Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not my will, but Thine...

Today, I am praying for a friend.  She has many struggles, and despite her young age, faces health challenges that make her life harder, and more painful than I can imagine.  She has been courageous through these challenges, and she has been an inspiration to me, to keep fighting through my own trials, and come out a better person for having lived through them.  In no way can I compare my struggle with hers, but I do feel that God has put her in my path, at this time in my life, for a reason--and for that, I am grateful.  We don't choose our struggles.  Yet, through them, a loving Heavenly Father refines us, humbles us, and changes our hearts.  As I read the Ensign this morning, I was reminded once again of a scripture I have gone back to over and over again throughout the last year.  It is D&C 84:88:
"I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand, and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your heart, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."
I have felt those angels, and at moments, I have felt that was the only thing bearing me up.  I know that they will bear my friend up as well, and even through her pain, she will feel them helping her, and crying with her.  There was also a quote from Elder Richard G. Scott, that I found particularly helpful from a talk he gave called "Trust in the Lord".  The whole talk is HERE.  He says:
"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.
We must remember in our trials, that weakness is NOT sin.  Just because we question whether we can face what is asked of us, or when we question whether we are able to handle all that is thrown at us, we must be careful not to get down on ourselves, and not to wonder whether we are worthy of our Heavenly Father's love and help in our weakness. We are human, and that is part of our nature. Even Jesus Christ, the greatest of all, asked God if he would "Take this cup from me" I believe that is because he was part human.  Suffering is HARD.  Almost none of us would choose it if given the choice.  But in the end, he left us with a perfect example of how to conquer our weakness, by saying "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." That was the Godly nature in Him, that understood that without His sacrifice, the whole plan would never be realized.  He did it willingly, for he DID have a choice--and that is amazing to me.  Ultimately, it comes down to trust and surrendering our will to the Father's will.
A few years ago, I wrote a post HERE, called "Surrender".  It was after I had attended a Stake Conference meeting, where I really felt the spirit, and really felt the impression that this was something I needed to work on in my life.  As I look back on my life then, compared to my life now, I can see how in a way, the Lord was preparing me for the challenges I would face, and preparing my heart to change in a way I could not have fathomed before some of the experiences I have had in the last year.  You see, surrendering is easy, I felt, when my life was pretty easy.  When we had enough money, when we had employment, when we had security.  But today, when we have none of those things, surrendering my will to my Heavenly Father's will has taken on a whole new meaning.  It has become a matter of prayer, and a matter of faith, it has become a matter of trust.  It has been a process where I have sure seen my weaknesses, but a process that I think has also strengthened me in ways I could not have imagined.  The last year has been a time of frustration, trial, and hard choices, that we never thought we would be faced with.  But with this trial, there has come a peace into my heart that is almost unexplainable.  With everything falling apart around me, I have felt angels bearing me up.  I have felt the prayers of friends and family.  I have felt the Spirit of the Lord, in my heart, assuring me that I can make it through whatever comes, as long as I trust in a Heavenly Father who loves me, and put my faith in Him.  I am not alone. You are not alone.  And that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weighty Matters...

Weight is an issue that comes up regularly at my house.  If you have read my blog for very long, you know that.  It seems like since I had a few children, it has been something I have constantly tried to keep under my control, and fought against, and struggled with--to get back to a certain weight.  Todd is no stranger to the struggle with weight either.  His whole life he has struggled with his weight, going up and down, and up and down, depending on what was going on in his life, and how he handled it, and whether he had the time, or the energy to worry about getting healthy.  Truth be told, we have been very vocal in our house about trying to excercise, diet, and lose weight.  Lately, I have begun to see the error of my ways.  You see, my children hear the comments we make, whether we are complaining that we are "too fat", or that we are "on a diet", or joke to eachother about our "muffin top" or our "binge" we had at the restaurant.  They also see us go on diets, whether healthy or not, (usually not), and talk about being deprived, or wanting a treat, or hating excercise and complaining about it.  Things have begun to change since my children have gotten older, though, and I see some of the damaging, even dangerous messages I have been sending them about body image, and weight.  Even though it has never been intentional, they have picked up on the fact that we put our body image, and our weight--a stupid number on a scale, above our love for ourselves, and that isn't right. As I step on the scale, I allow the number that stares back at me determine how I feel about myself, when it is nothing but a number.  That isn't healthy behavior, nor is it necessary--my worth is more than a number on a scale--much more. 

As a mother of teenage (and tween) girls, I wish I could turn back the clock and re-teach my girls some things about their bodies.  I wish I could teach them to be more grateful for them, even if they aren't the size/shape they want them to be.  Our bodies are truly a miracle, a gift from God, and they allow us to do everything that we want to do!  We should love ourselves--and our bodies for that reason.  I remember in an old ward, a lady gave a Relief Society lesson about loving ourselves, and related a story about how she used to be really hard on herself because of her weight.  She said that after having a few children, she used to get out of the shower and look at her naked body with disgust.  Then, one day while thinking about it--she realized that it was Satan that was causing these feelings inside her.  She realized that Satan wanted her to hate her body, to loathe her body, because, you see--Satan will NEVER have a body.  After that, she said she would look at her body in the mirror, turn around and stick out her tounge at Satan and say "Haha--you will NEVER have a body as beautiful, and as functional as MY body!"  Our bodies are a miracle!  My body helped to create, nourish, and ultimately give birth to 6 beautiful children.  Because of that, its shape has changed a little, and as I grow older, it will change a little more.  Shouldn't I celebrate those changes?  Shouldn't I be more focused on those beautiful and talented children that came out of my body, then I am on making it look a certain way?  When I look at my children, I don't see them as their body.  I see the PERSON that I hope for them to become.  I see children who are amazing, and talented, and beautiful, inside and out.  It makes me sad that someone would ever look at them and think anything different.  It makes me sad that I have caused, or contributed to them feeling badly about their beautiful bodies.  It makes me sad that we live in a culture that is obsessed with appearance, and obsessed with the "ideal" body image that is nearly impossible to attain.  Very few people can actually attain it, yet people would sacrifice anything to get it.  If I was going to be obsessed with something, shouldn't it be my inward self, and making myself right with God--rather than my outward self, and making myself right with the world?

I am not saying we shouldn't excercise, or be healthy, or eat good things.  Quite the opposite.  I am saying we should do right by our bodies, because we LOVE ourselves enough to take care of the body that God gave us.  I'm just saying that a number on the scale is NOT who I am as a person!  I am also saying that we should be aware of the messages we are sending, whether intentional or not, because sometimes they are damaging, and feelings can be hurt.  I love to read C-Jane's blog, and she has some articles that are written by her neighbor and friend, Janna Dean, that have opened my eyes to this subject, and I wanted to share them.  She is a therapist, who works with people who have eating disorders, and she shares some of her opinions on body image, and the messages we are sending our children.  This link will take you to the thread of 3 or 4 posts about the subject.  Each is worth reading--and even if you don't struggle with this issue, it is worth noting that you should at least talk to your children about body image, and why it is hurtful to others when we make fun of them for being overweight or fat.  One of the statistics I found the most incredible:
"Take for instance the research that shows children (and adults) would rather lose an arm than be fat. And studies that show young girls are more afraid of being fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing both parents. These children are growing up to become young women who would rather be run over by a truck than be extremely fat and who are reporting they would rather be mean or stupid than fat."
42% of American 1st to 3rd grade girls surveyed want to be thinner than they are. (6 to 8 years old!) And one half of 9 to 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.
50% of 9-year-old girls diet.
80% of 10-year-old girls diet.
90% of high school girls diet regularly—while only 20% of them have BMI’s that might be viewed as concerning.
Or this:
"I understand that health risks are associated with obesity. But I do not believe continued emphasis on weight loss and dieting is the answer. There is a direct correlation between the amount of dieting one does and the amount of depression one experiences. Allowing disparaging remarks about your body or your children’s bodies is harmful. Children who are teased by peers are 36% more likely to consider suicide than their counterpart and children who are teased by peers and parents are 51% more likely to consider suicide." 
Is that crazy or what?  People would rather LOSE AN ARM than be fat?  What message are we sending? Are we making sure that if our children are not the ones struggling with a weight issue--that they are also not the ones making fun of those children?  Are we teaching them to be sympathetic, or do we send the message that "those people" are just lazy, or don't care as much as we do about their bodies.  Do we realize that much of the problem is hereditary, and related to the "body type" that people have--and not just from the way they eat or lack of excercise?  Please, inform yourselves, be aware so you will know if someone you love is struggling with this issue.  And for heaven's sake, when you see someone who struggles with their weight--all we need is a little compassion and understanding for the struggle that it is to try to have a perfect body.  He who is without OREOS can cast the first stone...
Click HERE for Janna's articles...

Highland Jr. TRACK...

Look at those muscles! This year, I convinced my Erin to try out for the track team.  She was a little hesitant, since jogging is not her favorite thing, (wonder who she gets that from)...but she finally decided to go for it, and had so much fun with her cousins!  Erin and Cassi both did shotput and discus.  Erin kept doing better at practices then she did at the meets which was frustrating for her, but finally, at the last meet when they were trying to qualify for city finals, her dad was there and was giving her a really hard time telling her "C'mon Erin--you're stronger than that...use your muscles!"--it worked!  Erin threw her personal best and was able to get 3rd place and earn a spot at the city finals!  Even though she didn't do as well as she did that day--it was still a fun experience to go and compete, and she got breakfast out for doing it!  Not a bad deal huh?  Erin has fun at ANYTHING she does, and I really love her for humoring me, and trying her best!  How could you NOT love this face?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One SEXY Lady!...

WHO is this sexy lady?  Stylin' in the awesome flowery dress, with the great hair?  Well, you might not believe it, but this is the famous author, Beverly Cleary!  She wrote several books that you probably already know about or have read--including the famous Ramona and Beezus books that you fell in love with as a kid!  We had a chance to have her over at our house, and meet her, and several other famous people at our elementary school's Living History Museum!  She is just AMAZING--and c'mon, don't you think she's had some plastic surgery to keep herself looking this young?  She's 95 for crying out loud!  Isn't she just GORGEOUS!?!

 Beverly had a button in front of her presentation board, and Jack kept pushing it over & over!  He sure took a liking to sweet Beverly!  She is adorable!

 We also got to meet famous dancer, Martha Graham!  She was beautiful--and wouldn't you know it--her and Beverly are like BFF's!  Small world...
 We also got to meet another of Beverly's BFF's--none other than former Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher!  I was delighted to get to meet her--she's one of the most inspirational, strong, tough women of our time!  I LOVE this lady!
 Boy, these ladies have aged REALLY well, haven't they!  Great job on your presentations!  We really had fun meeting you!

WAIT--where's ABBY?  Oh my, I guess we must have left her at home?  Too bad you missed it sweetie...it was pretty fun to meet all these famous people!  Maybe next year you'll get to come along...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep on Bloggin...

I was preparing for my VT'ing lesson tomorrow, re-reading Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk called, "LDS Women are Incredible"--because really, EVERY woman I know needs to hear that--at least once a year, by someone important like Elder Cook.  Isn't it funny that when you hear someone give a talk to the men--they are usually like, "Hey--you're not that great--you need to be doing better, get your act together--oh and my favorite, BE NICE TO YOUR WIFE!"  But when they talk to the women, they are like, "Hey--you are AMAZING, and don't get down on yourself, and keep your chin up."  Even though we all know that there are women (like me) who need to change a lot of things in their lives to make them, well, celestial and perfect in every way, they also know that the way to get women to change is NOT to guilt them into doing it--it is to encourage them very gently, so there is no weeping or wailing, or other unfortunate reactions to the prodding, and so we don't just give up altogether!   If there's anything universal about women--it's that we ALL feel guilt, all by ourselves.  We don't need the brethren to help with the guilt--we just need them to tell us how wonderful we are, and encourage us to "keep on swimming" so to speak.  I love that we just have it in our nature to feel worry and guilt.  Ask your husband sometime if he feels guilty because he didn't spend enough time with a particular child today, or read a book to another, or if he feels guilty when a child cries in the night, and he doesn't feel like getting out of his comfy bed to get them (even if he hears them wailing--so many nights I have tried just laying there, to see if he will get up without me begging him--no way!).  Trust me, he will say NO.  It's not his fault--he didn't come wired that way.  For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with my husband--like he didn't CARE as much as I did for the welfare of our children, or about being a parent.  What I realized, and what the Family Proclamation has confirmed to me is that men and women ARE different.  We have feelings of guilt and worry that  men don't have because it is us, as women that have the responsibility to nurture our children.  It is in our nature as women.  Our husbands don't have these guilt feelings, because they have to be able to spend long hours away from home, at work or school, and frankly, they don't have the time to be worried or feeling guilty all the time about being away, and doing their part by providing and working!  I'm not saying they NEVER feel guilty--but I do wonder how much of the guilt he does feel is because of MY anxiety, and my nagging, and the way I try to make him feel guilty because I do.  Not nice, I know!

Anyway, when I was reading through the last part of the talk, I noticed that there was a link in the footnotes to an article in Salon.com called, "Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs".   The author, Emily Matchar, admits that although she is a feminist, and an atheist, she finds herself frequently reading blogs by Mormon housewives, and has several other friends, who are just like her, that can't get enough of them.  This part was so interesting to me: 

"So why, exactly, are these blogs so fascinating to women like us -- secular, childless women who may have never so much as baked a cupcake, let alone reupholstered our own ottomans with thrifted fabric and vintage grosgrain ribbon? It's not as though we're sniffing around the dark side of the faith, à la "Big Love." And it's not about religion. As someone married to a former Saint (my husband left the church as a teenager), I certainly have no illusions about what life as a Mormon would be like, and I'm sure it's not for me, which makes my obsession with these blogs all the more startling.
Well, to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly "uplifting." To read Mormon lifestyle blogs is to peer into a strange and fascinating world where the most fraught issues of modern living -- marriage and child rearing -- appear completely unproblematic. This seems practically subversive to someone like me, weaned on an endless media parade of fretful stories about "work-life balance" and soaring divorce rates and the perils of marrying too young/too old/too whatever. And don't even get me started on the Mommy Blogs, which make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety, full of words like "guilt" and "chaos" and "BPA-free" and "episiotomy." Read enough of these, and you'll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife.
"It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it's treated with a lot of respect," says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat. "Most of my readers are non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, 'You are making me want kids, and I've never wanted kids!'"

You can click on the title of the article to read the whole thing--but as I read this author's thoughts, especially the thoughts on marriage and motherhood being something that is portrayed as a negative in the world today, I realized how much work we women have in front of us!  On the bright side, I also realized what a blessing this blogging medium is, and how people can come to realize that Mormons--and Mormon Mommy Blogs are written by normal, everyday people, who have normal, everyday experiences, but because we have the Gospel, we look at things in the world, especially family and children, with hopefully a different perspective, and that perspective shines through.  I also wondered, as she talks about how she is childless, and has a career, and wants nothing to do with the church, if part of this woman enjoys reading these types of blogs because of a yearning inside that tells her that she was meant to be a wife and a mother, it is in her nature as a daughter of God.  And even though she feels uncomfortable, and it seems to go against everything she has been taught, looking in on the life of a Mormon housewife feels oddly familiar.  I feel like she, like all of us, lived with our Father in Heaven before we came here, and each of us has times when we have a stirring within us of something we once knew, or something we need to be doing.  Most of all, I feel like this article shows us that even in a simple way, such as writing a blog of our experiences, we can share the gospel with even the most unlikely of persons, and we can let the world know that we are Mormon, and we are proud to belong to a church that values, and respects the role of wife and mother.  The world needs more of that for sure!

P.S.  I also found a link in the article to a wonderful website called the "Mormon Women Project" (click on it to go there...) where women from all walks of life, and all around the world are interviewed about their conversion, their blogs, their motherhood, etc.  Then I proceeded to spend WAY too much time there surfing around.  Isn't it fascinating to read about how we are all so different--but how the Gospel can bring us together?  It is amazing to me!

PPS...LAST week of school--HOORAY!  :)  Friday, I will be sleeping until at least 10 a.m..  Call me lazy if you want... but summer is for catching up on sleep at my house!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One of THOSE days...

Last Week, I had one of THOSE days.  If you aren't a mother, you might not know what that means.  If you are a mother, you know EXACTLY what it means--and you are my best friend right now, because you will stand by and let me have my pity party for how HARD it is sometimes to be a mom--then you will still love me tomorrow, even though you know my big secret (that some days I'm convinced it's the worst job on earth)! First of all, let me explain that it was a Monday.  Monday means laundry day, which means I am in a bad mood anyway.  I don't even get dressed anymore on laundry day--because I am a freak, and I do ALL my laundry in ONE day.  And believe me--it takes ALL day.  For me, I have always liked it that way--and don't bother trying to convince me that doing a load (or two) every day is better.  Then I would feel like a SLAVE to the laundry--like I was always washing, folding, washing, folding---AAAAAGH!  Kill me now.  I so hate it, that if I was RICH--and I mean really rich (because it would take a lot of money to justify doing it), I would just send all my laundry out to one of those places that wash it & fold it for you!  I would pay them EXTRA to come and put it away so it didn't sit in my kids rooms all week and get mixed in with the dirty laundry like happens every week at my house!  Dang kids...but I digress...what was I talking about? 

Oh yeah--so I'm doing laundry, and I take a load of darks out of the dryer, only to find a RED crayon had been dried with my dark load, and now there are splotches of red wax ALL over my clothes, and the inside of my dryer barrell.  GREAT!  I know it was Jack that had the dumb crayon in his pockets.  He has been a little hoarder lately, since he realized he could stick stuff in his pockets, and he sticks anything and everything that will fit in those things.  We have also been finding random things in the lunch boxes, backpacks, and purses around the house as well.  Oh my--you might see us on the show in a few years...and I'll say "I KNEW IT when he was 3!".  So I have to take the time to go through EVERY article of clothing in that load of darks, and spot the wax with GOO OFF--(Who knew?  Google did.  That's who!) and re-wash the whole load.  It said to do it on HOT--but I was too afraid to shrink all of our jeans (we have a hard enough time getting into them as it is), so I did it on warm.  Well, it worked, mostly--but there were still some spots, so I had to wash them twice.  This put me behind 2 hours on my schedule--UGH!  Have I mentioned that I want to spend the LEAST amount of time possible on my laundry?  Oh, I have?

Anyway, I HAD to go take a shower and get ready, because we had something to go to that night, so I take my sweet Jack in my room, put a movie on for him, and get into the shower.  It was just a body shower (since I loathe washing my hair every day just as much as the laundry--another story for another post...yes, I already said I'm a freak...)--I hate taking so much time to get ready, so I was seriously in the shower less than 10 minutes.  Just enough time for Jack to get into THIS:
Lovely, right?  You can only imagine how long it took to clean up this mess off his face and his hair, much less off of my carpet and window!  Boy did he smell LOVELY too!  I just love how a toddler will yell at you to, as you try to carefully wipe the toxic diaper rash medicine from his eyes/eyelashes, about how mean you are, and how he doesn't LIKE you!  Oh, I'm sorry I'm trying to keep you from becoming BLIND!  You poor thing!  This is TOTALLY what I had planned for my day--thanks so much!  You know I am a seasoned professional at this by now though, since I had the presence of mind to get the camera so that I have PROOF of what a little monster he was!  The others I was so busy yelling at, I failed to document days like these for the ages.  Someday, my sweet Jack will do as Todd does, and tell his children what a SWEET child he was.  He will tell them that he NEVER had a messy room, and that his parents NEVER had to get after him.  He will tell his children that he was a PERFECT child, lovely in every way, and then--I will get out these books, and go through them page by page with my grandchildren, and point out that little Jack was every bit as mischievous as they are!  And then I will have my revenge...or will I?

Maybe, as we go through the books, we will realize that there were MANY more good days than bad ones.  And that THOSE days, in the grand scheme of things were very few and far between.  Maybe we will see pictures of when he was a baby, and marvel at how he grew up so fast, and how even though he was my baby, and I had already had 5 toddlers before him, I still didn't have much patience for toddler shenanigans!  Hopefully, they'll also see that although on days like THOSE I had no tolerance or patience to be found...there were many more days that I embraced my role as a mother, and I taught, and I loved, and most of all I learned.  I learned that we all make mistakes.  I learned that we all do stupid things.  I learned that we all need forgiveness, and patience, and love.  I learned that a little mess like a crayon mark on a pair of jeans, or a BIG mess like Desitin all over Jacks face don't have to ruin a RELATIONSHIP that will last into the eternities, and beyond.  There have been many of THOSE days in the 15+ years I have been a mother...and I'm sure there are more to come, but what's important to remember, I think, is that "this too shall pass...".  Someday, (since this is my last toddler, it will be someday soon...) I will look back and realize that THOSE days went WAY too fast--and you know what?  They weren't all that bad. 

Except for the laundry...laundry is bad, and terrible, and horrible, and awful.  Did I mention that I hate it?  Ummm, yeah,  I think I always will...

P.S.  Jack must've known I was up late writing this post, and feeling sentimental, because last night he woke me up around 3 a.m. by vomiting all over me and the bed...and this morning, our potty training has been interrupted by icky diarrhea...another one of THOSE days.  HA!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Camping...(No, really...we went camping!)...

Hard to believe, I know.  I am not exactly the "camping" type.  I love Jim Gaffigan's bit on camping, (HERE), where he says, "My parents never took me camping, you know why?  THEY LOVED ME!"  (I included his bit on bacon--just for fun--LOVE that guy).  Well, I certainly love my children, and more than my children, I love my bed, my air conditioning, and all of the comforts of my HOME.  We had a ward campout, though, and with Todd being our Scoutmaster (the rugged, outdoorsey man that he is), I guess we have something to prove to the ward, so we went along.  I seriously haven't been camping since Emie and Erin were little girls.  We used to go on an annual Memorial Day camping trip with Todd's family, and stay for 3 or 4 days, or until I murmered enough to get Todd to take me home.  I remember one picture of Emie and her cousin Kami when they were like 2 and 1 year old, and they were COVERED from head to toe in DIRT after a day of camping.  That's exactly what I don't like about it--I rather enjoy being CLEAN.  It's actually a good thing I wasn't born in the pioneer days, when they had to leave their comfortable homes, and belongings, knowing they would be CAMPING, oh pretty much for the next few YEARS!  I fear I would have been like, "See you all later, I think I'll wait for the TRAIN to Utah!"  Since Todd's parents bought their cabin in Heber, the camping tradition has gone by the wayside--and well, as you can tell, I haven't missed it!  :)  I did manage to find a few pics that prove that we HAVE gone camping.  Emie and Erin weren't deprived of this wonderful tradition--see?

That being said, I certainly can be brave enough to go and spend ONE NIGHT in the desert with my family--I am not completely spoiled rotten!  Camping isn't really what it used to be either--as we walked around from campsite to campsite--you realize that people don't really leave all that much at home anymore when they go camping.  People had their laptops, their ipads, their phones, their airbeds, their state of the art cooking equipment, movie projectors, and if they were luckier than I am--even their RV!  Yep, camping doesn't necessarily mean you leave the "comforts of home"--rather, now you just pack up the comforts of home & take them with you!  We got out our tent, nervous since we haven't used it in 10 years--but it was just perfect, although 8 man really doesn't mean 8 MAN.  It means 8 small children (maybe)--but not 8 ALLEN sized people.  We were a little squished even with the 6 of us in there (Emie slept in a little tent with her friend Taylor, and Erin had an orchestra concert & had to stay home (lucky her).  Jack was in heaven setting up the tent, and for the campfire program, but when it actually came time to go into the tent & go to bed, he freaked out a little!  "I want to go HOME--to MY bed" he cried.  Which actually means he wanted to go home to MY bed, and I can't blame the little guy--I feel the same way when I try to sleep with all of my children in my tent out in the wilderness!  He did end up sleeping right next to me on my little camping mat in my sleeping bag (which is not made for one big lady--much less one big lady + child)!  Needless to say, I was glad it was only ONE sleepless night.

The next day, the ward had planned an Eagle Scout Project to coincide with the ward campout.  Too bad not many people decided to come along, because there was a LOT of work to do on this project.  They were fixing up an OLD cemetery called Roosevelt Cemetery that is right off the road near an RV park by the lake.  When we got there, Jack asked me, "What's a Cemetery".  I said, "It's a place where dead people are in graves under the ground." After that well thought out explanation--my sweet Jack wouldn't get out of the car!  He was scared to death!  I need to remember that unlike my other children, this child hasn't been around a funeral home his whole life (duh), and dead people still scare him!  I changed my story a bit and said, "We're going to a PARK".  To which he answered, "A park where people LIVE and DIE?"  Yep, that kind of park!  It worked, and he got out of the car!  We quickly realized that it wasn't going to be an easy project when in the first 5 minutes,  I brushed up against a Prickly Pear Cactus and got a bunch of barbs in my leg from it.  OUCH!  Emie had those things in her socks, and the bugs were not fun either.  She had an open wound on her knee from volleyball & the flies wouldn't leave it alone the whole time & it was driving her crazy!  YUCK!  We had the kids help cut away cactus and brush from the graves, pave the walkways with rocks, clean up trash, and help paint the crosses that marked the graves. A couple of hours into the project, though, a nice BIG rattlesnake came right through where we were working, and I realized that maybe I shouldn't have my toddler & kids running around in the path of rattlesnakes & we decided it was time to go!  YIKES!  Thank goodness, no one was hurt (Todd bonked that thing on the head pretty hard with a 2X4 before the ranger came over and "removed" it--meaning he picked it up gently and took it over to another bush  down the way from where we were working--I would have rather had the peace of mind to know that thing was DEAD!)  Anyway, I was surprised how much fun my kids had working, even though it was hot, and sticky, and HARD.  Sometimes I'm sure I don't give them credit for what good kids they are!  I sure love my family!

Here's the bad news...they all want to go camping for Memorial Day now...oh dear! 

Abby's Orchestra Concert...

Abby's last orchestra concert was last week, and it was so fun to see how far she's come!  5th grade orchestra concerts are sometimes painful to listen to--but I have to say, Abby's teacher is just a dream come true!  She is young, and sweet, and she does such a GREAT job with these young kids!  I was so impressed with how great they sound, and how far they've come only going to orchestra a few days each week.  Great job Abby, I am so proud of you for practicing and sticking with it!  Grandma and Grandpa were able to make it to hear her play!  They're so awesome!  You did great--we love you Abster!

Highland Softball 2011...

Emie's softball season ended a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd bring a camera for the last game & at least take a few pictures of her!  She really had a fun season on the Freshman team, and really enjoyed playing for Highland.  Again, like volleyball, she wasn't sure she was good enough to try out, and thought about sitting it out, but her team only had like 10 players, so it's a good thing she tried out!  She got to play every game, and really improved over the season.  It was really fun to go to her games & watch her play!  Emie is such a positive person, and always makes everyone laugh with her sense of humor & sarcasm.  At the banquet last week, she won the "Hawk Award", or the coaches award for always being positive, always working hard, and encouraging her team.  I think she was surprised that she won, but I wasn't!  Emie is just a fun person to be with, and it's rare to find a teenager who's as positive as she is!  After her last game, her coaches had heard that the girls were going to come after them with a bucket of ice water, so they decided to turn the tables.  They gave all of us parents little water guns, and they had those big super soaker guns, and we got to go after the players.  Grandma and Grandpa Allen, and some of her cousins were there too...so we got Emie good!  She was soaked, and came after me & jumped on my back and seriously tackled me to the ground to get me to stop squirting her.  Little punk.  I was a little embarassed at how easily I went down...so we need a rematch!  I can't be getting THAT weak can I?  It's not like I'm one of those OLD moms!  HA!  Love you anyway Em, and I know where you sleep...so WATCH OUT!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Bread of Life...

I was thinking about bread this week...strange, I know. Stick with me while I try to make my point here.  Anyway, an angel in our ward this week, along with her son made homemade bread for a fundraiser for his Eagle Scout project.  We were the glad recipients of a loaf of delicious bread.  I was lucky enough to cut into it first, late on Friday night.  I cut a nice, THICK slice (just thin enough to fit in our wide slot toaster).  Then, I drenched it in real butter and honey and sat down with a big glass of milk in front of the TV.  One piece wasn't enough to make it through that whole glass of milk though, so I HAD to have another thick piece.  YUM!  When I got up in the morning, the minions had found the bread, and there was only the thick heel left.  That's okay--I love the heel too, toasted and slathered with Boysenberry jam!  Later, I found out that Todd had 3 pieces of toast that morning--which makes me think that the minions never even had a chance at that bread since their mom attacked it late at night, and Dad finished it off in the morning!  Oh my! 

Why the porkish behavior you ask?  Over a simple, homemade loaf of bread?  Well, Todd and I have been on a diet--well, pretty much for the last, well, 10 or more years???  If you have read this blog--you know that I am always working on staying or getting thinner.  Which tells you something in and of itself--since I never actually GET there.  But the only success in dieting I've ever really had was a few years ago after I had Jack and I went on a low-carb, high protien, low-sugar diet.  I lost 20 lbs. (of which, 10 came back), but it was pretty quick, and easy to follow.  Only problem??  No bread.  No pasta.  No sugar.  No FUN! This time around, we are in a contest with Todd's family members (and losing miserably--not pounds, but the contest), and I have gone back to that low carb diet and mentality--trying to stay away from the carbs and sugar.  But with that one slice of bread--oh man, I was in HEAVEN!  It made me think, though--I wonder if my theory is all wrong?  Doesn't Jesus, in fact say, "I am the Bread of Life"?  Didn't God, in fact, send down "Manna (BREAD)  from Heaven" to feed the Israelites in the wilderness?  So is bread in fact, EVIL?  When I go out to eat and take the bun off my hamburger--and don't have a problem eating all that cheese and beef, am I being DECEIVED??  Maybe, I am in fact following the diet of the DEVIL, (then again--isn't any diet of the Devil?)

I tried this justification out on my family at dinner tonight, while I was again gorging myself on some homemade biscuits and jam.  They didn't buy it.  In fact, I think they think their mother has gone completely off the deep end...(as if I wasn't there long ago).  Oh well, it made sense in my head.  Oh, and Todd was able to purchase 5 more loaves of bread yesterday from our ward angel--(SCORE!) so my diet the next few days will be the diet of the Lord.  We'll see if the Bread of Life puts me up a few pounds, or if it is, in fact, my manna from Heaven.  If you want to see my other vice--SUGAR--check out this post, click HERE.  That might explain a few things about my weight problem, that have NOTHING to do with BREAD.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Women's Conference, 2011!

This year, I wasn't sure about going to Women's Conference.  I just didn't know if I could justify it with everything going on in our lives, and all of the problems, and all of the stress.  I'll tell you, though, it worked itself out so that I could go--and I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father, and a loving husband who made it possible, because I REALLY needed that time away this year.  Sometimes, it seems that everything just falls into place when you really need to do something, and this was one of those times!  It was a whirlwind trip this year, since we only had 4 days, since I wanted to make it home on Saturday morning for Emie's Molten volleyball tournament.  We really crammed A LOT into those 4 days!  Wednesday, we got up at 4 a.m. to make our 6:20 flight.  What was I thinking?  We were so TIRED!  We got into Salt Lake, and my sister Shelly picked us up at the airport.  I was so glad she could make it this year!  I have missed her so much!  We headed over to Costco to do a run for my sister Wendy, and load up their pantry with some yummy Costco food and treats.  Also, some Costco muffins for breakfast (I don't mind at all if I do...).  Next, we headed over to see my aunt Cheryl in Draper, then down to Provo to see my Grandpa Epperson, his wife, Sue Ellen, and my other aunts and uncle.  My grandpa, is my mom's dad--who's 96? I think this year.  They were over at his condo cleaning out the rest of his things, since he has moved in with some cousins just to be safe, since he isn't quite all there right now.  He suffered a stroke a few years ago, and has been a little out of it since then, he is remarried, since my grandma died in 2002, to a very sweet lady, Sue Ellen, but she suffers from diabetes, and has a hard time taking care of him herself.  Although he is pleasant, and sweet, and as kind as ever, he doesn't really recognize many people anymore, and can't really carry on a conversation.  I really miss him.  He was always one of the kindest people I knew.  We just love him.  It was fun to see some of the old things they had, and see some of the old pictures. It's really amazing just how fast life goes.  If I'm not careful, I'll blink, and miss it!

Women's Conference started on Thursday morning, and it was just AWESOME!  I really went there this year seeking answers, and it seemed as if each class I went to was just for me, and had just what I needed to hear.  One of my favorite classes was a panel with blogger, Stephanie Nielsen, (her blog, Nie Nie Dialogues is HERE and you will LOVE it!) and her 3 sweet sisters.  They were funny, and down to earth, and shared some of their experiences.  She is just an amazing example to me of someone who is courageous, and brave in her trials.  She has inspired, and continues to inspire so many people to face their trials head on, and continue to fight.  You also come away with a feeling of guilt when you see the trials that she is facing--and then look at the things that I complain about.  Shame on me for having a pity party for myself!  I just need to remember to think of people who are facing far worse trials than I am, and take courage that if they can fight through health problems, and life threatening challenges--our money problems, and stupid lawsuit are really nothing.  It makes me grateful just to be alive, and WELL.  You really don't appreciate what a blessing having your health is until you see someone who struggles with an accident, or cancer, or some other life threatening situation.  Money is not a struggle.  We can live without money--or things--or a nice house--or possesions.  I need to be grateful for my BLESSINGS.  And my health is one of those blessings.  Do you know that we gave up our health insurance (it was one of the first things to go when we cut the budget $700/month is NOT cheap), and we didn't have even a COLD in this house all winter long?  What a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  He is aware of my struggles--and He blesses me daily.

On Friday, Wendy was able to come down and join us.  I was so glad she could get away.  My sister Wendy amazes me.  Her family went through almost a year of unemployment last year.  Her husband lost his job when Obama cut the NASA program, since he worked at a factory that made parts for the space shuttle.  Almost 4,000 people were laid off in his company over the last year.  Most of them are from the area, Brigham City, that my sister lives in.  This created a problem finding even the minimum wage jobs, much less a good paying job.  After a few months, he decided to go to school, and at least keep busy while looking for a job.  He has been going to Culinary school for the last few years, and will graduate this fall!  She has been working her BUTT off for her family!  Even though she has had very low paying jobs, she has been able to work two or sometimes three jobs to try to support her family, and keep her house.  She is really an example of dedication, and hard work, and she AMAZES me.  It was so fun to have ALL of my sisters, and my mom there, and also some of my sister-in-laws were able to make the trip.  It was fun to see them too!  We met up at the Concert on Thursday night, and we had such a Blast!  I think it's hilarious that a concert of gospel music could be so fun for us women.  Only Mormons right?  We had such a great time!

We also were able to participate in the Humanitarian service night on Thursday.  We went to a station making Newborn Baby Caps.  When we sat down, they gave us very specific instructions on how to make the caps.  They had to be folded a certain number of times, and then tied a specific way, or they had "Quality Control" ladies who would take them apart, and make people do them over.  After sitting there for an hour or so, and having the ladies come over multiple times, and say people were doing them wrong--and ignoring them, since we all thought we were not the ones doing them wrong--we found out that 3 out of 4 of us WERE actually doing them wrong--(I won't name any names...I will just say it was NOT me!  :)  So I'm not sure how much we helped--since many of ours were probably taken apart and done over, but it's the THOUGHT that counts...right?  (Those Quality Control ladies might not think so...but if you were a mom in some 3rd world country receiving a newborn baby cap would you care if there were 3 folds instead of 4 on your cap...or if it was tied in a square knot or not?  Me either.)

Elder Bednar was the concluding speaker this year, and I just LOVED what he had to say to the women.  He talked about doing Small and Simple things--to make great things come to pass, which was our theme this year.  He also made an analogy that was great--he said we need to be like a "Drip Irrigation System", with focused, small drips of water, that go right to the roots of the plant to nourish it consistently.  He said too many of us, instead, are "Spiritual Spurters", we have spurts of spirituality, but we are not focused, or consistent in our study, and our habits.  He hit the nail on the head for me.  I have spurts all the time, where I will really focus on my scripture study, or my journal (blog), or making family night more meaningful, or really focusing on my calling, and making it better.  The problem?  Life gets in the way, and gets busy, and distractions creep their way in and get in the way of what's really important.  I really need to focus in on what really matters, and buckle down and make sure I am doing the basics of the gospel.  He really touched on what I needed to hear.  I am so grateful for an apostle of the Lord, who took time to speak to us, and help us realize how we can become more like our Savior.  I am so grateful that I could be at Women's Conference, and hear the talks and feel the spirit, and know that my Heavenly Father is indeed aware of ME, and my family!  What a blessing.

P.S. Want to know the biggest miracle that happened?  I LOST 2 lbs. at Women's Conference!  I managed to stay IN class, and OUT of the Creamery!  Wow!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catching Up...

I'm almost caught up--but things KEEP HAPPENING!  Keep scrolling down, as I have post-dated things & they are down a ways.  I'm finally caught up through Mother's Day anyway.  (Except for Women's Conference Update--coming tomorrow).  Keep on swimming...keep on swimming...these last few weeks of school might KILL me!  Look at the time on this post--oh my!  My bed is calling my name!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adventures in Weight Loss...

We are involved in a weight loss contest with some of Todd's family members right now, but it's a little too hot to excercise outside, SO we've gone downstairs & dusted off the old treadmill.  Funny thing?  The last time we used that thing was a few years ago, and we looked at the user profiles we set up.  Todd was 36 years old, weight, 225.  Tami was 33 years old, weight, 150.  HA!  We've been gaining and losing the SAME 10-20 pounds for the last 4 years!  Lovely huh?  Kinda like banging your head against the wall!  Anyway, we are back at it, but can I just tell you how frustrating it is to try to excercise with a toddler around?  Jack won't leave me alone the whole time, he has to be right there by me--and he drives me CRAZY.  I am constantly having to stop because he's about to jump on the treadmill, or putting his foot on it, or standing in back of it.  This time, though it was quite the circus!  Take a look at this picture:

So all of that CRAP piled in the back of the treadmill, actually started with Jack throwing it onto the FRONT of the treadmill, I would jump over it as I jogged, and he thought it was SO funny that he kept throwing new books, toys, and junk on until he basically ran out of things to throw at me!  Did I keep telling him to stop?  Ummm...YEP!  Do you think he cared?  Ummm....NO!  That's the thing about toddlers...when they find something that entertains them, well, they can stay at it for a long time!  I probably burned a few more calories in the end, with the jumping AND jogging, so I guess it was worth it.  And the good news is I WAS down 9 lbs. as of last week & Todd was down 14!  The bad news?  A camping trip, mothers day, and dinner out after Abby's orchestra concert this week & I gained half of it back!  UGH--no wonder we have been losing and gaining the same pounds over and over!  Oh well...back to banging my head...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day this year was AWESOME!  It's the first Mother's Day in 5 long years that we didn't have to get up to go to 8:00 church!  So the kids made me breakfast in bed and the first time I opened my eyes to the world it was 9:50!  HOORAY!  The kids made waffles, with strawberries & whipped cream and lots of BACON!  (YUM)!  It's great the kids are getting older--they are great cooks!  They all gave me their little gifts, which were adorable, and I was so grateful once again for the sweet husband & children Heavenly Father has blessed me with.  I'm really not sure how I got so lucky!  I sure LOVE them!  Here's our pic before we went to church.  Todd gets the girls a little corsage every year for his "future mothers" in our family.  I think they LOVE the extra attention they get from their dad--and I think he loves the extra attention people at church give him for going the extra mile.  Wearing a corsage might seem outdated, or old fashioned, but I actually love it--I wear it with pride!  Some traditions just shouldn't go by the wayside if you ask me--Yes, a chocolate bar is nice--but I love the idea of a corsage as a token of appreciation from my sweet husband.  I love him so much!  Boy, we have had a rough year, but I know he loves me, and that he really appreciates the time and effort I put into raising our children.  Never in our struggles has he asked me to go get a job, or help contribute.  He has always been willing, throughout our marriage to step up and provide for our family--and I appreciate that so much.  It is rare in the world today to find a man who appreciates motherhood, and the importance of raising children as a CAREER like Todd does.  He has always supported me in my efforts, whether they were a success or a failure! (Trust me, there have been many of both!)

I wrote this post a few years back, but thought it was appropriate to post it again for Mother's Day! I'm sure I've only scratched the surface when it comes to listing the things I've learned as a mother--and I'm sure there are those out there with certainly more wisdom than me on this subject. I know one thing, motherhood is the toughest job that you'll ever love--and it certainly gives me more satisfaction than I ever thought possible. I am so grateful to be a mother, and so grateful for my mother, and Todd's mother, who we love with all our hearts. You are such great examples of the way I want to live my life...I love you! Happy Mother's Day!
15 1/2 years ago, my life changed. The doctor handed me a beautiful baby girl, 8 pounds 9 1/2 ounces, and Todd and I looked at each other and wondered, what now? I had no idea then, how much different I would be because I am a mother.
Because I am a Mother...*Because I am a Mother, rational thoughts have been replaced with constant worry.
*Because I am a Mother, I say things that make no sense to anyone who isn't a mother. Things like, "I'm going to beat the living daylights out of you!" Huh?
*Because I am a Mother, I can sleep through most of a Die Hard movie at the movie theatre, but the small sound of my newborn infant squirming next to me wakes me up in an instant.
*Because I am a Mother, I have fat rolls where my stomach muscles used to be, and empty gray matter where my brain used to be.
*Because I am a Mother, I finally appreciate my mother! Thanks Mom, I love you!
*Because I am a Mother, sometimes 3 hours of sleep has to be enough.
*Because I am a Mother, I have to be able to turn from Old Mother Hubbard into Marilyn Monroe in a matter of seconds. Just because I am a Mother, doesn't mean I can't be his wife!
*Because I am a Mother, I have to have a solution for every problem. What kind of mother lets her children struggle with problems on their own? (Maybe a better mother than me...)
*Because I am a Mother, my boobs have been used and abused. I wish I didn't have to go through pain and agony to get a new, improved pair. Sad, but TRUE!  (My teenager will love that one--don't worry honey--your turn will come...)
*Because I am a Mother, my days are full of some of the highest highs, and some of the lowest lows. Highs usually involve Coca Cola, or chocolate, and the lows? One word...laundry.
*Because I am a Mother, it's not about me anymore.
*Because I am a Mother, I have a chance to live another childhood through my own children. Adolescence? No thanks, once was enough!
*Because I am a Mother, I fear the evil in this world, and I'm determined to protect my children from it at all costs.
*Because I am a Mother, I feel guilty for the dumbest things.
*Because I am a Mother, I demand loyalty, and respect. I'm not a perfect mother, but I'm the only mother they get!
*Because I am a Mother, I blame the dryer instead of the Oreos when my jeans don't fit.
*Because I am a Mother, I'm never quite sure about anything! Ask my kids...
*Because I am a Mother, even when I'm exhausted, sleep evades me, and my mind races 1,000 different directions. Sometimes it's hard to just be still or feel at peace.
*Because I am a Mother, I can multi-task. I can nurse a baby while reading a book to a toddler, while checking my e-mail, and eating a bowl of cereal--this is all before 8 a.m..
*Because I am a Mother, I appreciate other great mothers--especially when their children are friends with my children.
*Because I am a Mother, "muffin top" has become a painful reality. Google it...you'll know if you are an offender too...
*Because I am a Mother, my head hurts--A LOT!
*Because I am a Mother, I am proud when my kids make good choices, and my heart breaks for them when they don't. It's true that when you're a mother, your heart walks around outside your body.
*Because I am a Mother, sometimes the only "quiet place" is in my toilet room. Sometimes I lock myself in there and hide for hours.
*Because I am a Mother, "DIET" is a 4 letter word, offensive in every way. If you mention "EXERCISE" you might get the same hostile reaction from me.
*Because I am a Mother, a clean house almost makes me cry for joy. Needless to say, most days the tears I cry are not tears of joy.
*Because I am a Mother, I am always teaching, whether I realize it or not.
*Because I am a Mother, things that would make a normal person vomit, don't even make me wince anymore. It's just another day at the office...
*Because I am a Mother, I can blame the 10 extra pounds around my middle on baby #4, instead of blaming it on my love/hate relationship with my treadmill.
*Because I am a Mother, my life will never be the same again, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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