Wednesday, September 30, 2020

2020 Book Update

 I went to the library last night to write a paper but ended up perusing the book sale half the time, instead. Oh how I LOVE books. Everything about looking at, smelling, and touching books carries me into a different time and place and reality til I am no longer standing in a tiny library in Cedar City Utah but instead am surrounded by people, places, stories, and adventures of which I cant wait to be a part of!  I ended up going home with three books last night, which I will read when I don't have anything else to read. I like to always have extra books on hand for when I'm done with my monthly book club book. Then I have something else to read while I wait for the next book club book! 

 It's a rule in our house that you have to always be working on a book. My boys are pretty good at this because 3/4 of them love to read, too. The one who doesn't love to read takes a bit of motivating to find the right book. Here's a photo I took several months ago of what everyone was working on, from Micah all the way down to Malachi.


Here's the latest update of Books we've read for book club since 2014:

1.The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

2. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews

3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein

4. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

6. Unbroken by Lauren HIllenbrand

7. Dealing With Dragons #1 by Patricia C. Wrede

8. Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen

9.  Wonder by R.J Palacio

10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

12. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

14. Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin

15. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

16. Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly

17. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

18. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck

19. Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

20. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

21. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

22. Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck

23. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

24. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

25. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

26. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

27. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts

28. Does my Head look big in this? Randa Abdah-Fattah

30. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter

31. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

32. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

33. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

34. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

35. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

36. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

37. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by Jon Boyne

39. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

40. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

41. Educated by Tara Westover

42. The Broken Road by Paul Richard Evans

43. The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans

44. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

45. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Henry Ford

46. Not If I save you First by Ally Carter

47. The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

48.Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

49. The Road home by Richard Evans

50. My grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry by Fredrik Backman.

51. Britt Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman

52. Sweetwater by Christina Kline

53. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

54. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

55. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

56. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

57. Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie

58. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

59. Enchanted #1 by Alathea Kontis

60. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

61. Circe by Madelyn Miller

62. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

63. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

64. Hold on but don’t hold still by Kristina Kusmic

65. Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng

66. Dracula by Bram Stoker (current)


The two fiction books I liked the most from the past year were Circe and The Island of Sea Women. Daring Greatly was my favorite non-fiction. Holly Banks Full of Angst was the overall worst book I read last year.


Books I've read in the past year that were not for book club:


1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

2. A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese ann Fowler

3. Love the One your with by Emily Giffn

4. Divergent by Monica Roth

5. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kid

7. Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins

8. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls


My favorites of these were The Glass Castle and The Book Thief. I actually just finished the Book Thief yesterday and I loved it so much I am still thinking about it. It is one of the most beautiful and poetic books I've ever read. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with Liesel Memminger's big, thieving heart, Rudy's adventurous spirit, Mama and Papa Hubberman's unconditional love, Max's determination, and the perspective of the infiltration of evil Nazi Germany from their little houses in Himmel street. I even enjoyed the haunting perspective of the narrator, Death himself. 


In other news, historical fiction is still my favorite genre.

-I also notice that I read a lot of books by female authors.

-I'm not excited to read Dracula this month, but hey--I can't always choose our book club book! The point of book club is to expand my mind and read things I never would've chosen myself.

-Last night I picked up a random fiction book called Mennonite in a little Black Dress and a current non-fiction book called Let's Talk About Race and a book for Micah by Richard Brautigan. 


Happy reading from my online avatar who looks EXACTLY like me! ;)








Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Corona-life

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I completely forget that there's a world pandemic happening where everyone's children are out of school, and the stores have tape telling people where to stand 6 feet apart, and folks are wearing face masks and gloves in public, and sports are cancelled, and church is cancelled, and music lessons are cancelled, and friends and family are separated, and travel plans are cancelled, and we can't have play-dates or go to the library or go thrift store shopping, and people are scared, and some people are dying, and nothing feels normal. I forget ALL of that because I'm still in my groggy sleep state, but then it slowly hits me and I can't.freakin.believe.it! 😲

This new, surreal reality is something I never would've imagined happening. I've heard of prepper people in our area prepping for world pandemics like this, but it always sounded extreme such as keeping extra supplies underground, including face masks and non-perishable foods, etc. Maybe it is extreme? I don't know how bad this could get!  I mean,we have our one-year food supply and feel safe and comfortable enough in our home if we absolutely can't leave the house for a month or more...but that's it. I suppose with mine and  husband's wilderness primitive survival backgrounds we're not scared of running out of toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, or hand soap. We've both learned from our primitive survival days that you can survive off of very, very little and still thrive. There are ways to be abundant and resourceful without going to Walmart. So no, running out of stuff doesn't scare me, what scares me is all the people out there who start to panic and turn into angry, resentful monsters trying to hoard everything in the store, who then turn their homes into scary, fearful places full of animosity and contention. That's what scares me about a pandemic--that children have to live quarantined in homes with these psychotic parents. It's really the children who suffer here, trying to be "home schooled" by overly stressed out parents who are freaking out 24/7.

As I was playing tennis-baseball with Malachi and Odin this afternoon I was reflecting on how this change of pace has actually been really nice. I mean, I don't want it to be like this forever, but on a personal level it's helped me to be truly grateful for the love we have in our family, for the ability to be around each other 24/7 with just normal amounts of arguing, for the bonding we're experiencing over these weird changes, and that we can go play tennis-baseball in the middle of the afternoon just for fun. --Normally I would be running around picking people up from school, getting people to activities. and probably stressing about how much I didn't get done that day and how much I still have to do. Just hanging out with my kiddos and playing games and doing a little bit of school and exercising and making meals here and there has been a nice change of pace from the normal. Oh, and finding 1000 things to keep Malachi busy during the day because he never stops moving....has been fun. :/

 I saw this quote online and I thought it was insightful:



 Are there things we don't want to rush back to after this is all over? Are there things we could do better at, or even not at all, to strengthen ourselves and our  family?  

I decided to make a little comparison list so I can see how different our lives are right now during this change of pace (well, mostly mine and the kids, my husband runs on different frequencies with his job). Perhaps it will offer me some insight into which parts of normal really are worth getting back to and what we could ditch behind.

The weekly schedule:

Normal life: My alarm goes off at 6:45am to take Z to Jazz Band. Then I come home and get other kids up for school. I help O get ready for his carpool ride at 7:30am. I make breakfast for J and Mal. I get Mal on the bus at 8:23am, hopefully with some food in his tummy since he barely eats breakfast. I then drive J, who can't ride the bus because of sensory issues, to school by 8:50am. Lots of hurrying, rushing, and move, move, move. 
I spend the next three hours before Mal gets home either running in the hills, or on the trail, or lifting weights at the gym, and also doing chores around the house. On Monday mornings I work in the gym daycare for a couple hours.
I get Mal from off the bus at 11:55am in front of our street. I then make Mal lunch and we go get Jonah at 12:20 because he only goes to school half-day. Depending on the day I then spend the next 2 hours with J and Mal either going to a park to play, running errands, grocery shopping, going to J's counselor, donating plasma (the boys go into the daycare) or hanging out at home until it's time to get O at 2:30pm. After we get O from school we come straight home. Then it's play time, homework time, chore time, after school snack time, not necessarily in that order. I pick up Z from school at 2:45pm, unless he hits the gym after school then I pick him up at the gym at 3:30pm. A couple days a week Micah meets him at the gym and they work out together.
 Sometimes after school friends come over to play and there's kids running all over the backyard and around the house. Sometimes Z goes to Kai's house, sometimes O goes to Dakota's house, sometimes Mal goes to Zoey's house, sometimes J goes to Caleb's house, sometimes everyone comes to our house!
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4pm Z has lacrosse practice. Micah and I take turns running him to practices. Wednesday nights he has guitar class at 7pm. Wednesday afternoons O has a paper route. I run out to Enoch every Wednesday to pick up his newspapers. Malachi and I always stop at the Hub on the way back for a slice of pizza for him and a diet dr. Pepper for me. Tuesday nights is church youth activities for both Z and O. Micah has Bishopric meetings on Tuesday evenings along with church youth activities because he is over the Deacons. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 5pm I do Primary Boy's activities (previously known as scouts). If it's the 2nd Tuesday of the month I go out to lunch with friends. The 4th Thursday night is book club. 
I finally signed up to coach soccer this season for Mal's team so we have soccer practices Wednesday evenings then games on Thursdays and Saturdays. O also has practices and games during the week and on Saturdays.  
On Saturdays we have fun, relax, and just hang out. Hiking, biking, movies, soccer games, maybe a buffet here or there. Micah usually does a long distance bike ride--5-6 hours.On Sundays we go to church at 9am then come home and have the rest of the day to relax, watch movies, or spend time in nature as a family. 
Every evening at 8pm we do family scripture study. Then Mal is in bed my 9pm, everyone else by 10. On weekends we let the boys stay up til 11pm. 

Corona-life: My alarm goes off at 7:40am so I can pick up school breakfast from the school bus which parks down the street. Each morning between 7:50am-8:10am they hand out breakfast for school families. 
I then come home and toss the paper bags on the dining room table as my kids slowly make their way upstairs or out of their rooms. We eat breakfast/get dressed/brush teeth at a leisurely pace until about 9am. At 9am we do personal scripture study. The older boys read on their own while I read to the younger two. I also do my own scripture study at this time. 

After scriptures it's school time. Z and O and J each spend about an hour doing online "school." It doesn't take them very long. Z practices his flute an hour every day. 
Our main focus is keeping up on reading and math and instruments. Everything else is up in the air weather it gets finished or turned in. 
At 11:30am we get school bus lunch. My friend Christy and I take turns picking up the meals. I drop off breakfast at her house and and she does lunch. I then watch as my kids pick through the lunches like picky little vultures until I end up making something extra to go along with all the chocolate milks and apple juices they just consumed. The leftovers go to our chickens out back.
After lunch the kids are allowed to do some screen time..i.e. Nintendo switches, Roblox, TV shows, etc...whatever they are into these days. Z and O just got Switch Lites for their birthdays so there's a lot of that going on. Mal is obsessed with Roblox. Jonah likes everything screentime.
Everyone has to get outside everyday and exercise for at least an hour. Two days a week Micah takes Z and J hiking as they are training to hike King's Peak this summer. Several days a week I play soccer with O at the park.  We've been doing lots of bike rides up the canyon, walking on the bike trail, playing at the dirt mound, playing in our big backyard (we have a trampoline, swing set, tether-ball, sand pit, large grassy yard with turtles, rabbits, chickens, and dogs) and exploring nature. We make things and get crafty. We "planted" a fairy rock garden on the bike trail. Our boys had been collecting painted rocks from around town the past year so we're recirculating some of those plus we painted some of our own. Something fun to keep busy!
Even though we get outside a lot, it feels like my kids are still on screeny things more than I'd like. I finally kept track for two days and each child is averaging 4-5 hours per day, with the exception of Mal who is 2-3 hours a day. It makes me cringe, but it's a necessary evil because us parents also need some time to exercise, cook, clean, shop, study, read, work (Micah)and stay sane without kids in our faces 24/7. And I mean that in the most loving way.

A couple days a week Micah and I venture out to a store for groceries and supplies. Micah does his Bishopric meetings online through face chats. My friends and I did a special "social distancing" lunch where we sat in a large circle in the parking lot, 6 feet apart, while eating our lunches. We had a dance party and I taught everyone the coronavirus hand-washing dance. It was a blast! (Ghen Co Vy)
 For exercise (and sanity)I go running on the bike trail or in the hills nearly everyday. Micah rides his bike long-distance several days a week. We lift weights at home with the minimal weights we have. I do yoga in the downstairs family room. 
We both donate plasma twice a week.
On Sundays we have the sacrament in our living room. Z prepares it, Micah blesses it, and O passes it out. We dress in our Sunday best to honor this sacred ordinance. For church we discuss the Come Follow Me lesson for the week which is focused on the Book of Mormon this year.

At 7pm every night we sit down as a family for dinner. One night we ordered take out for everyone and I drove around to three different restaurants to pick everything up. (Tacos El hefe for Micah, Z and O, Berry Bar for me, and McDonalds for J and Mal) After dinner everyone helps clean up and does their chores. We do family scriptures at 8pm. After scriptures everyone hangs out and does whatever--plays board games, more screen time, movie time, reading time, etc.. 
Mal gets to bed by 9:30pm. the other boys and parents by 10pm. 

There isn't much variation to our days, unless I think of something extra to do.
This week I went shopping for donations for a Women's Crisis center. It felt good to do some good as I was feeling so blessed myself, I wanted to give to others in need. I donated things like feminine hygiene products, tp, paper towels, diapers, wipes, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dish soap, and laundry soap.
I also made frozen cookie dough for my Boy's activity boys and dropped it off at their houses so they could bake their own cookies. (throw out the bag and wash their hands!)
I delivered toilet paper and diapers to a sister in our ward who was feeling desperate.
I had social distancing lunch bunch yesterday.

There's little things we can do so life doesn't get too comfortable in our little corona-bubble. 

I get anxious around the house during the day if it gets too messy or if my kids are sitting around too much. I try to breathe and relax and be grateful that they get along so well and are healthy and safe, even if my house gets messy and Roblox is on for 10 hours straight.

One hard thing right now, however, is that our cat of seven years has gone missing. He's been gone almost a week and we have no idea where he could've gone off to. It is J's cat and he is on the border of being heartbroken that his kitty is gone and having hope that the cat will come back. Him and the cat are in my prayers everyday. I just hope the poor thing is safe, wherever he is. 

So that's my life right now. Better? I don't know. Busy? Of course! Crazy? Always! I'm not excited to rush back to all the driving around I do each day, but I am anxious for everyone to get back to school. I really like/need/want my quiet time. But also important is that some of my boys do better with structure. School and sports is a positive outlet for them, socially, physically, and mentally. It's really hard that all of that is taken away right now. 

Spring break is next week but the Snow Canyon campgrounds where we were going are closed down. We might venture into no-man's-land, or we might just stay home. We haven't decided what course to take yet on this crazy pandemic adventure. 

Til next time....



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

5 things I've learned from college

After next month I'm taking a little break from school. I started this journey back to college in 2016 and over the course of the past 4 years (with lots of intermissions in between) I have taken a total of 13 classes towards my teacher's license. I am hoping someday to work in the public school district teaching Kindergarten or First grade. I am hoping someday to be able to work hard in a career that I would be excited about and feel confident in. I am hoping someday to be a part of the world of educator's that are making a positive difference in the lives of children. I am also hoping to someday contribute to our family income so we can travel more and see the world. 

I was feeling really sad this morning about the fact that I need to take a break because I really have enjoyed going back to college. But the reality is I haven't fully enjoyed the stress that has often overpowered my ability to fully enjoy motherhood in the moment. There have been so many times where I have felt too much pressure and stress to complete deadlines and pass finals that I have missed opportunities to just play with my boys and enjoy the simple interactions with my family. These little ones of mine are growing up too fast! I don't want to be so consumed with the pressures of school that I miss the chance to be fully present with my boys.
 It would be a different story if school was easy peasy and I could breeze through these classes with no problems, but it's not like that. I'm a MOM first and these classes take TIME and ENERGY and a certain amount of stress to squeeze in all my responsibilities while also passing the required amount of classes per term to stay in good standing with my college and my federal grants. (The feds won't pay for my schooling if I can't keep up with 3 classes per 6 month term.) 
I mean, I'm NOT 2o years old anymore! I'm not just waking up and working on college at my leisure in between surf sessions and waitress shifts! I'm waking up and managing the daily lives of four human boys who's mental, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs are never-ending as they are growing up in this fast paced world, and who's wants are often demanding and time-consuming and who's desires to have a mom not preoccupied with her own stressy shiz, is the real deal. 
I can't always be worrying over weather or not I'm going to pass a class when I am guiding and teaching my little humans, planning their social events, taking them to their activities, being their cub scout leaders, organizing our family time, organizing the house, the chores, the animals, and not to mention the daily demands of laundry and dishes and dishes and laundry, repeat, repeat, repeat...  And not to mention the need to take care of MYSELF and my mental health needs. I have a long list of things I have to do everyday to stay sane as a person and it's exhausting (exercise, healthy foods, 8 hours sleep, journaling time, cleaning time, scripture time...). Having bouts of depression, PPMD once a month, and an intense desire to sleep, eat, and binge on Netfliz when life gets stressful can wear a person down.

The point is, I am choosing to be the better me. I am choosing to be the mom who is present and capable and mentally awake as my children are growing up too too too fast.
I was fervently praying one day about weather or not I should take a break from school as I really wanted a yes or no answer from God but it didn't happen that way. The impression I got was that I get to CHOOSE what kind of mom I want to be. It was a very empowering response from my Heavenly father, as He was giving me the option to make a choice based on my true desires and gut instincts, not necessarily what He wanted me to do or what the world wanted me to do, but what I felt was right in my heart of hearts.

So yes, I am sad to be taking a big break from school with no clear idea of when I will be starting  up again, but I am not going to regret the past time lost with my children or the time lost in the future working toward my degree. I am only going to be grateful NOW for the POWERFUL things I have learned since I started this journey. 

A few things I have learned since I started this journey in 2016:

1. Going back to college pushed me into a zone of such stress and discomfort that I was forced to face the reality of my current state of mental health. I painfully discovered that I was still suffering from Post-traumatic-stress-disorder from my teenage years and that I needed to address those issues in my life. I ended up doing EMDR therapy, which was life-changing in helping me overcome the stressful triggers that were negatively affecting my life and keeping me from moving forward.

2. Going back to college made me face some deep insecurities over my ability to learn and understand certain information. I hated math and didn't think I could do it, but I was able to finally learn some math and pass college algebra! (And although I've already forgotten most of what I learned, I am confident I can learn it again if I need to.)

3. Going back to college reminded me how much I love to learn. I love the process of absorbing new information and applying it to our current lives! I love that I got to take a United States history class and learn all about what events built our nation's current political system. It was perfect timing for me as we were getting ready to elect a new President of the U.S.at the time so I got to better understand firsthand how corrupt and confusing our voting procedures are.  And I love that I got to take a class on Special Education and learn about the reforms in educational policies that allow exceptional students to be less marginalized and more accepted in the classrooms. I couldn't believe that in the 1930's educators would blame the parents for having "retarded" children and then force them to stay home. Now we have classrooms where intellectually disabled children are mainstreamed into the regular classrooms and treated like equals, while also collaborating with the parents to help them get the best education possible!

4. Going back to college forced me to face some demons I had hiding in my back pocket. Sometimes math or other stressful deadlines combined with the stresses of life and raising children got so stressful that I turned to some very unhealthy and destructive coping mechanisms that I developed in my teenage years. These coping mechanisms would rear their ugly heads when things got too hard and too much for my mind to handle. College forced me to face these demons and get help to overcome them. I started attending the LDS addiction recovery program, which is something I never imagined I would do. It was/is life-changing and spiritually empowering and continues to help me to be honest and have hope and move forward in overcoming my addictions/unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

5. Going to college has reminded me that God is always with me through every step of my life. He is cheering for me, guiding me, loving me, rooting for me, and helping me to be the BEST version of myself as I navigate through this crazy thing called life. 

So yes, I am sad that I am taking a little break from college, but I am not sad that God has, once again, led me to exactly where I need to be.

p.s. I'm kinda laughing right now because as I was writing this I totally forgot to get my Kindergartner ready for school and he missed the bus and well, I guess it's a stay home day. ha!

Christmas eve day at Three Peaks Recreation

Mom n Mal at Christmastime

15 years married