Friday, October 30, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- Mothering Magazine

Today I snuggled in with a cup of Orange Spice tea, a fleece throw, and my favorite magazine...Mothering. I was able to read my whole September/October issue from cover to cover. yea! In my opinion, this is the last parenting magazine you will ever need.

This magazine speaks to me like nothing else. It is about real people, real Mothers, real babies and children, doing what feels most natural and instinctual.

Most parenting magazines are filled with ads and marketing campaigns, trying to persuade the reader to buy things they don't need. I've flipped through "Parenting" magazine several times in a doctors office, and I was appalled by how much marketing and advertising persuades the content of the articles. After reading these articles and glancing at ads, I am left with an uneasy, anxious feeling--overwhelmed by the enormous load I carry as mother, who can't keep up with all the latest parenting trends and products.

Mothering Magazine
isn't about buying more stuff, it's about being Mothers, and doing what feels right. Peruse the pages, and you will find a feeling of happiness and simplicity; a feeling that will empower you to love and nurture your children, like no one else in the world is watching.

The advertisements you find in Mothering are for products designed to bring you closer to your children, and facilitate a healthy lifestyle in your family. To name a few, there are ads for baby slings and carriers, co-sleepers, natural toys, birthing classes, breastfeeding products like Lansinoh, nursing-friendly clothes, and Milk Diapers, natural Menstruation supplies, vitamins, healthy and organic foods, music for children, cloth diapers, herbal remedies, alternative schooling options, and more.
I enjoy looking at the ads, without the pressure of feeling like I need them to be a better mother, or to make happier kids. (however, a Gypsy Mama wrap is on my dream list)

The articles written are amazing, and usually exactly what I need to hear.
I've found strength and solace through reading about families just like me, all over the world, who want to live a natural, simple lifestyle with their children.
You'll find uplifting and inspiring articles on gentle discipline, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, babywearing, truthful vaccination info, crafts and fun things to do, nature walks and exploration, gentle birth choices, breastfeeding research and experiences, whole foods recipes, organic eating, homeschooling, public schooling, fun family activities, working Mothers, stay-at-home Mothers, working Fathers, and stay-at-home Fathers, good and informative book reviews, inexpensive ways to vacation, to eat, to dress, to shop, and to live, to be more environmentally feel good about ourselves as Mothers and Parents, to help our children love and preserve our Earth...and on and on..... Real life.

This magazine makes me happy because in a sense, it is When I am having a hard parenting day it reminds me that I am real. When I am having a great parenting day, I can rejoice with millions of others. When I need a boost or need a like-minded friend, I can pick up a Mothering, and there it is.

The people at Mothering Magazine inspire you to be yourself and listen closely to the true, deep instincts of your heart. That's something we need more of in this world.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- It's Winter!

Totally fine, now. Feeling the Winter spirit! It really helped yesterday to just get out there and embrace the snow; wipe it off my car windows, drive around in it, pull my kids in the sled, throw a few snowballs.
Later in the day we threw a Halloween party for our church girls, and that really made my day. We made Monster cards, did balloon races, listened to spooky music, and ate Hot chocolate and donuts! Mmmmmm Winter, and laughing, silly, happy friends!

Things that made me laugh this week:

*My older brother Joe and his girlfriend and kids live in Tahiti. She is from a small island called Faaite. We were laughing because this island is so small, that when you google search Faaite, his and his girlfriend's pictures pop up. Ha ha! Go see if you can find Joe.

*"When life gives you dilemmas, make dilemonade." (A quote from a facebook friend.)

*Odin not only runs away and screams when I want to change his diaper, he now yells, "Help me! Help me! Help me!", in a loud, shrieking voice.
It always sounds great to whoever is passing by.

*Micah is busily working at his school work, and taking his Praxis in two weeks! The tunnel is getting lighter!

*My aerobics classes are going awesome! Zadok has been content to let me exercise while he plays with his friends. I've really noticed a difference in my mood during the week, just knowing that I get to have that time to myself, and then feeling more motivated to give my all, to my kids, the rest of the time.

*Doing things for other people always makes me happier. Note-to-self: when I am feeling down, sew a mei-Tai and give it away....or something. It really works!

*It's Halloween in 2 days!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winter Sucks

Today is our first day of snow. It is purely white, and soft, and beautiful, and we can see it falling onto our concrete steps through the window of our apartment. I put chairs next to the window so the boys could stand and look up, to see the snow as it falls from the sky. "Ooooh ahhhh--It's snow mama! It's snow! When can we go out and play in it?"

"I don't know," I reply. I know they look out and see a Winter wonderland of possibilities.
When I get up to see the snow falling, I see a cage. It's as if a big, black, ugly cage is falling down and closing up all around me. Its white, soft and tempting flakes welcoome me, yet at the same time seem to be pushing me back, and keeping me in, like a beautiful demon, tricking my soul.

It won't always be like this. As the snow keeps falling all Winter long, I will adjust to it, learn from it, play in it, enjoy the sparkling beauty of it, and have many happy days covered head to toe in pure, white snow.

But for some reason, this first day of snow is really awful.

There's a car down the street that has a bumper sticker that says, "WINTER SUCKS>"

It makes me happy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flashback Friday- It's Halloween again?

I decided about a month ago I wanted to be a witch for Halloween, because I've never been anything spooky. And I like the idea of walking around with a large, warty nose, cackling at my children. However, each time I've tried on my costume, (at Zadok's request,) Odin has freaked out! (I'm not scaring him-he freaks out when I put on a baseball cap any day of the week)
So, we don't know what we're going to be. Zadok is back and forth about a dog, or a Ninja, or Spiderman again. Odin could care less. Micah might paint his face. Is this really important? Yes! I love Halloween! It's always been one of my most favorite celebrations. Why? Because the dramatic actress in me gets to dress up and imagine I am another character for a whole day, using funny accents, fake hair, cheesy lines from movies....and nobody will stare at me funny-- because it's Halloween!

This is Halloween last year.

Spiderman, our friend the BumbleBee, Spongebob and Patrick, at an Elementary school Carnival In Enterprise, UT:

What are you going to be????

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- Snippets

Last year I emailed a dear friend of mine that I have been buds with since I was 16, and vented all these hard things I was going through at the time. Her instant response was, "This is awesome Sally! I was starting to think your life was one, big, Utopia and mine was just constant chaos!" She thanked me for being real and honest about the things that were troubling me. It made me realize that it is important to be honest and open about the hard things in life. We all go through them, and every day is not a happy utopia.

Here's a few snippets of finding happiness in chaos, from my week:

*It was total chaos in the grocery store today with my kids. Kids were whining, crying, clinging, screaming, and I really lost all patience. However, there is always this 30 seconds of happiness after loading groceries in the car, and buckling car seats, where I get to walk the cart back to the store all by myself. I breathe in, breathe out, smile, and feel the sun on my face. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I really enjoy that 30 seconds.

*A good friend of mine dropped a book off at my house while I was gone today, that she thought I would love. When I got home, I got to sit in the car and read it while the boys slept in their carseats. For 45 minutes I laughed, I cried, and I thanked God that she was inspired to bring this book over. It was exactly what I needed today.

*I started going to an aerobics class with some other Moms in my community who want to work out, but don't want to leave their kids. We meet in a church gym, let the kids run around, blast the music, and get a kick-butt workout. My first day was on Tuesday. I got 15 minutes in when my little 3 year old appendage started to attach to me. I was frustrated and angry at first, then reminded myself that I have a very tender-hearted boy who loves me. It may take us a few weeks of sitting on the floor watching, to get him used to this new environment, and sharing Mom, but that's just the way it is.

* My husband bought a motorcycle. It doesn't make me happy, but it makes him happy. To be honest, I am scared out of my mind that he is going to crash, and die, and leave us here all alone. But I love him, and trust him, and I am glad he is riding again. I imagine his longing to ride is comparable to my longing to surf. I hope he has many, many happy rides on his new bike!

*Yesterday the house was so stinkin messy, and I was in such a grouchy mood. So what did we do? We turned on Abba Gold and danced, danced,and danced! I was able to tidy up while doing the running man. The boys would stop mid-rumba to eat Cracker Jacks. And we all lived happily ever after.
Hope you can find happiness amongst the normal chaos of your day!

Monday, October 19, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- These days

Today was an absolutely beautiful, sunny, Autumn day. The wind was so strong that it was blowing all the leaves off of the trees in humungous quantities. As we were coming back from the park, and down our street, we had to stop and stare at this amazing view in front of us!
There were leaves being torn and pulled from every tree lining the street, flying through the air like torpeedos, twirling through the air like wild dancers, charging wrecklessly down the street like castrated bulls, blowing uncontrollably in every direction! It was a phenomenal sight to see, with yellows, oranges, browns and reds, mesmerizing our very eyes!

We decided to follow some of the leaves. They took us on a zig zagging trail, back and forth and down the street, until we came to a small hill, covered with....more leaves!

Zadok and I raked the leaves into large piles. Odin sat in the middle, smiling a big smile. We ran and jumped in those leaves. We rolled in those leaves. We threw those leaves into each others hair. We buried Odin in leaves until all we could see was his big, brown eyes. We three sat there and sang a silly tune,

"If I were a leaf, a leaf, a leaf,
If I were a leaf,
I'd twirl in the air like this!

If I were a leaf, a leaf, a leaf,
If I were a leaf,
I'd blow through the air like this!

If I were a leaf, a leaf, a leaf,
If I were a leaf,
I'd fall to the ground like this!"

We spend our days much like this one; Wandering, exploring, and finding silly things to do. I love my children so much (so much!!!) and I feel so lucky that I get to play with them like this every day. These are the greatest days of my life. We don't need anything special to do, or anything special to buy. Most days we just walk out the door and find a sidewalk to sit on, or a patch of grass to lie in, and there we find happiness, because we are together.
And when Micah gets home, we have the most fun lying on the carpet watching our kids play. I love these days.

Friday, October 16, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- My Man!

I am so extremely proud of him!
He's been working so hard, almost beyond the limits of his ability-

Working away from home most of the week, to come home to his father and husband starved family, only to turn away from us to finish drudging school assignments. Which is, something he absolutely hates to do, but has to force himself to do it, for the welfare of the family.

Pretty soon this nonsense will be all over and he'll have his real job. We can't wait!

It's been a long road, through an often-times very dark tunnel, since he decided to go back to school. It wasn't an easy decision. He was forced to fore go his first career life as a Zookeeper, and his second career life as a free-wheeling wilderness guide, to meet the financial demands of a growing family. It would have been so easy to just do what he already knew he loved to do. I often imagine what our lives would be like, had he accepted that last Zookeeper job he got hired for. We would be living in Central California, in a cozy, little beach town. Our kids would go to the Zoo everyday to see their Papa work. I'd be surfing on my free time. Awwwwww, beach life. But, we knew in our heart of hearts that we were supposed to do something else. When we turned down that job, we did it with such fierce reluctance, that although we knew it was right in every way, we would look back with regrets sometimes, anyways.

Micah in the height of his Zookeeper days.

It takes a lot of courage to jump into the unknown; to leave behind the comforts that you are so used to; to sacrifice yourself and all your time and energy for others. But he has managed to do it.

This week has been a particularly hard one for Micah. He had some serious deadlines to meet, which would determine if he's able to start student teaching on time, like we had planned.
He just informed me that he passed the deadlines, so I am just really, really happy for him---and all of us! Life goes on!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

30 days of Happiness-- Little Girls

I adore them. All 10 of them! When I was asked by my Bishop to take this volunteer job at my church, my first thought was, "I don't have time for this!" But a year later, it is one of the highlights of my life, and something I have somehow found special time for.

We are LDS, which means we are an organized religion. We meet each Sunday in large congregations, we join in classes and discussion groups, learning and teaching about the gospel of Christ. Every single member gives his time in service, which we means we are all asked to volunteer for a job. Nobody gets paid, and nobody gets left out. We are expected to look after one another, following the example of Christ, and through our dedication, we come to realize we love the ones we serve.

My particular job is to facilitate activities of spiritual growth and self achievement for little girls ages 8-11.
Twice a month we meet up and do some sort of activity to help these girls realize how truly amazing they are and the effect they can have in our world. We do service projects, we do cooking and crafts, we play games, we work on hygiene and self-care, we learn new talents and skills, and be really, really silly most of the time! (their rambunctious energy rubs off on me!)

Last year I taught them the Hukilau Hula and we then performed it at a senior center here in town. They loved it, Later on they invited me to watch them all perform for their elementary school talent show.

This past month we built a "diaper" cake for my co-leader who just had a baby.

My little group of girls makes me happy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

30 days of Happiness - Zion

We spent the day at Zion's National Park yesterday, probably for the tenth time since Summer began. It's become a place of refuge and excitement for our family. It seems once we step into the boundaries of the park, we are standing on holy ground, far away from anything distracting and worldly. It's as if we're in our own, magical world.

We spend our days at Zions exploring the river for frogs, climbing the rocks and trees, looking out for wild animal tracks, catching the shuttle from stop to stop, hiking on the trails, and staring endlessly up at the beautiful, majestic mountains.
--And it's only an hour's drive away from our house.

I feel that Zions has become our park. I feel a certain stewardship over her, always ensuring that we follow the rules of conservation and protection.

We've created a sort of tradition as we've been frequenting the park more and more.... First, we park our car at the Visitor's center, then we catch the shuttle (the kid's most favorite experience of all) to the Lodge, next we hike down the path by the Virgin River, then meander down 1/4 mile to the river's edge to stop. There we've found a world of our own to sit and watch deer, wild turkeys, and hoards of frogs, uninterrupted in their natural environment.

Wait, did I say uninterrupted? I guess that is, except when Zadok picks one up and says, "Look, it's Super Fatty Frog!!!"

And our last and latest treasure is the Sol Foods Cafe, right outside the entrance to the park. At the end of a long, adventuresome day at the park, we can sit outside on picnic tables, looking up at our mountains, while eating a whole foods/ vegetarian buffet. So delicious!

Zion's National Park makes me happy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

30 days of Happiness - Pumpkin

Tis the season for my favorite flavor--Pumpkin! I look forward to this every year, and for those that know me closely, I can get quite fanatical about it all. Pumpkin ice-cream. pumpkin fudge, pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin WHATEVER--I will eat it with a huge smile on my face. My dear husband will bring me home a pumpkin shake every once in a while, as the most romantic gesture ever!
Definitely one of the reasons I've come to love the season of Autumn-for the wonderful flavor of that giant, orange squash. (fused with spices and sugar, of course)

Tonight we watched a funny movie and ate Pumpkin ice-cream. And I can honestly say-- It really made me happy. :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

30 days of Happiness - neighbors

It was a beautiful, sunny day today! As my Mom and I were out walking, we stopped by a neighbors house to say hello. They were out in front of their house doing yard work.
I've seen them around town, and seen them in the halls at church, but had never had the chance to really get to know them. After 5 minutes of chatting, we fell in love.

The most down-to-Earth, fun-loving, free- spirited, and genuine couple, they turned out to be! We ended up yakking for quite awhile, until Odin got restless in the stroller. As we walked away, the man stopped and said, "You know, we never have an overage of friends, so please stop by and say hi anytime."

What a wonderful thing to say! It was the kind of thing that makes you feel good all day, and makes you want to spread the friendship around. I feel the exact same way. There is never an overage of friends in my life. I feel that everyone I meet is supposed to be part of my life, in a special and purposeful way.
Meeting these neighbors was a nice reminder to be more genuine, welcoming, and open with everyone I meet.

On another happy note, my Odin's hair is getting fluffier, foofier, and wilder by the day. I absolutely love it! And I recently realized I had the same exact hair as a toddler. It made me laugh! It's fun to see genetic traits passed on. (that's me on the far right, with my silly older brother and sister)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

30 days of Happiness - the daily life

I was inspired to spend the next 30 days posting about the things that bring me happiness and joy in life. Having had a particularly hard day today, it's always nice to refocus and clarify my reasons for being. I hope the next 30 days bring some surprises. I hope the next 30 days I can see what brings me happiness in the here and now, with each day focusing on the present.

My wonderful friend Kat shared this quote the other day and I loved it:

"If you seek some special life outside of daily activities, that is like brushing aside waves to look for water."
-- Wu-Chun 1249

May the next 30 days be all about happiness in daily activities.

Monday, October 5, 2009

In all seriousness........

I feel like I've been spilling my guts lately, with all my personal inspirations and insights. It's been good, though, because I need to get it off my chest, and I appreciate the feedback from others. It's always refreshing for me to see that I'm not the only one trying to figure it all out.

I realized awhile back that everyone is in a constant state of change.

Don't we all need a chance to change??.... To overcome weaknesses,look for happiness, forgive regrets, find new ways of dealing with problems, love our enemies, to live better, do better, be happier, and enjoy life along the way?
Furthermore, I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth, and just hoping that others haven't permanently coined me a certain way. I don't always have the best manners or best words to say, but I sure am trying.
I truly believe we are all constantly changing, and just wanted to remind myself of that fact.

Aloha and God bless, all my wonderful friends and family.

Here's a photo to lighten the load of seriousness:

(My sister used to sing Led Zepplin's D'yer Maker to me and changed the words to "Oh. oh oh oh oh oh, Sally has a Fro-oh, oh, oh, oh oh. Good times, sister.. Then she fro-ed me)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flashback Friday-Pure bliss

I don't think a Mother can ever forget the day her babies were born. Probably two of the most blissfully happiest days of my life. :)
Baby Zadok, 2006

Baby Odin, 2008

My Safety Box

It wasn't the hottest of Summers, as I thought it would be. I had planned last Spring, that this would be a Summer of massive heat waves, that would send my family heading to the nearest rivers to cool off. But as I recall, mid-July wasn't anything to hose my head off.
However, at the end of August a heat wave came through, which sent us heading for the Iron Town pond. We took the little paddle boat out. The boys sat in the boat, while I swam behind them. I hadn't swam freely like this, in a long time, and it felt so good to immerse my whole body in the water. (Without a little one holding onto me).
My limbs stretched and reached, as far they could go. My breath was fast and pulsing, as I raced through the ripples of current, left behind by the boat. I dove down and opened my eyes. Yellow/green was all I could see.
I did freestyle strokes, side strokes, frog kicks, and dolphin spins, until I was completely out of breath. As I emerged from one of my dives I had this huge, permanent smile on my face. Then I felt something that I haven't felt in a long time and it shocked me! I felt pure bliss. It was a sudden sensation and it didn't last long, but I felt it! I had forgotten how much I loved swimming, and for a tiny instant I was reminded of how blissfully happy it makes me.

I grew up swimming. We lived across the street from the beach and the ocean was my sanctuary. I recall so many evenings where I would just swim, and swim, until the sun went down. I could often see my Mom cooking dinner in the window, and sometimes that was enough to lure me in, but otherwise, I lived in the ocean. Swimming was always the one thing that made me so blissfully happy that I didn't need much else to survive.

Feeling that pure sensation made me think that there are so many things I don't do anymore, that I love. There are so many things I have pushed aside, forgotten, and let go of, to make room for my family.
Instead of free-swimming, I am now teaching my son how to kick and blow bubbles under water.
Instead of going out dancing, I am showing my kids my funky moves on the living room floor, (as they laugh hysterically at me).
Instead of surfing, I am teaching my kids the ways of the wilderness; camping, hiking, exploring, and learning about animals.
Instead of taking an aerobics class, I am doing workout videos and chasing my kids around the church gym with my exercizing, Mommy friends.
Instead of running miles and miles, and testing my endurance, I am pushing 72 lbs of jogging stroller while playing, "I spy with my little eyes."
Instead of reading my favorite novels, I am becoming well read in Dr. Seuss and The Little Critter.
Instead of going out to the movies, I am eating popcorn and watching Star Wars for the 20th time, on the sofa.
Instead of long road trips and traveling adventures, I am watching my children become a part of a community that they love.
And on and on.....

It's easy to say, "Hire a babysitter and take an hour for yourself to do what you love." And yes, I do that sometimes, but there are too many hours in the day to do all the things I used to love. All those things that were purely blissfull and self-fullfilling, well............
My heart has just had to leave a lot of those things behind.
It's amazing what a family can do to you.

I decided that there is a safety box that has all these things kept inside it. And one day when the time is right, and I've got the freedom and desire to open it, those purely blissful feelings are waiting for me.

For now, I've got kids, and they are purely blissful in ways I can't even begin to describe.