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.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Motherly Instinct

From the time that I was a little girl I adored children, a love that was instilled in my by my own mother.  Ask anyone with a baby who knows my mom and they will agree that she is a "baby whisperer" and can work her magic on even the fussiest of babies.  I spent hours babysitting as a teenager, working in daycares as a young adult and planned to major in elementary education in college (that didn't end up happening but that is a story for another time).  Being around children was always easy for me.  People would tell me all the time that I was a "natural" that I would be a wonderful mother some day and I developed deep confidence in my ability to teach, play with and love children.  I was certain that I would marry young and planned to have a large family.  But as often happens in life Heavenly Father had other plans for me.  I served a mission in Ecuador and then spend the next 7 years in college majoring in majoring in music, which I never planned to do, before meeting my husband.  We were married three weeks before my 30th birthday and had our first baby two weeks before I turned 32.  It wasn't exactly how I planned for things to go but those 7 years were full of wonderful growth both spiritually and intellectually and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I was so excited to finally be a mother and was confident that it would come easily and naturally to me because of the experiences I had growing up.  But once again I was broadsided by challenges, trials and emotions that were out of my control and my confidence was severely shaken.  I had an incredibly difficult recovery with Abigail due to some severe tearing during delivery,  Nursing was a very painful and difficult process at first which was compounded with the pain of recovery as well as major lack of sleep.  During the first six week after she was born she slept hard during the day and wouldn't sleep from about 8:00 pm until 3:00 am in the morning.  I was exhausted, in pain, emotionally drained and disappointed.  This was supposed to be easy for me.  I was supposed to know what to do.  

Confidence shaken and mentally and emotionally strung out I started reading every book I could get my hands on about parenting, sleep, nursing, etc.  While I did take away some very good information in the end I just ended up making myself more crazy and more frustrated because every book I read contradicted the book I read before it not to mention the fact that they all made me feel like a horrible mother no matter what I did.  So Bud,  being the good husband he is, forbid me from reading any more books and told me that I had to trust my God given motherly instinct.  I sobbed and I told him I didn't even know what that was or if I had one.  I was so confused.  I was supposed to be a "natural, wonderful" mother.  But the truth is no amount of baby-sitting could have prepared me to be a mother.  Sure I knew how to change diapers, rock a baby, and feed them a bottle.  But sleepless nights, nursing, no time for yourself?  I wasn't prepared for that.  Becoming a mother had brought all of the insecurities I knew I had and even more that I didn't know I had to the surface.  I questioned everything I did, compared myself to the "other mothers", tried to educated myself and asked a lot of questions.  And it left me feeling numb.  The first three months of Abby's life are a blur.  I feel like I didn't get to enjoy her because of everything that was going on.  Some days I loved her so much I couldn't squeeze her hard enough and other days I was terrified I was doing everything wrong and let anxiety rule instead of just enjoying and being with my baby.  Abby was just a happy, easy going baby (once we got passed the first six weeks anyway).  She could light up a room with her great big smile and cheesy grin.  She loved people and people loved her.  She taught me what is was to be a mother.  She helped me to realize that the only way to tap into my God given maternal instinct was to "tap in" to God himself by getting on my knees every day and asking for help.  I still feel like I am not very good at listening to my own motherly instinct.  I have to remind myself constantly not to compare my weaknesses to the strengths of other.  But I am working on it and that is all that Heavenly Father asks and I pray that it is enough.  

Here is part of an email that I wrote to my cousin before she had her first baby.  I wish I could go back in time and have my pre-mommy self read this.  But maybe I had to go through that for a reason.  Maybe it might help my children and grandchildren.

The best advice I could give you is to trust your God given motherly instinct.  It is really hard sometimes when everyone is throwing ideas and advice at you.  Read, learn, ask questions but then pray and then do what feels right for you and for your family.  There is no one right way to raise a child because every parent and child are different.  I got so overwhelmed by everything being thrown at me that I felt like I didn't even get to enjoy Abby at first.  Granted I had a super hard recovery with her but still.  Our weaknesses are our weaknesses and while we can improve every day we have to embrace who we are.  Motherhood brings every insecurity you know you have to the surface along with ones you didn't know you had.  I don't say that to scare you but so that you are aware of the fact that it will be hard some days, ok most days and wonderful some days.  But remember to lean on your husband and on Heavenly Father.  Being a mom pushes you to be better than you've ever been before.  BUT DON'T TRY TO BE PERFECT!  It has been the hardest lesson I have had to learn.  Start each day saying "Come what may and love it".  Remember to not "Sweat the small stuff, because it is all small stuff."  Some days will seem picture perfect and other days you will wonder why you ever agreed to do this.  And lastly, DO NOT COMPARE!  You are not your sister or sister-in-law or your Mom so don't try to be and don't try to live up to any expectation YOU think they might have for you.  They all have their strengths and so do you, so own it girl!  You are going to be an incredible mom.  I love you!

I have been struggling quite a bit lately with this and it was wonderful for me to read my own advice again.  So I am committing again today to not try to be perfect, to trust my God given instinct, to pray and ask for help more often and to do what I want to do and what I think is right and not because I think someone else will have a negative or positive opinion of me. Join me!  I think we'll all be a little happier if we do.

Happy Monday everyone!

My Charlotte being a little mommy to her cousin.  If she can follow her instinct so can I. ;-)

Abigail Starts Preschool

I just realized that I never posted these pictures on the blog.  My big girl is three and started preschool in September.  She absolutely loves it and is thriving and learning so much.  She is in a reverse mainstream program in the public school system.  The classes are for children with any physical, mental or educational delays and then they accept some mainstream children to be peer models.  Right now Abby and her friend Sean are the peer models and they have one little girl with some delays and handicaps named Maddie.  There will be more students who will come in throughout the year bur right now there are only these three kids and three teachers.  So lots of one on one attention which Abby needs right now since Charlotte keeps me pretty busy.  Here are some fun things about her that I want to remember at this age:

School Name: La Costa Meadows Elementry
Teacher: Miss Sara
Assistants: Miss Beth & Miss Annette
Classmates: Sean & Maddie
Favorite Colors: Pink & Blue
Favorite TV Show: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood 
Favorite thing to do at school: Paint
Favorite Song to Sing: I Am a Child of God
Favorite Song to Dance to: Apache- Sugarhill Gang

Skills she has accomplished: 

Reads on a K-1 level
Can write all the letters of her nickname (Abby)
Can count to 30
Can write about 10 letters of the alphabet and learning more each day.
Experimenting with drawing faces.
Can recognize a penny, dime, nickel and quarter.
Can hop on one foot
Can catch a ball with two hands
Loves to sing and has lots of songs memorized

I love this independent, sassy, strong-willed little girl.  She can make me laugh and cry faster than any kid I now.  She has a natural zest for life and learning that I hope she never loses and is full of energy.

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