading me always.

Here's to "Marching Forth!"

Photo credit goes to Raydean Whipple of HeyRay Photography. This is me nursing my 19 month old Malachi, just a few days ago. :) 

Friday, February 19, 2016

My Motherhood

Last night when I tucked my 9 year old into bed I got under the covers and snuggled up right next to him like I often do. He's always been the most cuddly of my 4 children and I can always tell when he needs an extra cuddle before he falls asleep. It was warm and cozy in his twin bed, with 3 layers of blankets to keep us warm. He wrapped his big boy arms around me tightly, just like he started doing when he was two years old.
He would wrap his little arms around my head and say,"Hold me tighter, mommy!" And then I'd respond,"I am!" Even though he was the one holding me. Then we'd giggle and talk until he fell asleep. Last night we snuggled not quite as tightly, as he began to drift asleep. He woke up briefly to tell me that NASA created a spaceship with twelve thrusters on it to assist the astronauts in working outside the spacecraft, and then he was out like a light. That's my Z-boy: his brain always actively buzzing with a million thoughts and ideas, even until the last flutter of his eyelids close for the night.
I lied there next to him for several more minutes just looking over at his quiet, tender, sweet face. I felt the power of a mother's love surge through me a gazillion times over as I thought about what a gift he is to my life. And also about what a gift each one of my children is to me as well. I thought about how much I love being a mother and how each day I get to be their mother is another day I am blessed beyond words. I never imagined that so much love could exist in a person until I had my own children. It is infinite, eternal, and very real, and I am so grateful each day that I get to do this.

I thought about how much satisfaction it gives me to teach them and care for them. Often times I find myself standing over my children while serving them pancakes for breakfast, or picking out an outfit for my toddler for the day, or discussing with my 7 year old about being kind to the kids at school who are having a hard time, or dropping off my son at Scouts, and I think in my head gratefully, how much I love doing all of this! Being a mother, a nurturer, a teacher, a little-person-organizer, a home manager and an overall example to my kids is the best job in the world. It's the greatest thing I have ever done and the truth is that I find great INTRINSIC JOY in doing it.
I learned that word intrinsic in a recreation leadership college class  and I've loved that word ever since! I learned at the time about the effect of doing things in our lives that bring us pure joy because that is naturally and organically the feelings we feel when we do them!
I believe that motherhood is one of those naturally intrinsic joys in life because that is what it was designed to do: bring us inherent JOY! God designed motherhood to bring us the ultimate feelings of happiness, joy, and satisfaction in our lives. God gave me motherhood because he knew that I would love it beyond anything else I have ever done and will ever do and that is a beautiful gift.

I've looked to other sources of satisfaction over the last 9 (almost 10) years of motherhood. I've found joy in filling my time with other worthy endeavors that seemed useful or important at the time. But those things fade away. I will always be a mother, first. In fact most of the other busy things I have done over the years have only helped enhance my role as mother!
I've also often struggled with feeling adequate enough or appreciated enough in my role as mom. But time and time again I always come back to knowing in my heart that this is what I was born to do. Other responsibilities and opportunities will come and go, and with those things will come other forms of growth and happiness, but being a mother always will be my number one priority in life.

I have four little boys who love and adore me. They need my love. They need my nurturing. They need a mother who is present and aware of all their little concerns and needs as they are learning and navigating through this life. I want to be someone they can depend on, trust, respect, and look up to for as long as they need me. I envision four very independent grown men someday who will go off in the world and do great things....Get educations, serve missions, go on adventures, have careers, meet spouses, have children, and create homes for themselves someday. I want my boys to grow up and find joy and happiness in their lives, too. I want them to know that not once EVER did they inconvenience me in raising them nor did I EVER regret being pregnant, giving birth to them, changing my whole life for them, and being their mother. Sure they will look back and see my weaknesses: the things I struggled with as I was growing along with them, yet they will know for certain that the tears and worries and uncomfortable stretching I experienced in raising them was worth it all in getting to be their mother.

On a side note, my philosophy on little children is that they truly only know as much as you teach them. I mean, they were just recently born into this world, and gosh-- they haven't been here very long at all! Nearly everything they learn and know is picked up from their own family environment. If one of my children is acting badly or misbehaving I believe it is my job to help teach them and correct their behavior. When I heard another mom call one of her small children a selfish jerk my immediate thought was,"Well, then teach them differently and change it! They are only going to know what you tell them, so tell them what they need to know!" Some issues take a long time to learn and change. Don't give up! That "selfish jerk" is watching , learning, and living by your example. (We actually have a child that could be called a selfish jerk from time to time. He is my biggest challenge right now in teaching and re-directing his behaviour. Calling him names isn't going to change anything, however, but more patience,  more love, more together-time, and some behavior modification is!

Anyways, these are just some thoughts I have on being mommy today! I went to a My Motherhood Matters Discussion Group last night in my community which was designed to help strengthen the importance of motherhood in our society. I came home feeling even more validated and happy in what I am doing.
Others might think that being a stay-at-home-mom is lame or boring. Others might not find it as satisfying as I do. That's okay! All that really matters is that I DO, because I am the mama! And I happen to find mothering to be very intrinsically satisfying. ;)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mother of four wakes up from anesthesia, sleep deprived

I am sharing the video footage my 9 year old took yesterday of me coming back from the anasthesia state-of-mind. Yesterday morning  I underwent dental surgery for my wonky tooth problem.  We are waiting in the car while my husband ran into the store. 
This was the very first time I've ever been put to sleep in my 37 years of living! It sure was a trip! I've heard that people say silly things while they are coming back from their anesthesia sleep, yet I wasn't anticipating the extreme disappointment I'd feel upon being woken back up! : "Why did she have to wake me up?" You should never wake up a sleeping person!" 
Perhaps my subconscious-sleep-deprived and drug-induced-mind is speaking the truth for every mother of little ones out there! You should never wake a sleeping mother, even if they are laying  in a facility bed, their time is up, and they are ready to go home after dental surgery. Never.

I shared this video on facebook. The reactions of my friends were priceless. Some laughed with me, some cried with me, but most complimented on how sweet and thoughtful my son was in validating my feelings every step of the way. He really is the best most caring kid. I am so blessed to have him. 

The second video is much shorter where he catches me rambling about people's hair in the parking lot. 


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.