Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's been a while...

This blog has been sorely neglected and it makes me sad.  I often have fantastic ideas about what I want to write about but the ideas always seem to come when I'm in the shower or the car which are not the most convenient places.  By the time I get to the end of the day I am exhausted and have either forgotten what I wanted to write about or just too tired.

I have SO many things that I want to record and share.  Here is a quick list of things that have been happening or I have been thinking about a lot.

  1. I deactivated my Facebook account about a month ago.  Best decision I have made in a long time.
  2. I've read several of fantastic books in this last month.  4 to be exact.
  3. I've been really struggling with some personal things and I have been feeling prompted to share publicly in the hopes that it might help someone else.
  4. I have been studying a lot and have become passionate about education.  In 18 months my Abigail starts Kindergarten.  Yikes!
  5. I have become really passionate about healthy eating in the past year.  I have learned so much and want to share some things.  Not the "if you eat this you are going to die" type of post but just a few things we have done to transition to more "whole foods" diet around here.  We are far from perfect but we have made some really good changes.
  6. Along those same lines I have some super yummy recipes that I've been dying to share with my friends and family.
  7. And last but not least I just want to post some general updates about our little family.
I really hope that I can make the time to do some short posts soon.  Now that I'm not on Facebook a lot of my friends and family are asking for updates and pictures.  So until my next post here is a fun impromptu photo we took at the beach in January after attending my Grandma Wini's funeral.  It was a beautiful, sweet day full of family reunions and sharing of wonderful memories.

January 2014, Newport Beach, California

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Thoughts

I love the month of December.  It is magical, warm, sacred and full of joy and giving.  But I especially love the Sunday before Christmas.  Church is always filled with special music and words to remind us the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This morning I had the opportunity to view the photos of a friend and her family as they greeted their new baby girl.  She was born to a young girl in Hawaii who chose them to be the adoptive family.  They have an open adoption and it brought tears to my eyes to see the incredible love that both families have for each other and for this little baby girl.  It reminded me of the Savior and how our Heavenly Father sent his son to earth to be raised by another father.  What incredible love he must have had for Joseph to entrust his earthly care to another because he could not be here.  What a sacred moment it must have been for him and Mary to meet their newborn son knowing that he was the Son of God.

I love the work of Simon Dewey.  I have met him before and he signed two of his prints for me.  I think that he catches the emotion of his subjects in such a beautiful way.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite nativity prints.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Are you Thriving or Surviving?

Before I became a mother I was certain about what kind of mother I wanted to be and had total confidence that I would be successful in being that kind of mother because I had thought about it so much and envisioned what it would be like.  Boy was I naive.  The problem was that I somehow thought I would have much more "control" over how things went than I actually do.  I'm sure that doesn't come as a big surprise to most of you reading this but I somehow neglected to consider the fact that my children would have agency, personalities, trials, strengths and weaknesses just like I do. And as you may well know sometimes those things can cause some major friction and roadblocks causing it to be much more difficult to be the mother you were certain you would be.

I am constantly left at a loss for words or ideas when responding to situations with my girls, especially my 3 year old.  Sometimes my best efforts to be patient, calm and empathetic are sabotaged by my own weaknesses and as well as hers and what started out with the potential to be a teaching moment ends with one or both of us angry or in tears.  I end up feeling guilty and sad for allowing my emotions and weaknesses get the better of me and she ends up feeling angry, sad or scared.  I went through a period of time where I would internally criticize myself for what a horrible mother I was and told myself that my girls deserved so much better than I could offer.  But this did nothing to help me fix the problem, it just left me feeling defeated, angry and depressed and worthless making every day seem harder than the one before it.  I've come a long way from that in the last year but I still have difficult days and today was one of them.

After I finally got the girls in bed and asleep I was reminded of a conversation that I had with my little sister the last time I was having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad" day.  I remember telling her how I felt completely defeated and that it seemed like no matter what I did I felt completely out of control and it seemed like my girls were the ones who had all the control.  I told her I would try so hard to remain calm and patient but no matter how hard I tried I would eventually blow up.  I told her that I was trying be as patient as [insert the name of a friend or family member], never yell like [insert the name of a friend or family member], be creative like [insert the name of a friend or family member], decorate like [insert the name of a friend or family member], go on fun outings like [insert the name of a friend or family member] and that I was exhausted trying so hard to be like someone else.  And of course she replied, "Well stop trying to be like someone else and just be you!".  My response was to tell her I knew that but I just didn't know how to stop comparing myself even though it made me feel rotten.  And this was her response, "Here's the thing I have come to realize in the 8 years that I've been a mother.  No two moms are alike in talents, wants, needs, desires, weaknesses and strengths and we need to stop beating ourselves up for not measuring up to someone else's "perceived perfection" because the fact is that no one is perfect and everyone is just trying the best they can."  She then went on to give me an example.  She said that she has friends who require very little time away from their kids (if any) to recharge and can just go, go, go all the time.  And then she has friends who need to have a regular girl's night once a week or every other week to feel energized and ready to take on the tasks that are required of her.  She said it would be easy to look at the second friend from the outside and say that she doesn't care as much about her family as the first mother and that she is being selfish when in reality she is just has different needs.  One might be able to recharge reading a good book at home in the evening while another needs to get out and go running.  One might be able to feel rested taking a quick cat nap while the baby sleeps and another needs to go to bed the same time as her kids do to feel rested.  And different is OK!

This conversation reminded me of a wonderful article or podcast (I can't remember which) from the website Power of Moms.  April Perry, one of the ladies who runs the website talked about a time in her life when she felt completely strung out and out of control and one night when her husband asked her about what was wrong she said she was barely surviving every day.  And he said, "April, I don't want you just be surviving.  You should be thriving.".  Do you ever feel like you are just barely surviving?  Ever since I had Charlotte I have felt that way.  Don't get me wrong, we have had some great days but adjusting to having two kids, being blindsided by postpartum depression, living in a small apartment on the third floor and being far away from my own family have made these last 18 months very difficult at times.  I know that I am not the only one out here who has felt like this and that is why I felt compelled to sit down and write tonight.  I have decided that I need to make a list of things that I need in my life in order to THRIVE and I wanted to share at least some of them with you.

What I need to THRIVE each day:
  1. At least 7 hours of sleep
  2. Time to exercise (at least 4 days a week)
  3. A shower (without children)
  4. Time to pray in the morning (at night too, I definitely NEED the strength morning prayers give)
  5. Time to read my scriptures
  6. Time to do something that I enjoy (even if it's just for 15-30 min)
  7. At least 2 meals sitting down without someone asking for a bite
  8. Healthy, whole foods, cooked in my own kitchen (It makes me feel SO much better)
  9. Quiet time without my kids to clear my head & recharge (even 15 min is a great help!)
  10. Hugs and kisses from my girls
  11. Time to snuggle & talk with each of them individually (even if for 5-10 min)
  12. Hugs and kisses from my hubby
What I need to THRIVE each week:
  1. An opportunity to sing
  2. Time to write in my journal
  3. Time to call or FaceTime my parents and sister & brothers
  4. A technology free day (working on this one)
  5. Attending church and taking the sacrament
  6. A date night in or out with my hubby
  7. Time to read a good book
  8. Time to clean my house
  9. Time to grocery shop by myself
What I need to THRIVE each month:
  1. One or two opportunities to hang out with other ladies
  2. Fasting
  3. Attend the temple (at least once)
  4. Buy something for myself
  5. Opportunities to serve others
What I need to THRIVE each year:
  1. At least one trip home to see my family
I'm sure there are a few things I could add to these lists but these are the basic things that I have decided I need to do to feel like I'm thriving and not just surviving.  My husband is very supportive of my daily needs and he told me that it is so much easier for him to know how to serve me when he knows what things he can help with so that I can feel at my best.  I think the reverse is also true.  Men and women have different needs so wouldn't it be nice to know what your partner needs to feel their thriving each day.  Most things you won't even need to help with but some things like watching the kids for 15-30 min while your partner recharges or takes a short nap can make all the difference not only to your kids but also in your relationship.  

What kinds of things do you need to THRIVE?  Remember everyone is different and there are no wrong answers.  Some people need a pedicure every week and some people need a wrestle session with their kids.  Whatever it takes for you to feel at your best so that you can be the person you are striving to be.  

Remember that you are not alone.  There are millions of mothers out there struggling with the same things.  And more importantly Heavenly Father knows you best and knows how to comfort and help you be your best.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  It could make all the difference.

Have a fantastic week!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

San Elijo Hills Ward Trunk or Treat

The Ward Trunk or Treat was kind of a whirl wind this year because the primary presidency was in charge and I'm the first counselor.  The day was full of errands, no naps, set-up and clean up and not much picture taking.  But I did get at least one of each of the girls.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get them dressed early enough to take a few really cute ones.  Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Abigail Joyce

About a year ago my sister gave me her old DSLR camera.  I haven't used it much since I take a lot of pictures with my phone but I was looking at it today and found some "practice" pictures I took a few months ago of Abby and I thought I'd share.  She is growing up so fast and I love seeing her personality grow and change every day.  She makes a laugh and emits Joy wherever she goes.

I sure love this little curly haired girl.  I'm so grateful for technology and that I will have these pictures so I can always remember her like this.

You Are More Than Enough

I came across an article on Facebook today that struck a chord with me.  It wasn't incredibly long or profound, just simple and to the point.  The title is: My Choice to Parent Differently Does Not Imply Your Way Is Wrong.  The title pretty much sums it up.  In my three years of parenting I'll admit that I've been on both sides of the argument.  There have been many times that I have allowed myself to feel judged (key word here being "allowed" because I have no proof anyone was actually judging me) because someone doesn't feel comfortable doing something that I do with my kids, therefore I automatically assume that I must be a horrible mother if I'm doing it and they are not.  And I am certain I have also been silently accused of "judging" because I choose not to something that someone else chooses does.  The fact is that all mothers are just trying to do the best they know how based on their current circumstances, life experiences and million other factors that play into who we are and how and why we do things.  So how do we break this cycle and end what some like to call the "Mommy Wars"?  I believe that the only way to do it is to stop looking outside of yourself and start looking within.  It is this very thing that I have been working on this year.  I finally decided that I was tired of feeling "guilty" all the time for doing or not doing things.  I was wasting so much time and energy measuring my worth as a mother based upon how "other mothers" were with their kids and what they were doing or not doing instead of focusing on who I was and who I wanted to become and doing the things that felt right in my heart.  So the past six months I decided I needed to have a change of focus and instead of measuring my worth by looking at others I have been trying to focus inward and determine what truly makes me happy.  Here are a few things that I have been trying to do (trying being the key word since let's be honest NOBODY is perfect.  And thank goodness for that!).

Personal Prayer

  • There is still some room for improvement in this area but I have been making an effort to make sure I pray both in the morning and at night to check in with my Heavenly Father.  He is the father of my spirit and he knows me better than anyone.  He knows my strengths and my weaknesses and loves me in spite of them.  Not only that he is the spiritual father of my beautiful little girls and he knows them better than I do. Only he can truly help me to know what is best for them.  We are all unique individuals (isn't that wonderful?) with talents, gifts, weaknesses and personalities that belong only to us.  The combination of mother and child in one family can never be duplicated in another family because of those things.  No book, blog, social media site, article or advice can rival that of divine revelation from our Father in Heaven.  How blessed we are to know that he is there, that we are his daughters and that he loves us beyond anything we can possibly imagine and that we can communicate with him on a personal level.
Decreased Use of Social Media
  • I have known for some time that much of my "guilt" comes from comparing myself to the strengths of my close friends and family.  But I have struggled to let go because of the things that I love about staying connected.  I have lived all over the country and because of that I have friends and family that are spread throughout the nation.  I feel that it is an incredible blessing to be able to stay in contact and connect with them so easily.  I love to watch their families grow and be able to support them in their successes and trials.  I love that it is so easy to reach out for help when you need help with a question or problem and receive the help and support of others.  I have wrestled with it for a while and decided that what worked best for me to was to take the Facebook application off of my phone.  Not only was I not constantly connected to the lives of others instead of enjoying my own life I also found I wasted less time "looking down" and more time "looking up", looking up towards my Heavenly Father, looking around at the beautiful world around me, the blessings he has given me and more time looking in the eyes of my children.  Let me be clear, I do not think Facebook or other social media sites are bad.  I just found that by having that specific app on my phone I was more distracted, less happy, less engaged, less aware of my surroundings and more unsatisfied with myself and my life.  For some people this is not a problem.  For me it was.  You have to do what works for you!
Sensitive Use of Social Media
  • About a month ago I felt a strong prompting that I needed to be much more aware of what I post on social media sites and how I post them.  Sometimes I get so excited about an article I read, or something new I tried or learned that I want to share it with everyone I know and love, especially if someone else shared it with me.  However I have become aware of the fact that what I post and how I post it can be perceived very differently than the way that I intended it to be received.  Two things that I have become very passionate about in my life are healthy living/eating and parenting.  I have been on a personal mission the last year to learn more and improve those areas of my life, and in my exuberance I have posted lots of things that I have found to be interesting, that maybe I never knew about or that have worked for me.  But the prompting I received was that I needed to be very careful because these are topics that are very close to people's hearts and can be very sensitive subjects depending on situations and circumstances.  I was reminded of my own struggles and how certain topics are difficult for me to read or hear about at times without becoming defensive or upset.  I would normally try to avoid them in other aspects of my life but it seems at times that they are everywhere on social media and hard to ignore.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't post or share things but that it is wise to think about how it might be received.  Sometimes a slight adjustment in wording can make all the difference and sometimes after thinking about it we might feel prompted to not post it at all.  People can become offended or upset at a million different things and we can't avoid that completely but I think that the rule of "think before you speak" can be applied here and we can "think before we post".  The majority of us would never intend to injure a friend or family member but at the same time it has become a little too easy to "hide behind our computers" and speak our minds when we would never say the same things to people in person.   Again only you can know what is the right thing for you to do or if this is an area where you might proceed with more caution.  For some it may not be an issue and for others of us we could afford to make some changes.
Asking Myself More Questions
  • I cannot remember the specific experience that caused me to start doing this but something that has helped me immensely is to ask myself more questions.  I'm not talking about doubting yourself but having a conversation with yourself.  Each time I encounter something that is new to me or I see or hear about someone doing something differently than I am doing I stop and ask myself these questions:
    • Does what I'm seeing, hearing or reading make sense to me or speak to my heart?
    • Does it seem like something that might help me?
    • If I feel guilty about doing or not doing something I ask myself: Do I feel guilty because I know in my heart I should be doing something differently or do I feel guilty just because someone else is doing or not doing something and I'm afraid of what they might think if I don't agree with them or do it the same way? Change is hard and sometimes I resist doing something I know I should do because it will be uncomfortable at first and other times I'm just comparing myself.
    • If I decide to trying something new or make a change after a little while I ask myself: Is this change making me happy?  Am I doing it for the right reasons?  Do I feel peace and assurance that it is right despite that it might be different than what others might be doing?
  • If I do all of those things and I still feel peace then it is much easier for me to be confident in my decisions even when someone might question me or not agree.  
There are a few other things I have been doing but I feel that by far these three have been to most helpful to me.  In just six short moths I feel more confident as a mother than I have ever felt before.  I am not perfect and there are still times I feel the "guilt" creep in or I start to question myself but now that I am more aware of what makes me happy and what works for my family it is much easier for me to center myself again and be at peace with who I am and what I am doing.

In conclusion doing what works for you and for your family does not mean that another family is doing it all wrong.  On the flip side just because someone else is doing something that works for them and their family doesn't mean that you have it all wrong either.  Change is good.  There is not one person on this earth that has areas of his or her life that could not be improved.  But this life is a journey, a journey of learning, self-discovery and self-mastery and we are all just doing the best we can.  We are each progressing on an individual path and at an individual pace.  Our personal progression is between us and the Lord.  Only he can speak peace to your mind and heart about who you are and how you are progressing.  Only he can assure you that you are enough just the way you are and that he can help you to become all that you want to be and all that he needs you to be.

May God bless you and help you in your endeavor to be the Mother and person that you want to be and that He needs you to be. Your children are blessed to have you.  Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Miss Charlotte Rose

My little miss is almost 17 months.  I can't believe she is a month away from nursery.  She is incredibly independent and gets super mad if I try to help her do anything.  She is determined as of late to use the potty because she sees the rest of us do it.  Often I'll just sit her on there with her clothes on just so she doesn't get mad.  She always asks for some toilet paper and pushes it into the toilet between her legs.  It's so cute and funny.  She is finally sleeping through the night, for the most part.  Every once in a while she wakes up and then Bud will go in and pat her back for a minute and she'll go right back to sleep.  She weaned completely about three weeks ago and I think this has contributed to her sleeping through the night.  She is growing up so fast even though she is still a little peanut.  Her weight and height has pretty much stayed the same these past few months but her personality has grown leaps and bounds and her vocabulary has exploded.  Here are a few of the things she says now:

  • Ee-go Mommy (Here you go Mommy)
  • Ee-elcome (You're welcome)
  • Abby
  • Sean (Abby's friend who we carpool with to preschool)
  • Daddy
  • Bye
  • Hi
  • All done
  • Thank you
  • Help
  • Ball
  • Baby
  • Milk
  • Outside
  • Cheese
  • Tickle-tickle
I know there are a few more but I can't remember right now.  She loves to try to sing along when Abby and I are singing in the car.  She is a snuggle bug and a major mommy's girl.  She is a fantastic eater. loves to go outside, insists on going down the stairs on her own, climbs on EVERYTHING, has falled off the kitchen table twice (about gave me a heart attack both times.).  Says cheese whenever she sees me holding my phone because she thinks I'm going to take a picture, still loves her binki (I need to cut it down to bed time and nap time.),  Tries to dress her self, loves babies, balls and dogs, has literally no fear, loves to pretend to sleep in Abby's bed,  can throw a wicked temper tantrum (she rivals Abby and that's saying something), is determined, happy, silly and loves to laugh.

We sure love this little girl and are so grateful that she is a part of our family.

Blog Designed by The Single Momoirs